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Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health insu...

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Reviewed by Rachael Brennan
Licensed Insurance Agent Rachael Brennan

UPDATED: Apr 19, 2022

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As a life insurance agent, one question I often get asked is…“Can I purchase a life insurance policy on my ex-husband?”

In most cases, yes!

In this guide, we’ll give you insider tips on how to get life insurance on your ex-husband the easy way, with his full knowledge.

Can You Purchase Life Insurance on Your Ex-Spouse?

Here are a few things to consider:

  • He/she may not want to “help” or “comply”: Divorce settlements with children can be messy, especially when trying to determine financial support and who becomes the designated custodial parent.
  • You can legally buy a life policy with his/her knowledge: As long as your ex-spouse is aware and willing, the payout of this policy will go to either you or any children that may be involved.
  • Making it EASY as possible for them (so they’ll actually go through with it)
  • Buying a life insurance policy can be mandatory by court order in your divorce decree.

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​You Must Prove “Insurable Interest”

You have to be able to prove that your ex-husband’s death would financially impact your overall financial situation, especially if they have financial obligations such as paying child support payments.

If so, there is a legitimate need for insurance, or “insurable interest.”

By far, the #1 reason a woman takes out life insurance on her ex-husband is to protect her alimony income.”

If the ex-husband dies, and your alimony payments stop, there’s a case where you need life insurance.

Say you’re getting paid child support or have children you’re both helping to put through school or college, that lost income could be devastating. Trying to figure out navigating life again as a single person is stressful enough.

His death would mean you have to bear 100% of the financial burden of raising your child/children.

You too have an insurable interest.

Yes, ​Your Ex Must Know About The Insurance

We hear this question quite often as well, “Can I get life insurance on my ex-husband without him knowing?”

Since your ex-spouse will be the insured, he will need to answer questions about his health and sign an insurance application.

You can’t take a life insurance policy out on your ex-spouse without his knowledge.  It’s impossible.

In fact, they will not only know about it, but they may have to take a medical exam so the life insurance company will make an offer.

RELATED: 5 Critical Tips You Must Know Before Buying Life Insurance

I’ve run into some trouble here in the past when the ex-spouse doesn’t want to cooperate with answering questions or taking an exam.

If you have children together, you might consider making them the beneficiary designations to the children, placing the money in a trust in the event of your ex-spouse’s death.

If you don’t have children or other loved ones to assign the life insurance beneficiary, sometimes a charity or religious organization will work.

Make Getting The Insurance Easy For Your Ex

As with any form of breakup, emotions are really high, and for some people, their level of pettiness has no bounds.

One of the most significant issues you will run across is finding a way to take the hassle out of buying life insurance for your ex-spouse.

The best way to do this is to simplify the process by only looking into simplified issue, no exam life insurance policies. Several life insurance companies, such as Pacific Life or Prudential, offer no exam policies along with term life insurance policies and whole life insurance policies.

No exam life insurance is going to be the fastest way, especially with the application process, to get your ex-spouse covered and out of your way.

You can usually get up to $500,000 in coverage with most carriers.

The no exam policy will require no exam and usually a telephone application and some personal information. The best ones don’t request medical records.

Your goal is to get this process over as fast as possible; we want to avoid a long drawn out process that getting an exam will have him take

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Who Needs to be Involved in Purchasing the Policy?

Four different parties are involved in the purchasing of a life insurance policy:

1. The Insured

When we talk about the insured, we are mainly talking about the person we are covering, not the owner of the policy. In this instance, it would be your ex-spouse.

2. The Owner

Policy owners are the only people who can make changes to the policy. They are the only ones who can cancel it or change the beneficiary. The policyholder has the final say in how the policy works.

3. The Payor

The payor is going to be the person responsible for making the premium payments, and they can be separate from both the owner and the insured. However, in most cases, if you are the payor, you probably want to be the owner as well. If you are paying for life insurance on your ex-spouse, you want to make sure he can’t make any changes to the policy.

RELATED: Check Sample Life Insurance Rates by Age (No Personal Info Required)

4. The Beneficiary

There are two types of beneficiaries, Primary and Contingent or Secondary.

Primary: The primary beneficiary is the first person(s) you want the money to pay out to if the insured passes away. You can have more than one primary beneficiary as long as the split of the money equals 100%.

Contingent or Secondary: The secondary beneficiary, almost always shown as the contingent beneficiary is going to be the next person(s) that you would like the policy to pay out to if the insured and primary beneficiaries pass away. You can have more than one secondary beneficiary as long as the split of the money equals 100%.

For Example:

Primary Beneficiary

  • Spouse – 50%
  • Mother – 50%

Secondary Beneficiary

  • Son – 50%
  • Daughter – 50%

In the above example, if you, your spouse, and your mother all passed away at the same time, the monies would pay out 50/50 to your son and daughter.

What Does This All Mean?

In most cases, you would be the owner, payor, and beneficiary. Your ex-husband would only be the insured.

Be sure to tell him he would not be liable for any missed payments – ever. As the owner, you have 100% control over the policy.

You can change the beneficiaries, payment mode or frequency, or even decrease the face amount (death benefit).

For a permanent life insurance policy, term policy and other cash value policies, the owner would also maintain complete control of the cash value, including having access to cash or loans. Your ex-husband would have no control or access to the policy, and structured like this, would in no way benefit from being the insured on the policy.

Frequently Asked Questions About Insuring an Ex

Can a Man Purchase Life Insurance on His Ex-Wife?

Yes.  Everything written above applies to both cases.

Can I purchase life insurance on my boyfriend or girlfriend?

Yes, again – as long as there is legitimate insurable interest. I wrote an article on this question, which can be found here.


It’s really important to understand your options and honestly, it can be easier working with an agent when trying to decipher your life insurance needs.

Your agent can be like your “Insurance Counselor” and help you guys through this process together.

This is especially true for people who didn’t have a messy divorce agreement.