If you’re a new life insurance policyholder or if you’re considering purchasing a life insurance policy, you’ll need to decide how to make your policy’s premium payments. A reliable payment method is important since missed payments can lead to lost coverage, unless you have disability coverage or a policy with a cash value.
Accepted payment methods vary by insurer. Most providers allow payments by electronic bank transfer and check, and most won’t accept credit cards after your initial premium payment. Ask your insurance agent or consult your policy to confirm your options and check for restrictions.
You’ll likely need to make recurring payments by electronic bank transfer.
Checks are allowed, but often only if you make annual, bi-annual, or quarterly payments.
Cash is never accepted as a form of payment.
Most life insurance companies only accept credit cards for your first premium payment, if at all.
How to pay your initial life insurance premium
The approved payment methods for your first life insurance payment vary by provider, but the most commonly accepted forms are an electronic funds transfer (EFT), personal check, or cashier’s check.
Your provider may accept a credit card for your first premium payment, but only accept check or bank transfer thereafter. Cash is never accepted.
How to pay for temporary life insurance coverage
When you apply for life insurance, you can buy temporary life insurance coverage so that you are insured while your application is being processed.
Even fewer companies accept credit cards for temporary life insurance payments (and none of Policygenius’ partner insurers do). If you pay by EFT, your insurance agent may ask you to share bank information over the phone rather than filling out a form as you would to initiate recurring payments.
How to make recurring life insurance payments
Once you’ve bought a policy, most providers require you to pay your monthly or annual premiums by EFT or check. Your insurance agent can share which forms of payment your provider accepts.
One of the easiest ways to avoid a policy lapse is to set up a recurring bank transfer so that premiums are automatically withdrawn on the same day each month or year. Usually, this is as simple as filling out a paper or online form that includes the bank account and bank routing number for the account from which you’d like your premiums withdrawn.
Should I pay my life insurance premiums annually or monthly?
The mode of premium payment refers to how often you make payments: annually, semi-annually, quarterly, or monthly. Annual and monthly payments are the most common payment frequencies. Annual payments save you some money and are a good option if you're able to pay a larger sum upfront. Monthly payments can be more manageable for the average person.
How to decide which mode of premium is right for you
Paying life insurance premiums semi-annually or quarterly rarely makes sense because you won't see a meaningful price discount for larger lump sum payments. So, should you pay policy premiums monthly or annually? That depends on your individual circumstances, including your income and budget.
For many, paying a large lump sum each year isn’t ideal. If it’s easier for you to track a monthly expense or you’d have to dip into your savings to pay upfront, there’s no harm in paying monthly premiums. On average, a healthy 35-year-old female pays $21.24 for a 20-year, $500,000 term life insurance policy.
But, if you’re equally comfortable paying annually or monthly, then it makes more sense to pay annually. Discounts mean you’ll almost always pay a lower premium, generally between 3% and 5% lower, and you’ll only need to worry about a single payment.
Which life insurance companies offer discounts for annual life insurance premium payments?
Most of the top life insurance companies offer a discount for paying annually. These are the approximate discounts currently offered by Policygenius’ partner insurance companies in 2023 — the actual discount you receive will depend on your policy.
Our life insurance reviews can give you a full picture of the top-rated life insurance companies.
Do life insurance companies accept credit cards?
You might prefer the ease of paying your premiums with a credit card, but it’s not a common option after your initial payment. There isn’t just one reason that life insurance companies don’t accept credit cards, though high fees and state regulations are the most commonly cited.
Companies that do accept credit cards may not accept them in every state and may add a processing fee to every payment. If you pay premiums monthly, those fees can add up and outweigh the convenience of paying by card.
When do life insurance companies accept credit cards?
The chart below reflects how different insurers treat credit card use for term life insurance payments. Contact your insurance agent for details about accepted payment methods for other types of life insurance.
Option not available in every state.
† May incur a convenience fee.
What if you can’t pay your life insurance premiums?
If you’re unable to pay your life insurance premiums due to job loss, disability, or some other major change in your finances, most policies include a payment grace period of 30 to 31 days after your payment due date.
Once that grace period ends, however, your policy will lapse due to nonpayment. To reinstate your coverage, you may be required to go through underwriting again and your premiums may increase if your health or age has changed.
How to pay for life insurance if you become disabled
The waiver of premium for disability rider allows you to waive premium payments if you become disabled. You can add this rider to your policy for a flat additional cost that varies for each life insurance company.
Though it’s one way to keep your life insurance in force if your disability affects your finances, it can be difficult to qualify for this rider. If you’d like more robust disability coverage, we recommend purchasing a separate long-term disability policy.
How to pay for life insurance with cash value
If you have permanent life insurance you might be able to pay premiums with your policy's cash value. The cash value of a life insurance policy usually takes decades to earn interest, but once it has grown you can apply the accumulated value to your premiums.
No life insurer will allow you to pay for your policy with cash, and few will let you pay for more than your initial premium with a credit card. If you don’t want to use a personal or cashier’s check, an EFT is a reliable, technology-friendly way to ensure you make your insurance payments. Speak with your life insurance agent or consult your policy to confirm the payment methods accepted by your insurer.
Frequently asked questions
How can you pay for life insurance?
You can usually pay premiums by check or bank transfer. Few providers accept credit cards after your first payment.
Can I pay for my life insurance up front?
Most insurers let you choose to pay premiums monthly or annually (annual payments may get a discount). You can pay your entire premium up front for some permanent life insurance, but it’s not recommended.
What happens if I can’t make my life insurance payments?
If you fail to pay premiums, your policy will eventually lapse and you will need to apply for coverage again (potentially at a higher price).
Is it better to pay life insurance monthly or annually?
For most people, monthly payments are best since they are easier to factor into your budget. But if you can afford to pay a lump sum upfront each year, you may be eligible for an annual premium discount of up to 5%, depending on your policy and insurer.