The Importance of Designating a Life Insurance Beneficiary

Life happens and relationships can change, which is why it’s important to designate a life insurance beneficiary and keep your beneficiary information up-to-date.

Life Insurance Eligibility and Enrolment

If you have an eligible appointment, you will automatically be enrolled in Basic Group Life Insurance on your date of hire, or the date your appointment becomes eligible.

In addition to Basic Group Life Insurance, you may choose to apply for Optional Life and Accidental Death & Dismemberment Insurance for you and/or your spouse.

Keep Your Life Insurance Beneficiary Up-to-Date

It is important to keep the beneficiary of your life insurance policies up-to-date, so that in the event of a claim, the benefit is paid to the correct individual(s) or organization.

If you do not designate a life insurance beneficiary, your life insurance benefit will be paid to your estate in the event of your death (or your spouse’s estate in the event of their death, if they hold Spousal Optional Life Insurance).

What is a Beneficiary?

A beneficiary is the person, persons, or entity you name on a life insurance policy to receive the proceeds of the life insurance policy upon your death. Naming a beneficiary ensures that they receive all your life insurance benefit in the event of your death; since this benefit is not part of your will, provincial probate fees and lawyer fees do not apply, and creditors will not have an opportunity to get access to it.

What is an Estate?

A person’s estate can be defined as the whole of a person’s possessions, including their property, other assets and debts at the time of their death. If you do not designate a beneficiary, your life insurance will be paid to your estate in the event of your death. Probate will occur, which is a lengthy and costly legal process of administering your estate. The proceeds will eventually be distributed according to your will or if there is no will, BC’s intestacy rules that define your estate’s beneficiaries and how much each is to receive.

Consider the following scenarios:

In the first scenario, a faculty/staff member and their spouse divorce, and the faculty/staff member enters into a new relationship. They forget to update their life insurance beneficiary to their new partner and unexpectedly passes away. The faculty/staff member’s life insurance benefit will be paid to their ex-spouse, as they remain the designated beneficiary on file.


In the second scenario, a faculty/staff member was single at the time they enrolled for life insurance and designated their estate as the beneficiary. They enter into a new relationship and they forget to update their life insurance beneficiary for their new partner and unexpectedly pass away. The faculty/staff member’s life insurance beneficiary will be paid to their estate. 

How to View Your Beneficiary Designation

  1. Go to the UBC Faculty & Staff Self-Service Portal and sign in using your Campus Wide Login (CWL) and password. VPN is necessary to access Self-Service off campus.
  2. Under My Benefits, click on the Benefits Summary.
  3. Click on the Basic Life and/or Optional Life and Optional AD&D (if applicable) link to view the beneficiary for you and/or your spouse.

 How to Add or Change Your Beneficiary

  1. Complete the Basic Life Beneficiary Change FormEmployee Optional Life/AD&D Beneficiary Change Form or the Spouse Optional Life/AD&D Beneficiary Change Form. Important note: If you are designating an organization (e.g. a charity) as your beneficiary, be sure to include the address for a specific division.
  2. Submit the original completed form to UBC Payroll for processing. Only original forms are accepted, and we strongly recommend you keep a copy for your personal records.
Vancouver Campus
Attention: Payroll Services
UBC Financial Operations
500 – 6190 Agronomy Road
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z3
Phone: 604-822-2187
Fax: 604-822-9233
Okanagan Campus
Attention: Payroll
UBC Finance Operations and Strategies
ADM 006 – 1138 Alumni Avenue
Kelowna, BC V1V 1V7
Phone: 250-807-8616
Fax: 250-807-9354

Other Considerations – Pension Beneficiary Designation

It is also important to make sure your beneficiary information is up-to-date for your UBC pension benefits. Your designated beneficiary will receive your pension benefits in the event of your death.

Under British Columbia pension legislation, your spouse must be named as your primary beneficiary unless they sign a waiver of their survivor benefits. The following links provide detailed information on how to designate or update a pension beneficiary:

If you have questions regarding designating or changing your pension beneficiary, please contact the Pension Office at 604-822-8100 or email for Faculty plan members, and for Staff plan members.