If you're wondering how much you need to insure yourself for, then the answer is probably as much as you can possibly afford. The way to calculate how much you need is not too difficult if you follow the steps outlined here.
First there are any outstanding debts to consider. If you work out how much you owe then there should be an allowance to cover this. It's not so easy to work out how much you dependents will need if they're to be looked after when you're not around.
As far as immediate cash goes, if your family were to have to cope for themselves, how much would they need to get through the news week or so? There would be funeral costs, plus any debts needing settling, such as personal loans, credit cards and store cards. Then there are the every day costs such as utility bills, paying the milkman and the newspaper boy and any other commitments. Not to mention the housekeeping. This is the amount to allow for immediate needs.
The next thing to think about is their income. If you have a current income, then it will have to be replaced on your death. You need to work out the gross monthly income that you think they'll need.
Take the amount of your take home pay after you've deducted tax and national insurance. You need to add any additional costs which could be incurred after your death, such as cost of childcare, help with gardening and maintenance of your property, which may require ongoing work. The amount is what they're likely to need each month, although this assessment should make allowance of expenses which will cease with your death. There may be travel expenses and maybe the running of a second car. Often mortgage payments cease at this time, assuming there was insurance cover, which is usual.
There will be bereavement benefits to be claimed. Information on this can be found on the DirectGov website.
Now you have the monthly amount it's easy to calculate the annual figure. This annual figure will have to be multiplied by the number of years until you can be reasonably confident that your children will be independent or until your other half retires on an adequate pension.
There may be a payment from a current life insurance policy or life cover through your employer to be taken into account before your reach your final figure. This final amount will probably come as a shock. The immediate needs figure could be around 3,000 pounds and 1,200 per month to keep them going, and it's a very modest amount. If you consider this is likely to apply for, say, the next 16 years, then the amount of cover will be approaching 240,000 pounds.
The younger and fitter you are when you take out this type of cover, the more reasonable the premiums will be. Work out what you can afford and remember the lifestyle of your family could depend on it – and everyone wants to do the best for their family, do not they?