Life insurance rates by gender

Men’s life insurance rates are generally higher than women’s, but other factors are more likely to influence how much you pay for your policy.

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By

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.

Published July 23, 2021|3 min read

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When you apply for life insurance, the insurance company bases your policy premiums on how risky they think 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 historically have a shorter life expectancy than women, [1] they usually receive higher life insurance rates. However, several other factors impact your rates and are weighed more heavily than which gender you identify with on your application.

Key Takeaways

  • 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 evaluate your risk using internal underwriting guidelines for different health conditions and demographics. Every company has its own guidelines that are based on existing data and research. 

Insurers use a tool called an actuarial table, which lists mortality rates by age and sex based on historical data, to help guide their underwriting decisions. Existing actuarial tables show that men usually die earlier than women. [2] [3]

More recent research suggests life expectancy by gender may be more nuanced, [4] and actuarial tables don’t take into account gender-nonconforming individuals. But, there isn’t currently enough data to influence existing underwriting guidelines. 

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.

AgeGender$500,000$750,000$1,000,000 
25 Male  $39.58  $37.14  $67.71     
   Female$32.24  $28.32  $55.60     
35 Male  $47.21  $40.67  $82.99     
   Female$38.89  $33.72  $65.45     
45 Male  $97.97  $85.97  $181.63    
   Female$77.26  $67.22  $142.13    
55 Male  $240.56 $224.52 $463.43    
   Female$170.06 $156.36 $326.31    

Methodology: Sample rates are based on 20-year term life insurance policy for male and female non-smokers with a Preferred health rating. This calculation is a composite of the 11 carriers that offer policies through Policygenius, including AIG, Banner, Brighthouse, Lincoln, Mutual of Omaha, Pacific Life, Principal, Protective, Prudential, SBLI, and Transamerica. Individual rates will vary as specific circumstances will affect each customer's rate. Rate illustration valid as of 7/23/2021.

All other factors being equal, female applicants pay slightly less than male applicants. A female applicant would pay approximately 25% less than a male applicant for coverage each month in this sample data.

However, gender isn’t the only factor—and in many cases, not even the most important factor—in setting your life insurance rates. While two nearly identical applicants of different genders might pay the rates above, real-life applications are often more complex.

→ See more life insurance rates for different ages and policy types

How does being transgender or nonbinary affect life insurance?

Being transgender, nonbinary, or genderqueer will color your application experience, but it won’t have a noticeable impact on your premiums. An insurer can’t increase your rates or deny 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, few companies 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 your rate include:

  • Age: The older you are when you apply, the higher your rates.

  • Family medical history: Conditions that can be inherited, like cancer, will increase your risk.

  • Health history: Any pre-existing conditions and your treatment history are considered.

  • Lifestyle risks: Having habits with known health effects, like smoking, will raise your rates.

  • 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, lead to higher rates or may not be covered by your policy.

Any information that could impact 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, that could raise rates for a female.

Lifestyle differences can change the calculation too: July 2021 Policygenius data shows that a 35-year-old male who uses marijuana 20 days per month would pay an average of $24.67 per month for a $500,000, 20-year term life insurance policy. A 35-year-old female smoker buying the same coverage might pay $81.98 monthly—over three times more than the man.

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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 coverage that fits your family’s needs at an affordable price.  

Frequently asked questions:

Does gender affect your life insurance rates?

Gender has a small impact on your rates, but other factors, like your health history, usually have much more weight.

Do men or women pay more for life insurance?

Men pay more for life insurance if other application factors are relatively similar, because they have a lower life expectancy than women.

Do you have to choose a gender when applying for life insurance?

Ususally, yes. Some insurers let transgender people apply using their gender identity rather than their assigned sex, but not all do.

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