Life insurance basics


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You decide how many years your policy will last (the term) and the coverage amount that will be paid out if you die (the death benefit).


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You pay for the policy with monthly or annual premium payments. You can compare quotes from multiple life insurers first to see the different rates they charge for coverage.


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If you die while your term life insurance policy is active, the death benefit is paid out to your beneficiaries.

Term Life Whole Life Universal Life
Cash Value?NoYesYes
Average Monthly Cost$25-355-15x more than termVaries; similar to whole

Permanent life insurance like whole and universal can be good for complex financial situations, such as paying estate taxes. Term life is the right choice for most shoppers because it’s cheaper and more straightforward.

And there are even more types of life insurance, each with benefits, drawbacks, and unique properties. Talk to an expert before choosing a more complex policy – a term life policy will work best in most cases.

Read more in our Learn Center

Types of Life Insurance

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How much does life insurance cost?

Coverage Amount Age 30 Age 35 Age 40 Age 45

Sample monthly life insurance rates based on Preferred health ratings for a 20-year term life insurance policy for a non-smoker male; quotes based on policies offered by Policygenius in 2020.

The following factors will determine
the cost of your life insurance policy:


Your policy

The type of policy you choose, along with the term length and coverage amount, influences the base cost of your policy.

Your health

Life insurance is all about risk, so the healthier you are, the cheaper your policy will be. If possible, buy life insurance when you’re feeling your healthiest.

Your age

The cost of a policy increases at a rate of 8-10% each year you put off buying one.

Your hobbies

Dangerous hobbies, like skydiving and scuba diving, may raise your rates.

Your gender

In general, men pay more than women for comparable policies.

Each life insurance company will weigh these factors differently.

Policygenius can help you easily compare life insurance quotes from multiple insurers to make sure you’re getting the best rate.

Read more in our Learn Center

How much is life insurance?

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We’re independent.
So you can depend on us.

When you buy a policy through us, the insurance company pays the commission to Policygenius, not to the individual insurance agent who helped you. When your agent earns a salary instead of a commission, you can trust they're selling you only what you really need.

Who needs life insurance?

Life insurance policyholders commonly include:



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Marriage complicates finances, and you’ll feel better knowing your significant other has a safety net for any shared debt or future financial plans.


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Whether you’re paying for diapers or college tuition, kids are expensive. A life insurance policy ensures they’re taken care of from cradle to college.


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Mortgages are the biggest, longest-lasting debt most people will take on. A good rule of thumb is to have a life insurance policy that lasts as long as your mortgage. It's not uncommon for a policy to last 20 or 30 years.

Business Owners

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A smart business owner will have an insurance policy so their partners can keep the company going even after they’re gone.


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Did you know that your parents may be on the hook for your debt if they cosigned your student loans? Anyone with cosigned debt should consider life insurance, even if you’re young.

Final expenses – Whether it’s medical care or funeral expenses, you can protect your loved ones against any end-of-life costs. For older shoppers, a small final expense insurance - a type of permanent policy - may work.

Long-term financial plans – Retirement, long-term care for your spouse or elderly parents, and other expenses can be far down the road, but it makes sense to start thinking about them now.

Charitable gifts – Even if you don’t have anyone who relies on your income, you can choose a museum or foundation as your beneficiary and have the money donated to them.

Read more in our Learn Center

Do I need life insurance?

How we’ve helped American families

$60 Billion

in coverage

30+ Million

shoppers helped


average saved /yr

How to buy life insurance

Get free quotes


Comparing rates from different insurance companies allows you to make sure you’re getting the most affordable policy. You never have to pay for life insurance quotes.

Choose a policy


Take into account the cost and how much coverage you need, along with the insurer’s reputation and average application time.

Fill out an application


You can fill out your application online or call a licensed expert to get help. Either way, you’ll need to answer some basic income and health questions.

Take a medical exam


Medical exams are similar to a basic physical. The exam is free, and a technician will come to your home or workplace on your schedule.

Complete a phone interview


An insurance agent will ask you a few simple lifestyle and health questions.

Wait for approval


An underwriter will use all the collected info to decide on a final premium rate, which should be similar to the quotes you received.

Sign your policy


After you sign your policy and send your first premium payment, your life insurance will be active and your loved ones will be protected!

Need help?

Policygenius’ licensed experts can help you from start to finish and make sure you’re making the right choice.

Get a free quote

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Frequently asked questions


How can I get the most affordable life insurance?


Term life insurance is the cheapest option for most people, so that’s a good starting point when looking for the most affordable policy. Regardless of the type you buy, compare companies to make sure you’re choosing the one that’s best for your particular health details and financial situation.


What are the advantages of life insurance?


Life insurance provides peace of mind for you and your family. Term life is an affordable form of financial protection, and it costs as little as $20-$25 a month for some people.

The death benefit is usually tax-free, so your family gets the entire amount.

Life insurance can be purchased online, and the entire benefit is available as soon as the policy is active - there’s no waiting period.


What happens if my policy costs more than I was quoted?


Policygenius is proud to provide industry-best life insurance quotes. But sometimes information uncovered during the application process means your policy will cost more than expected.

When this happens, we’ll shop your application around to our partner insurers and negotiate to get you the best possible price – guaranteed.


Will the insurance company ever not pay out the death benefit?


If your policy isn't active when you die - you outlived the term, let it lapse, or canceled it - you're no longer insured and the company won't pay the death benefit. Additionally, during the first two years of the policy the company can refuse to pay in cases of suicide, and can also investigate any death for evidence of fraud; if found, they may pay out only a portion of the benefit, or none at all.


I have group life insurance through my employer. Do I still need a private insurance policy?


Group coverage is a popular workplace perk but often falls short in two ways: It limits your coverage amount, and it isn’t transferable if you switch jobs. A private insurance policy allows you to customize your coverage and stay protected for as long as you need it.

Already have group life? Let our experts help you find the right supplemental policy to complete your coverage.