Life insurance rates by gender

Men’s life insurance rates are generally higher than women’s, but other factors are more likely to influence how much you pay for your policy.

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Amanda Shih

Amanda Shih

Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

Amanda Shih is a licensed life, disability, and health insurance expert and a former editor at Policygenius, where she covered life insurance and disability insurance. Her expertise has appeared in Slate, Lifehacker, Little Spoon, and J.D. Power.

&Nupur Gambhir

Nupur Gambhir

Senior Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

Nupur Gambhir is a licensed life, health, and disability insurance expert and a former senior editor at Policygenius. Her insurance expertise has been featured in Bloomberg News, Forbes Advisor, CNET, Fortune, Slate, Real Simple, Lifehacker, The Financial Gym, and the end-of-life planning service Cake.

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Maria Filindras

Maria Filindras

Financial Advisor

Maria Filindras is a financial advisor, a licensed Life & Health insurance agent in California, and a member of the Financial Review Council at Policygenius.

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Gender is just one of the factors that determine your life insurance rates, though with all other things being equal, women pay slightly less for life insurance.

When you apply for life insurance, how much you pay depends on how risky the insurer thinks it is to insure you — i.e., how likely you are to die while your coverage is active. Because men have a shorter life expectancy than women, [1] they usually receive higher life insurance rates. However, gender isn’t the only factor insurers evaluate, and your medical history or lifestyle choices have a much bigger impact on how much you pay for coverage.

Key takeaways

  • Women typically live longer than men, so they often pay less than men for life insurance.

  • Health or lifestyle risks could override any difference in premiums you’d see based on your gender.

  • Gender-nonconforming applicants won’t get higher rates based on gender identity, but must apply under one gender.

Why gender affects your life insurance

Insurers have underwriting guidelines that they base your premiums on. They use a tool called an actuarial table to make these underwriting decisions, which lists someone’s chances of dying by age and sex and is based on historical data. 

Historically, actuarial tables show that men usually die earlier than women. [2] [3]

More recent research suggests life expectancy by gender may be more nuanced, [4] but unfortunately, there isn’t currently enough data to change existing underwriting guidelines.

Male vs. female life insurance rates

The table below shows average monthly life insurance rates by age and coverage amount for a male and female with the same basic health and lifestyle backgrounds, in a Preferred health classification.

Age

Sex

$250,000 policy

$500,000 policy

$1,000,000 policy

25

Female

$14.17

$21.06

$33.45

Male

$17.11

$26.89

$44.62

35

Female

$16.39

$25.43

$42.49

Male

$18.58

$30.14

$51.51

45

Female

$28.31

$47.71

$86.45

Male

$35.11

$60.58

$112.52

55

Female

$59.80

$108.44

$207.17

Male

$82.80

$150.39

$282.99

Methodology: Average monthly estimated rates for male and female non-smokers in a Preferred health classification with a 20-year term length. Rates are based on the monthly Policygenius Life Insurance Price Index. Prices in the index are determined by internal actuarial rate tables for life insurance carriers that offer policies through the Policygenius marketplace: AIG, Banner Life, Brighthouse, Lincoln Financial, Foresters Financial, Mutual of Omaha, Pacific Life, Protective, Prudential, SBLI, Symetra, and Transamerica. Illustration valid as of 12/01/2022.

→ See more life insurance rates for different ages and policy types

Life insurance rates for transgender or nonbinary applicants

Being transgender, nonbinary, or genderqueer may affect your application experience, but it shouldn’t have a noticeable impact on how much you pay. An insurer can’t increase your rates or deny you coverage due to your gender identity, hormone medications, or if you’ve had gender confirmation surgery (though they can postpone your application until after your surgery).

Policy premiums will not change for transgender people, but hormonal treatments and mental illness diagnoses such as depression – a prominent medical diagnosis amongst transgender people [5] – will be analyzed by underwriters just as they would be for cisgender applicants, and could affect your health rating and rates.

Life insurance and gender identity

Unfortunately, most companies do not offer a gender-neutral option on the life insurance application. You will be required to choose a gender when you apply for a policy, and some companies will only underwrite you using the gender you were assigned at birth.

There are rarely concrete protocols at life insurance companies for working with transgender applicants. The way underwriters process your application and the documents they request from you could vary. While most of the paperwork you’ll be asked to supply is similar to that of cisgender people, some companies may ask you to share additional paperwork to demonstrate your gender expression.

A Policygenius broker can guide you toward a provider that can handle your application with sensitivity and flexibility.

→ Learn more about applying for life insurance as a transgender person

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Factors that affect the cost of life insurance for women

Gender-specific factors like pregnancy, ovarian or breast cancer, and menopause can impact women’s premiums and eligibility. 

“While women tend to have longer life expectancies than men, allowing for lower life insurance prices by age, they will typically face some health risks that men don't and vice versa,” says Policygenius Sales Associate Elia Weg. "Women’s quotes are commonly affected by breast and reproductive cancers, hormonal disorders like PCOS, and pregnancy-related conditions like gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and postpartum depression,” adds Weg.

Note that every life insurance application is considered on an individual basis, and any underwriter will also look at information like your age, overall health, and hobbies to determine your final premium.

Pregnancy

Applications from pregnant people in the first trimester are typically approved, but applications submitted in the third trimester are typically delayed until after birth due to the unpredictability of your health during this stage of pregnancy. (Purchasing life insurance before you’re pregnant can help secure policy approval and the best possible life insurance premiums.) Underwriters also consider fertility treatments of any kind to determine your premiums, a particularly important detail if you’re undergoing IVF treatment.

Side effects from pregnancy, such as weight gain, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and postpartum depression, will also delay your life insurance application until your complete recovery. Lasting side effects can influence your premiums. Insurance companies will also look at previous pregnancies to determine your risk.

Breast cancer and other gender-specific cancers

Underwriters examine your personal and family history of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and uterine cancer alongside the rest of your medical history. If you are a woman with a family history of one of these gender-specific cancers, your health rating may be affected or you may even be denied coverage. Some insurers may even ask for mammograms or a BRCA gene mutation test, which determines if you have DNA mutations that increase your risk of breast cancer.

Traditional life insurance coverage is hard to acquire when going through cancer treatment. Most breast cancers are discovered in women ages 50 and older – another reason why it’s a good idea to purchase life insurance earlier. [6] After remission, any cancer history typically leads to a less favorable health classification from insurers, but there are some companies with more flexibility for cancer survivors.

Mental health & hormonal disorders

Women are more affected than men by certain mental health illnesses and some types of disorders are unique to women. [7] Depending on the insurer, mental health history can have an impact on the premiums you are offered. For example, a history of depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia will likely lead to higher premiums.

Hormonal disorders, such as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), won’t affect life insurance coverage, but the related symptoms, such as depression and anxiety, could. The side effects of treating a hormonal disorder can also affect how a life insurance application is assessed. For example, a medication used to treat endometriosis can sometimes lead to weight gain, which could be flagged as a concerning health condition on a life insurance application.

Best life insurance companies for women 

AIG

4.6

Policygenius rating

How we score: Policygenius’ ratings are determined by our editorial team. Our methodology takes multiple factors into account, including pricing, financial ratings, quality of customer service, and other product-specific features.

AIG logo

With competitive pricing and a range of flexible term periods for its Select-a-Term product, AIG is a solid option for women, especially for life insurance shoppers under age 40.

Pros

  • Competitive pricing for all ages

  • Customizable term policies

  • Benefits common health conditions

  • Strong financial confidence

Cons

  • Below average customer ratings

  • No no-medical-exam options available

Why we picked it

AIG can be one of the most-friendly carriers to pregnant applicants, considering applications well past when others will want to postpone until after the birth.

Lincoln Financial

4.7

Policygenius rating

How we score: Policygenius’ ratings are determined by our editorial team. Our methodology takes multiple factors into account, including pricing, financial ratings, quality of customer service, and other product-specific features.

Lincoln Financial logo

Lincoln Financial offers a no-medical-exam term life policy with quick decisions and affordable rates for shoppers of all ages.

Pros

  • No-medical-exam option available

  • Fast turnaround

  • Low rates for marijuana users

Cons

  • Expensive permanent policies

  • Few online tools

Why we picked it

Lincoln Financial offers a wide array of policies for applicants who have had stage 0 or stage 1 cancer, including breast cancer, and have been in remission at least five years. Applicants with later-stage breast cancer can be approved after they have been in remission for five to 10 years. 

Prudential

3.4

Policygenius rating

How we score: Policygenius’ ratings are determined by our editorial team. Our methodology takes multiple factors into account, including pricing, financial ratings, quality of customer service, and other product-specific features.

Prudential logo

With nearly four million policyholders and 150 years to its name, Prudential offers competitive coverage options people with some of the most common medical conditions.

Pros

  • High financial ratings

  • Competitive underwriting for a range of medical conditions

  • Comprehensive online resources

Cons

  • High premiums

  • Mixed customer ratings

Why we picked it

Prudential offers competitive rates for a number of women's health conditions, including PCOS, fibromyalgia, and depression.

Factors that affect the cost of life insurance for men

There are fewer male-specific factors that affect that cost of life insurance. Prostate cancer is the main one: 

Prostate cancer and other gender specific cancers

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men in the U.S. (skin cancer is the first). [8] Many insurance companies will want to know if you’ve had prostate cancer in your immediate family, and they may give you a higher rate if you do. 

For men over 50 applying for life insurance, it’s very likely that a prostate-specific-antigen (PSA) test will be included in the blood test of your life insurance medical exam. (Prostate cancer is rare in men under 40.) Elevated PSA levels can indicate prostate cancer, though there are other causes. An elevated PSA level could result in higher life insurance rates. 

If you’ve already been diagnosed with cancer of the prostate, you still may be able to get life insurance coverage. Insurance companies will want your treatment to be complete and your cancer to be in remission for at least one to three years.

Testicular cancer is another gender-specific cancer that insurers will be looking for in your family history. If you are a male applying for life insurance, a parent or sibling with testicular cancer can affect your health rating. 

Avoiding the doctor

It's a well-known generalization that men don't like to go to the doctor, but unfortunately, it's also true: Two-thirds of men (65%) say they wait as long as possible to go to the doctor if they have symptoms or an injury. [9] This can be an issue when applying for life insurance if you have an outstanding request from your doctor to get a test or bloodwork done and you haven't done it. The insurance company will likely want to see the results of those tests before they underwrite your policy, which mean it will take you longer to get insured.

Best life insurance companies for men 

Protective

4.9

Policygenius rating

How we score: Policygenius’ ratings are determined by our editorial team. Our methodology takes multiple factors into account, including pricing, financial ratings, quality of customer service, and other product-specific features.

Protective logo

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

Pros

  • One of the best values on the market

  • Variety of coverage amounts and term lengths

  • Solid suite of online tools

Cons

  • Slow application approval

  • Zero no-medical-exam options

Why we picked it

For men who have had prostate cancer, Protective is one of the best companies, offering policies to applicants in remission sooner than some competitors.

Brighthouse Financial

4.6

Policygenius rating

How we score: Policygenius’ ratings are determined by our editorial team. Our methodology takes multiple factors into account, including pricing, financial ratings, quality of customer service, and other product-specific features.

Brighthouse Financial logo

Brighthouse Financial offers competitive rates, comprehensive coverage, and application decisions in as little as 24 hours, making it our overall best choice for people who want to get life insurance coverage without having to take the medical exam.

Pros

  • Fast-tracked coverage with SimplySelect

  • Very affordable

  • Convertible options available

Cons

  • Only a few term lengths available

  • Customer support is lacking

Why we picked it

For men who want to avoid the life insurance medical exam, Brighthouse Financial offers competitive rates.

Lincoln Financial

4.7

Policygenius rating

How we score: Policygenius’ ratings are determined by our editorial team. Our methodology takes multiple factors into account, including pricing, financial ratings, quality of customer service, and other product-specific features.

Lincoln Financial logo

Pros

  • Affordable for older applicants

  • No-med option available

  • Very fast turnaround

  • Benefits marijuana users

Cons

  • Expensive permanent policies

  • Few online tools

Why we picked it

Lincoln Financial is another life insurance company that offers competitive no-medical exam policies to qualifying applicants.

Other factors that impact your life insurance rates

When life insurance companies evaluate your application, they’re looking at the entire picture of your health. Other factors that affect how much you pay include:

  • Age: The older you are when you apply, the higher your rates.

  • Family medical history: Conditions that can be inherited, like cancer, make you a riskier candidate in the eyes of life insurance companies.

  • Health history: Any pre-existing conditions and your treatment history are considered.

  • Lifestyle risks: You will pay more if you have habits with known health effects, like smoking. Policygenius data shows that a 35-year-old male who smokes tobacco would pay an average of $92.31 per month for a $500,000, 20-year term life insurance policy. A 35-year-old male non-smoker buying the same coverage would pay $29.27 monthly — more than three times less than the smoker. 

  • Policy benefits: The longer your policy lasts or the higher your death benefit, the more coverage costs.

  • Risky activities: Hobbies or jobs that put you at bodily risk, like professional scuba diving, often lead to higher rates.

Anything else that impacts your health will likely have a larger effect on your rates than your gender.

While gender does play a role in your premiums, insurance companies set your rates based on your whole application. No matter your gender identity, comparing policies will give you the best chance of finding the coverage you need at the best possible price.  

Frequently asked questions:

Does gender affect your life insurance rates?

Gender has a small impact on your rates, but your health history and lifestyle choices have much more weight.

Do men or women pay more for life insurance?

Men pay more for life insurance because they have a lower life expectancy than women.

Do you have to choose a gender when applying for life insurance?

Yes. Unfortunately, life insurance applications do not have a gender-neutral option at this time.

References

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Policygenius uses external sources, including government data, industry studies, and reputable news organizations to supplement proprietary marketplace data and internal expertise. Learn more about how we use and vet external sources as part of our

editorial standards.
  1. Kaiser Family Foundation

    (KFF). "

    Number of Deaths per 100,000 Population by Gender

    ." Accessed July 23, 2021.

  2. Social Security Administration

    (SSA). "

    Life Tables for the United States Social Security Area 1900-2100

    ." Accessed July 23, 2021.

  3. Social Security Administration

    (SSA). "

    Period Life Expectancy — 2019 OASDI Trustees Report

    ." Accessed July 23, 2021.

  4. Clinical Chemistry

    . "

    Differences between Men and Women in Mortality and the Health Dimensions of the Morbidity Process

    ." Accessed July 23, 2021.

  5. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health

    . "

    "Mental Health Inequities Among Transgender People in Aotearoa New Zealand: Findings from the Counting Ourselves Survey"

    ." Accessed September 29, 2022.

  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

    . "

    "What Are the Risk Factors for Breast Cancer?"

    ." Accessed September 29, 2022.

  7. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

    . "

    "Women and Mental Health"

    ." Accessed September 29, 2022.

  8. American Cancer Society

    . "

    “Key Statistics for Prostate Cancer”

    ." Accessed September 29, 2022.

  9. Cleveland Clinic

    . "

    2019 Cleveland Clinic MENtion It® Survey Results Overview

    ." Accessed September 29, 2022.

Authors

Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

Amanda Shih

Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

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Amanda Shih is a licensed life, disability, and health insurance expert and a former editor at Policygenius, where she covered life insurance and disability insurance. Her expertise has appeared in Slate, Lifehacker, Little Spoon, and J.D. Power.

Senior Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

Nupur Gambhir

Senior Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

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Nupur Gambhir is a licensed life, health, and disability insurance expert and a former senior editor at Policygenius. Her insurance expertise has been featured in Bloomberg News, Forbes Advisor, CNET, Fortune, Slate, Real Simple, Lifehacker, The Financial Gym, and the end-of-life planning service Cake.

Expert reviewer

Financial Advisor

Maria Filindras

Financial Advisor

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Maria Filindras is a financial advisor, a licensed Life & Health insurance agent in California, and a member of the Financial Review Council at Policygenius.

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