Life Insurance for the Non-Working Spouse

If you're considering buying life insurance for the non-working spouse, you have many policy options. Term life insurance is often the best fit for younger families, whereas whole life insurance often makes more sense in situations where the child(ren) need around-the-clock care.

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Tim is a licensed life insurance agent with 23 years of experience helping people protect their families and businesses with term life insurance. He writes and creates stuff for QuickQuote and other insurance and financial websites.

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Written by Tim Bain
Founder & Life Insurance Agent Tim Bain

Benjamin Carr was a licensed insurance agent in Georgia and has two years' experience in life, health, property and casualty coverage. He has worked with State Farm and other risk management firms. He is also a strategic writer and editor with a background in branding, marketing, and quality assurance. He has been in military newsrooms — literally on the frontline of journalism.

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Reviewed by Benji Carr
Former Licensed Life Insurance Agent Benji Carr

UPDATED: May 14, 2022

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Quick Facts

  • Some non-working spouses may want to consider purchasing life insurance coverage
  • Stay-at-home parents often assume they do not need a life insurance policy
  • In many cases, a term life insurance policy may be best for a spouse who is taking temporary time off from working outside the home

If you stay home to take care of your children and manage the home, you may not have an insurance policy. It’s very common for spouses who do not work outside the home to go without a life insurance policy. 

But what would your family do if something happened to you? How would your spouse manage the home, take care of the children, and continue to work outside the home? For many stay-at-home spouses, purchasing a life insurance policy is a great way to make sure their children and partner are taken care of.

Does a non-working spouse need life insurance?

Many people who manage the home instead of working outside the home assume they don’t need life insurance. However, in most cases, one spouse stays home to care for the children and handle the day-to-day activities while the other has a full-time job.

The basic rule of thumb for life insurance is to take your annual income and multiply it by five to 15 to decide how much insurance coverage to carry. When couples use this tactic, they might assume that the spouse who does not work outside the home doesn’t need a life insurance policy because they do not generate income.

But while families can use life insurance to replace the income that is lost when a spouse passes away, a life insurance policy is also helpful to protect a family from financial hardship after a loss.

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Will the death of a stay-at-home spouse create financial hardship?

A stay-at-home spouse, especially one who stays home to look after children, has a lot of responsibilities. Spouses who work inside the home are often responsible for caring for children, teaching children, feeding the family, cleaning and maintaining the household, running errands, and more.

Suppose a stay-at-home spouse suddenly passed away. The living spouse would need time to grieve the loss, and they would also need to help their children come to terms with losing the parent they saw the most.

Once the grieving process ends, the living spouse needs to figure out exactly what they will do to earn money and care for the children and the household. In many cases, the surviving spouse considers hiring someone to help in either a part-time or full-time capacity.

But hiring someone to run a household and take care of children can be extremely expensive. In many cases, the help hired to replace a stay-at-home spouse costs tens of thousands of dollars a year. When you consider this financial burden, it makes sense to consider purchasing life insurance for the non-working spouse.

How much life insurance does a non-working spouse need?

Determining how much life insurance a stay-at-home spouse needs can be difficult. Many different factors contribute to determining how much coverage a non-working spouse needs. Some of these factors include:

  • The non-working spouse’s age
  • Whether the couple has children
  • The age of the children
  • Whether the non-working spouse intends to work outside the home in the future

Sometimes the best way to determine how much life insurance a non-working spouse needs is to speak with an insurance agent to learn about the various options. Among the most common options for life insurance coverage are term and whole life insurance policies.

Does a stay-at-home spouse need a term or whole life policy?

While there are other life insurance policies, term and whole life policies are by far the most common. If you are a non-working spouse, how can you choose between the two?

One of the best ways to choose is to consider the age of your family. For example, if you are in your 20s or early 30s and have young children, you may want to consider purchasing a term life insurance policy. This is especially true if you believe you will eventually return to the workforce once your children are older.

Term life insurance policies cover a policyholder for 10 to 30 years. If you want added financial security while building equity in your home and raising your children, a term life policy is a great option. At the end of the term, a term life policy will simply end without the policyholder having to do anything to cancel the policy.

Whole life insurance policies may be a good idea for a non-working spouse who cares for a child that needs around-the-clock attention or for a spouse who stays home and knows they will not enter the workforce. 

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How much is life insurance for a non-working spouse?

It is not easy to know exactly how much you will pay for life insurance until you shop for quotes online. And quotes between a term and whole life insurance policy will vary significantly.

The table below shows the average monthly rates for a 20-year term life insurance policy based on a person’s age and gender.

Average Monthly 20-Year Term Life Insurance Rates by Age and Gender
Term Life Insurance Policyholder Age$100,000: Male Average Term Life Monthly Rates$100,000: Female Average Term Life Monthly Rates$250,000: Male Average Term Life Monthly Rates$250,000: Female Average Term Life Monthly Rates$500,000: Male Average Term Life Monthly Rates$500,000: Female Average Term Life Monthly Rates
25$14.53$12.70$23.27$18.72$34.79$27.39
30$14.96$13.22$24.59$20.44$37.39$29.59
35$17.57$15.40$26.09$22.19$40.04$32.19
40$21.40$18.62$33.72$28.49$54.79$45.69
45$26.54$22.97$45.47$37.42$79.19$66.14
50$36.02$29.32$69.59$54.59$126.14$96.99
55$50.98$38.11$105.72$78.97$203.14$143.99
60$84.91$60.20$183.79$131.17$355.39$248.84
65$144.51$97.44$323.42$220.99$625.09$432.84
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Now, compare the rates above to the table below, which shows the average monthly rates for a whole life insurance policy based on a person’s age and gender.

Average Monthly Whole Life Insurance Rates by Age & Gender
Policyholder Age$100,000: Male Average Monthly Rates$100,000: Female Average Monthly Rates$250,000: Male Average Monthly Rates$250,000: Female Average Monthly Rates$500,000: Male Average Monthly Rates$500,000: Female Average Monthly Rates
25$93.70$84.91$225.12$203.14$444.14$400.19
30$107.71$97.35$260.14$234.24$514.19$462.39
35$128.24$112.93$311.47$273.19$616.84$540.29
40$153.90$132.15$375.62$321.24$745.14$636.39
45$190.79$156.17$467.84$381.29$929.59$756.49
50$234.90$191.66$578.12$470.02$1,150.14$933.94
55$294.84$243.17$727.97$598.79$1,449.84$1,191.49
60$399.24$311.63$988.97$769.94$1,971.84$1,533.79
65$528$421.69$1,310.87$1,045.09$2,615.64$2,084.09
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As you can see, life insurance rates go up as you get older, and they tend to be higher for men than for women. Additionally, a whole life insurance policy can be much more expensive than a term life insurance policy, depending on the coverage amount.

For many families, the relatively inexpensive rates associated with term life insurance policies are another reason a term life policy ends up being a better option for a stay-at-home spouse. 

Life Insurance for Non-Working Spouses: The Bottom Line

Even when a stay-at-home spouse does not earn income outside of the home, a non-working spouse does a great deal of work to care for children and manage the household. Therefore, the financial burden of hiring someone to take on the responsibilities of a non-working spouse can be severe.

To avoid feeling the financial strain associated with the death of a stay-at-home spouse, it’s a good idea to purchase a life insurance policy. In many cases, a term life insurance policy can be a helpful and inexpensive way to ensure the family will be cared for if the non-working spouse passes away. 

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