There are different types of beneficiary designations that you can make on your life insurance coverage. These include primary and contingent. The primary beneficiary (or beneficiaries, if you have more than one) stands to receive the proceeds first.
If, however, your primary beneficiary passes away while the policy is still in force, the contingent beneficiary (or beneficiaries) are essentially the next in line to receive the death benefit proceeds.
There is even a third type. This is known as a tertiary beneficiary. The tertiary is essentially the “back up” if both your primary and contingent beneficiaries should pass away before you do.
Because the unexpected can, and often does, occur, it is important that you name a primary and contingent beneficiary on your life insurance coverage. Also, because your life changes over time, it is recommended that you regularly review the beneficiary(ies) and make any revisions if necessary.