What Is Voluntary Life Insurance?

What Is Voluntary Life Insurance?

Voluntary life insurance is a type of coverage that is typically offered through an employer as part of a voluntary benefits package. It’s a choice-driven model where individuals personally select and manage their policy.

It’s a crucial component of financial planning, and it can provide an added layer of financial protection for workers and their beneficiaries in the event of the insured’s death. It’s essential to understand the differences between this type of insurance and the standard options, as well as the pros and cons associated with enrolling in a voluntary plan.

Types of Life Insurance

There are three types of life insurance that most people are familiar with: Term Life, Whole Life, and Universal Life. The main differences between Voluntary Life Insurance and standard term, whole, and universal life insurance lie in how they are obtained, who pays for the coverage, and the features they offer.

Voluntary life insurance is commonly a term life insurance offered through an employer with employee-paid premiums. This freedom is much different from employer-paid life insurance, a standard employee benefit with a predetermined protection period.

Voluntary Life Insurance

  • Obtained Through Employer: Typically offered as part of an employer’s benefits package
  • Employee-Paid Premiums: Employees choose to participate and pay the premiums, often through payroll deductions
  • Group Coverage: Usually provided as group coverage, and the amount may be based on salary or offered as a fixed amount
  • Term Coverage: Generally, voluntary life insurance is term life insurance, providing coverage for a specified period

Term Life Insurance

  • Individual Purchase: Typically purchased directly by an individual from an insurance provider
  • Fixed Term: Provides coverage for a specific term (e.g., 10, 20, or 30 years)
  • Level Premiums: Premiums remain consistent throughout the term
  • No Cash Value: Does not accumulate cash value; it is designed to provide a death benefit only

*Voluntary term life insurance covers you for a specific timeframe, such as 10, 20, or 30 years. It is usually cheaper than voluntary whole life insurance but has no cash value or other benefits.

Whole Life Insurance

  • Individual Purchase: Purchased directly by an individual
  • Lifetime Coverage: Protects the entire life of the insured
  • Cash Value Accumulation: Builds cash value over time that can be accessed or borrowed against
  • Higher Premiums: Premiums are generally higher compared to term life insurance

*Voluntary whole life insurance covers you for your entire life, as long as you pay the premiums. It has a cash value component that you can borrow from or withdraw, and it may also pay dividends.

Universal Life Insurance

  • Individual Purchase: Purchased directly by an individual
  • Flexible Premiums: Offers flexibility in premium payments and death benefits
  • Cash Value and Investment Component: Combines life insurance with an investment component that allows policyholders to accumulate cash value and potentially earn interest
  • Adjustable Death Benefit: Policyholders can adjust the death benefit and premium payments over time

Who Is the Ideal Candidate for Voluntary Life Insurance?

Voluntary life insurance is designed for people who want to supplement their employer-provided life insurance. Here’s a breakdown of who voluntary life insurance is for:

Individuals Seeking Additional Coverage

If the basic life insurance coverage offered by an employer is insufficient to meet an individual’s financial protection needs, they may opt for voluntary life insurance to enhance their policy.

Employees With Dependents

People with dependents, such as spouses or children, may consider voluntary life insurance to ensure their family members are financially secure in the event of their passing.

Those In Good Health

Though not generally requested, voluntary life insurance might require medical underwriting, so those in good health may find it more accessible and affordable. It allows them to secure benefits while potentially obtaining better rates compared to seeking life insurance independently.

Enrollment Process

Understanding the enrollment process of voluntary life insurance involves a series of key considerations, each important in making a suitable coverage plan. Employee eligibility is the initial checkpoint outlining who qualifies for voluntary coverage. This criterion may vary among employers, requiring the applicant to understand and fulfill specific requirements to participate in the program.

Once eligibility is established, you can now choose coverage options. Policyholders can select the extent and nature of their coverage. From determining the face value of the policy to choosing riders that enhance protection, this phase empowers policyholders to customize their coverage to suit their circumstances.

Understanding the cost structure, frequency of payments, and available payment methods is essential. This financial commitment is integral to maintaining the chosen coverage level and maximizing voluntary life insurance benefits.

Benefits of Voluntary Life Insurance

Voluntary life insurance presents many benefits essential for individuals and their loved ones.


Firstly, it acts as a guardian, ensuring financial security for dependents in the event of the policyholder’s death. This aspect extends beyond mere monetary value, offering a sense of comfort and stability.


The flexibility and customization of voluntary life insurance set it apart. Unlike one-size-fits-all policies, individuals can choose the coverage level that suits their specific needs and circumstances, tailoring their life insurance to better align with their financial responsibilities, such as mortgages, debts, or supporting dependents.

No Medical Exam

Usually, voluntary life insurance doesn’t require a medical exam. That means you can get coverage without undergoing a physical examination or providing detailed medical information. This can be especially beneficial for people with pre-existing medical conditions or who cannot qualify for traditional life insurance policies.

However, it’s important to note that no-exam policies may have some limitations, such as lower coverage amounts and higher premiums. Some policies may require you to answer a few basic health questions or provide access to your medical records. Overall, no-exam life insurance can be a convenient and accessible option for those who need coverage quickly and easily.

Tax Benefits

Policyholders may enjoy tax benefits on premiums paid or the death benefit received, depending on the jurisdiction. Understanding and leveraging these tax advantages enhances the overall financial appeal of voluntary life insurance, making it a comprehensive tool for long-term planning.

Drawbacks of Voluntary Life Insurance

While voluntary life insurance can offer additional coverage and flexibility, there are potential downsides to consider:


Employees typically fund voluntary life insurance entirely, meaning they are responsible for the premiums. This can result in higher out-of-pocket costs compared to employer-sponsored basic life insurance.

Portability Concerns

If an employee leaves the company or retires, voluntary life insurance coverage may not be portable. This means they might lose the coverage or face challenges in maintaining it, potentially leading to gaps in protection.

Limited Coverage Amounts

The coverage amounts available through voluntary life insurance plans may be capped, and employees may not be able to secure the level of coverage they desire. This limitation could leave individuals underinsured based on their financial needs.

Medical Underwriting

Some voluntary life insurance plans require medical underwriting, which means individuals in less-than-optimal health may face higher premiums or be denied coverage altogether.

Better Alternatives

Depending on an individual’s financial situation and needs, other life insurance options, such as term or whole life insurance policies purchased independently, may offer better value, coverage, and long-term benefits.

How It Benefits Employers

From an employer’s vantage point, offering voluntary life insurance is a strategic decision rooted in employee well-being and overall benefits packages. Employers recognize the role life insurance plays in providing financial security, demonstrating a commitment to the welfare of their workforce.

The provision of voluntary coverage echoes the evolving expectations of employees for comprehensive benefits. The impact on employee benefits packages is substantial. Voluntary life insurance enhances the overall attractiveness of these packages, contributing to a competitive edge in talent acquisition and retention.

It communicates a corporate commitment to employee welfare, creating a positive work environment. As employers consider the broader implications, the inclusion of voluntary coverage becomes an instrumental aspect of workplace culture that values and prioritizes the peace of mind of its employees. Voluntary life insurance emerges not just as a shield against the unexpected but as a versatile instrument for crafting a resilient and tailored financial plan.

Considerations Before Embracing Voluntary Life Insurance

Employees typically gain access to voluntary life insurance immediately upon hire or shortly after that. Suppose an employee chooses not to enroll initially. In that case, the next opportunity to secure coverage is typically during open enrollment or after experiencing a qualifying life event, such as marriage, the birth or adoption of a child, or divorce.

Choosing the most suitable type of voluntary life insurance involves assessing present and future needs regarding financial obligations, dependent care, and future goals.

Comparing policies is the next step. You have to evaluate the terms, coverage options, and associated costs offered by different insurance providers. This step allows for better decision-making, ensuring you get the most advantageous and cost-effective policy.

Long-term planning makes up the final consideration. Voluntary life insurance is not just a short-term financial safeguard; it plays a vital role in a holistic, long-term financial strategy. Envision how your needs may evolve over time and choose a policy that accommodates these foreseeable changes.