More on Life Insurance
Popular Types of Life Insurance
Life insurance overview
Types of Life Insurance
Types of life insurance overview
Permanent life insurance
Universal life insurance
Variable life insurance
Final expense life insurance
Other types of life insurance
Term Life Insurance
Term life insurance
Term life insurance rates
Level term life insurance
Decreasing term insurance
Group term life insurance
Annual renewable term life insurance
Return of premium life insurance
Mortgage protection life insurance
Mortgage protection insurance vs. term life insurance
Does term life insurance have a cash value?
Temporary life insurance
Family income life insurance
Can you get money back from term life insurance?
Whole Life Insurance
Whole life insurance
Whole life insurance rates
Converting a term life policy to a whole life policy
Whole vs universal vs guaranteed universal insurance
Term vs. whole life insurance
No medical exam life insurance
No Medical Exam Life Insurance
Accelerated Underwriting life insurance
Can I get instant life insurance?
Term life is the most affordable and straightforward life insurance option for most people. Here’s everything you need to know to find the best policy at the best price.
Term life insurance lasts for a defined period (the “term”) and pays a lump sum to your loved ones if you die during the term
Policies last 10-30 years and you can purchase riders to customize your coverage
If you outlive your policy, you do not receive a refund of premiums you paid previously
A term policy is the right choice for most people because it’s affordable and easy to manage
Life insurance offers your family financial protection if you die and are no longer there to provide for them. When you're looking for a policy, you want to make sure that you're getting the best possible coverage at the best possible price. That's where term life insurance comes in.
Unlike permanent life insurance, which lasts for the rest of your life and comes with a cash value to track, term life is straightforward and affordable. It ensures your loved ones have a financial safety net without breaking the bank.
Read on to learn how life insurance quotes are calculated, how to find the best type of policy and life insurance company for you, how much coverage to buy, and why it’s the right way for you to protect your family financially.
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Term life insurance lasts for a specific period of time — the term — before expiring. If you die before the term is up, your beneficiary receives a death benefit as a tax-free lump sum of money that can be used for funeral costs, to pay bills, or for any other use.
|TERM LIFE INSURANCE POLICY FEATURES|
|Policy Duration||10-30 years|
|Guaranteed Death Benefit?||Yes|
Methodology: Average cost calculated based on rates for non-smoking males and females between 20 and 40 years old in Ohio, who qualify for a Preferred rate class, obtaining a 20-year, $500,000 term life insurance policy. Individual rates will vary as specific circumstances will affect each customer’s rate. Rate illustration valid as of 11/13/2020.
The primary element of term life insurance that sets it apart from other types of life insurance is the term.
Terms usually last anywhere from 10 to 30 years, and you pay a monthly or annual premium during this time to keep the policy active. Once the term is up, you no longer pay the premiums and the policy expires.
Depending on the type of term life insurance you have, the premiums can:
It’s most common for your premiums to stay the same for the entire length of your policy, and most term life insurance you encounter will not have increasing or decreasing premiums.
The purpose of life insurance is to protect your loved ones from financial obligations if you’re not around to provide for them. But, your financial obligations will evolve over the life of your policy. After your term life insurance policy expires, you’ll likely have a few options:
Which option you choose depends on your needs when your policy’s term ends. When you’re still saving for retirement, paying off a mortgage, or raising children, it probably makes sense to keep your current policy at a higher cost or shop for a new one.
But eventually, you’ll accomplish your financial goals and no longer have dependents. At that point, it may not make sense to continue paying for a policy.
Note that if you outlive your policy’s term and let the policy expire, you won’t receive a refund of the premiums you’ve paid into it unless you purchased return of premium insurance.
Since term life insurance protects your family for a set period of time, instead of your entire life, term life premiums offer more affordable life insurance protection than permanent policies like whole life insurance.
Average monthly premiums for a 20-year term life insurance policy
|AGE||$250,000||$500,000||$750,000||$1 MILLION||$2 MILLION|
Methodology: Rates are calculated for male and female non-smokers in Ohio, who qualify for a Preferred rate class, obtaining a 20-year term life insurance policy. Individual rates will vary as specific circumstances will affect each customer's rate. Rate illustration valid as of 11/13/2020.
The typical term policy is a level term life insurance policy, which means the premium stays the same as long as your policy is active. In general, life insurance quotes are determined by:
What is the best term life insurance company for you? That depends on your specific situation. Most people prefer to choose the insurer that offers the best price and that’s a good starting point.
However, you should also consider a company’s customer service record, ratings from J.D. Power, A.M. Best, and the Better Business Bureau, and what tasks you can do online versus on paper or over the phone, for your convenience.
Take into account how each company treats certain health conditions and lifestyle choices. This can make a huge difference in the final cost of your term policy. Policygenius conducts a robust review of the top life insurance companies to determine where they stand.
While term life insurance is the most basic, straightforward type of life insurance, there are some variations on term life that might better suit your needs. These include:
Life insurance riders are add-ons to your policy and can make your policy work for you while you are still alive. Some life insurance riders are expensive and may not be worth the additional cost but others are beneficial and available for free.
Common term life insurance riders include:
The amount of coverage a term life insurance policy provides also determines the final premiums. You want to keep the policy affordable (there’s no point in buying a policy that you can’t sustain) while still providing enough for your family’s financial needs.
When deciding how much term life insurance you need, you should take into account:
In general, your term life insurance policy should last as long as your longest debt (usually a mortgage) and should cover any remaining costs when you subtract your debts from your existing assets.
Of course, you don’t need to crunch all the numbers by hand. You can use our free life insurance calculator to get a tailored recommendation for the term length and coverage amount that would be best for you.
Each life insurance company is different and the best way to get the right life insurance policy is to work with an independent broker who does the shopping around for you, like Policygenius. An agent can help you find a life insurance company that offers you the best premiums based on your individual circumstances, whether you have a risky hobby like scuba diving or are young and healthy.
After working with an agent to find the best life insurance policy for you, you'll go through the underwriting process so the insurer can evaluate your background and determine your health classification, which sets your life insurance premiums. You won't officially have coverage until you sign your policy's documents and pay your first policy premium.
Most insurance shoppers will ultimately decide between buying term life insurance or whole life insurance. Because whole life premiums are more expensive, it isn't the right choice for most people. Whole life can be a better fit for individuals with specific circumstances, such as lifelong dependents or a high net worth, but a majority of people will benefit most from a simple term life insurance policy that they can afford.
Here’s a quick comparison guide:
|FEATURES||TERM LIFE INSURANCE||WHOLE LIFE INSURANCE|
|Cost||$25-35/month||5-15x more than term|
|Guaranteed Death Benefit?||Yes||Yes|
|Guaranteed Cash Value?||No||Yes|
|How Cash Value Grows||N/A||Earns interest at a predetermined fixed rate|
|Premiums||Can increase periodically or stay level for the policy duration||Level|
|Notes||No risk of losing coverage, but no cash value when term ends||No risk compared to other permanent types, but you may find better investment options elsewhere|
Short answer: Yes. Consider the potential pros and cons of term life compared to permanent policies:
|Pros of term life||Cons of term life|
|Cheapest life insurance option||Coverage doesn’t last your entire life|
|Lasts for a set period of time so you aren’t paying for coverage you don’t need||Doesn’t provide a cash-value component|
|Provides enough financial assistance to pay off debts, cover future costs, and provide a financial safety net|
Term life is the right option for most people. If anyone is financially dependent upon you and you don’t have enough money set aside to provide for their financial needs should you die tomorrow, then life insurance should be your top insurance priority. And since term life insurance is cheaper and simpler than a permanent policy, it’s easier to fit it into both your present-day budget and your long-term financial strategy.
Term life policies last for a set period (usually 10-30 years) and pay a death benefit to your beneficiaries if you die during that time. If you survive the policy, it expires.
If you outlive your term policy, you can either let it expire, buy a new policy, renew at a higher premium, or convert it into a whole life policy. You will not receive a refund of premiums you’ve paid.
Term life insurance is better for most people for its affordability and simplicity. Whole life insurance is significantly more expensive, making it hard to maintain a policy long-term.
Your policy should offer coverage at least 10-15 times your income and enough to cover your largest debt. You should also factor in future expenses, like childcare.
Your term should be at least as long as your longest debt (e.g., your mortgage), and last as long as you anticipate having adult or minor dependents.
Nupur Gambhir is an insurance editor at Policygenius in New York City. Previously, she has worked in marketing and business development for travel and tech. She has a B.A. in Economics from Ohio State University.
Amanda Shih is an insurance editor at Policygenius in New York City. Previously, she worked in nonfiction book publishing and freelance content marketing. Amanda has a B.A. in literature and communication from New York University.
Policygenius’ editorial content is not written by an insurance agent. It’s intended for informational purposes and should not be considered legal or financial advice. Consult a professional to learn what financial products are right for you.