How does life insurance work?

Life insurance is usually paid out upon your death. However, you can also get it paid out early if you are diagnosed with a terminal illness leaving you with only 6- 12 months (depending on your policy) or less to live.

Why do my premiums go up every year? Do they have to?

Premiums go up every year because they are calculated using age, gender, smoking status and health and lifestyle factors. They are calculated by an actuary who deals with the measurement and management of risk and uncertainty.

On a statistical basis, the chance of a person dying at a certain age changes each year. When you are younger premiums can decrease each year as the chance of dying by accident reduces. Unfortunately, as you get older, the chance of dying increases, so premiums increase. The amount by which they increase varies from year to year.

We are happy to offer some alternatives if you'd rather pay a fixed premium

  • Life cover with premiums fixed for five or ten years, or
  • premiums that stay the same each year with a reducing sum insured for your life cover.

You can contact our office to discuss this.

Why can’t my premiums stay the same?

Some companies offer “level premiums” which means that for a fixed period, usually up to a specified age e.g. up to age 65, you keep paying the same amount. Pinnacle Life doesn’t offer ‘level premiums’ as a standard offer, but if you have an existing ‘level premium’ policy or quote from another company, we are happy to look to see if we can match it. We may also be able to fix premiums for a period of 5 to 10 years, just contact us for a quote.

Can I put my premiums on hold?

Get in touch by email or phone, and we can see what we can do. During the time your premiums are on hold, you won’t be able to make a claim.

If you miss three payments within 24 months without catching them up, your policy will end the next time you miss a payment. The three payments don’t need to be consecutive.

COVID-19 update: The alert level 4 and 3 lockdowns for COVID-19 have made things tough for many of our customers. Please get in touch with us if this is you as we have other options you may be eligible for during this time, including a premium holiday and an extended period for putting cover on hold.

What if I forgot to declare something on my application?

You need to let us know as soon as possible. The additional information you provide may or may not affect your policy. Your policy may be placed on hold while we work through the assessment process, alternatively we may need to void your policy and issue you with a new policy once we have completed our assessment. If you are unsure whether you disclosed something on your application, please contact us and we will send you a copy of your application to review.

What if I miss a payment?

Don't worry; we understand this can happen. If you

  • Miss one payment it might mean that you aren't covered for a month, but it won't cause your policy to lapse.
  • If you miss four payments within 24 months, then your policy will lapse, and you'll need to reapply.
  • If you miss your first payment, due within 14 days of taking out your policy, we'll be in touch letting you know we haven't received it and what this means for your cover.

If you know you're not going to be able to make a payment on your set date, you can reschedule your payment by getting in touch.

Can I make changes to my policy?

Yes, you can make changes to your policy. You can

- increase your cover

- decrease your cover

- make a special event increase which means you may be able to increase your cover without asking for updated health information such as if you've gotten married, entered a civil union, divorced, or become a parent in the last six months of your policy.

To make any of these changes and others go to our Customer Support Section. Otherwise contact our customer service team on 0800 22 22 23.

How do I change a default owner once my policy is in place?

When you first take out your policy, the policy owner is the same person as the life insured. The policy owner is the only person who can make changes or cancel the policy, which is why it often makes sense for the life insured person to also be the owner, but we understand that sometimes that’s not the case. To change the owner of your policy you just need to complete our ‘change of ownership’ form. To own a life insurance policy you must be 18 years old.

If I change jobs do I need to let you know?

With income protection, you don’t need to let us know if you have changed employment. However, if changing employment has changed your pre-tax income, contact us to ensure that your level of cover is appropriate for your new income levels.

What if my income changes?

If you have income protection, we suggest you let us know when your income changes, so that you can change your level of cover accordingly. If you let us know within 60 days of your income increasing we can usually increase your cover without requiring any further medical information. We recommend you review your level of cover regularly, but particularly when you have significant changes to your income levels.

What does ownership mean?

The owner or owners are the people

  • who will receive any proceeds of a claim or if the owner is deceased, the claim will be paid to their estate. If there are two owners and one has died in most cases the proceeds of a claim will be paid to the surviving owner.
  • who can authorise changes to this policy like
  • reducing the cover
  • changing the beneficiaries (if your policy has a beneficiary) or
  • cancelling the policy. If there is more than one owner then all of the owners will need to agree to any changes.

I have a joint policy with my partner and we have separated. What happens to our policy?

We may be able to help you split the policy into two individual policies, how this works will depend on the ownership structure of your policy. if we split your policy, you won't have to re-apply or be re-assessed for your cover, unless you want to apply for more cover. Contact us on 0800 22 22 23 or by email to work through exactly what needs to happen for your policy.


You may wish to leave the policy as it is, which is fine. If you are joint owners of the policy then should you pass away, your ex-partner will be paid the proceeds of any claim on your life and vice versa. This is sometimes a good option if you have children that will be dependent on you if either of you should pass away.

What do I need to do to cancel my policy?

Depending on your policy, we’ll either need the owners to send us a signed request to cancel the policy, or send us an email with some security details. To find out which applies to your policy contact our Customer Services Team.

Do I get money back if I cancel?

No, you don’t. You can cancel this policy at any time; however, your payments are not refundable. The only exception is where you have paid either for six or 12 months in advance; in this case, we’ll refund the amount you have pre-paid. The same as for your typical car, contents and health insurance policies.

What am I not covered for?

At Pinnacle Life it’s slightly different for each type of policy. Click here for a summary by product.

​Can I leave my life insurance to a charity?

Your life insurance will be paid out to the owner of the policy. In most cases the person whose life is insured is also the policy owner, so when the life insured dies the payout will go to their estate. What happens to the money will depend on what’s set out in their will. If you want your money to go to a charity make sure you’ve specified that in your will.

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