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.
One of the factors that impacts how risky you are to insure is your gender. Because men have a shorter life expectancy than women,  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.
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.  
However, more recent research suggests life expectancy by gender may be more nuanced,  but unfortunately, there isn’t currently enough data to change existing underwriting guidelines. Additionally, actuarial tables don’t take into account gender-nonconforming individuals.
Male vs. female life insurance rates
The table below shows average 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.
Methodology: The chart above reflects rates, as of June 2, 2022, 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 10 life insurance carriers that offer policies through the Policygenius marketplace: AIG, Banner Life, Brighthouse, Lincoln Financial, Mutual of Omaha, Pacific Life, Protective, Prudential, SBLI, and TransAmerica.
When a female and male candidate has the same health classification, women pay slightly less for life insurance.
However, gender isn’t the only factor — and usually not even the most important factor — in determining your life insurance rates. While two nearly identical applicants of different genders might pay the rates above, actual rates may vary depending on health and lifestyle.
Life insurance rates for transgender or nonbinary applicants
Being transgender, nonbinary, or genderqueer will color 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).
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. The best way to find an insurer that will honor your gender identity is to shop around.
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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. For example, pregnancy introduces risk factors that a male wouldn’t encounter, like postpartum depression and gestational diabetes, which could make buying a policy costlier.
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.