What Is Basic Life Insurance? Meaning, Type, Pros, Cons And Alternatives

What Is Basic Life Insurance? A Comprehensive Review.


This type of insurance is an employer-sponsored policy, often providing minimal coverage.

Postal and federal employees typically receive coverage through the Federal Employee Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) program.

Most individuals, especially breadwinners, may find it beneficial to supplement this insurance with additional coverage.

What Is Basic Life Insurance
What Is Basic Life Insurance: Photo(Simply Insurance)

How It Works

This type of insurance, offered by employers, functions similarly to traditional life insurance but is considered barebones.

Typically covering one year’s base salary—instead of the recommended 10 years—it boasts lower premiums compared to individual life insurance rates.

Employers or affiliate groups, such as credit unions, may offer this type of insurance as part of their benefits package, often at a low cost or even free for employees.

Enrollment can be automatic for some, like federal employees, while private sector workers might need to complete an application or acknowledge coverage, especially if contributing to the premium.

Also Read: CUMIS Specialty Insurance Company, Inc.: A Trusted Partner for Credit Unions


  • Private sector employees: Employers in the private sector may offer this insurance as part of their benefits, with coverage varying between companies.
  • Federal employees: All federal employees are automatically enrolled in this type of insurance unless excluded by law or regulation.
  • Postal employees: The U.S. Postal Service enrolls postal employees in FEGLI basic life insurance unless regulations or laws exclude them.


In many cases, employer-provided basic life insurance comes at little to no cost for employees, making it an attractive option for those on a budget.

U.S. Postal Service employees typically receive this insurance through FEGLI at no charge, while other government workers may contribute about a third of the premium cost.

Costs can vary depending on the employer and plan specifics, but the emphasis is on affordability.

Although this insurance generally covers essential expenses like funeral costs and minor debts, it might not provide substantial long-term support for beneficiaries.

Basic vs. Supplemental Insurance

Basic Life Insurance

  • Cost: Often low-cost or free, typically provided by employers.
  • Coverage: Fixed amount, typically one year’s base salary.
  • Best For: Singles or those with minimal financial obligations, covering immediate needs like funeral costs and minor debts.

Supplemental Life Insurance

  • Cost: Additional premium required.
  • Coverage: Flexible amounts tailored to individual needs.
  • Best For: Primary earners or those with dependents, addressing long-term financial needs such as mortgage payments and educational expenses.

Basic life insurance is a foundational, entry-level coverage, offering essential but limited protection.

Supplemental life insurance bridges gaps, providing extended coverage tailored to specific needs.

Many opt for both to ensure a comprehensive financial safety net for their loved ones.


This insurance typically comes in the form of term life insurance, providing coverage for a specified period, often 10 to 30 years.

Permanent life insurance options like whole or universal life are generally not offered as basic life insurance due to their complexity and higher costs.

Also Read: Life Insurance: What Happens When the Beneficiary is Deceased?

Pros and Cons 


  1. Affordability: This insurance is cost-effective, often offered by employers at no or low cost, making it accessible for various individuals.
  2. Simplicity: It is straightforward, usually requiring no medical exams or extensive paperwork, simplifying the enrollment process.
  3. Immediate Coverage: Coverage often begins instantly, coinciding with the start date of employment, ensuring immediate protection.
  4. Good Starting Point: Ideal for those with minimal financial responsibilities, providing sufficient coverage for immediate needs like funeral expenses.


  1. Limited Coverage: The death benefit is often predetermined, potentially insufficient for long-term financial obligations.
  2. Not Portable: Tied to employment, making it non-transferable if you switch jobs, necessitating a new policy.
  3. No Investment Component: Lacks an investment or cash value component, limiting its utility as a financial planning tool.

Should You Get This Insurance?

Deciding on employer-provided basic life insurance involves evaluating your financial needs.

For singles or those with limited responsibilities, basic coverage may be adequate for immediate needs.

Primary earners or individuals with dependents may find basic coverage insufficient for long-term commitments.

Consider supplementing basic coverage or explore alternative options if it doesn’t meet your needs.

Evaluate aspects like cost, coverage, and portability to make an informed decision aligned with your financial goals.


  • Term  Insurance: Individual policies with higher coverage amounts and longer terms, customizable to financial goals.
  • Whole  Insurance: Permanent insurance with both a death benefit and cash value, allowing borrowing or retirement planning.
  • Universal  Insurance: Offers flexibility in premium payments and death benefits with a cash value component.
  • Variable Insurance: Combines life insurance with investment opportunities, providing potential for higher returns.
  • Supplemental  Insurance: Additional coverage to fill gaps in existing policies, useful for specific needs like education or long-term care.

Explore these alternatives, each with its features and costs, considering long-term objectives and dependents’ needs for the most suitable coverage.

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