15-year term life insurance: What it is, how it works, how much it costs

A 15-year term policy can serve as a crucial tool in your overall financial protection. It's helpful for targeting specific, short-term financial needs.

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Tory CrowleyAssociate Editor & Licensed Life Insurance AgentTory Crowley is an associate editor and a former licensed insurance agent at Policygenius. Previously, she worked directly with clients at Policygenius, advising nearly 3,000 of them on life insurance options. She has also worked at the Daily News and various nonprofit organizations.

Edited by

Antonio Ruiz-CamachoAntonio Ruiz-CamachoAssociate Content DirectorAntonio helps lead our life insurance and disability insurance editorial team at Policygenius. Previously, he was a senior director of content at Bankrate and CreditCards.com, as well as a principal writer covering personal finance at CNET.
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Reviewed by

Ian Bloom, CFP®, RLP®Ian Bloom, CFP®, RLP®Certified Financial PlannerIan Bloom, CFP®, RLP®, is a certified financial planner and a member of the Financial Review Council at Policygenius. Previously, he was a financial advisor at MetLife and MassMutual.

Updated|7 min read

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Term life insurance policies are unlike most other life insurance policies because they don’t last for your whole life. Instead, they only last for a set period — or “term.” One of the terms you can set up on your life insurance policy is 15 years. 

A 15-year term life insurance policy can be a useful tool for protecting your family financially, especially during a transition period — for example, when your children are growing up, when you’re covering a loan, or when you’re preparing for retirement.

What is a 15-year term life insurance policy?

A 15-year term life insurance policy is a contract between you and your insurer. You’ll pay premiums for 15 years and, in exchange, the insurer agrees to pay out a lump sum of money if you die during that time — called the death benefit. 

How does a 15-year term life insurance work?

  • If you apply for a 15-year term policy, the insurer will evaluate your health, lifestyle, and habits to determine how risky it is to insure your life for the next 15 years.

  • The insurance company will offer you a price based on how likely it is that you’ll be alive at the end of the term.

  • If you accept their offer, you’ll sign the paperwork, make your first payment, and your coverage will begin. 

  • At the end of the 15-year term, your coverage will expire.

If you still need insurance, you’ll have a few options to consider, like renewing your policy or applying for a new one. But if you do nothing, your insurance will end.

Who needs a 15-year term life policy?

A 15-year term policy can offer needed financial protection for a relatively short period of time — it will likely provide only a portion of the financial protection that you need in your lifetime. 

A policy that lasts for 15 years is often useful to people with specific financial needs, like the ones detailed below. 

Parents of growing children

Families can be financially vulnerable if one or both of the parents die while their children are young. A 15-year term policy can protect your young children until they reach adulthood and become financially independent. 

If you die, your family will be able to pay off a mortgage, replace your lost income, or pay for school expenses. After your children grow up and leave your home, you may not need as much life insurance.

People with mid-term insurance needs

Fifteen years is a relatively short period of time over the course of your adult life, but a 15-year term policy can be a useful tool for your known shorter-term needs, which are usually easier to plan for. A 15-year policy can help you cover a debt or pay for your child’s school expenses. 

Homeowners paying off a mortgage

If you have a mortgage, a 15-year term policy can give you financial protection while you pay it down. Many people get 15-year mortgages, which would correlate with a 15-year term policy. Even if you have a longer mortgage, a 15-year policy can protect you while you’re paying down your debt, so you can leave your family in a much better spot to pay off the remaining balance if you die. 

Older adults planning their retirement

If you’re in your fifties, a 15-year term policy can help protect your income for your last working years before you retire. A 15-year term policy can help ensure that your financial goals, like protecting your family and leaving a legacy, can come to pass even if you die before you retire. 

Pros & cons of 15-year term life insurance

Pros

  • Convenience. A 15-year term policy can help you protect against a specific financial need, like paying off your mortgage or raising your children.

  • Affordability. A shorter-term policy means cheaper premium payments.

Cons

  • Few options. Not every insurer offers 15-year term life policies.

  • Limited coverage. A 15-year term is usually not enough to provide lifelong financial protection.

How much does a 15-year term life insurance policy cost?

The cost of a 15-year term policy will depend largely on your health, lifestyle, and habits. A 30-year-old female with no health issues and no dangerous hobbies could pay less than $20 per month for a 15-year term life insurance with a $500,000 payout. A 30-year-old male with the same profile would pay less than $25 per month for the same policy. 

A 30-year-old female who has a moderate health issue such as rheumatoid arthritis or narcolepsy, or who participates in a hazardous activity like outdoor rock climbing, could expect to pay about $30 per month for the same 15-year term coverage. A 30-year-old male with a similar profile could expect to spend about $37 per month for the same coverage.

A 30-year-old female smoker who’s in otherwise good health would expect to pay about $71 per month for a 15-year term life insurance with a $500,000 payout. A 30-year-old male smoker with a similar profile can expect to pay about $90 per month for the same coverage.

Cheap 15-year term life insurance rates

Age

Gender 

$250,000 coverage amount

$500,000 coverage amount

$1 million coverage amount

30

Female

$13.24

$19.68

$30.62

Male

$15.67

$24.10

$37.96

40

Female

$18.26

$28.96

$48.29

Male

$21.26

$34.85

$59.71

50

Female

$35.76

$61.37

$110.71

Male

$45.33

$78.77

$142.81

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Methodology: Average monthly estimated rates are calculated for male and female non-smokers in a Preferred health classification obtaining a $250,000, $500,00, or $1,000,000, 15-year term life insurance policy. Life insurance averages are based on a  composite of policies offered by Policygenius from Corebridge Financial, Foresters Financial, Legal & General America, Lincoln Financial, Mutual of Omaha, Pacific Life, Protective, Prudential, Symetra, and Transamerica. Rates may vary by insurer, term, coverage amount, health class, and state. Not all policies are available in all states. Rate illustration valid as of 02/01/2024.

Average 15-year term life insurance rates

Age

Gender 

$250,000 coverage amount

$500,000 coverage amount

$1 million coverage amount

30

Female

$20.03

$30.25

$49.64

Male

$23.87

$37.30

$62.20

40

Female

$28.97

$46.15

$79.79

Male

$33.75

$54.44

$94.14

50

Female

$59.17

$97.07

$172.96

Male

$74.82

$125.12

$229.13

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Methodology: Average monthly estimated rates are calculated for male and female non-smokers in a Standard health classification obtaining a $250,000, $500,00, or $1,000,000, 15-year term life insurance policy. Life insurance averages are based on a  composite of policies offered by Policygenius from Corebridge Financial, Foresters Financial, Legal & General America, Lincoln Financial, Mutual of Omaha, Pacific Life, Protective, Prudential, Symetra, and Transamerica. Rates may vary by insurer, term, coverage amount, health class, and state. Not all policies are available in all states. Rate illustration valid as of 02/01/2024.

Learn more about term life insurance rates

15-year term life insurance rates for smokers

Age

Gender 

$250,000 coverage amount

$500,000 coverage amount

$1 million coverage amount

30

Female

$42.28

$70.96

$127.65

Male

$52.65

$89.24

$164.33

40

Female

$72.10

$122.73

$222.55

Male

$89.53

$154.35

$288.83

50

Female

$161.26

$281.19

$516.34

Male

$206.89

$372.36

$700.92

Collapse table

Methodology: Average monthly estimated rates are calculated for male and female smokers in a Preferred health classification obtaining a $250,000, $500,00, or $1,000,000, 15-year term life insurance policy. Life insurance averages are based on a  composite of policies offered by Policygenius from Corebridge Financial, Foresters Financial, Legal & General America, Lincoln Financial, Mutual of Omaha, Pacific Life, Protective, Prudential, Symetra, and Transamerica. Rates may vary by insurer, term, coverage amount, health class, and state. Not all policies are available in all states. Rate illustration valid as of 02/01/2024.

Learn more about life insurance for smokers

15-year term life insurance rates for seniors

Age

Gender 

$250,000 coverage amount

$500,000 coverage amount

$1 million coverage amount

60

Female

$358.21

$617.99

$1,128.32

Male

$474.72

$860.85

$1,627.47

70

Female

$870.51

$1,662.07

$2,990.48

Male

$1,269.17

$2,442.09

$4,540.76

Methodology: Average monthly estimated rates are calculated for male and female non-smokers in a Preferred health classification obtaining a $250,000, $500,00, or $1,000,000, 15-year term life insurance policy. Life insurance averages are based on a  composite of policies offered by Policygenius from Corebridge Financial, Foresters Financial, Legal & General America, Lincoln Financial, Mutual of Omaha, Pacific Life, Protective, Prudential, Symetra, and Transamerica. Rates may vary by insurer, term, coverage amount, health class, and state. Not all policies are available in all states. Rate illustration valid as of 02/01/2024.

Learn more about life insurance for seniors

What happens after a 15-year term policy ends?

After 15 years, your term life insurance policy will expire. You may be in a situation where your children are grown and have become financially independent, your debt is paid, and you no longer have need for the coverage you had. If this is not the case for you, you’ll have other options. 

Renew your policy

Renewing your policy is one of the simplest solutions for you to pursue, especially if you’re not exactly sure how much longer you need coverage. Most term policies have a renewable clause that lets you extend your coverage for one more year without having to reapply. You can continue to renew your policy every year until you’re 95 years old. 

This option may be a good fit for you for a year to two, but renewing your policy indefinitely is not generally recommended because the cost goes up significantly each year. 

Convert to a permanent policy

Most term life insurance policies also have a feature called a term conversion rider. This rider allows you to convert your term policy into a permanent policy when the term ends. You won’t have to reapply or take a medical exam to convert your policy. 

If you do this, your premiums will increase when you convert, and then stay the same for the rest of your life. Converting your term policy to a permanent life insurance policy can be a good option if you’re older and need money for end-of-life costs, or you have a chronic or terminal illness and wouldn’t be able to get more insurance if you had to apply.

Read more about the differences between term and permanent life insurance, and the differences between term and whole life insurance 

Get a new policy

For many people, the most logical thing to do when their term policy ends and they still need insurance is to get another policy. You’ll have to reapply, go through underwriting, and perhaps take a medical exam. But if you’re relatively young and/or have limited health issues, you’ll be eligible to get more term insurance at a low price for the length of time that you need it. 

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Best 15-year term life insurance companies of 2024

We used industry data, pricing from Policygenius carrier partners, and ratings from third parties like AM Best and J.D. Power to pick the best term life insurance companies on the market. Our independent recommendations will help you get life insurance coverage with confidence.

These picks are for buying an individual 15-year term life insurance policy. If you’re interested in term life insurance options, a Policygenius agent can help. At Policygenius, our experts are licensed in all 50 states and can walk you through the entire life insurance buying process while offering transparent, unbiased advice.

Methodology

Why you can trust our picks

Our recommendations are based on internal and external expert analysis, as well as our Policygenius Life Insurance Price Index, which uses real-time data from leading life insurance companies to determine pricing trends. When reviewing a life insurance company, our editorial team uses a proprietary scoring rubric with five factors — price, policy details, financial strength, transparency, and customer experience — to assign an unbiased rating between one and five stars. These ratings are also taken into consideration as part of our company recommendations. We don’t get paid for our reviews

Our reviews and recommendations can help you find a reliable insurer for your family’s financial protection, but the best life insurance company for you depends on multiple factors. A licensed agent at Policygenius can support you during the application process to ensure you get the right coverage for your circumstances at the most competitive price.

Read more about our reviews methodology

award icon

2024 Policygenius award winner

Lincoln Financial

Lincoln Financial logo

Policygenius rating 

Our proprietary rating methodology takes multiple factors into account, including customer satisfaction, cost, financial strength, and policy offerings. See the "methodology" section for more details.

Full orange starFull orange starFull orange starFull orange starHalf orange star

4.8

AM Best rating 

AM Best is a global credit rating agency that scores the financial strength of insurance companies on a scale from A++ (Superior) to D (Poor).

A

Cost 

Using a mix of internal and external rate data, we grade the cost of each insurance company's premiums on a scale from least expensive ($) to most expensive ($$$$$).

$

$

$

$

$

No-medical-exam option

Why we chose itchevron icon

Lincoln Financial offers a diverse array of life insurance policies, including competitive no-med and high-net-worth options.

Pros and conschevron icon

Pros

  • Affordable rates

  • Good for many existing health conditions, including depression, stroke, and heart conditions

  • Good for marijuana users, including daily users

Cons

  • Term life not available in New York

Best overall 15-year term life insurance: Lincoln Financial 

Lincoln Financial is a reliable option for a 15-year term life insurance policy. The company offers coverage at a low price, even for people with pre-existing conditions

award icon

2024 Policygenius award winner

Corebridge Financial

Corebridge Financial logo

Policygenius rating 

Our proprietary rating methodology takes multiple factors into account, including customer satisfaction, cost, financial strength, and policy offerings. See the "methodology" section for more details.

Full orange starFull orange starFull orange starFull orange starHalf orange star

4.6

AM Best rating 

AM Best is a global credit rating agency that scores the financial strength of insurance companies on a scale from A++ (Superior) to D (Poor).

A

Cost 

Using a mix of internal and external rate data, we grade the cost of each insurance company's premiums on a scale from least expensive ($) to most expensive ($$$$$).

$

$

$

$

$

30+ year terms

All 50 states

Why we chose itchevron icon

With competitive pricing and a range of flexible term periods for its Select-a-Term product, Corebridge is a solid option for many life insurance shoppers. Note: We are currently using AIG’s financial strength ratings until Corebridge has its own rating..

Pros and conschevron icon

Pros

  • Competitive pricing for all ages

  • Favorable underwriting for people with heart conditions and diabetes

  • Good for current and recently pregnant people, including people with gestational diabetes

Cons

  • Not the best for people with mental health conditions, including anxiety and depression

  • No no-medical-exam term option

Best 15-year term life insurance for families: Corebridge Financial 

Corebridge Financial is one of the best insurers for families because it offers a customizable child rider that you can add to your policy. Child riders are policy add-ons that can cover your children if the unthinkable happens. Their coverage amounts can be as low as $500 and as high as $25,000. Corebridge is also friendly to people applying at any stage of pregnancy. 

Legal & General America, which also does business as Banner Life and William Penn, offers consistently low rates for 15-year term policies, and in many cases, won’t require a medical exam. If you have limited health issues, you may even be able to get an instant response to your application during your initial call. 

Transamerica

Transamerica logo

Policygenius rating 

Our proprietary rating methodology takes multiple factors into account, including customer satisfaction, cost, financial strength, and policy offerings. See the "methodology" section for more details.

Full orange starFull orange starFull orange starFull orange starHalf orange star

4.6

AM Best rating 

AM Best is a global credit rating agency that scores the financial strength of insurance companies on a scale from A++ (Superior) to D (Poor).

A

Cost 

Using a mix of internal and external rate data, we grade the cost of each insurance company's premiums on a scale from least expensive ($) to most expensive ($$$$$).

$

$

$

$

$

No-medical-exam option

Why we chose itchevron icon

Transamerica is one of the oldest and largest life insurance companies, with over 12 million active accounts today. It offers affordable rates for almost every age, and you can even skip the medical exam if you fall under a certain age or coverage amount.

Pros and conschevron icon

Pros

  • Competitive rates for term life insurance

  • No-medical-exam available for qualifying applicants, including smokers and people between 60 and 70, which is rare

  • One of the fastest turnaround times in the industry for traditionally underwritten term policies

Cons

  • Term life not available in New York

  • Not a good option for people with a history of cancer, alcohol abuse, or asthma

Best 15-year term life insurance for smokers: Transamerica 

Transamerica offers some of the lowest rates for current smokers applying for a 15-year term. It also allows you to apply for coverage as a non-smoker if you have limited cigar use.

Comparing the best 15-year term life insurance of 2024

Policygenius rating

Best for 

AM Best rating

Legal & General America

4.9/5 ★

No-medical-exam

A+

Lincoln Financial

4.8/5 ★

Overall

A

Corebridge Financial

4.6/5 ★

Families

A

Transamerica

4.6/5 ★

Smokers

A

Learn more about the best life insurance companies of 2024

How to buy 15-year term life insurance through Policygenius

Getting a 15-year term life insurance policy is a simple process. To make sure you’re getting the best policy for you, follow the steps below. 

  1. Calculate your coverage needs Insurance is meant to replace any financial loss that will occur for your loved ones if you were to pass away. To determine how much that would be, total up all of your debt, your expected income over the next 15 years, and any anticipated expenses you’ll have during that time. Another easy rule of thumb is to get coverage equal to 10 to 15 times your annual income. Or you can use our life insurance coverage calculator to get a sense of how much coverage you need.

  2. Get quotes Every insurer will assess your risk using their own guidelines, and some may be able to give you a better price than others for the coverage you need. Before you choose an insurer to apply with, connect with a licensed agent who can help you compare life insurance quotes and determine which insurer will be able to offer you the best rate. 

  3. Apply Once you determine which insurer is the best fit for you, your advisor can help you complete your application. The application consists of basic personal information and some questions about your health and financial history. 

  4. Take a medical exam Insurers will want to verify your health status with a medical exam. A medical exam is a lot like getting an annual physical. An examiner will measure your height and weight and take a blood and urine sample to confirm your health status. When possible, many insurers will waive this requirement and use a prescription history check and your medical records to verify your health instead. 

  5. Wait for approval After you submit your application paperwork and take your medical exam, the insurer needs to review your file. This process — called underwriting — usually takes four to six weeks. During this time, the underwriter working on your case will verify the information you provided. They may also reach out to you for clarifying questions and may request additional medical records from your doctor before they can officially offer you a policy. 

  6. Sign & pay Once the insurer sends you the paperwork for your policy, you’ll typically have 45 days to decide if you want to accept the insurance and have your coverage begin. If you choose to accept their offer, you’ll sign the acceptance paperwork, pay your first premium, and you’ll be covered. Your policy will remain active as long as you keep paying the premiums.

Alternatives to 15-year term life insurance

A 15-year term policy may not be the best option to fit your needs. If you’re considering a term life insurance policy, you can explore these other options that may better meet your needs. 

Frequently asked questions

Do you need to take a medical exam for a 15-year term life insurance policy?

Insurance companies need to verify your health status before they can agree to insure your life. Typically, this is done through an in-person medical exam, but insurers can often waive the exam and use your medical records and a prescription history check to confirm your health instead. 

What factors affect the cost of a 15-year life insurance policy?

The cost of your policy will be directly related to how the insurer evaluates your life expectancy. This will be based on a combination of your health, lifestyle, and habits. If the insurer is more confident that you’ll outlive your coverage, your policy will be cheaper. If they’re less confident that you’ll outlive the policy, your insurance will be more expensive. 

Can you extend a 15-year term life insurance policy?

Many 15-year term policies will have a term conversion clause called a rider, which will allow you to convert your term life insurance to a permanent life insurance policy when the term ends, without needing to reapply to take a medical exam. 

If you want additional term life insurance, you’ll have to reapply for another policy. You won’t be able to add time to your existing policy.

Can you cash out a 15-year term life insurance policy?

You can’t cash out a term life insurance policy because there’s no cash value account associated with term life insurance. The lack of this feature is one of the reasons why term life insurance costs significantly less than comparable permanent life insurance policies.

Author

Tory Crowley is an associate editor and a former licensed insurance agent at Policygenius. Previously, she worked directly with clients at Policygenius, advising nearly 3,000 of them on life insurance options. She has also worked at the Daily News and various nonprofit organizations.

Editor

Antonio helps lead our life insurance and disability insurance editorial team at Policygenius. Previously, he was a senior director of content at Bankrate and CreditCards.com, as well as a principal writer covering personal finance at CNET.

Expert reviewer

Ian Bloom, CFP®, RLP®, is a certified financial planner and a member of the Financial Review Council at Policygenius. Previously, he was a financial advisor at MetLife and MassMutual.

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