The Married Women's Property Act, 1874 or the MWP is a legal safeguard available to protect the financial interest of a dependent wife, children or both in case of sudden demise of the policyholder. The MWP Act is applicable on term insurance and life insurance policies to ensure that the sum assured is protected for use of only wife/child/children or both (wife and children) and no other liability (loan payoff, debt payoff, joint family rights etc. ) is attached to this sum

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What is the MWP Act?

Women's rights in India have always been an issue, when approached from a social, political or legal perspective. This is because women in familial roles (mothers, daughters, sisters and wives) are often dependent partly or wholly on the men of the family and rarely exercise any right over their own assets. This often leads them to be victims in property disputes and more often than not, women are left penniless without any financial security for herself or her dependent children.

Hence, the Married Women's Property Act, 1874 or the MWP was enacted to curb this injustice. The Act ensures that a married woman in India has a separate and sole right to her property. The MWP Act thus dictates that a married woman's separate property cannot be owned/used or claimed by anybody else, not even her husband, parents, in-laws, children or brothers. It is a legal safeguard for a woman's assets which assures her and her dependents' financial safety and is avail.

The MWP Act, 1874 was amended in 1923 to include life insurance policies made out in the name of the married woman or her children or both and Section 6 of the MWP Act reads:

"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. "

Hence, the MWP Act entails that if a married man, including a divorcee or a widower, buys life insurance with the MWP addendum, the insurance benefits upon maturity or death are the sole property of nominated beneficiaries and no one else, including the policyholder himself, has any right over these benefits.

The entire sum is treated as separate from the policyholder's estate and hence, these benefits cannot be used for repayment of debt or loan or form part of joint family property, in case of untimely death of the policyholder.

How Does The MWP Act Protect My Family?

Life insurance is a must for everyone today. The unpredictability of life has become even more apparent since the pandemic, which makes financial security of our family a top priority. Term insurance policies are the simplest life insurance policies, with only a death benefit paid to beneficiaries upon demise of the policyholder whereas life insurance policies also offer a savings component and survival benefits upon maturity.

However, many times, beneficiaries or dependents fall prey to creditors, greedy relatives or loan hawks who try to snatch the 'insurance money' for repayment of loan or debt. The MWP Act creates a trust in the name of the beneficiaries, ensuring that only the insured wife and children receive the money. There are several benefits to buying insurance with MWP Act, such as:

  • The insurance policy can be bought only to insure your wife and children. The beneficiaries must be decided at the time of buying policy with an MWP addendum and cannot be changed later.
  • Insurance under MWP Act, 1874 is valid for people of all religions. In case of Muslim man as policyholder, he must take out named policies for children and wife.
  • Policyholders can divide policy proceeds per beneficiary. It can be divided in equal amounts or divided in specific percentages. The percentages must be decided at the time of buying policy under MWP Act and cannot be changed later.
  • The insurance policy under MWP Act, 1874 acts as a trust and there is no need to set up a separate trust for beneficiaries. Policyholders may assign a trustee to overlook the proceeds but it is not compulsory. At the time of claim, only the trustees can claim the benefits. The policy cannot be claimed by creditors or relatives or be made part of the will of the policyholder. It is a separate trust meant for the wife and children only.
  • If the policyholder is a salaried individual with a home/ personal loan or a businessman with pending debt, upon his sudden demise, the creditors have first right over assets and insurance benefits are claimed to pay off outstanding debt.
    However, any and all term policies which fall under the MWP Act do not form part of this right and no creditor can make a claim on it. Insurance benefits with MWP addendum are only available to your wife & children, thus securing them in a watertight policy.
  • If the policyholder resides in a joint family or is part of a Hindu Undivided Family (HUF), term policy with MWP addendum ensures that wife & children are protected, in case of family property disputes arising due to division of property or any joint family dispute.
    This is because any insurance policy under the MWP Act does not form part of individual policyholders or joint family property. It has a clear, single title awarded to the nominated beneficiary, i.e, the wife and/or children.
  • Since the title in an insurance under MWP has a single title, it cannot be claimed by any relative or guardian, acting on behalf of beneficiaries. The nominated beneficiaries, decided at the time of buying policy cannot be changed and are the only recipients of insurance benefits.

Who Can Opt For Insurance Under MWP Act?

A policyholder under the MWP Act can be a married man, widower, divorcee and also a married woman. A married woman may buy an insurance policy under MWP Act for financial security of her children.

There may be one or more persons appointed as Trustees. The Trustee must be over 18 years of age and their consent must be recorded along with the MWP addendum. Trustees are not the primary beneficiary and only act as manager of the policy for the ultimate beneficiaries, i.e wife and/or children. Trustees can be added, removed or changed as per the will of the policyholder.

Salaried individuals with outstanding loans, business owners with accumulated debt, members of joint families and HUF and people with irregular or unstable income living on credit, must opt for life insurance under MWP Act for financial stability of family in case of policyholders' untimely demise.

Who can you name as beneficiaries in Insurance under MWP Act, 1874?

The beneficiary can only be:

  • wife/child/children (natural & adopted), or
  • only wife, or
  • only children (natural & adopted).

In no case, the husband or any other relative can be a beneficiary under this policy, even if the husband maintains and pays premiums of the policy.

Beneficiaries, once decided and nominated will remain unchanged throughout the course of the policy.

In case of divorce, the wife continues to remain a beneficiary and cannot be changed.

In case of early demise of the beneficiary wife, the legal heir of the policyholder is eligible to claim insurance amount. Hence, it is important to declare more than one beneficiary at the time of buying policy.

MWP Act FAQs:

Securing a term insurance under MWP is an easy and convenient affair. Simply attach a complete MWP Addendum along with the insurance proposal form, at the time of buying a new insurance policy, to register your insurance policy under MWP Act.

You can get an MWP Addendum from your insurance agent or download it online from your insurance provider . The MWP form is available for every IRDA verified insurance provider. No existing policy can be linked to the MWP Act. You need to take out a fresh, new insurance policy and link it to the MWP Act.

Names of beneficiaries once added cannot be changed for the duration of policy. However, Trustees can be changed as per the will of the policyholder. You can also secure more than one insurance policy under the MWP Act.
No. An insurance policy under MWP Act cannot be assigned to another person or be used to take out a loan as it is not included in policy holder’s part of assets or property. It is only meant for financial security of wife and/or children.
If the policyholder is a married man/divorcee/widower, only his wife and/or children (natural & adopted) will be the beneficiaries of an insurance policy listed under the Married Women's Property Act. No other relative or member of joint family or HUF or any person to whom debt is owed, be a beneficiary.

If the policyholder is a married woman, the beneficiaries will only be her children and the benefits cannot be claimed by her husband or any other relative or guardian acting on her behalf.
Linking insurance with the MWP Act acts as a watertight legal safeguard which protects your wife & children in case of unforeseen events :

  • Financial security of wife and/or children.
  • Beneficiaries are financially secure in case of debt accumulated by policyholders.
  • Beneficiaries are financially protected against creditors claiming benefits for repayment of loan or debt.
  • Beneficiaries are financially stable in case joint family property goes into dispute. They are also protected from greedy relatives.
  • In case a policyholder, who is the sole breadwinner in the family, passes away unexpectedly, beneficiaries are not left penniless and are safe enough to maintain their living standards.
You can link an insurance policy with the MWP Act by filling out an MWP Addendum and attaching it to the insurance proposal form, at the time of purchasing the policy.
The MWP Addendum requires the following details :

  • Name of Beneficiaries
  • Name and Signature of Trustees (if any)
  • Shares/ Percentage of benefits divided per beneficiary

There is no provision for linking existing insurance policies to MWP and thus, no ongoing/existing policies can be linked to MWP.

You need to take out a fresh, new insurance policy to avail benefits as listed under the MWP Act.


Buying life insurance is as easy as 123. However, claiming the benefits can be a hassle and if you are not around, your dependents may fall prey to creditors, loan sharks and ill-intentions of relatives.

Women face a lot of trouble when tackling property matters and end up getting victimized by family members for insurance benefits. Linking your insurance with MWP helps a woman secure autonomy over her finances and provide for herself and her children, in case of an emergency.

We all want our loved ones to live a comfortable life and our children to move ahead in life and achieve their dreams. This is only possible when you make airtight arrangements for them in case of contingencies. Buying insurance and linking it to the MWP Act is going the extra mile to secure your family's financial interests. Read the MWP Act insurance documents carefully and invest so that your wife and children have a stable and secure financial future, long after you're gone.


Disclaimer:

*Tax benefits are as per the Income Tax Act, 1961, and are subject to any amendments made thereto from time to time’

The article is meant to be general and informative in nature and should not be construed as solicitation material. Please read the related product brochures for exclusions, terms and conditions, warranties, etc. carefully before concluding a sale

Consult with your financial advisor before making any decisions on insurance purchase.

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