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Life insurance for women

Everything you need to know when purchasing life insurance as a woman.

Nupur Gambhir

Nupur Gambhir

Published October 24, 2019


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

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

  • Factors that influence the price of life insurance quotes vary for each individual

Historically, women have had lower life insurance enrollment rates than men. 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. Read on to find out whether life insurance is right for you.


Factors that affect the cost of life insurance for women

Life insurance policies differ for every applicant and are determined by each individual’s unique circumstances. Along with gender, underwriters analyze age, health, and lifestyle choices individually to determine coverage. If your job or hobbies involve high-risk activities, you will see higher life insurance rates. Your premium increases by about 8% every year, which is why it’s worthwhile to buy coverage early on.

Aside from those factors, applying for life insurance as a woman poses its own unique set of considerations.


While health and individual circumstances are taken into account to determine the best life insurance policy rates for you, age is also a factor. Here is what women can expect to pay at different ages for different policy amounts.


Sample monthly premium rates based on Preferred health ratings for a 20-year term life insurance policy for a non-smoker; quotes based on policies offered by Policygenius in 2019.

Transgender women

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

While most of the paperwork you are asked to supply is similar to that of cisgender people, you may have to offer additional paperwork to demonstrate your gender.

Transgender women may also find that while typically policies are offered on your actual gender as opposed to the gender you were assigned at birth, there are, unfortunately, no concrete protocols at life insurance companies about this so it’s up to the underwriter to make the final determination for your policy.

It’s not ideal, but the difference in price is usually low enough that regardless of how the underwriter proceeds, you would only see an incremental increase in your policy’s rates based on gender.


If you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, buying life insurance as soon as possible is the best route to ensure that your family is adequately covered at a reasonable price.

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.

Complications from the pregnancy, such as weight gain, postpartum depression, and gestational diabetes will also delay an application until a complete recovery and will then still be looked at closely. If this isn’t your first child, underwriters look at past pregnancies to determine your risk.

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

IVF & fertility treatments

Hormonal treatments are thoroughly evaluated across the board and IVF is no different. Fertility treatments of any kind will be taken into consideration by the underwriter as they determine your premium costs.

Breast cancer

Breast cancer history is thoroughly analyzed when women are purchasing life insurance. Underwriters will examine the family history of breast cancer alongside 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 on as traditional coverage is hard to acquire when going through cancer treatment. After remission, any cancer history typically leads to standard rates when buying life insurance, but there are life insurance companies that will offer you better rates.

Mental health & hormonal disorders

Depending on the insurer, mental health history can have an impact on the rates you are offered. A history of depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia will lead to higher rates amongst the general population. However, mental illness should not dissuade anyone from purchasing life insurance as many companies offer competitive rates.

Hormonal disorders such as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (or PMDD) themselves won’t affect life insurance coverage, but the symptoms of the disorder, such as depression and anxiety, do. 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 fabrications to be hidden for very long and anything you lie about can be logged with the Medical Information Bureau. You can learn more about lying on a life insurance application here.

Family planning

When purchasing your life insurance policy, you’ll have to determine who you’re protecting and how. If you have children who you want to protect with your policy, it doesn’t mean that you should name them as your beneficiaries. 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 an adult who will make intelligent decisions on your behalf as the beneficiary. While most people name their spouse as their beneficiary, you can name someone else. However, if you live in one of the following states and you are married, you will need your spouse to agree for you to do so:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Idaho
  • Louisiana
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • Texas
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

When deciding who the beneficiaries of your policy will be, you can choose to name a primary beneficiary and a contingent beneficiary to ensure that a backup plan is in place should your primary beneficiary be unable to accept the payout. Many women take on the additional responsibility of caring for elders. If this is the case, you can name multiple beneficiaries to plan for their care.

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


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Why women need life insurance

Life insurance is a powerful financial tool, but of course, you want to make sure your hard-earned cash is being well spent. So how do you know if you need it? Simply put, when you have people who will be financially burdened without you around, life insurance is a necessity. Whether you are the primary earner or a stay-at-home mom, losing you would have a negative financial impact on your loved ones.

If you’re a working mom or the primary household earner (or both!) you need life insurance to supplement the loss of income should you pass away. Purchasing adequate life insurance ensures that your loved ones can cover everyday costs if you’re no longer there to provide for them.

The economic contributions of women go beyond income, and it’s important to note that the 27% of mothers who are stay-at-home moms also need to protect their financial value in the event that they are no longer around. 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 $162,581. If a stay-at-home mom passes away, the caretaker left behind will probably lose some pay if he or she now needs 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 just might need life insurance too. A life insurance policy can help you plan for the future. It can also cover your funeral expenses, outstanding debts, and taxes, which would otherwise fall on the shoulders of family members left behind.

Changing and evolving needs

Your needs and circumstances change and evolve over time. As you age and your health declines, the cost of buying life insurance increases and the process becomes more challenging. You may not have any dependents right now, but if you plan to have children, take care of family members, or provide income for a shared household, then you’ll want to lock in life insurance rates that are as competitive as possible.

Purchasing life insurance provides financial protection in an unpredictable world can provide a lot of comfort should you experience a life-altering event, such as the death of a spouse or a divorce.

Financial independence

It’s no secret that women have long faced disparities when it comes to equal pay, leading to them having proportionately lower financial protection than men. According to the Insurance Information Institute, in 2015, only 57% of women had life insurance, which was 31% less life insurance coverage than the men who were polled.

Making up nearly half the labor force, the importance of women taking charge of their finances should not be underestimated. Investing in a life insurance policy enables you to take charge of your finances and ensures that your loved ones are taken care of when you’re no longer around.

What type of insurance do you need?

Figuring out what type of life insurance to buy and how much coverage to get can be a little bit overwhelming. A life insurance policy should adequately replace your yearly earnings and cover debts after you are gone. Policygenius’ life insurance calculator helps you figure out exactly how much coverage you’ll need.

When deciding on a policy, you can choose from term life insurance and permanent life insurance. A term life insurance policy is pretty straightforward. It’s more affordable and lasts for a set period of time. On the other hand, permanent life insurance is, well, permanent. The pricier of the two options, its cash value and policy offerings are 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 advisor can help you choose the type of life insurance policy that is the right fit for you.

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 major (albeit uncomfortable) consideration is that in the case of a divorce, splitting up a joint insurance policy of thousands of dollars can get messy and 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. There are two types of joint policies to consider:

  • First-to-die - which pays out when the first person in the partnership passes away.
  • Second-to-die - which pays out when both policyholders pass away and delays when the beneficiary receives the death benefit. 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.

About the author

Insurance Expert

Nupur Gambhir

Insurance Expert

Nupur Gambhir is an insurance editor at Policygenius in New York City. Previously, she has worked in marketing and business development for travel and tech. She has a B.A. in Economics from Ohio State University.

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.

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