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Can You Have More Than One Life Insurance Policy?

Dana George
By: Dana George

Our Insurance Expert

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Life insurance is one of the most important purchases you can make as an adult. Without breaking the bank, the right insurance policy can provide you with peace of mind, knowing that your loved ones will have the financial resources they need to carry on after your death. But what if your circumstances change and you need more life insurance? Here, we'll answer that question and offer two alternatives to buying multiple policies.

How many life insurance policies can one person have?

There is no legal limit on the number of life insurance policies you can own. However, as we'll cover in the next section, insurance companies tend to get a little itchy if you have too much coverage.

Limits on life insurance coverage

There is also no legal limit on the amount of life insurance you carry. That said, if you earn $30,000 a year and are insured for $2 million, life insurance companies may become concerned. When you're insured for far more than is reasonable for a person with your income, insurers may wonder if a plan is in the works.

For example, most insurance companies pay out benefits to the families of those who commit suicide -- as long as they've had their policy for two to three years (the exact amount of time varies by company). As dark a thought as it may be, insurers worry about those who purchase huge policies when there does not appear to be a financial need for so much coverage.

If you have a business you want to keep afloat after your death, a large policy may make sense. But, if you're working an entry-level job and don't have many financial obligations, it makes less sense. While there's no set-in-stone rule, insurance companies are unlikely to provide you with more coverage if you already have death benefits equalling 20 to 30 times your annual salary.

If you earn $30,000 a year, death benefits exceeding $600,000 to $900,000 will likely raise a red flag for insurers. You also need to ask yourself why you're willing to pay for a policy with a high death benefit before you have a need for that much coverage.

Why have multiple life insurance policies?

There are plenty of times in life when it makes sense to have more than one life insurance policy. Here are some of them.

Childhood policy

It's not unusual for a grandparent or other relative to purchase a whole life policy for a child when they're young. While the amount may be just enough to pay for a funeral, it's unlikely to be enough to take care of your financial obligations as an adult. It's to be expected that you would compare life insurance companies and policies to find if one better fits your needs as you move beyond childhood.

Circumstances have changed

Let's say you earned $30,000 a year when you purchased your first insurance policy. Later, as you move through your career, your income grows. Now, instead of making $30,000 a year you're earning $90,000, and as your income increases, you find yourself with more financial obligations. Or, perhaps you've started a business or had children since purchasing your first life insurance policy. The policy that fit your needs when you first bought life insurance may no longer be adequate for your growing needs.

Just as you would review a health plan or auto insurance policy as your circumstances change, it's natural to conduct life insurance checkups. If that checkup leads to the purchase of additional coverage, you can rest easy, knowing you're in control of how much you leave behind.

Dependent with special needs

If you have a child that may always need assistance and you want to make sure they are cared for after your death, a single policy may not provide a large enough death benefit to cover their expenses. Purchasing a secondary plan (or even third or fourth policy) makes sense when long-term care for someone you love is likely to be expensive. With so many different types of life insurance, a good insurance agent can walk you through your options.

Remembering a charity

If, along the path to adulthood, you've become passionate about a specific cause, buying another policy is one way to make sure there's money available to donate after your death.

Let's say you purchased an inexpensive term insurance policy when you were young and just starting out, and another with a higher death benefit when your children were growing up. Once the kids were out of the house, you began to think about the important causes you'd like to support without taking anything away from your beneficiaries.

If you can afford a new policy, life insurance is a good way to share the wealth.

Can you apply for life insurance with more than one company at the same time?

Yes, you can apply for more than one policy with the same company or for several policies with different insurance companies. As mentioned, insurance companies look to see how much insurance you currently carry and may not provide you with more coverage if the death benefits on your existing policies exceed 20 to 30 times your annual salary.

Alternatives to multiple policies

If you're just starting out, there are a couple of ways to avoid multiple policies.

  • As you shop for life insurance, ask about including a policy rider. For example, a guaranteed insurability rider offers you the option of purchasing more life insurance down the road as you need it. Better yet, such a rider allows you to purchase more without undergoing another medical exam.
  • If the policy you're purchasing is term life, consider adding a term conversion rider. A term conversation rider allows you to convert part of your term policy to permanent life insurance every few years (or however often your contract stipulates). While you may only be able to afford a term life policy when you're young, there's no way to predict if you'll one day decide you'd rather have a policy that builds cash value and lasts your entire life.


  • Yes, as long as your total coverage does not exceed 20 to 30 times your annual salary, there is no limit on how many policies you can carry.

  • As your circumstances change, it's natural that your need for life insurance will change. If having enough means carrying multiple policies, that's a good thing.

  • As long as your premiums are paid up to date, there's no limit on how many policies can be paid out.

Our Insurance Expert