Life insurance rates by generation

Every generation needs life insurance for different reasons—Baby Boomers may be focused on long-term care costs, while millennials need coverage for a mortgage. Here’s how much a policy costs at every age.

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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, Little Spoon, and J.D. Power.

Published August 3, 2021|5 min read

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Shoppers in different generations pay different rates for life insurance based on age: a female millennial could pay more than $80 less than a female Gen-Xer and more than $600 less than a female Baby Boomer for the same $1 million, 20-year term life insurance policy.

But, the type of coverage you need is different at each stage of your life, too. Here are average life insurance rates for each generation and the considerations people in every generation should keep in mind while searching for a policy.

Key Takeaways

  • Life insurance rates increase an average of 4.5-9% every year you put off buying a policy

  • Millennials should buy sooner to take advantage of lower rates and higher chances of approval for no-medical exam coverage

  • Generation X can save money on a policy by buying a smaller amount of coverage and supplementing with existing savings

  • Baby Boomers should consider whether a policy can help provide for end-of-life expenses

Life insurance for millennials

A 2021 study by LIMRA found that only 49% of millennials (i.e., people aged 25-40) [1] have life insurance coverage, despite half of those surveyed expressing concern that their families would struggle financially without their support. [2]  

Meanwhile, millennials are buying property and starting families, and 14.8 million millennials carry student loan debt. [3] Now is the best time for millennials to buy life insurance. Your policy’s death benefit can help your family cover:

  • Everyday expenses and bills

  • Final medical and funeral expenses

  • Future expenses, like college

  • Retirement income or other savings

  • Shared debt, like a mortgage

Average life insurance rates for millennials

Millennials are more likely to overestimate the cost of life insurance than Baby Boomers or Gen-Xers, [4] but it’s actually more affordable to buy a policy when you’re younger. Here’s how much a 20-year term policy costs for millennials:

AgeSex$250,000$500,000$1,000,000
25Female$14.35$21.24$34.41
Male$17.30$27.16$45.08
30Female$14.53$21.74$36.10
Male$17.14$27.85$46.63
35Female$16.71$25.69$43.09
Male$18.96$30.66$52.31
40Female$20.13$32.76$57.30
Male$23.19$39.80$70.78

Methodology: Average premiums are for male and female non-smokers in a Preferred health rating, buying a 20-year term life insurance policy. Averages are based on a composite of policies offered by Policygenius from AIG, Banner, Brighthouse, Lincoln, Mutual of Omaha, Pacific Life, Protective, Prudential, SBLI, and Transamerica and may vary by insurer, term, coverage amount, health class, and state. Not all policies are available in all states. Rate illustration valid as of 10/08/2021.

Best life insurance policies for millennials

The best coverage option for millennials is an accelerated underwriting (AU) term life insurance policy. Healthier people are more likely to qualify for an AU policy, and millennials are more likely to be healthier than older applicants. 

Underwriting is the process insurance companies use to evaluate your health and set your rates. AU allows you to apply for a policy without undergoing a medical exam. You can be approved in one to three days compared to five to six weeks with traditional underwriting. Instead, your insurance company sets your rates based on your: 

  • Previous physicals and labs

  • Pharmacy records

  • Prior diagnoses and procedures

  • Credit history

  • Driving history

  • Criminal history and bankruptcy records

We recommend AU policies from two of our partners: Brighthouse SimplySelect and Lincoln TermAccel.

Both providers offer AU term life insurance policies with up to 30 years of coverage. Brighthouse provides up to $2 million in coverage and Lincoln offers up to $1 million. 

Brighthouse approves or denies AU applications within 24 hours, but won’t allow you to go through traditional underwriting if you’re denied for AU. Lincoln responds to applications within three days, and does allow you to go through regular underwriting if you don’t qualify for AU.

If you aren't approved for AU, you can still get affordable coverage. A term life insurance policy will offer the best rates and flexibility for most millennials. 

Policy riders for millennials

Riders are optional additions to your policy that allow you to customize your coverage. Some are free or can be added for a low additional premium, while others are more expensive to add. The right riders for you will depend on your needs, but you may want to consider:

  • Child rider: A separate policy for your child is costly and unnecessary, but a more affordable child rider can cover funeral costs if any of your children predecease you.

  • Guaranteed insurability: Allows you to increase your death benefit at specific intervals—e.g. five years, or after the birth of a child—without a new medical exam. 

  • Term conversion: Often automatically included in policies, this gives you the option to convert to permanent life insurance when your term policy ends.  

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Life insurance for Generation X

Generation X (people born between 1965 and 1980) and millennials share some life insurance needs, like paying off debt and supporting their dependents. But Gen-Xers are also closer to retirement age.

Because they’re older and have had more time to save money, Gen-Xers may need slightly less life insurance coverage. However, the death benefit will likely go toward the same expenses: everyday spending, retirement savings, and burial costs.

Average life insurance rates for Gen-Xers

Life insurance rates begin to increase in Generation X’s 41-56 year old age range because you have higher chances of becoming ill or injured. 

AgeSex$250,000$500,000$1,000,000
45Female$28.78$47.79$86.54
Male$35.69$61.05$114.07
50Female$40.36$71.20$128.60
Male$51.43$93.22$174.39
55Female$61.11$108.91$207.65
Male$85.43$152.57$289.00

Methodology: Average premiums are for male and female non-smokers in a Preferred health rating, buying a 20-year term life insurance policy. Averages are based on a composite of policies offered by Policygenius from AIG, Banner, Brighthouse, Lincoln, Mutual of Omaha, Pacific Life, Protective, Prudential, SBLI, and Transamerica and may vary by insurer, term, coverage amount, health class, and state. Not all policies are available in all states. Rate illustration valid as of 10/08/2021.

Best life insurance policies for Gen-Xers

A term life insurance policy is best for most Gen-Xers. The ability to choose your term length and coverage amount means you can customize your policy to your financial needs, like covering the final years of your mortgage or contributing to your retirement.

If you think you’ll need less life insurance as you age, consider the ladder strategy. This money-saving strategy involves buying multiple term life policies of different coverage amounts and term lengths so that your coverage decreases alongside your financial needs.

In some cases, you might benefit from buying a costlier whole life insurance policy. Whole life offers lifetime coverage and a savings-like feature called the cash value. If you have a lifelong dependent, like a child with a disability, whole life ensures they have financial protection no matter when you die.

Policy riders for Gen-Xers

Gen-Xers buying a policy may want to consider riders that support future medical needs in case your health worsens, such as:

  • Chronic illness: Allows you to use the death benefit to pay for medical care if you have an illness that prevents you from performing at least two of the six Activities of Daily Living (eating, bathing, getting dressed, toileting, transferring, and continence). [5]  

  • Critical illness rider: Gives access to the death benefit if you have a critical illness that shortens life expectancy, such as ALS, heart attack, kidney failure, or stroke.

  • Waiver of premium: Waives your premiums for the duration of a disability if you meet your insurer’s definition of total disability.

Life insurance for Baby Boomers

Born between 1946 and 1964, Baby Boomers are less likely to need life insurance because many have enough in savings to provide for their remaining financial obligations. However, it’s possible you still need a policy if you’re:

  • Still working and/or saving for retirement

  • Supporting a family member financially

  • Unable to cover final medical or burial expenses

  • Using the policy to cover taxes on your estate

Average life insurance rates for Baby Boomers

Life insurance rates are higher for Baby Boomers based on age alone, but there are ways to lower your overall costs. Since Baby Boomers usually need less coverage for a shorter period, buying a smaller policy could save you some money. 

AgeSex$250,000$500,000$1,000,000
60Female$100.55$190.21$353.21
Male$143.15$269.36$506.42
65Female$196.89$365.60$687.86
Male$263.03$499.80$949.47
70Female$399.65$753.60$1,350.23
Male$485.13$943.27$1,875.69

Methodology: Average premiums are for male and female non-smokers in a Preferred health rating, buying a 20-year term life insurance policy. Averages are based on a composite of policies offered by Policygenius from AIG, Banner, Brighthouse, Lincoln, Mutual of Omaha, Pacific Life, Protective, Prudential, SBLI, and Transamerica and may vary by insurer, term, coverage amount, health class, and state. Not all policies are available in all states. Rate illustration valid as of 10/08/2021.

Best life insurance policies for Baby Boomers

The best type of policy for a Baby Boomer will depend on their current financial needs and health. For example:

  • Final expense insurance: A good option for people with serious medical issues who don’t qualify for a traditional policy or those who only need to cover funeral expenses. Final expense insurance requires little to no medical information for approval and offers coverage up to $50,000 in exchange for high premiums

  • Term life insurance: Younger Baby Boomers who are still working or haven’t finished saving for retirement and paying off debts may opt for term life.

  • Whole life insurance: Baby Boomers with family members that will rely on them financially—or with assets that will trigger an inheritance tax—could benefit from whole life insurance.

Policy riders for Baby Boomers

Like Generation X, Baby Boomers may benefit from policy riders that can support potential medical expenses or estate planning needs, like:

  • Accelerated death benefit: Allows you to access a percentage of the death benefit for medical care if you’re diagnosed with a terminal illness.

  • Long-term care: Gives you access to the death benefit for assisted living and other similar care if you can’t perform at least two of the six Activities of Daily Living.

  • Term conversion: The option to convert to permanent coverage may be helpful if you need to support a loved one or if your assets will be taxed when they pass to your heirs.

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How to buy life insurance

The reasons you need life insurance and the amount of coverage you need to buy changes as you get older, but the process for buying a policy stays the same. When you’re ready to buy coverage, consider:

  • How much life insurance you need: Our advisors recommend 10-15 times your income, but your calculation should also factor in your debt and future expenses.

  • How long your coverage needs to last: Your policy should last at least as long as your longest financial obligation (for most people, that’s their mortgage).

  • What type of policy you want: A term life insurance policy is best for most people, but people with lifelong dependents or serious health concerns may benefit from other plans.

Once you have a sense of what you need from a policy, an independent insurance agent can help you shop around and walk you through the application process.

Life insurance rates are higher the older you are when you buy, but coverage needs differ among people of different generations, too. Review your financial plans regularly to ensure you’re getting the right protection for your family at the best price.

→ Learn more tips for buying a life insurance policy

Frequently asked questions:

Does life insurance get more expensive as you get older?

Yes, life insurance rates increase 4.5-9% every year you delay buying a policy.

What is the best age to buy life insurance?

The younger you are when you buy life insurance, the better. Once someone relies on your financial support, you should own a policy.

Can seniors buy life insurance?

Seniors can buy life insurance, though they will pay more. If they only need a small death benefit, seniors should consider final expense insurance.