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Baby boomers typically pay more for term life insurance, but certain companies like Principal, Pacific Life and Protective offer affordable options
Updated February 5, 2021
Disclaimer: The content supplied here may be impacted by COVID-19. Contact a Policygenius agent for free to find out more.
Life insurance provides financial security to your loved ones should something happen to you. Term life insurance is a popular option because it’s cheaper than whole life insurance, lasts for a certain length of time (the term), and pays out a death benefit to your beneficiaries if you pass away during that term. To keep your policy active, you will need to pay a certain amount through monthly (or annual) premium payments.
Baby boomers — those born between 1946 and 1964 — will generally pay more for life insurance because they’re getting the policy at an older age. Term life insurance increases by 4.5-9% on average every year that you put off getting it. Costs go up even more once you reach age 50, and some insurers will completely deny coverage once you get into your 60s, especially if you have certain health conditions. Don’t worry though, you can still get life insurance if you need it.
If you’re 50 or older and have anyone who depends on your income, including a spouse who relies on you to help pay the bills, you should get life insurance. An insurance benefit can also help to cover your medical expenses if you get a serious illness, so loved ones aren't stuck paying off medical debt. Your beneficiaries can also use a benefit to pay for end-of-life expenses, like a funeral or cremation.
Life insurance is more expensive as you get older, but you can still get a term life insurance policy for a reasonable price
You should get life insurance if your spouse (or another dependent) relies on you to cover expenses, pay bills or pay for final expenses
Seniors often don't need a huge policy; $250,000 over 10 years may be enough
Not all baby boomers need life insurance. In some cases, your mortgage is paid off, you have no other debts, and no one is dependent on your income anymore. However, life insurance can still have its benefits in certain situations.
The simplest reason to get life insurance is to protect your income, so your spouse or partner can continue to pay for their expenses after you pass away. The same is true if you have someone else who depends on your income, like an adult child or other family member you take care of.
The death benefit from a life insurance policy can also help cover final expenses. Funerals are expensive. The costs can reach up to $10,000. There may also be medical expenses or other unpaid debts that your loved ones need to pay after you die. A benefit payment prevents your beneficiaries from having to foot the bill.
Another reason that you may want life insurance is to pass money to your children or grandchildren. Some life insurance policies also pay out the benefit before you die to cover long-term care expenses.
Even if you have considerable assets, the payment from a life insurance benefit can be an important part of estate planning. A life insurance policy is generally a tax-free cash payment that’s available for your heirs to spend soon after your death. As a type of payable-on-death account, life insurance usually doesn’t go through probate.
Passing assets on after your death can get costly unless you create a strong estate plan. For example, if all you have is a will, it’s possible that someone could challenge its contents and drag the probate process out.. This could result in probate attorney fees, accountant fees, and other fees related to proving the value of your estate. Your estate’s assets will also be frozen during this time. If someone was relying on those assets to pay for their regular expenses, they would be in trouble.
For most people, term life insurance is the best option (versus permanent life insurance). To see how much it would cost, your best bet is to start your search by just comparing life insurance quotes online. This will help you see what prices you can expect and which insurers offer more affordable life policies.
Next, you should research life insurance companies based on your health conditions. Some insurers offer better rates for customers with certain pre-existing conditions. That’s especially true as you get older. For example, some companies are more lenient towards people with high blood pressure or smokers.
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The cost of a policy will depend directly on how much the policy is worth (the benefit amount) as well as the health and age of the policyholder. Choosing a policy amount depends on why you’re getting the policy. If your primary goal is to cover funeral expenses, you may need less than if you’re trying to replace income for a dependent.
A 10-year policy worth $250,000 is a good place to start your search. That’s much a smaller policy than most younger individuals should get (experts recommend about 10-15x your salary), but it meets the needs of most baby boomers and keeps premiums lower.
The table below has some sample quotes from life insurance companies offering $250,000, 10-year policies for people over age 60.
|LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY||AGE 60||AGE 65||AGE 70|
|Mutual of Omaha||$92.24||$148.35||$274.13|
Methodology: Rates are calculated for a nonsmoker male with a Preferred health classification living in Columbus, Ohio, obtaining a 10-year, $250,000 10-year term life insurance policy. Quotes may vary by carrier, term, coverage amount, health class, and state. Not all policies are available in all states. Rate illustration valid as of 2/5/2021.
Riders are additions to life insurance policies — either add-ons for an extra cost or features built into the policy — that let the policyholder tailor their policy to their needs. For example, a rider may pay your benefit early if certain conditions are met or it may even extend coverage to include other individuals. There are a couple of riders that baby boomers should consider:
Accelerated death benefit: It's common for a long-term care (LTC) rider to be coupled with an accelerated death benefit (ADB) as one item on policies. The ADB works similarly to the LTC rider with the key difference that an ADB requires a terminal illness diagnosis before being triggered. Other riders exist to pay your benefit if you are diagnosed with a chronic illness, like cancer or kidney failure.
Term conversion rider: Many term life insurance policies include a term conversion rider. If you qualify for a term life insurance policy but the insurer will only approve a short term, this turns the policy into a whole life insurance policy, meaning it stays in effect for as long as you pay the premiums. Most term life insurance policies come with a conversion feature built-in, but it’s good to be aware of so you know what options you have when the policy term ends.
Term life insurance provides the coverage that most people need at an affordable rate. But some people in their 60s and 70s might benefit from a different type of life insurance.
Whole life insurance will cover you for the rest of your life instead of a predetermined number of years. Whole life sounds appealing, but it’s almost certainly way too expensive for the average baby boomer to afford. Some whole life insurance policies come with a cash value component, which can be useful for estate planning.
Policies that don’t require a medical exam are particularly popular with older people. Life insurance companies use the medical exam to determine premium rates, but it may result in older and less healthy applicants getting denied a policy. Underwriting for no medical life insurance still involves a review of past medical records and can sometimes cost more. Some types of no medical exam life insurance include:
Guaranteed life insurance is an option for those who can’t qualify for other life insurance policies, usually because they wouldn’t be able to pass a medical exam. This insurance is typically very expensive for seniors — $200 or more per month — and is usually seen as a last-resort when you can't qualify for other types of life insurance.
Simplified whole life insurance is an option for people who can’t qualify for a traditional life insurance policy, but who are only at moderate health risk. You will need to fill out a detailed medical questionnaire to qualify.
Final expense life insurance is a type of life insurance where the death benefit can be used to cover medical costs and other end-of-life expenses. It is regularly used to help pay for funeral costs. Final expense life insurance doesn’t expire and your policy will stay active as long as you continue to pay the premiums.
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People who are 55+ usually don’t need as big a life insurance policy as younger shoppers. However, if you have a spouse or other dependents (like adult children with disabilities) who still rely on your income to cover expenses, getting life insurance makes sense. Life insurance can also help cover end of life expenses – including funeral costs and medical bills – in the form of an easy-to-access tax-free lump sum.
Life insurance rates increase as you age, but you can still find affordable life insurance at any age if you shop around and opt for a lower death benefit. An independent agent or broker can help figure out what type of policy is right for you.
Due to the ever-changing nature of the coronavirus pandemic, some insurers are modifying processes and/or imposing coverage restrictions on certain health conditions or age groups. Speak to a Policygenius agent for free to find out how to get the most affordable policy.
Yes. There are many coverage options for baby boomers, but some insurers may offer more affordable coverage for baby boomers than others.
The cost of buying life insurance increases as you age and baby boomers may pay higher than usual rates. Shop around for life insurance to find the most affordable rates for your profile.
Rebecca Shoenthal is a life insurance editor at Policygenius in New York City, specializing in buying life insurance and the ins and outs of life insurance ownership. She's edited business books by the country’s top academics, politicians, journalists, thought leaders and CEOs, including venture capitalist John Doerr’s Measure What Matters, entrepreneur Scott Belsky's The Messy Middle, NYU Stern professor Scott Galloway's The Four, and technologist John Maeda's How to Speak Machine.
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