Cost & Coverage
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Life insurance is still a good option for baby boomers in certain situations and if you can find a good price
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 consider life insurance if your spouse (or another dependent) relies on you to cover expenses, or if you need help paying bills, such as for medical expenses or a funeral
Seniors don’t often need a huge policy; just $250,000 over 10 years may be enough
Life insurance provides financial security to your loved ones should something happen to you. The most popular option is term life insurance because it’s usually the cheapest. A term life policy lasts for a certain length of time (the term) and the insurance company will pay out a death benefit 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 — generally have to pay more for life insurance because they’re getting it at an older age. Term life insurance gets more expensive by 8% to 10% every year that you put off getting it. Costs go up faster once you reach 50 and some insurers will deny you completely 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 in your 50s or older, consider life insurance if you have anyone who depends on your income, including a spouse who relies on you to help pay the bills. An insurance benefit can also help to cover your medical expenses should you get a serious illness; that way your loved ones aren't stuck paying off medical debt. Your loved ones can also use a benefit to pay for end-of-life expenses, like a funeral or cremation.
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First of all, 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 insurance is that a life policy can protect your income, so that your spouse can continue to pay for their expenses after you pass away. The same is true if you have someone who depends on your income, like an adult child or other family member you take care of.
The benefit from a life insurance policy can also help cover final expenses. Funerals are expensive. If you receive a traditional funeral, the cost of a casket alone 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 that you simply want money to pass down to your children or grandchildren. Some life insurance policies also allow you receive 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 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 will challenge its contents and cause the probate process to drag on. 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 receiving those assets to pay for their regular expenses, they will be in trouble.
In most cases, term life insurance is the best option. 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 carriers offer more affordable life policies.
Next, you should research carriers based on your health conditions. Some carriers offer better rates for customers with certain health conditions. That’s especially true as you get older. For example, some companies are more lenient towards people with high blood pressure, or toward smokers. (Read more on the best life insurance for smokers.)
It’s difficult to go to the site of each insurance carrier, so the best option is to use a site like Policygenius that compares quotes from multiple carriers. With just some basic information on your health, you can get free life insurance quotes in a matter of minutes.
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. How much of a policy you should get depends on why you’re getting the policy. If you’re primary goal is to cover funeral expenses, you may need less than if you’re trying to replace income for a dependent.
Once you reach 60 years old, 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, but it meets the needs of most baby boomers.
The table below has some sample quotes from carriers for $250,000, 10-year policies. The quotes are based on New Jersey rates for a healthy male.
|CARRIER||AGE 60||AGE 65||AGE 70|
|Protective||$60.20 / $700.00||$104.13 / $1,225.00||$184.04 / $2,140.00|
|Pacific Life||$60.35 / $709.99||$104.13 / $1,225.11||$182.06 / $2,141.92|
|AIG||$70.84 / $819.00||$115.61 / $1,336.50||$195.01 / $2,076.50|
|Banner Life||$65.41 / $747.50||$109.59 / $1,252.50||$196.00 / $2,240.00|
|Principal||$61.69 / $705.00||$106.97 / $1,222.50||$178.06 / $2,035.00|
|Prudential||$65.19 / $745.00||$116.38 / $1,330.00||$200.38 / $2,290.00|
|Mutual of Omaha||$71.75 / $820.00||$121.41 / $1,387.50||N/A|
|Transamerica||N/A||$133.52 / $1,552.50||N/A|
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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 policies 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.
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.
Another rider to consider is a term conversion rider. If you qualify for a term life insurance policy but the insurer will only approve a short term, this will turn 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.
We also have a complete list of life insurance riders that you can look over.
Term life insurance provides the coverage that most people need and 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 preset number of years. Whole life sounds appealing, but it’s almost certainly way too expensive for the average baby boomer to afford. If you’re interested in whole life, here’s a breakdown of term vs whole life insurance.
Policies that don’t require a medical exam are particularly popular with older people. Life insurance companies use the medical exam to properly set rates, but it may result in older and less healthy applicants getting denied a policy. You may pay more by forgoing the medical exam, but you’re much more likely to be accepted.
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. (Read more on whether guaranteed life insurance is worth it.)
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. Learn more about final expense life insurance.
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