Life insurance for women

Age, hormonal conditions, and pregnancy all impact the life insurance quotes women receive. Here’s what else you need to know about purchasing life insurance as a woman.

Nupur GambhirAmanda Shih author photo


Nupur Gambhir

Nupur Gambhir

Life Insurance Expert

Nupur Gambhir is an insurance editor at Policygenius and licensed Life, Health, and Disability agent in New York.


Amanda Shih

Amanda Shih

Editor & Licensed Insurance Expert

Amanda Shih is an insurance editor and licensed Life, Health, and Disability agent at Policygenius in New York City. Her work has appeared in Slate, Lifehacker, Jetty, and J.D. Power.

Updated November 12, 2020|8 min read

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Historically, women have had lower life insurance enrollment rates than men, with 6% fewer women owning a policy than men in a recent study by LIMRA. As women continue to gain economic opportunity and become an equal part of the playing field in the workplace and at home, it’s important to find the same equal footing when it comes to protecting your finances.

While every life insurance application is evaluated on a case-by-case basis, some factors receive special emphasis for female insurance applicants. Read on to find out what affects your life insurance costs and how to choose a policy to protect your family.

Key Takeaways

  • Women who have a financial impact on their family members need life insurance

  • The amount of life insurance you buy depends on your financial obligations

  • The price of life insurance varies for everyone, but pregnancy and breast cancer history are additional factors impacting women

Factors that affect the cost of life insurance for women

“While women tend to have longer life expectancies than men, allowing for lower life insurance prices by age,” says Policygenius Sales Associate Elia Weg, “they will typically face some health risks that men don't and vice versa.” 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,” says 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.


While health and individual circumstances are weighted heavily in determining what you pay for life insurance, age is also a factor. Your premium increases by about 4.5-9% every year you don’t have life insurance, so it’s worthwhile to buy coverage early. Here is what women can expect to pay at different ages for different policy amounts.


Methodology: Rates are calculated for a female non-smoker in Ohio, who qualifies for a preferred rate class, obtaining a 20-year term life insurance policy. Individual rate will vary as specific circumstances will affect each customer's rate. Rate illustration valid as of 11/11/2020.

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If you’re planning to have a family, it’s a good idea to purchase life insurance before you’re pregnant to secure policy approval and the best possible life insurance premiums.

Applications from pregnant women in the first trimester are commonly approved, while applications submitted in the third trimester are delayed until after the baby is born due to the unpredictability of your health during this stage of pregnancy. Underwriters also consider fertility treatments of any kind as they determine your premiums, a particularly important detail if you’re undergoing IVF treatment.

Side effects from the pregnancy, such as weight gain, postpartum depression, and gestational diabetes will also delay your application until your complete recovery and may still influence your premiums afterward. If this isn’t your first child, underwriters look at past pregnancies to determine your risk.

Breast cancer

Breast cancer history is thoroughly analyzed in women purchasing life insurance. Underwriters will examine your family history of breast cancer alongside the rest of your medical history. Some may even ask for mammograms or a BRCA test, which tests for the breast cancer gene.

The possibility of developing breast cancer later in life is another reason why it’s a good idea to purchase life insurance earlier, as traditional coverage is hard to acquire when going through cancer treatment. After remission, any cancer history typically leads to a less favorable health classification from insurers, but there are some companies with more flexibility.

Mental health & hormonal disorders

Depending on the insurer, mental health history can have an impact on the premiums you are offered. 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 symptoms, such as depression and anxiety, do. However, some providers are friendlier toward mental health diagnoses than others.

The side effects of treating a hormonal disorder can also affect how a life insurance application is assessed. For example, medication used to treat endometriosis can sometimes lead to weight gain, which will be flagged as a health condition on a life insurance application.

Honesty is always the best policy when disclosing your medical history on your application. Medical tests and an intricate application process make it hard for any information to stay hidden for long, and anything you lie about can be logged with the Medical Information Bureau and risk your ability to buy life insurance in the future.

Transgender women

For transgender women, policy premiums do not change, but hormonal treatments and mental illness such as depression, a prominent medical diagnosis amongst transgender people, will be analyzed by underwriters just as it would for everyone else.

While most of the paperwork you’ll be asked to supply is similar to that of cisgender people, you may have to share additional paperwork to demonstrate your gender.

Transgender women may also find that while typically policies are offered based on your actual gender as opposed to the gender you were assigned at birth, there are, unfortunately, rarely concrete protocols at life insurance companies for working with transgender applicants, so how underwriters process your application and what documents they request from you could vary.

An experienced, independent insurance broker should be able to guide you toward a provider that’s more likely to handle your application with sensitivity and flexibility.

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Why women need life insurance

Simply put, if anyone relies on your financial support, life insurance is a necessity. Whether you are the primary earner or a stay-at-home mom, purchasing adequate life insurance ensures that your loved ones can cover everyday costs if you’re no longer there to provide income for them.

The economic contributions of women go beyond income, and the 27% of mothers who are stay-at-home moms also need life insurance to account for their household contributions. A recent study comparing jobs similar to the daily tasks performed by stay-at-home moms found that their yearly household contribution is the equivalent of $178,201. If a stay-at-home mom passes away, the caretaker left behind will probably lose some pay if they now need to work less to spend more time at home or pay another person for support.

But what if you aren’t providing for any dependents and don’t have a partner who relies on your income? You might need life insurance too. A life insurance policy can help you plan for a future that will involve having children, buying a home, or getting married, and buying sooner can save you money long-term. A policy can also cover your funeral expenses, outstanding debts, and taxes, which would otherwise fall on the shoulders of your loved ones.

What type of insurance do you need?

When deciding on a policy, you can choose between term life insurance and permanent life insurance. A term life insurance policy is more affordable than permanent insurance and lasts for a set period of time. Permanent life insurance is the pricier of the two options because it lasts for the rest of your life and has a cash value. Permanent policies are usually better suited for people of old age or with various health issues.

Term life insurance tends to be the best bet for most people, but each situation is different and working with a Policygenius adviser can help you choose the type of life insurance policy that is the right fit for you.

Should you buy life insurance for your children?

If you have children you want to protect with your policy, it doesn’t mean that you should name them as your beneficiaries or buy them their own policies. Life insurance payouts can’t go to minors, and if your child is under 18, the court will decide who manages the funds for your children.

The best way to ensure that your children are financially protected is to name your spouse or another adult you trust to care for your children as your beneficiary. However, you will need your spouse to agree for you to name another beneficiary if you’re married and living one of the following community property states:

  • Arizona

  • California

  • Idaho

  • Louisiana

  • Nevada

  • New Mexico

  • Texas

  • Washington

  • Wisconsin

If you’re a single mother and don’t have an of-age beneficiary to entrust with the fiscal responsibility of your child, you can set up a trust to receive your insurance payout and specify how the money will be disbursed. It’s vital to be as specific as possible in your policy to ensure that your funds are allocated appropriately.

Should you get a policy by yourself or with your partner?

How you want your beneficiary to be paid and the flexibility you are looking for within a policy will determine whether you buy life insurance separately from your partner or jointly as a couple.

Purchasing life insurance separately from your partner allows for the individual policies to be tailored to each partner’s needs and circumstances, while a joint life insurance policy is usually less flexible but is advantageous when it comes to the cash value. Another consideration is that in the case of a divorce, splitting up a joint insurance policy can add further complications to divorce proceedings.

Most people opt for independent policies, but it’s worth looking into a joint policy to see if it suits your needs or is cheaper than purchasing separate policies. If you choose to opt for separate insurance policies, you can still simplify the process by scheduling a joint examination and purchasing policies at the same time.

Women make up nearly half the labor force, so it’s important that they take charge of their own financial plans. No matter your marital status or employment status, buying a life insurance policy allows you to protect your loved ones, safeguard your finances, and take the lead in planning for your future.

Life insurance for women FAQ:

What factors impact life insurance premiums for women?

Every life insurance application is considered on an individual basis, but women typically pay less for life insurance than men. Considerations specific to women include pregnancy, hormonal treatments, and family history of breast cancer.

Do single women need life insurance?

If anyone relies on you financially, such as a parent or child, or if you have debts that could become someone else’s responsibility when you die, you should have life insurance.

What type of life insurance do women need?

Most people, regardless of gender, will be better off with a term life insurance policy for its affordability and simplicity. If you’re married, you may need to decide whether you buy an independent policy or joint policy with your spouse.

How much life insurance do women need?

Your death benefit should account for your income, your debts, any financial support you currently offer to dependents, and future financial obligations you anticipate having like a mortgage or childcare.

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