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Life Insurance Cover – Does It Really Need to Be 20 Times Your Salary?

Life Insurance Cover – Does It Really Need to Be 20 Times Your Salary?

Life insurance is a cornerstone of financial planning in India. It provides a financial safety net for your loved ones in the unfortunate event of your passing. But with a multitude of plans and terms floating around, a crucial question arises – how much life insurance coverage do you need? The popular rule of thumb suggests aiming for a cover 20 times your annual salary. However, is this a one-size-fits-all approach? Let's delve deeper to understand the factors influencing your ideal life insurance coverage amount in India.

Beyond the 20x Multiplier

While the 20 times your salary rule might seem straightforward, it's important to recognize it as a starting point for your calculations. Several crucial factors influence your actual life insurance needs:

  • Dependents and Financial Responsibility: The number of dependents you have and their financial dependence on you determines the coverage amount. A larger family with young children necessitates a higher cover to ensure their long-term financial security.
  • Outstanding Debts and Liabilities: Factor in any outstanding loans (e.g., mortgage, car loan) or other liabilities. The insurance payout should be sufficient to clear these debts, preventing them from becoming a burden for your family.
  • Living Expenses: Estimate your family's monthly living expenses and consider inflation. The coverage amount should ideally provide enough funds to maintain their current lifestyle for a predetermined period.
  • Spouse's Income (if applicable): If your spouse has a steady income, it can influence your coverage needs. However, it's wise to factor in potential future income changes or career breaks.
  • Future Financial Goals: Consider your long-term financial goals for your dependents, such as their education or wedding expenses. The coverage amount should ideally contribute towards achieving these goals.

Approaches to Calculate Your Life Insurance Needs

Here are two common methods to estimate your ideal life insurance coverage amount:

  • Human Life Value (HLV) Approach: This method takes into account your future earning potential. A simplified formula considers multiplying your annual income by the number of years remaining until your retirement age, then multiplying that figure by a dependency factor (e.g., 30 for young dependents, 20 for mid-life dependents).
  • Income Replacement Approach: This method aims to replace a portion of your income for a set period after your demise. A common formula involves multiplying your annual income by the number of years your family would require financial support (e.g., until children are independent).

Additional Considerations

  • Inflation: Inflation factor to ensure the payout retains its value over time and adequately meets your family's future needs.
  • Lifestyle Inflation: Consider potential future increases in your family's living expenses due to lifestyle changes.
  • Existing Investments and Savings: If you have existing investments or savings, they can contribute to your family's financial security, potentially reducing the required life insurance coverage amount.

Types of Life Insurance Plans

  • Term Insurance: This provides coverage for a specific period (the policy term). It offers high coverage amounts at affordable premiums, making it suitable for meeting your family's financial needs during their dependency years.
  • Whole Life Insurance: This offers lifetime coverage and accumulates a cash value component over time. While premiums are generally higher than term plans, the cash value can be accessed through loans or withdrawals (subject to policy terms).

Seeking Professional Guidance

Consulting a financial advisor can be highly beneficial. They can assess your circumstances, risk tolerance, and financial goals to recommend a suitable life insurance plan with the right coverage amount.


While the 20x multiplier offers a starting point, your life insurance needs are unique. By carefully considering various factors, employing appropriate calculation methods, and seeking professional advice, you can determine the ideal life insurance coverage amount to ensure your loved ones are financially protected in your absence. Remember, adequate life insurance coverage provides peace of mind, knowing your family has the resources they need to navigate through challenging times.


*Tax benefits are as per the Income Tax Act, 1961, and are subject to any amendments made thereto from time to time
The article is meant to be general and informative in nature and should not be construed as solicitation material. Please read the related product brochures for exclusions, terms and conditions, warranties, etc. carefully before concluding a sale.
Make responsible financial decisions. Consult with your financial advisor before making any decisions on insurance purchase.

Suggested Plans

Bharti AXA Life Guaranteed Wealth Pro

  • A non-linked, non-participating individual savings life insurance plan
  • Flexibility to choose the payout structure
  • Multiple income options
  • Option to receive tax free income beginning from the second policy year itself
  • Option to get lifelong income along with life cover till 100 years of age

Bharti AXA Life Shining Stars

  • Non-linked, non-participating limited pay endowment Life Insurance plan
  • Designed to take care of the financial needs of your child.
  • Flexibility to opt between 2 Maturity Payout Options
  • Flexibility in Policy Term/Premium Payment Terms
  • A great short-term investment option for a child insurance policy.

Bharti AXA Life Super Series

  • A non-linked non-participating individual life insurance savings plan
  • Range of investment duration and returns
  • Guaranteed money back benefits (provided policy is in force and all due premiums have been paid)
  • Income tax benefits (as prevailing tax laws in India that are subject to changes)