20-year term life insurance: What is it & how much does it cost?

A 30-year old could pay as little as $19 to $22 per month for a $500,000 life insurance policy lasting 20 years.

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Katherine MurbachEditor & Licensed Life Insurance AgentKatherine Murbach is an editor and a former licensed life insurance agent at Policygenius. Previously, she wrote about life and disability insurance for 1752 Financial, and advised over 1,500 clients on their life insurance policies as a sales associate.

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|6 min read

Expert reviewedExpert reviewedThis article has been reviewed by a member of ourFinancial Review Council to ensure all sources, statistics, and claims meet the highest standard for accurate and unbiased advice.Learn more about oureditorial review process.

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20-year term life insurance is a type of coverage with a duration of 20 years. During this time period — called the “term” of your policy — you’ll pay premiums in exchange for life insurance coverage. If you die during the 20 years your policy is active, your loved ones can file a claim for a tax-free sum of money called the death benefit.

What is a 20-year term life insurance policy?

20-year term life insurance is a type of term policy that lasts for 20 years from the time you make your first payment. All term life insurance policies last for a set period of time before expiring. 

Term life insurance is meant to offer you financial protection during the period of your life when you need it the most — like when you’re saving for retirement, raising children, or paying down a mortgage. 

How does 20-year term life insurance work?

  • When you first apply for your policy, you’ll select your coverage amount, insurer, and term length — in this case, you’d select 20 years.

  • You’ll go through the application process the same way you would for any other term life insurance policy. 

  • Once your insurer approves you for coverage, you’ll pay your first premium. 

  • You’ll continue paying premiums in exchange for your coverage — this keeps your policy active.

  • Many 20-year term life policies have level premiums, which means your payments will stay the same for the entire length of your policy.

  • At the end of 20 years, your policy will simply expire. At this point, you won’t be covered anymore.

Who needs a 20-year term life policy?

You might need a 20-year term if you’re early on in your career or have long-term financial responsibilities, like paying off a mortgage. Below are other circumstances that may warrant a 20-year term life policy.

Parents of young children

If your children are young or you’re planning to have children in the near future, a 20-year term may be a good fit for your situation. You can likely assume that your children will be dependent on you until they’re at least 18, so you want your coverage to last long enough to provide them with a financial safety net.

People with long-term insurance needs

Long-term insurance needs can include personal loans, business loans, or other financial obligations — like if you’re expecting to care for aging parents in the next 20 years. A 20-year term life policy can cover any expenses that’d need to be paid in your absence.

Homeowners paying off a mortgage

A 20-year term life insurance policy may be a fit for you if you’re in the process of paying off your mortgage, or you’re planning to take out a 20-year mortgage. This way, your loved ones wouldn’t have to worry about paying the remainder of the balance, or having to quickly sell your home.

Adults planning their retirement

Most working adults are consciously saving for retirement either for themselves or for themselves and a partner. By retirement, it’s ideal to have enough money saved for your remaining expenses and the cost of your lifestyle. But until then, a life insurance policy can put a financial safeguard in place if you were to die prematurely.

Advantages & disadvantages of 20-year term life insurance

20-year term life insurance is often affordable, but whether it’s a fit for you comes down to your personal situation.

Advantages

  • Easy for future budgeting. Once you activate your policy, your premiums are typically set for 20 years, so you can budget exactly how much you need to spend and know that won’t change, even if your health changes while your policy is active.

  • Often affordable. Depending on your age, health, and coverage amount, a 20-year term life policy is often an affordable option. It’s cheaper than longer term lengths.

Disadvantages

  • Can be expensive to renew. If you’re a young adult, you may need coverage beyond just 20 years. And applying for a new policy in your 40s or 50s will be significantly more expensive than applying for a longer policy upfront.

  • May not last long enough. If you have a 30-year mortgage or you expect to work for longer than 20 more years, you may need a longer term in the first place.

How much does a 20-year term life insurance policy cost?

A 30-year-old male who doesn’t smoke could pay between $22 and $43 per month for a 20-year, $500,000 term life insurance policy. A 30-year-old female who doesn’t smoke could pay between $19 and $34 per month for the same coverage. 

The best way to know how much you’d pay for a 20-year term policy is to connect with a licensed agent, who can give you personalized quotes for your situation.

Get started

Cheapest 20-year term life insurance rates

Age

Gender

$250,000 coverage amount

$500,000 coverage amount

$1 million coverage amount

20

Female

$12.77

$18.54

$25.94

Male

$15.48

$23.66

$35.58

30

Female

$12.76

$18.90

$28.19

Male

$14.62

$22.59

$35.59

40

Female

$17.88

$28.73

$47.41

Male

$20.67

$34.27

$58.11

50

Female

$36.14

$63.71

$111.43

Male

$46.10

$81.71

$149.81

Collapse table

Methodology: Average monthly rates are calculated for male and female non-smokers in a Preferred Plus health classification obtaining a $250,000, $500,000, or $1,000,000, 20-year term life insurance policy. Life insurance averages are based on a composite of policies offered by Policygenius from Brighthouse Financial, 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 01/01/2024.

Average 20-year term life insurance rates

Age

Gender

$250,000 coverage amount

$500,000 coverage amount

$1 million coverage amount

20

Female

$21.85

$33.82

$52.73

Male

$26.58

$42.64

$71.62

30

Female

$22.51

$34.41

$56.90

Male

$26.82

$43.11

$71.67

40

Female

$34.12

$53.51

$93.08

Male

$40.56

$67.19

$117.46

50

Female

$72.97

$121.88

$219.57

Male

$91.59

$156.80

$290.70

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Methodology: Average monthly rates are calculated for male and female non-smokers in a Standard health classification obtaining a $250,000, $500,000, or $1,000,000, 20-year term life insurance policy. Life insurance averages are based on a composite of policies offered by Policygenius from Brighthouse Financial, 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 01/01/2024.

Learn more about term life insurance rates

20-year term life insurance rates for smokers

Age

Gender

$250,000 coverage amount

$500,000 coverage amount

$1 million coverage amount

20

Female

$44.22

$74.34

$130.15

Male

$59.39

$102.27

$177.77

30

Female

$49.21

$83.92

$152.71

Male

$63.88

$110.73

$199.35

40

Female

$87.51

$150.37

$278.83

Male

$112.57

$201.96

$374.50

50

Female

$197.68

$350.72

$658.26

Male

$262.86

$477.29

$905.43

Collapse table

Methodology: Average monthly rates are calculated for male and female smokers in a Standard Smoker health classification obtaining a $250,000, $500,000, or $1,000,000, 20-year term life insurance policy. Life insurance averages are based on a composite of policies offered by Policygenius from Brighthouse Financial, 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 01/01/2024.

Learn more about life insurance for smokers

20-year term life insurance rates for seniors

Age

Gender

$250,000 coverage amount

$500,000 coverage amount

$1 million coverage amount

60

Female

$107.83

$194.16

$354.51

Male

$149.38

$268.04

$499.98

70

Female

$404.42

$764.19

$1,378.99

Male

$487.28

$948.52

$1,893.26

Methodology: Average monthly rates are calculated for male and female non-smokers in a Preferred health classification obtaining a $250,000, $500,000, or $1,000,000, 20-year term life insurance policy. Life insurance averages are based on a composite of policies offered by Policygenius from Brighthouse Financial, 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 01/01/2024.

Learn more about life insurance for seniors

What happens after a 20-year term policy ends?

At the end of your term, your policy will expire and you’ll no longer have coverage. If you want to extend your coverage, you have a few options — including renewing or converting your policy.

Renew your policy

You can usually choose to renew your policy on an annual basis at the end of your original term. This means your premiums will increase with every renewal, but you usually won’t have to take a new medical exam (which is a standard part of the application process).

This option can be expensive — sometimes it’s cheaper to buy a new policy altogether, but it depends on your age and health at the time of renewal. You can work with an independent broker to compare prices from different insurers before making a decision.

Convert to a permanent policy

You can often convert a term life policy into a permanent policy — like whole life or universal life — either before the end of the term, or before you reach a certain age. 

Permanent life insurance coverage doesn’t expire, so you’ll have financial protection for the rest of your life. However, these types of policies are significantly more expensive than term life policies. If you have a high net worth and therefore a high budget, or specific estate planning needs, this option might be worth exploring.

Learn more about the differences between term and permanent life insurance

Get a new policy

You can let your 20-year term expire and apply for a new policy. With this route, you’d start the application process from the beginning and you’d likely take another medical exam. This option can be a good fit if you still need life insurance coverage for a number of years — even if you need a lower coverage amount or a shorter term length than you originally bought.

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Best 20-year term life insurance companies of 2024

Your personal circumstances — including your age, gender, health, and financial needs — will impact which life insurance company is best for you. A 20-year term life insurance policy is one of the most popular coverage options, so most insurance companies offer term lengths of 20 years.

Below are some of the best term life insurance companies that offer affordable 20-year terms.

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

As one of our overall best life insurance companies of 2024, Legal & General America, which also does business as Banner Life and William Penn, is a great option for anyone looking for an affordable 20-year term life policy. The company has more flexible guidelines for a number of pre-existing health conditions than many of its competitors. 

Depending on your health profile, you may not need to take an in-person medical exam. You’ll submit your health information along with your application, and the insurer will review your profile first to determine if you need to take one.

award icon

2024 Policygenius award winner

Brighthouse Financial

Brighthouse 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 starFull orange star

5.0

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

Brighthouse Financial offers competitive rates, comprehensive coverage, and application decisions in as little as 24 hours, making it a great choice for people who want to get life insurance coverage without having to take the medical exam.

Pros and conschevron icon

Pros

  • Extremely affordable

  • Instant-decision applications

  • Best-in-class no-exam option

Cons

  • Traditional term life not available in CA, IL, LA, ME, or NY

  • Term life applicants limited to ages 25-50

Brighthouse Financial offers affordable rates and term lengths of 10, 20, or 30 years. People with few health conditions or risk factors can qualify for coverage without taking an in-person medical exam.

award icon

2024 Policygenius award winner

Pacific Life

Pacific Life 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 ($$$$$).

$

$

$

$

$

All 50 states

No-medical-exam option

Why we chose itchevron icon

Pacific Life offers some of the lowest rates for term life insurance across age brackets. It also has the most competitive rates for many health conditions and builds.

Pros and conschevron icon

Pros

  • Extremely affordable across age brackets

  • Affordable guaranteed universal life insurance option for people who need lifetime coverage

  • Favorable underwriting for many health conditions

Cons

  • Traditional term life not available in NY

  • There are better carriers for active duty military, people who have a history of alcohol abuse, and people who have been through bankruptcy

Pacific Life is another highly rated company that offers an affordable 20-year term length. Pacific Life has flexible guidelines for certain pre-existing conditions, such as sleep apnea. It can also offer cheaper rates to older adults when compared to some of its competitors.

Comparing the best 20-year term life insurance of 2024

Company

Policygenius rating

AM Best rating 

Cost

Brighthouse Financial

5.0/5 ★

A

$

Legal & General America

4.9/5 ★

A+

$

Pacific Life

4.8/5 ★

A+

$

Learn more about the best life insurance companies of 2024

How to buy 20-year term life insurance through Policygenius

  1. Calculate your coverage needs. You should have enough coverage so that your loved ones wouldn’t struggle financially in your absence. A common rule of thumb is to multiply your income by 10 to 15 — but you can use our life insurance coverage calculator to get a more personalized estimate.

  2. Get quotes. You’ll provide some basic information to get your initial quotes — like your age, gender, and any major health conditions. A Policygenius expert can help you compare life insurance quotes from over 10 top insurers for free.

  3. Apply. Next, you’ll fill out an application to submit to the insurer. This involves providing details on your medical history and finances, as well as information like your driver’s license number and address.

  4. Take a medical exam. After you complete your application, your life insurance agent will help you schedule your medical exam, which is a common part of the application process. A medical professional can meet you at your home or office to complete the exam. Depending on your health profile and how much coverage you’re looking for, you may not need an in-person exam. Some insurers will let you complete a health questionnaire online or over the phone instead. 

  5. Wait for approval. It can take up to four to six weeks for the insurance company to review your application and your medical exam. If you don’t need an in-person exam, you could get approved quicker. 

  6. Sign & pay. Your insurance company will extend you a final offer for coverage, which is when you’ll know your final rate. From here, you can sign your policy documents and pay your first premium, which will activate your coverage.

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Alternatives to 20-year term life insurance

20-year term life insurance is a good option for many shoppers, but you may have coverage needs that last longer than just 20 years.

20-year term vs. 30-year term life insurance

A 30-year term life insurance policy is another popular term length option, especially for young adults or people with young children. A 30-year term life insurance policy could ensure you have financial protection until young children are financially established on their own. 

It could also help if you plan to take out a 30-year mortgage — this way, you won’t have to worry about your loved ones paying the rest of the balance if you were to die unexpectedly.

20-year term vs. whole life insurance

If you’re planning to use life insurance as an investment vehicle or an estate planning tool, you might consider whole life insurance or another type of permanent policy instead. Whole life insurance never expires and comes with a cash value feature, which can be used as a tax-deferred savings vehicle. 

For these reasons, it’s significantly more expensive than term life insurance. It’s generally best to discuss with a licensed agent or financial advisor first if you’re considering whole life insurance.

Learn more about the differences between term and whole life insurance

More term life insurance options

Frequently asked questions

Do you need to take a medical exam for a 20-year term life insurance policy?

The medical exam is a common part of the application process, but you might not necessarily need to take one. Some insurers require a health questionnaire online or over the phone instead — your policy options depend on your age, health, and coverage amount.

What factors affect the cost of a 20-year life insurance policy?

Your coverage amount, age, gender, health, and lifestyle factors all affect how much your life insurance costs. You can connect with a Policygenius expert for free to get a personalized quote.

Can you extend a 20-year term life insurance policy?

You can usually renew a 20-year life insurance policy at the end of its term, but at a more expensive rate.

Can you cash out a 20-year term life insurance policy?

Term life insurance policies don’t come with a cash value feature, so you can’t cash out a 20-year term policy.

Author

Katherine Murbach is an editor and a former licensed life insurance agent at Policygenius. Previously, she wrote about life and disability insurance for 1752 Financial, and advised over 1,500 clients on their life insurance policies as a sales associate.

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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