6 life insurance tips for people in their 40s

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Holly JohnsonContributing WriterHolly Johnson is a former contributing writer at Policygenius, where she covered insurance and personal finance. Her writing has also appeared in Business Insider, CNN, U.S. News & World Report, Bankrate, and The Balance.

Updated|4 min read

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Your 40s usually come with some pretty important milestones, like having a family and fully establishing yourself in your career. You might even be done paying off student loans for good (hey, one can dream). And maybe you’re finally at a place where you can afford the type of lifestyle you’ve always wanted — one filled with travel, leisure and financial freedom.

Before you get too cozy, however, make sure you have the proper insurance policies in place. While everything may be going great at the moment, all it takes is an unfortunate series of events to turn your world upside down.

In addition to making sure you have the right auto insurance, homeowners insurance or renters insurance (to protect your possessions), and disability insurance in case you can’t work, you should make sure you have the right amount of life insurance as well. If you don’t, you could leave your family in dire financial straits. And no one wants that.

If you don’t have life insurance or you know your current policy is lacking, now is the time to do something about it. Here are six tips to consider as you search for the perfect policy for this stage of life.

1. Don’t assume it’s too late to buy meaningful life insurance coverage

While turning 40 might make you feel old on the inside, you’re still young enough to buy a policy that can protect your family in the event of your death. Actually, most insurance companies that write term life insurance policies will insure people up until their 60s! Still, time is of the essence. Because life insurance rates tend to rise as you age, the cheapest time to buy a policy is now.

2. Your life insurance coverage at work is probably not enough

If your employer offers life insurance as part of your compensation plan, you might be left with little more than a false sense of security. Because workplace policies are typically only worth less than $100,000, relying on this coverage alone could leave you drastically uninsured.

Keep in mind that most people need 10 to 15 times their annual income in life insurance, and potentially more if they have kids and lots of financial obligations. There’s nothing wrong with finding value in your workplace policy, but you shouldn’t rely on it as your only form of coverage.

3. Rates for term policies can be inexpensive — even in your 40s

While it’s easy to imagine life insurance rates are pricey once you reach your 40s, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Precluding any major health issues, term policies are notoriously inexpensive, even if you’re in your 30s, 40s, or 50s when you buy. Don’t assume life insurance is out of reach. You can compare life insurance quotes on Policygenius so you’ll know for sure.

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4. You can buy more coverage now – even if you have a policy already

A lot of people in their 40s still own life insurance policies from years ago. Maybe you purchased term insurance when you had a child in your late 20s and haven’t updated your policy since — and had more kids along the way.

While having an older life insurance policy isn’t a problem, it’s not too late to purchase more coverage in your 40s. Chances are good your income and liabilities have changed over the last decade or more. If so, your life insurance needs have also changed whether you’ve been paying attention or not. If you’re earning more money or have more liabilities, buying more life insurance coverage isn’t just inevitable — it’s necessary.

5. You can also lower your coverage

If the opposite happens to be true, believe it or not, most life insurers let you lower your coverage at least once during the life of the policy — even if you didn’t opt for adjustable life insurance. There is usually some sort of waiting period associated with lowering your death benefit (and subsequently your premiums).

For instance, your policy might have to be in force for one to three years, but if you’ve had coverage since your 30s, you’re likely in the clear. In other words, if Junior got a high school scholarship or you paid down debt a lot faster than you thought you would, call your insurer up to see if you can adjust your policy.

6. Shopping online eliminates a lot of the friction

Sure, we’re biased — but we know from experience most people dread the very thought of shopping for insurance. The prospect of speaking to an insurance agent makes us squirm, and our busy schedules make it difficult to find time for an appointment no matter how bad we want one.

Fortunately, shopping for life insurance has changed dramatically over the years. These days, you can do it all online and from the comfort of your own home. You’ll never have to step into an office, nor will you have to worry about “being sold” by a salesman who might not have your best interest at heart. There’s also no reason to go to several different insurance firms and fill out multiple applications either. You can compare life insurance quotes across companies on Policygenius to find the right policy for you.