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What is group life insurance?

Group life insurance is a type of life insurance in which a single contract covers an entire group of people. Typically, the policyowner is an employer or an entity such as a labor organization, and the policy covers the employees or members of the group. Group life insurance is often provided as part of a complete employee benefit package. In most cases, the cost of group coverage is far less than what the employees or members would pay for a similar amount of individual protection. So if you are offered group life insurance through your employer or another group, you should usually take it, especially if you have no other life insurance or if your personal coverage is inadequate.

As the policyowner, the employer or other entity keeps the actual insurance policy, known as the master contract. All of those who are covered typically receive a certificate of insurance that serves as proof of insurance but is not actually the insurance policy. As with other types of life insurance, group life insurance allows you to choose your beneficiary.

Term insurance is the most common form of group life insurance. Group term life is typically provided in the form of yearly renewable term insurance. When group term insurance is provided through your employer, the employer usually pays for most (and in some cases all) of the premiums. The amount of your coverage is typically equal to one or two times your annual salary.

Group term coverage remains in force until your employment is terminated or until the specific term of coverage ends. You may have the option of converting your group coverage to an individual policy if you leave your employer. However, most people choose not to do this because these conversion premiums tend to be much higher than premiums for comparable policies available to individuals. Typically, only those who are otherwise uninsurable take advantage of this conversion option.