Best life insurance for seniors

Seniors shopping for life insurance have special considerations to make, like how to keep coverage affordable and which type of policy works for them.

Logan Sachon

Logan Sachon

Published June 19, 2019

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Most seniors don't need life insurance unless they have outstanding debts or beneficiaries

  • It can be hard for seniors to qualify for term life insurance

  • Other life insurance options for seniors include guaranteed issue, simplified issue, and final expense.

When planning for the future, many people purchase term life insurance coverage that expires by the time they reach age 60. By that time, their kids will be grown, their mortgage will be paid off, and they'll have accumulated enough assets to ensure that their obligations will be taken care of when they die.

But sometimes life doesn't go according to plan, and some people find that they still need life insurance coverage as a senior. Rates can be considerably higher when you're buying life insurance as a senior, but there are still policies available to you, generally up to age 85.

Seniors can find affordable life insurance by working with an insurance agent to help them decide on the right amount of coverage. The agent can recommend an insurance carrier that will offer best rates for their age and health profile.

In this article:

Best life insurance for seniors over 60, 70, and 80

If you’re a senior who has determined that you do need life insurance, the next step is to talk to a reputable broker or agent to ensure that you're getting the best rates you can get. An advisor can help you choose the right death benefit and number of years you want the policy to last, and help you find a policy that makes the most sense for your health and financial situation.

Best life insurance for seniors over 60

If you’re in your 60s, you may qualify for term life insurance; a broker can help you with quotes. If you don’t qualify for term life insurance or if you don’t want to get a medical exam, then final expense insurance can be a good option for life insurance if you’re over 60.

Sample life insurance rates for 60 year olds

AGE 60 $10,000$15,000$20,000$25,000$30,000$35,000$40,000
10-year termMaleN/AN/AN/A$27.67$32.17$36.67$41.18
FemaleN/AN/AN/A$23.26$26.88$30.50$34.12
20-year termMaleN/AN/AN/A$36.27$42.49$48.71$54.94
FemaleN/AN/AN/A$30.68$35.78$40.89$45.99
30-year termMaleN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
FemaleN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Simplified-issue whole lifeMale$42.76$62.53$82.31$102.08$121.86$141.63$161.41
Female$32.87$47.70$62.53$77.36$92.20$107.03$121.86
Guaranteed-issue whole lifeMale$63.17$93.75$138.18$172.22N/AN/AN/A
Female$50.02$74.03$110.15$137.19N/AN/AN/A

Sample rates based on Preferred health ratings; quotes based on policies offered by Policygenius in 2019. N/A = Policies not available

Best life insurance for seniors over 70

Applicants in their 70s can still purchase term life insurance if they're in good health. Simplified-issue policies and guaranteed-issue policies are also an option.

Sample life insurance rates for 70-year-olds

AGE 70 $10,000$15,000$20,000$25,000$30,000$35,000$40,000
10-year termMaleN/AN/AN/A$70.86$84.00$97.15$110.29
FemaleN/AN/AN/A$56.54$66.82$77.10$87.38
20-year termMaleN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
FemaleN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
30-year termMaleN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
FemaleN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Simplified-issue whole lifeMale$73.70$108.95$144.20$179.45$214.69$249.94$285.19
Female$53.24$78.26$103.28$128.29$153.31$178.33$203.35
Guaranteed-issue whole lifeMale$98.18$146.27$215.24$268.55N/AN/AN/A
Female$74.52$110.78$163.60$204.00N/AN/AN/A

Sample rates based on Preferred health ratings; quotes based on policies offered by Policygenius in 2019. N/A = Policies not available

Best life insurance for seniors over 80

If you’re 80 years old, you may still be able to buy a term life insurance policy if you’re in good good health. But the premiums over the life of the policy will be higher than the death benefit. But if you’re 81 or older, term life insurance no longer an option, as carriers won’t write policies for applicants over 80. Up until age 85, you can purchase simplified-issue or guaranteed whole life policies.

Sample life insurance rates for 80-year-olds

AGE 80 $10,000$15,000$20,000$25,000$30,000$35,000$40,000
10-year termMaleN/AN/AN/A$210.87$252.01$293.16$334.30
FemaleN/AN/AN/A$179.07$213.86$248.64$283.42
20-year termMaleN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
FemaleN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
30-year termMaleN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
FemaleN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Simplified-issue whole lifeMale$132.65$197.38$262.10$326.83$391.56$456.28$521.01
Female$98.43$146.05$193.66$241.28$288.89$336.51$384.12
Guaranteed-issue whole lifeMale$246.44$368.66$538.70$672.87N/AN/AN/A
Female$175.42$262.13$383.77$479.22N/AN/AN/A

Sample term rates based on Preferred health ratings; quotes pulled by Policygenius in 2019. N/A = Policies not available

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Why seniors need life insurance

Most seniors don’t need life insurance. Life insurance is most often used as income replacement in case a breadwinner dies. But many seniors either don’t have dependents or have savings and assets built up to take care of those dependents.

But there are some situations when senior citizens do need life insurance. These may include:

  • You have people dependent on your income. Many senior citizens have people who are still dependent on their income or who would be hurt financially if they died.

  • You have unpaid debt. There are many debts that your spouse is not responsible for, but if you and your spouse have co-signed loans, for example, they’ll need to be able to keep up the payments on their own.

  • You want to cover funeral arrangements. Funeral expenses average around $10,000 in the U.S., and life insurance is one way to ensure that your family won’t have to find that money when you’re gone.

  • You want to cover end-of-life medical expenses. Many people hope to go quietly in their sleep, but ending up in the hospital can result in tens of thousands of dollars in medical debt that their loved ones might have to pay.

  • You want to leave an inheritance. Retirement can be expensive. The death benefit from life insurance can be a way to leave money behind for kids or grandkids.

Term life insurance for seniors

Term life insurance is the most affordable option for seniors looking for coverage over $25,000. (Coverage options go up as high as $10 million.)

Once you buy term insurance, your rates are set for the life of the policy. But the older you are when you apply, the higher your premiums will be. When you buy term policy, you also must choose your term length. Applicants over 60 will usually have to choose between 10-year and 20-year terms, though some companies offer 25-year terms for applicants over 60.

The term life application requires that you answer medical questions and undergo a medical exam to set premiums. If you have a history of health complications, term insurance can be difficult qualify for.

Sample 10-year term life insurance rates for seniors

AgeSex$250,000$500,000$750,000$1,000,000$2,000,000
60Male$70.19$128.99$191.13$241.45$477.90
Female$50.23$93.88$136.87$172.00$338.99
70Male$213.55$418.42$625.05$786.04$1,566.92
Female$128.06$240.37$356.55$440.56$876.43
80Male$881.85$1,652.20$2,475.57$3,132.21$5,800.66
Female$655.16$1,303.71$1,951.62$2,358.43$4,711.39

Sample rates based on Preferred health ratings; quotes based on policies offered by Policygenius in 2019.

Sample 20-year term life insurance rates for seniors

AgeSex$250,000$500,000$750,000$1,000,000$2,000,000
60Male$124.83$233.36$347.46$456.42$908.13
Female$88.15$163.57$242.78$315.64$626.28
70Male$485.76$951.52$1,424.56$1,892.45$3,779.44
Female$347.97$672.37$1,005.82$1,290.54$2,575.60
80MaleN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
FemaleN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A

Sample rates based on Preferred health ratings; quotes based on policies offered by Policygenius in 2019

N/A = Policies not available

Simplified-issue life insurance for seniors

Simplified-issue life insurance is a type of final expense insurance, which is how the insurance industry refers to policies with relatively low coverage amounts meant to provide beneficiaries with enough money to cover funerals, etc.

The application does not include a medical exam, but does include a health questionnaire. It can be easier to qualify for than term life, but coverage isn’t guaranteed. At Policygenius, we offer simplified-issue whole life up to $40,000.

Rates are higher than term life insurance for comparable coverage amounts, but if you can't qualify for a term policy, don’t want to take a medical exam, or only need a small amount of coverage, simplified-issue may be a good option.

Learn more about simplified-issue life insurance.

Sample simplified-issue whole life insurance rates for seniors

AgeSex$10,000$15,000$20,000$25,000$30,000
60Male$42.76$62.53$82.31$102.08$121.86
Female$32.87$47.70$62.53$77.36$92.20
70Male$73.70$108.95$144.20$179.45$214.69
Female$53.24$78.26$103.28$128.29$153.31
80Male$132.65$197.38$262.10$326.83$391.56
Female$98.43$146.05$193.66$241.28$288.89

Sample rates based policies offered by Policygenius in 2019.

Guaranteed-issue life insurance for seniors

The other type of final expense insurance is guaranteed-issue life insurance.

Like simplified-issue life insurance, guaranteed-issue policies are permanent policies that don’t require a medical exam. But guaranteed-issue policies go a step further and don’t even include a medical questionnaire (though some policies might require applicants to answer knockout questions about terminal illnesses).

Again, the premiums will be high for relatively low coverage amounts, which top out at $25,000.

Also important to know is that guaranteed-issue policies usually have graded death benefits for the first two years after the policy is placed. That means that if you die in the first two years, your beneficiaries won’t get the full death benefit. Instead they’ll receive a refund of your premiums paid, usually plus 10%. After those two years, however — or within the two years if the death is an accidental death —they will receive the full death benefit.

Learn more about guaranteed-issue life insurance.

Sample guaranteed issue whole life insurance rates for seniors

AgeSex$10,000$15,000$20,000$25,000
60Male$63.17$93.75$138.18$172.22
Female$50.02$74.03$110.15$137.19
70Male$98.18$146.27$215.24$268.55
Female$74.52$110.78$163.60$204.00
80Male$246.44$368.66$538.70$672.87
Female$175.42$262.13$383.77$479.22

Sample rates based on policies offered by Policygenius in 2019.

Long-term care insurance for seniors

Long-term care insurance is a different product than life insurance, but many people confuse the terms. Long-term care insurance pays for nursing homes and at-home care while you’re still alive.

Some life insurance policies do include what are called living benefits or accelerated benefits riders. These riders are additions to your policy that stipulate that if you are diagnosed with a terminal illness while your policy is active, you can get part of your death benefit paid early, while you’re still alive.

Some life insurance policies also offer the option to add a long-term care rider, which will use your death benefit to pay for long-term care expenses if you have a qualifying illness or condition. Long-term care riders generally require additional underwriting and premiums.

Policygenius’ editorial content is not written by an insurance agent. It’s intended for informational purposes and should not be considered legal or financial advice. Consult a professional to learn what financial products are right for you.