Life insurance, pensions and civil status in Ireland


Your life insurance or pension policy in Ireland may provide for a lump sum, or pension to be paid to a specified person on your death or retirement. In this case, you may be able to nominate your cohabiting partner as the beneficiary. However, many policies specify that only a spouse or civil partner may benefit.

Civil status

All benefits passing between married couples and civil partners are exempt from Inheritance and Gift Tax. However, cohabiting couples have no such entitlement.

Where a policy specifies that only a spouse or civil partner may benefit, your cohabiting partner will not have any entitlements. Cohabiting couples are treated as strangers for Inheritance and Gift Tax purposes. The stranger threshold for Inheritance Tax is currently €16,250. Inheritances in excess of €16,250 are subject to tax at 33%.

Likewise, you may be entitled to a supplement to your pension in respect of a spouse/civil partner, but not in respect of a cohabitee.

Check with your insurer or the trustees of your pension if you want to be sure about the conditions of your particular policy. If you are not married or in a civil partnership, you should check if anything can be changed to allow your partner entitlements that they would not otherwise have.

Insurance Ireland

Insurance Ireland is the representative body for insurance companies in Ireland. Its members include both Irish insurance companies and branches of foreign insurers established in Ireland. Go to for a full list of its members.

Insurance Ireland provides a Customer Information Service for queries in connection with insurance matters. Queries in connection with your life insurance should be addressed to your insurance company or:

Insurance Ireland

Insurance Centre
5 Harbourmaster Place
Dublin 1
DO1 E7E8

Tel: +353 (0)1 676 1820
Fax: +353 (0)1 676 1943
Page edited: 15 July 2020