What is the Married Women Property Act (MWP Act) in Life Insurance Plan?
It’s a general belief that the main objective of taking a life insurance policy is to ensure well-being of the family or help dependent family members and maintain the same living standard of living in case of any unforeseen events or after earning member’s death.
However, the truth is that merely buying a life insurance cover alone will not necessarily ensure that your loved ones get the insurance amount after your death. There is a possibility that the term life insurance claim money may never reach your nominee or the beneficiary. It can be taken by your relatives or people who you may owe money (also called creditors) in your absence. In this reference, an individual can ensure that the sum assured is indeed passed on to the wife and children by taking a term insurance plan under the Married Women Property (MWP) Act.
Under this act, the Section 6 highlights: "a policy of insurance effected by any married man on his own life and expressed on the face of it to be for the benefit of his wife, or of his wife and children, or any of them, shall ensure and be deemed to be a trust for the benefit of his wife, or of his wife and children, or any of them according to the interests so expressed, and shall not, so long as any object of the trust remains, be subject to the control of the husband, or to his creditors, or form part of his estate.
The MWP Act was enacted in 1874 in India, keeping in mind the women’s rights and security due to the social prejudices (no proper protection for women’s assets) prevailing in the country. This act was a landmark movement towards protecting the property rights of women. Later, in 1923, this law was amended to include insurance policies, which further protected the rights of women.
How does MWP Act protects the family?
The term policy under the purview of MWP Act will be considered as a trust. Only trustees will have control on the policy including servicing, receipt of benefit amount. In case of a death claim, the policy proceeds are received by the trust and can only be claimed by trustees. It cannot be claimed by creditors, relatives or form a part of the will (estate of the proposer). The trust shall be holding the claim proceeds for the benefit of the wife and/or child(ren), thereby, securing the financial situation of the wife,children or dependent. The beneficiaries (wife and/or children) do not change once they are mentioned in the policy throughout the term. Once the policy is issued, no one can exercise control over the benefit amount in the insured’s demise, except insured’s wife and children.
Who should opt for MWP Act?
It is appropriate for all businessmen, salaried individuals with loans or liabilities, and people who want to protect their wife/children from creditors/relatives who might have fraudulent intentions.
- Any married man (including a widower and a divorcee) residing in India (except Jammu and Kashmir) can avail benefit under this Act. In case of widower and divorcee, they can name their children as beneficiaries
- Any married woman can also buy a policy under this act in her name and can name her children as the beneficiaries. However, if a woman gets a policy under the MWP Act, the husband will not gain anything from the policy and this will be considered as a separate asset.
The beneficiaries can be any one of the following:
- The wife alone
- The child/children alone (both natural and adopted)
- Wife and children together or any of them
The policy can also be a named policy, where the name of the wife and the child/children is mentioned in the plan or as a class by not mentioning the names. One can mention the benefits of the policy proceeds as specific percentages to each beneficiary or as equal amounts.
How to buy term insurance under the MWP Act?
The process is very simple. This can be done by filling in an MWP addendum while applying for insurance. One does not need to create a settlement deed or a trust separately.
An individual can also avail the plan online under MWP Act. When buying the policy online, in the application form, one can view the statement: “I would like to buy this policy under Married Women's Property Act (1874)"
Simply select the option "Yes" and once selected, enter the beneficiary and trustee details e.g. the beneficiary name, relationship, date of birth and benefit share (in %). An individual can only choose your wife/child/children as beneficiaries. He/she can add multiple beneficiaries. Further, any addition or changes in the endorsement of the policy under the MWP Act is not allowed at a later stage which means that even the husband (the insured) cannot change the beneficiaries of the policy.
A link between the life insurance policies and the MWP Act is an important step towards protecting the rights of women at the same time providing the much-needed protection to one’s family. The MWP Act in Life Insurance ensures that the sum ensured goes safely to the dependents after policy holder safety of dependents even if the personal finances are in crises. To conclude, in order to secure your wife's and children’s future, an individual need to buy life insurance with the MWP Act.