Popular Types of Life Insurance

Types of Life Insurance

Term Life Insurance

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Understanding term life insurance rates

How much does term life insurance cost? We pulled average premiums by age and broke down what will impact your prices.

Nupur GambhirAmanda Shih author photo

Nupur Gambhir & Amanda Shih

Published November 16, 2020


  • The cost of term life insurance depends on your age, health, and hobbies

  • Buying coverage when you’re young and in good health is the best way to get the most affordable term life insurance premiums

  • Every life insurance company underwrites each application differently so shopping around is the best way to find an insurer that is best suited for your needs

Term life insurance protects your family for a set period of time — the term. If you die during your policy’s term (usually 10, 20, or 30 years), your beneficiary receives the death benefit. If you don’t, the policy expires.

Term life insurance is designed to be easy and affordable. The average cost of a 20-year term life insurance policy of $500,000 for a 35-year-old female is $25.39 per month. However, every life insurance application is different, and medical conditions or unhealthy habits could raise the cost of your coverage.

How much does term life insurance cost?

The tables below show the average cost of term life insurance that lasts 10, 20, or 30 years for people between the ages of 20 and 60 at different coverage amounts. While these tables are a starting point for understanding how the cost of life insurance changes with age, you can get a more personalized life insurance quote by using our life insurance coverage calculator and comparing quotes with an independent insurance agent.

10-year term life insurance rates by age

AGE $250,000$500,000$750,000$1 MILLION$2 MILLION

20-year term life insurance rates by age

AGE $250,000$500,000$750,000$1 MILLION$2 MILLION

30-year term life insurance rates by age

AGE $250,000$500,000$750,000$1 MILLION$2 MILLION

N/A = Policies not available for this age/term/coverage amount

Methodology: Sample premiums are for non-smokers with a Preferred health rating based in Ohio; Life insurance averages are based on a composite of policies offered by Policygenius from AIG, Banner, Brighthouse, Lincoln, Mutual of Omaha, Pacific Life, Principal, 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 11/13/2020.


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How do term life insurance premiums work?

Your term life insurance policy’s premiums are the amount you spend to keep the policy in force so that your beneficiaries get the death benefit if you die. The price of your term life insurance is determined by several factors in addition to your age, including:

  • Medical diagnoses: Serious illness, like cancer or heart disease, can lead to coverage denial, while conditions that are known to cause complications down the line, like sleep apnea, high cholesterol, and obesity lead to higher life insurance rates.
  • Health history: Existing medical conditions or poor habits, like smoking, plus a history of certain illnesses in your family, can increase life insurance rates.
  • Driving record: Moving violations and past car accidents are red flags that will also lead to higher premiums.
  • Lifestyle: Drug or alcohol use and dangerous hobbies, like skydiving, are considered risky and will raise premiums.

Insurers use a health classification system to determine your premium. The best classifications and most affordable rates go to younger, healthier applicants since they pose less risk to the insurer — meaning they’re less likely to die during the term of the policy.

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How to find affordable term life insurance rates

Because the cost of your life insurance policy depends on your unique profile and each life insurance company treats each health condition differently, there is no one provider guaranteed to offer the cheapest life insurance for everyone. Working with a licensed insurance agent and shopping around with different companies is the best way to get the most affordable term life insurance premiums.

Here are some other ways to find the most affordable life insurance rates for you:

  • Consider paying premiums annually. Many insurers give a discount to applicants who agree to pay in bulk.
  • Get healthier. Insurers usually let you retake the medical exam one to two years after your policy goes into effect, so, if you’re unhappy with your rates, try kicking an unhealthy habit (like smoking) or getting in better shape.
  • Opt for a shorter term or less coverage. Not ideal, but if you can’t afford the life insurance coverage you need, some insurance is better than none.

→ Learn more about finding affordable life insurance.

Term life insurance rates vs. whole life insurance rates

Term life insurance costs five to 15 times less than whole life insurance, making it the more affordable option for your family's financial protection. Whole life insurance is more expensive because it lasts your whole life — as long as you’re paying premiums — and has a cash value component that can prove useful as part of a highly customized estate planning strategy. However, this also means that whole life insurance policies can become so unaffordable that 45% of them are abandoned within the first 10 years of the policy.

When it comes to affordability, term life insurance takes the cake.

Learn more about whole life insurance rates by age .

Term life insurance tends to be the best policy option for most people due to its affordability. If you aren't able to pay the policy premiums, you lose your life insurance — which is why whole life insurance isn't usually the right choice for most people. To get the best term life insurance rates, speak with a Policygenius agent for free to determine the best life insurance policy for your needs.


How much does term life insurance cost?

Term life insurance is the most affordable type of life insurance. Your actual term life insurance rates will depend on your age and health profile, but it generally costs five to 15 times less than whole life insurance.

What is the best age to buy term life insurance?

The younger you are when you purchase your policy, the cheaper your life insurance will be. Your 20s and 30s are the best time to buy term life insurance to lock in low rates.

What is the best term life insurance to buy?

The best term life insurance for you will match your coverage needs. Your policy’s term length and coverage amount should be equal to your financial obligations — if not more. Every person has varying life insurance needs and the best term life insurance policy for one individual may not be suitable for the next.

Insurance Expert

Nupur Gambhir

Insurance Expert

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.

Insurance Expert

Amanda Shih

Insurance Expert

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.

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