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Does My Spouse Need Life Insurance if He or She Doesn’t Work?


When one spouse is the primary breadwinner, it is obvious why that person needs life insurance to protect the family. But a stay-at-home spouse needs life insurance, as well. Just because a person is not working at a paying job, that does not mean he or she lacks financial value. Consider what it would cost to pay another person for the services a stay-at-home spouse provides your household! 

Why Buy Life Insurance For a Stay-At-Home Spouse?

Most spouses who do not work at a paying job provide a wide range of services for the family. They tend to take a leading role in childcare, cooking, cleaning, and multiple household tasks and errands. In a family with two small children, a stay-at-home mom, and a dad working to provide for the family, how much would it cost to cover the services the mom provided if she were suddenly deceased? 

According to, the nationwide average rate for a nanny in 2020 is $15 per hour. At 40 hours per week, that adds up to $31,200 per year. And nanny services are often required for more than eight hours a day or 40 hours a week. When a stay-at-home spouse dies, the surviving spouse may need to pay someone for cleaning, cooking, transportation, and other services, which can add up to a substantial sum over time. 

The loss of a stay-at-home spouse could also limit career options for a surviving parent of small children. This could have huge financial consequences for the family. Death benefits from a life insurance policy could help ease the burden. 

How Much Life Insurance Does My Stay-At-Home Spouse Need?

Life insurance needs can be tricky to determine for someone who earns an income, and even more so for someone who does not work at a paying job. One general rule of thumb is to multiply your annual income by 10. This approach will not work for a stay-at-home spouse not earning an annual income. However, life insurance is designed to do more than replace lost income. Its purpose is to protect the ones you leave behind from financial hardship. 

Factors to consider in determining how much life insurance to buy for your spouse who does not work for pay include:

  • How many children you have
  • How much the breadwinning spouse earns
  • Ages of your children
  • Cost of living in your area
  • How long you want the life insurance coverage to last

When calculating life insurance needs, one approach is to consider the amount of money your spouse would need to come up with in the event of your death. This amount should include long-term financial goals, such as sending the kids to college, as well as daily costs of living. As the amount is likely to be greater if the breadwinning spouse should die, the stay-at-home spouse may need less life insurance. Our friendly agent can review your life insurance needs with you and your spouse to help you determine how much to buy. 

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