40-year term life insurance: What is it, how does it work, is it right for you?

A 40-year term life insurance policy can provide financial stability for most of your adult life. You can use this type of policy to lock in a low rate that won’t change for the entire duration of the term.

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By

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|8 min read

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Term life insurance policies are different from other types of life insurance policies because they aren’t designed to last for your whole life. Instead, they last for a set period of time, called the “term.” One of the longest terms you can choose is 40 years. 

A 40-year term life insurance policy can be a useful tool for protecting your family financially. This type of term life insurance policy is best for someone who needs financial protection for the longest time possible without having to buy a permanent policy — and who can afford the higher cost of such a long term.

What is a 40-year term life insurance policy?

A 40-year term life insurance policy is an agreement between you and your insurer. You’ll pay premiums for 40 years and, in exchange, the insurer agrees to pay the death benefit — a tax-free lump sum of money — if you die during those 40 years.

Forty years is the longest coverage option you can choose in a term life insurance. 

How does a 40-year term life insurance work?

When you apply for a 40-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 four decades. 

  • If the insurance company agrees to insure you, it’ll offer a price based on how likely it is that you’ll be alive at the end of the term. 

  • If you accept the offer, you’ll sign the paperwork, make your first payment, and your insurance will become active. 

At the end of the 40-year term, your coverage will expire. If you still need insurance at that time, you’ll have a few options to consider, like renewing your policy or applying for a new one. If you do nothing, your insurance coverage will come to an end. 

Who should buy a 40-year term life policy?

You should consider getting a 40-year term life insurance if you know you’ll need insurance for at least the next 40 years and feel confident in your ability to pay the premiums you’re approved for. 

A 40-year term policy will offer financial protection for most of your adult life, but because the insurer is making a longer-term commitment and taking on a higher risk, your premiums will be higher. If you can opt for a shorter term policy, you’ll save a lot of money over the course of many years. But if you really need insurance for a very long time and can commit to it, your needs will be better met with a 40-year policy. 

Parents of young children

If you have young children, your family can be financially vulnerable if you or your spouse dies while your children are young. Getting a 40-year term policy can ensure that your current and future children will be protected well into adulthood. 

If you have a child who is expected to remain dependent on you when they grow up due to a health issue, getting a 40-year policy can provide additional protection for them. 

People with long-term insurance needs

Forty years is a relatively long period of time over the course of your adult life, which can make financial planning difficult for most people. But a 40-year term policy can be a useful tool if you know you have long-term needs, such as if you’re the primary caregiver to a parent, sibling, or adult child. A 40-year term can also be helpful if you have significant debt that you plan to pay off over the course of your lifetime. 

Adults planning their retirement

If you’re in your twenties or thirties, a 40-year term policy can help protect your anticipated income in your working years before you retire. A 40-year term policy can ensure your financial goals, like protecting your family and leaving a legacy, can come to pass even if you die before you retire. 

Families with estate planning needs

A 40-year term policy can help your loved ones carry out your wishes when you die. Your family can use the money from the insurance to pay your funeral and burial expenses. They can also pay off any personal debt you have, including auto loans or a mortgage, so that any assets you have can remain with your estate and be distributed as you see fit. 

Learn more about how life insurance can help with estate planning

Advantages & disadvantages of 40-year term life insurance

Advantages

  • Low maintenance. With a 40-year term policy, you’ll apply once and as long as you make your regular payments, you’ll be covered for 40 years with no additional paperwork required. 

  • Peace of mind. With a 40-year term, you’ll have coverage guaranteed for most of your adult life. You won’t have to worry about how a health issue or lifestyle change may impact your ability to get insurance in the future. 

Disadvantages

  • Few options. Not every insurer offers 40-year term life policies. 

  • More expensive than other good alternatives. Because the insurer is taking on more risk with a 40-year term policy, it’ll be more expensive for you. Getting a 30-year term policy may satisfy many of the reasons you’d consider a 40-year term for, but at a much cheaper price. 

Why are 40-year term life insurance policies uncommon?

Forty-year term policies pose a high risk to the insurer, which makes this coverage option more expensive compared to shorter-term life insurance policies. Additionally, most people will have changing finances and insurance needs over the next 40 years, so getting this type of policy can be risky for the person applying, too.

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How much does a 40-year term life insurance policy cost?

The cost of a 40-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 $47 per month for a 40-year term life insurance with a $500,000 payout. A 30-year-old male with the same profile would pay less than $64 per month for the same policy. 

A 30-year-old female who has a moderate health issue such as rheumatoid arthritis or mild depression, or who participates in a hazardous activity, like recreational aviation, could expect to pay about $73 per month for the same coverage. A 30-year-old male with a similar profile could expect to spend about $95 per month for the same coverage. 

Cheap 40-year term life insurance rates

Age

Gender 

$250,000 coverage amount

$500,000 coverage amount

$1 million coverage amount

20

Female

$24.74

$41.70

$72.41

Male

$30.35

$52.95

$97.11

25

Female

$24.74

$41.70

$72.41

Male

$30.35

$52.95

$97.11

30

Female

$27.31

$46.75

$85.86

Male

$34.78

$63.47

$120.84

35

Female

$34.30

$62.52

$111.01

Male

$44.93

$83.78

$161.43

40

Female

$57.40

$108.73

$183.93

Male

$74.43

$142.74

$278.66

45

Female

$87.63

$167.52

$328.00

Male

$124.43

$242.32

$478.56

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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, 40-year term life insurance policy. Life insurance averages are based on a composite of policies offered by Policygenius from Legal & General America and Protective. 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 40-year term life insurance rates

Age

Gender 

$250,000 coverage amount

$500,000 coverage amount

$1 million coverage amount

20

Female

$35.60

$63.30

$114.15

Male

$46.67

$85.32

$150.44

25

Female

$35.60

$63.30

$114.15

Male

$46.67

$85.32

$150.44

30

Female

$40.36

$72.78

$135.63

Male

$50.96

$94.95

$173.59

35

Female

$45.67

$85.27

$164.41

Male

$62.60

$119.10

$231.37

40

Female

$70.46

$134.83

$262.82

Male

$86.12

$166.18

$325.53

45

Female

$105.38

$197.26

$384.11

Male

$145.02

$283.73

$561.37

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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, 40-year term life insurance policy. Life insurance averages are based on a composite of policies offered by Policygenius from Legal & General America and Protective. 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

What happens after a 40-year term policy ends?

Your policy will expire after 40 years and your coverage will end. Ideally, you’ll be in a situation where you no longer need the protection that life insurance provides. But if you’re in a situation where you still need coverage — whether to cover funeral expenses, care for a dependent child, or cover debt — you’ll have options available. 

Get a new policy

If you’re under 75 years old when your 40-year term policy ends, your best option for continued coverage may be to get another term policy. Most insurers will offer term life insurance through age 85. You’ll have to reapply, go through underwriting — the process during which the insurer determines your insurance risk and sets your rates — and take a medical exam. But if you have limited health issues, you’ll be eligible to get more term insurance at a relatively low price. 

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’ll 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 good for some people for only one or two years, but renewing your policy indefinitely is usually not cost-effective because your rates will go up significantly each year. 

Convert to a permanent policy

A term conversion rider is included with most term life insurance policies. This feature allows you to convert your term policy into a permanent policy when the term ends. An advantage of this option is you won’t have to reapply or take a medical exam to convert your policy. 

If you convert your term policy to permanent life insurance, 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 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 

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Best 40-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.

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

Protective

Protective 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 ($$$$$).

$

$

$

$

$

30+ year terms

Why we chose itchevron icon

Protective has some of the most affordable and comprehensive life insurance options available.

Pros and conschevron icon

Pros

  • Competitive rates for all ages and health classifications

  • Good for people with mental health conditions, kidney conditions, and some cancers, including prostate cancer

  • Term lengths up to 40 years

Cons

  • Not available in New York

  • Not great for people who have had bankruptcy, marijuana users, or visa holders

  • No no-medical-exam policy options

Best overall 40-year term life insurance: Protective 

Protective offers a 40-year term and can offer coverage to people of all ages and health classifications. Protective has a reputation for offering low prices and coverage options regardless of your health history or lifestyle hazards. 

Legal & General, which also does business as Banner Life and William Penn, is one of the few companies that offers a 40-year term length. The company’s known for offering low rates to people under age 40, and some of the lowest rates to people with certain pre-existing conditions, like diabetes

Comparing the best 40-year term life insurance companies of 2024

Policygenius rating

Best for 

AM Best rating

Legal & General America

4.9/5 ★

Pre-existing conditions

A+

Protective

4.8/5 ★

Overall

A+

Learn more about the best life insurance companies of 2024

How to buy 40-year term life insurance through Policygenius

Getting a 40-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 The main purpose of insurance is to replace any financial loss that will occur for your loved ones if you die. To determine how much that would be, total up all of your debt, your expected income over the next 40 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 more accurate idea of your needs. 

  2. Get quotes Every insurance company will assess your risk using its 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 decide which insurer is the right fit for you, your advisor will help you complete the necessary application documents. 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. The exam can be conducted at your home or office and is paid for by the insurer, even if you don’t end up getting a policy with that company. 

  5. Wait for approval After you submit your application paperwork and take your medical exam, the insurer needs to review your file. 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 request additional medical records from your doctor before they 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 its 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 a 40-year term life insurance policy

If a 40-year term policy isn’t the best option for you, you’ll have other choices for insurance coverage. Explore these other types of policies that may better meet your needs. 

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

The longer your term, the more expensive it will be. You’ll get a cheaper rate if you opt for a 30-year term instead of a 40-year term. More insurers offer a 30-year term, so you’ll have more options to choose from with a 30-year term. Unless you know you need a 40-year term and can commit to keeping the policy active for 40 years, a 30-year term is usually a better deal. 

However, there are situations where a 40-year term could uniquely suit your needs. If you have long-term financial obligations, such as caring for a dependent family member who needs lifelong care or coverage for a significant amount of personal debt, a 40-year term policy could be a good fit for you. 

40-year term vs. whole life insurance

While 40-year term policies can give you long-term care, you may want to consider a permanent option like whole life insurance instead. Whole life insurance never expires, offers a guaranteed death benefit, and comes with a cash value component, which you can use while you’re still living. While it will be more expensive than a 40-year term policy, if your estate has significant value, a whole life policy can also help you maximize the assets you leave behind to your loved ones. 

Learn more about the differences between term and whole life insurance

Other term life insurance options

Frequently asked questions

Do you need to take a medical exam for a 40-year term life insurance policy?

Yes. You’ll need to take a medical exam if you apply for a 40-year term life insurance policy. The insurer will evaluate how likely it is that you’ll live through the next 40 years, and it’ll make sure it has all the information it needs to assess your current health status. 

What factors affect the cost of a 40-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 it’s less confident that you’ll outlive the policy, your insurance will be more expensive. 

Can you extend a 40-year term life insurance policy?

Most 40-year term policies will have a term conversion 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 or 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 40-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. One of the reasons that term life insurance costs less than comparable permanent life insurance policies is that they don’t have any cash value. 

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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