Coverage and Cost

How Much Life Insurance Do I Need?

How Long Should My Coverage Last?

How Much Does Life Insurance Cost?

Is it possible to have too much life insurance?

How to ensure you’re not over-insured.

The best life insurance policy for you will provide enough coverage to keep your dependents whole in case you die. This generally means that the benefit needs to cover your income, assets, major debts, and future obligations, like the cost of college, your spouse’s retirement, or your funeral expenses.

But your needs can change. For many people, life changes can mean that they need to purchase additional life insurance. But other life changes can mean that you no longer need as much life insurance as you initially purchased.

If you can still afford the premiums, there may be no need to make a change. But if you feel that your premiums are higher than you’d like and you don’t need the coverage that go with them, you have some options to lower your coverage amounts — and your premiums.

Can you adjust your life insurance coverage?

For term life insurance and whole life insurance, you can generally elect to decrease your coverage amount at least one time after three years of the policy, which will, in turn, reduce your premiums.

Most life insurance companies let you decrease your coverage at least one time during the life of the policy. Standard operating procedure varies by carrier and product. Some insurers won’t let you change a policy until it’s been in force for a year; others make you wait three. And some don't guarantee they’ll approve a coverage decrease, but usually will.

Universal life insurance

If you have a permanent life insurance policy, you may have even more options. Adjustable life insurance — also known as flexible premium adjustable life insurance or even just flexible life insurance — is a type of universal life insurance that lets you change certain facets of your policy. That includes your coverage period, premiums and death benefit. Other policies may allow you to use the accumulated cash value to lower your premiums. Talk to your insurance provider about your options.


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How to lower your life insurance coverage

If you’ve unexpectedly outgrown your coverage, call your insurer or agent. They’ll let you know if you can decrease coverage and, if so, what restrictions may apply. They can also tell you how your premiums will be affected by the coverage change.

Keep in mind, too, that if you need to lower your premiums, you may have other options than lowering your coverage amount. For example, if you’ve made significant lifestyle change — for instance, you quit smoking or have lost some weight — you may be eligible for lower rates under a process called reconsideration.

With reconsideration, you retake the life insurance medical exam a year or two after your policy is in force in order to be eligible for a better health class — and lower premiums..

If you are interested in reconsideration, it’s also worth getting new quotes, as it’s possible that a different company could have better rates.

Read more about life insurance reconsideration and reapplication.

Further reading

What does life insurance cover?

When will life insurance pay out, and when will it not? Learn what scenarios are covered by your policy.


What are life insurance premiums?

Premiums keep your policy in-force. Learn how they're determined and how you can lower them.


What are life insurance riders?

Customize your policy and get additional benefits and protection with must-have riders.


Why life insurance isn't an asset

Life insurance protects your family's financial future - but should you consider it an investment?

Insurance Expert

Logan Sachon

Insurance Expert

Logan Sachon is the co-founder of The Billfold, a groundbreaking personal finance site for millennials that was named one of Time's 25 Best Blogs of 2012. Her work has been published in New York Magazine, Glamour, The Guardian, BuzzFeed and more.