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.

Amanda Shih author photoHeadshot of Policygenius editor Nupur Gambhir

By

Amanda Shih

Amanda Shih

Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

Amanda Shih is a licensed life, disability, and health insurance expert and a former editor at Policygenius, where she covered life insurance and disability insurance. Her expertise has appeared in Slate, Lifehacker, Little Spoon, and J.D. Power.

&Nupur Gambhir

Nupur Gambhir

Senior Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

Nupur Gambhir is a licensed life, health, and disability insurance expert and a former senior editor at Policygenius. Her insurance expertise has been featured in Bloomberg News, Forbes Advisor, CNET, Fortune, Slate, Real Simple, Lifehacker, The Financial Gym, and the end-of-life planning service Cake.

Updated|4 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 $200 less than a female Gen-Xer and more than $1,000 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 concerns 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

  • College tuition

  • 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$14.19$21.08$34.16
Male$17.15$26.89$44.84
30Female$15.00$22.35$36.40
Male$17.63$27.96$47.02
35Female$16.51$25.44$42.74
Male$18.83$30.21$51.71
40Female$21.13$34.00$59.34
Male$24.36$41.13$72.92

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 January 2022.

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, a lot quicker than the five to six weeks it takes with traditional underwriting.

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. 

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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 generally saved more 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 seriously ill or injured.

AgeSex$250,000$500,000$1,000,000
45Female$28.85$47.89$86.85
Male$35.49$60.79$113.09
50Female$42.06$72.83$132.86
Male$53.52$94.37$176.90
55Female$61.19$108.85$207.88
Male$84.86$151.27$287.61

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 January 2022.

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.

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$105.39$190.79$357.42
Male$148.12$264.69$505.24
65Female$197.54$373.08$702.61
Male$262.67$499.25$956.62
70Female$406.50$769.37$1,395.57
Male$491.48$952.16$1,893.25

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 January 2022.

Best life insurance policies for Baby Boomers

Most Baby Boomers don’t need as much life insurance coverage as Millennials or Gen-Xers. But, the best type of policy for a Baby Boomer depends on their financial needs and health. For example:

  • Final expense insurance: An 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 costly premiums

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

  • Whole life insurance: A good choice for 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

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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 determine your financial needs, an independent insurance agent can help you compare quotes 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.