The secret to increasing life insurance most people forget – GIOs

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Posted 3rd March 2021 by

Guaranteed Insurability Option – GIO

You read all the terms and conditions when you took out life insurance, right? No? You’re not alone. Yet lurking in that massive booklet is a huge benefit that hardly anyone knows about. It’s called a Guaranteed Insurability Option (or GIO). Put simply, this super feature allows you to increase the value of your life insurance policy without being reassessed. Most insurers include this benefit as standard. Be sure to check your policy documents as some “simplified” products leave this valuable benefit out.

Why is GIO such a good benefit?

Illustration of money and a contract between 2 men

If you take out a new life insurance policy, you will need to answer the insurer’s health and lifestyle questions. Sadly, as we get older most of us will suffer from one or more illnesses or diseases. This may result in a new life insurance policy being more expensive or maybe impossible to find. Guaranteed Insurability Options allow you to increase the sum assured (level of cover) and sometimes even change the term without being reassessed. You will have to pay extra premiums for a higher level of cover, but the cost will be based on your health when you first arranged cover.

When can I take advantage of Guaranteed Insurability Options?

A Guaranteed Insurability Option will typically be utilised immediately after a life event happens. These can include:

  • The birth or adoption of a child
  • A new marriage or civil partnership
  • Getting divorced
  • Changing jobs
  • Getting promoted or a pay rise
  • A new mortgage (or increasing a mortgage)
  • Various other circumstances

Every insurer has a different set of rules and circumstances surrounding guaranteed insurability options. Below we have provided a breakdown of each insurer’s current guidelines:

Provider and PolicyGIO Specifics
Aegon WOL (Whole Of Life)
  • New born or legally adopted child, married or entered into a civil partnership, mortgage on main residence increases due to house move, improvement or extensions on main residence, changed jobs or promoted and yearly salary increased beyond 10%, you have a single life policy and you divorce or dissolve a civil partnership, the ownership Percentage the customer hold in a company as an equity partner or owner increases or the customer increases a business loan, the customer is a sole trader and yearly net relevant earning increase or they increase the amount of a business loan, IHT liability has increased (not available for joint policies on first death basis).
  • Must be applied for within 6 months of the event.
  • Further terms may apply please see the provider’s key facts.
AIG YourLife – CIC and Life Policies
  • Available if 55 years old or less and: gets married or becomes a civil partner; has a child (including adopting a child or becoming a legal guardian); or increases the amount of their mortgage.
  • Cannot apply for more than the lower of 50% of the current sum assured or £75,000. Different limits may apply depending on the reason you are using this option to change the cover
  • Certain existing medical conditions and other risks may impact the ability to use GIO.
  • Further terms may apply please see the provider’s key facts.
AIG YourLife WOL (Whole of Life)
  • Available if 55 years old or less and: gets married or becomes a civil partner; has a child (including adopting a child or becoming a legal guardian); or increases the amount of their mortgage, is promoted by their current employer, or starts a new job with a different employer, and their salary increases.
  • Cannot apply for more than the lower of 100% of the current sum assured or £150,000. Different limits may apply depending on the reason you are using this option to change the cover
  • Can increase the amount of cover if inheritance tax (IHT) liability increases, and you are aged 90 or under. There is specific criteria for this such as limits, timescales and where there is a change to the IHT legislation.
  • Certain existing medical conditions and other risks may impact the ability to use GIO.
  • Further terms may apply please see the provider’s key facts.
Aviva

 

  • Called ‘Life Change Benefit’, the customer won’t need to answer any extra health and lifestyle questions if they want to increase their cover if they: get married or enter a civil partnership, divorce, dissolve a civil partnership or separate, become a parent, get a bigger mortgage because of moving, buying somewhere or improving their home, or get at least a 20% pay rise because they’ve either been promoted or have a different employer. Also applies if there is an increase in rental payments imposed by the landlord, there is an increase in rental payments due to a move to another rented property, or there is a move from rented to mortgaged accommodation.
  • The customer can increase their cover amount to the lower of £200,000 for level and decreasing cover or the amount their mortgage has gone up by. Different limits may apply depending on the reason you are using this option to change the cover
  • Not available if not accepted on standard terms.
  • Further terms may apply please see the provider’s key facts.
Canada Life CIC and Life Policies
  • Available for people under age 55 who have been provided cover at standard terms
  • Do not need to provide further information about their state of health.
  • The max increase is 50% of the initial cover amount or £150,000, whichever is lower. The cover can be increased for subsequent specified events up to a total maximum cover amount of £200,000. Different limits may apply depending on the reason you are using this option to change the cover
  • The specified events are: getting married or entering into a civil partnership, birth or adoption of a child,  increasing a mortgage due to moving into a new property or making home improvements, an increase in your salary of 10% or more as a result of promotion, gaining a recognised professional qualification or change of employer or job.
  • Further terms may apply please see the provider’s key facts.
HSBC
  • The customer can increase their cover level by up to 50% of their existing benefit amount, at any one event, as long as this remains within the maximum cover limit on your plan and does not exceed £150,000.
  • Where the customer requests an increase for more than one event during the term of your Policy a maximum overall limit of £200,000 will apply.
  • Different limits may apply depending on the reason you are using this option to change the cover
  • Further terms may apply please see the provider’s key facts.
Legal and General
  • You can use this option in the event of: entering into marriage or a registered civil partnership, or the birth of the life assured’s child, or the life assured legally adopting a child, an increase to the life assured’s mortgage by reason of a house move or undertaking major home improvements, or an increase in the life assured’s salary due to a change of employment or promotion.
  • GIO must be used within six months of the event and if we request relevant documents in relation to the events, they must be provided.
  • For all increases, the sum assured may only be increased on each occasion by the lower of: 50% of the original sum assured or, £150,000, or the amount of the increase in the mortgage, or the amount equal to the original sum assured multiplied by the percentage increase in salary. Different limits may apply depending on the reason you are using this option to change the cover
  • This option may only be used three times in total, but only once for a marriage or a registered civil partnership.
  • The maximum total of all increases permitted is £200,000.
  • If the customer used this option exclusions apply to further GIO options, cover length and other premium terms may apply.
  • If the customer is seeking medical treatment or diagnostic tests at the time of wanting to use GIO, terms may apply
  • Must be before the 55th birthday of the oldest life assured.
  • Further terms may apply please see the provider’s key facts.
LV=
  • Marriage or civil partnership, Childbirth or legal adoption of a child, Divorce or dissolution of civil partnership, Mortgage increase or home improvements, Mortgage extension, Increase in basic salary received from an employer, splitting joint life cover on separation
  • The total of all the Guaranteed Increase Options you use can’t be more than 50% of the amount of cover shown on your Policy Schedule, at the time you wish to use the option.
  • Different limits apply depending on the reason you are using this option to change the cover
  • Total amount cover can increase by over the lifetime of the policy using these Guaranteed Increase Options can’t be more than £200,000. Different limits may apply depending on the reason you are using this option to change the cover
  • If the customer has more than one type of cover or more than one plan with LV= on the life of the same person covered, the limits apply to all of them added together – not separately to each cover or plan.
  • In all cases these options must be used within three months of the event occurring.
  • Maximum age is 54.
  • Further terms may apply please see the provider’s key facts.
Scottish Widows Life
  • The types of event are: a life assured’s marriage or registering of a civil partnership, divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership, the birth of a child of a life assured, the adoption of a child by a life assured or becoming a legal guardian for a child, an increase to a life assured’s mortgage; and receiving a salary increase.
  • Children must be under age 21 years and financially dependent on a life assured.
  • The new policy must not be more than the lowest of: 50% of the sum assured of this policy at the start date or £150,000. Different limits apply depending on the reason you are using this option to change the cover
  • If there are two lives assured an increase to the sum assured must not exceed £200,000.
  • Must be before the 55th birthday of the oldest life assured.
  • Further terms may apply please see the provider’s key facts.
Scottish Widows WOL (Whole of Life)
  • Can make changes due to: an increase in inheritance tax rates or a reduction in inheritance tax allowances, reliefs or exemptions becoming law; a life assured, before the age of 70, receiving an inheritance of cash or a residential property under the terms of a will; or a life assured, before the age of 70, receiving a gift of cash or a residential property during the lifetime of the donor.
  • An event must directly result in an increase to the potential inheritance tax liability on the life assured’s estate.
  • If there are two lives assured, the option for an event will be available in respect of either life assured.
  • The sum assured must not be more than the lowest of: 50% of the sum assured or £500,000, or the increase in potential inheritance tax liability on the estate.
  • Further terms may apply please see the provider’s key facts.
Vitality
  • Must be used within 3 months of the event and evidence will be required.
  • May be used before 55th birthday for: Childbirth or adoption, Marriage or Civil Partnership, New or increased mortgage, Promotion or change of job leading to a salary increase, Every third plan anniversary
  • May be used before 70th birthday for: Legislative change leading to increase in inheritance tax liability Increase in value of estate leading to an increase in inheritance tax liability options
  • The maximum you can increase your plan account by, using Guaranteed Insurability options, is £150,000. This maximum applies across the whole life of your plan.
  • Further terms may apply please see the provider’s key facts.
Zurich
  • The benefit is called milestone benefit, this allows you to increase the amount of cover on your policy within 90 days of a significant life event (such as moving house, getting married or having a child). You won’t have to tell us about any changes in your personal circumstances at the time.
  • The most you can increase your cover by with this benefit is the lower of your original lump sum or £200,000 and you’ll need to be 54 years or younger when you make this change. Milestone benefit will be included on your policy unless we specifically exclude it on your ‘Confirmation of terms’.
  • Further terms may apply please see the providers key facts.

It’s worth noting that Over 50’s life insurance policies  typically do not offer a Guaranteed Insurability Option. It is however always worth checking your policy documents.

What if my policy did not have a GIO or I don’t qualify?

Often the big things in life take up a lot of our time, focus and energy. That may mean you missed the boat on guaranteed insurability options. But worry not! We’ve got you covered. You can legally have more than one life insurance policy. Or, you could decide it’s better to start afresh. Whatever you decide, a Protect Line expert is always ready and raring to help you.

Still researching Life Insurance?

Still unsure about what to do? Why not check out our Ultimate Guide to Life Insurance.

 

Protection plans with no investment element will have no cash in value at any time. If premiums are not maintained, then cover will lapse.

 

Chris Reed

Senior Financial Service & Marketing Leader | Experienced in Sales Leadership, Business Development and Digital Marketing Lead Generation | Passion for progressing business using technology.

I have worked for Protect Line since 2011 in many different positions. I have a passion for protection and I love helping ensure as a business we talk in plain English.

In my opinion, financial protection should be a part of our schools curriculum. Currently it's down to the private sector to help provide unbiased factual information.

My aim is to help share the benefits of using a non-advised brokerage to secure financial protection for your family.