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MWP Act - Marriage Women's Property Act in Term Insurance

Under the MWP Act, women can purchase term insurance to safeguard their credit, guarantee their right to inherit, and give them financial planning authority.

  • 28,790 Views | Updated on: Jul 03, 2024

Purchasing a term insurance policy under the Married Women’s Property Act (MWP Act) in India offers several unique and valuable benefits for your family’s financial security, particularly protecting your wife and children. The MWP Act creates a separate estate for the insurance policy, independent of your other assets. It means no family members or relatives can challenge the death benefit, guaranteeing its rightful passage to your designated beneficiaries.

People believe that buying a life insurance policy will ensure the well-being of their family, spouse, and children in case of their unfortunate demise. But what if you have significant unpaid debts left behind you? What will happen if the creditors take away all the policy money? It is where the MWP Act in insurance comes into play.

What is the Married Woman Property Act (MWP Act)?

The Married Women’s Property Act of 1874 is a landmark legislation in India that granted married women significant property rights, financial independence, and legal protection. Enacted during the British Raj, it was a significant step towards gender equality and remains a vital law. The act ensures that married women in India have an independent and sole right to their property, which cannot be claimed by anyone else, not even their husband, parents, in-laws, or children.

The Married Woman Property Act 1874 was amended in 1923 to include a life insurance policy, offering financial security to married women and their children. This act is incorporated in the life insurance policy bought by the policyholder. It mandates that the money received by the wife from the policy is her property and cannot be used to repay the husband’s liabilities.

For example, Mr. Roy bought a term insurance plan under the Married Women’s Property Act in India and added his wife and children as nominees. After his unfortunate demise, his lenders demanded that their dues be paid using the sum assuredly received from the term insurance policy. However, since Mr. Roy bought the plan under the MWP Act, the case was taken to court, and the verdict was given in favor of the family, making his wife and children financially secure. The MWP Act India ensured the wife and the children received the money.

How Does the MWP Act Protect Your Family?

The MWPA in insurance protects your family in several ways, mainly focusing on financial security and safeguarding your wife and children:

Protection From Creditors

In the unfortunate event of your death, any outstanding debts or loans you may have cannot be claimed against the life insurance policy if covered under the MWP Act. the policy ensures the entire sum assured goes directly to your designated beneficiaries (usually wife and children), protecting them from creditors and financial hardship.

Separate Estate and Secure Inheritance

The MWP Act in term insurance creates a separate estate for the insurance policy, independent of your other assets. It means the death benefit cannot be contested or challenged by family members or relatives, like in-laws or creditors, guaranteeing its rightful passage to your designated beneficiaries. It acts like a separate inheritance path for your family.

Divorce-proof Protection

Even if you get divorced, your designated beneficiaries (usually wife and children) remain entitled to the policy proceeds. The Act ensures the policy remains separate from any marital settlements or agreements, providing financial security for your family even after separating.

Empowerment for Women

The MWP Act empowers women by ensuring their financial security and independence in case of their husband’s death. It is particularly crucial when family dynamics or traditional practices might otherwise compromise their well-being. The wife receives the money directly, giving her agency to manage family finances.

What are the Benefits of Buying Insurance with MWP?

One of the most effective ways to mitigate financial risks and ensure peace of mind is by purchasing insurance. While insurance policies are available through various channels, one option that stands out is buying insurance with the MWP policy. Some other essential benefits of buying MWP are as follows:

  • The MWP Act can be bought only to insure the policyholder’s wife and children. The beneficiaries are decided when purchasing the policy and cannot be changed later.
  • The needs of the policyholder’s family are given priority.
  • In India, the MWP Act applies to every married woman, regardless of religion.
  • A policy with an MWPA policy addendum will provide financial protection for the wife and children of the policyholder in the event of a family dispute if they are living in a joint family.
  • By purchasing life insurance with the MWP Act, creating a separate trust for your children is not required.
  • Policyholders may divide policy proceeds per beneficiary into equal amounts or specified percentages when buying the policy under the MWP Act in India. This percentage cannot be changed later.

Who Can You Name as Beneficiaries in Insurance under the MWP Act, 1874?

The MWP Act India allows you to buy a term plan that covers your family’s financial requirements in case something unfortunate happens to you. The nominees under the Act can be:

  • Only your wife
  • Only your children (both biological as well as. adopted)
  • Your wife and children together

Beneficiaries under the MWP Act cannot be changed even in case of divorce. In the event of the beneficiary’s death, their legally appointed heir can claim the insurance payout. For this reason, listing multiple beneficiaries under the MWP Act when purchasing a policy is essential.

When buying the policy under this Act, you can also add trustees. According to the MWP Act in insurance, the trustees can be multiple people, including any of your nominees or a financial institution/bank. Including any trustee in the form is optional, and you can change the trustees at any time.

How do you Buy Term Insurance Under the MWP Act of 1874?

Buying your term insurance plan under the MWP Act 1874 is simple.

Choose the Sum Assured

Assess your family’s financial needs, including liabilities, future goals, and living expenses, to determine an appropriate sum assured. The chosen coverage should meet these needs even in your absence.

Fill Out the Application Form

Complete the insurance application form accurately, providing all necessary personal and financial details. Disclose any pre-existing medical conditions, as non-disclosure may lead to claim rejection.

Nominate Beneficiaries Under the MWP Act

While filling out the nomination form, clearly state that the policy is taken under the MWP Act, 1874, and mention the names of your wife and children as the beneficiaries. Consult with your insurance advisor to ensure the nomination process is correctly executed.

Pay the Premium

Choose a premium payment frequency (monthly, quarterly, annually) and pay the premium as per the selected mode. Ensure you understand the grace period for premium payment and adhere to it to maintain the policy in force.

Review the Policy

Thoroughly review the policy documents and their terms and conditions. Verify that the policy clearly states compliance with the MWP Act of 1874 and that the nominated beneficiaries are correctly mentioned.

Regularly Update the Policy

Inform the insurance company promptly about any change in personal details, such as marital status, address, or contact information. Keep the policy up-to-date to avoid any complications during the claim settlement process.

What Other Laws Did the MWP Act Enact?

The Married Women’s Property (MWP) Act of 1874 in India focuses primarily on protecting a married woman’s financial independence and security. Let us understand what other laws it enacted:

Right to Opt for Insurance

Insurance is considered a lifelong decision; previously, women were not allowed to purchase insurance. This right helps them not to depend on their spouse for a term plan or health insurance.

Ownership over Earnings

MWP states that any earnings a married woman makes are considered her separate property. This includes her salary, income from business ventures, or any other source. Her husband or anyone else cannot claim ownership over these earnings.

Initiate Legal Proceedings

This right allows married women to take legal action independently without the husband’s consent. For instance, she can sue or sued by, in her name, in case of any legal matter.

Insurance for Married Women

The 1923 amendment to the MWP Act allows a married woman to be the policyholder or beneficiary of a life insurance policy. This protects the payout from being claimed by the husband’s creditors or becoming part of his estate.

Husband’s Liability for Breach of Trust

In this case, if a husband misuses his wife’s property, he is punishable under the Indian Penal Code (IPC). This can include selling the wife’s property without her knowledge.

Husband’s Liability for Ante-Nuptial Debts

As per this right, a husband is liable to pay off his debts on his own, even if he took them after marriage. The wife’s property or assets cannot be used to pay the husband’s debt without her consent.

Liability for Post-Nuptial Debts

Under the MWP act, any debtor cannot sell off the wife’s property to pay off her husband’s debt he took after marriage. It safeguards the women’s property from being sold off in case of any major debt payments.

Key Takeaways

  • The MWP Act safeguards families by focusing on financial security and shielding the sum assured from creditors in the event of the policyholder’s demise.
  • It ensures the policy remains separate from marital settlements, providing continued financial security.
  • One can add their wife, kids (biological and adopted, both), or wife and children together in the policy as beneficiaries.
  • Policyholders can add trustees when purchasing under the MWP Act, providing flexibility in policy management.
  • Policy proceeds can be equally divided among the beneficiaries or can spread out as specific percentages as per the policyholder’s requirement.

Final Thoughts

The Married Women’s Property Act (MWP Act) in India is a formidable safeguard, ensuring the financial security and independence of married women and their children in the face of unforeseen adversities. By incorporating a life insurance policy under the provisions of the MWP Act, policyholders can shield their families from the impact of outstanding debts, creditors, and familial disputes. This act ensures that the intended beneficiaries receive the financial support they deserve, irrespective of external pressures or legal challenges.

FAQs

1

Under the MWP Act, can I assign or take a loan on my policy?

No, you cannot assign someone else or take a loan against the policy if your insurance plan is covered under the MWP Act.

2

Can I surrender a policy that is covered under the MWP Act?

Yes, you can surrender the policy, but it has to be signed by the beneficiaries. The proceeds of the policy will be given to the policyholder for the benefit of the beneficiaries.

3

Can I change the beneficiary of the policy if I nominate my wife as the beneficiary but we end up divorcing each other?

No, you cannot change the beneficiary once you have opted for one already under the MWP Act.

4

What if my wife is the beneficiary of the policy, but she passes away before me?

In the event of your wife’s death, your legal heir will receive the proceedings of the policy. However, it is recommended to nominate more than one beneficiary.

5

Can I have more than one plan under the MWP Act?

Yes, you can have more than one insurance policy under the MWP Act, but they have to be registered separately under the Act.

6

Can I nominate my parents as beneficiaries under the MWP Act?

No, your parents cannot be nominated as the beneficiary. The MWP Act only covers your wife and children.

7

Can I assign an existing life insurance policy under the MWP Act?

No, you cannot assign an existing insurance policy under the MWP Act. If you want to assign any policy, it has to be done at the time of purchase.

8

Is it possible to buy more than one life insurance plan under the MWP Act?

Yes, you can definitely buy more than one life insurance plan under the MWP Act. There’s no limit on the number of policies you can hold under this Act. This allows you to increase the financial security of your wife and children.

9

If my wife has unpaid debts from before our marriage (ante-nuptial debts), do I have to repay them?

No, under the MWP Act, you are not liable to repay your wife’s debts incurred before your marriage. The MWP Act protects your own finances from being responsible for her pre-marital obligations.

10

If my insurance policy offers survival benefits (benefits paid if you are alive after a certain period), who will be eligible for the maturity proceeds?

Since the MWP Act does not apply to survival benefits, you, as the policyholder, might be eligible for the maturity proceeds if you are alive at the end of the policy term. These benefits wouldn’t be automatically directed to your wife or children under the MWP Act. However, you can always designate them as beneficiaries for the maturity proceeds.

- A Consumer Education Initiative series by Kotak Life

Amit Raje
Written By :
Amit Raje

Amit Raje is an experienced marketer who has worked in various Fintechs and leading Financial companies in India. With focused experience in Digital, Amit has pioneered multiple digital commerce in India. Now, close to two decades later, he is the vice president and head of the D2C business department. He masters the skill of strategic management, also being certified in it from IIMA. He has challenged his challenges and contributed his efforts in this journey of digital transformation.

Amit Raje
Reviewed By :
Prasad Pimple

Prasad Pimple has a decade-long experience in the Life insurance sector and as EVP, Kotak Life heads Digital Business. He is responsible for developing user friendly product journeys, creating consumer awareness and helping consumers in identifying need for life insurance solutions. He has 20+ years of experience in creating and building business verticals across Insurance, Telecom and Banking sectors

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