Getting term life insurance quotes only takes minutes. Answer some questions about your finances and health history and boom, you've got yourself some quotes.
Sure, it can take longer if you're one of those people who go to a bunch of different sites to hunt around for quotes from different carriers, but if you do it right you can get all of your quotes in the same place and go back to binging Netflix, even if you have complicated health issues.
But even though you can get them quickly, quotes won't stay accurate forever. How long before you'll have to get new quotes because the old ones just aren't right anymore? I asked Tyler End, one of PolicyGenius’ resident insurance experts.
Tyler says that yes, life insurance quotes have an expiration date – 30 days, to be exact. If you wait any longer than that to apply, you might be able to get a policy at premium that’s the same as the quote, but you’re better off getting new quotes and seeing how they match up with your budget rather than going through the whole application process and finding that – whoops! – your policy is actually going to be more expensive than you thought.
Regardless of how long you wait after getting a quote to apply, there are three things that will definitely change your quote.
1. There’s an age change
Age has a lot to do with how cheap (or expensive) your life insurance premiums will be. Get term life insurance when you’re young and healthy and you’ll have low rates locked in for the life of the premium. Wait until you’re older, and you’ll be paying more – on average 8-10% more for every year you put it off.
If you have a birthday (or, I guess, when you have a birthday) your old quotes will be inaccurate because your rates will have gone up. There really isn’t any way around it. The catch, though, is that some insurers will count half birthdays when it comes to increasing rates. Remember when your younger sibling insisted that they weren’t six years old, they were six-and-three-quarters years old? Sort of like that, but this will cost you money.
2. The insurer updates their rates
This happens infrequently, but it’s something to watch out for. Occasionally you’ll get your quotes, and before you can apply the insurer will raise their rates. It’s like leaving something in your Amazon cart and getting a notification that the seller raised the price before you check out, except actuarial tables are only updated once a year and have to be submitted to the state first. If your quotes get caught in the middle of it, chalk it up to a case of bad luck.
Again, this typically isn’t a problem you’ll run into since it’s not like insurers update their rates every week, but if you only have a quote you won’t be grandfathered into the old rate when you go to apply. Be aware of it as you go through the application process.
3. Your health changes
Age plays a big role in determining your term life insurance rates, but so does your health. You may have noticed with all of the questions about your current health, your health history, your family’s health, and so on.
This is due to insurers deciding how risky you are to insure. You’re put into a classification based on a number of factors – age and health, but also driving record, hobbies, and more – and will be rated accordingly. That means if you’re answering all of those health questions and you later found out that you actually have high cholesterol or get diagnosed with diabetes, your rates won’t be the same and you can throw those old quotes out the window.
I know what you’re thinking. "It’s fine! If they’ll raise my rate because of high cholesterol, I’ll just tell them my cholesterol level is perfect when I apply!" That’s very smart of you, but it’s also a really, really bad idea.
First, you’re going to go through a paramedical exam. This includes your typical physical but also blood and urine samples. They could also pull attending physician statements from your doctors. Insurers will be wise to your genius plan soon enough when the lab work comes back.
Second, even if you do somehow get past the paramedical exam, when your policy goes into effect you enter what’s called the contestability period. This two-year window lets the insurer investigate for fraud, which means they can find out that you lied. This could result in lessening the death benefit of your policy or outright denying your family from receiving it.
So, in short, don’t lie on your application.
What all of this means is that you really shouldn’t wait long after getting your term life insurance quotes to apply for a policy. The more accurate your quotes are, the closer they’ll be to your actual rates – and that means less of a chance of sticker shock when you apply.
You absolutely should do your research, compare plans and carriers, and find a policy that’s right for your budget and your family’s needs, but once you’ve found one that works there’s no use in waiting. All you’re doing is putting your family at risk, and if you wait too long, those quotes you found won’t be of any use to you.