Term life insurance is the most convenient way to protect your family’s finances after your death. Term policies are straightforward, last only for as long as you need them, and are more affordable than whole life insurance policies. A healthy 35-year-old person, for example, can expect to pay about $30 per month for a life insurance policy with a 20-year term and a $500,000 death benefit payout.
Several factors determine the cost of term life insurance, including your age, gender, and health. The younger and healthier you are, in general, the lower your rates will be. The sample term life insurance rates shown below will give you an idea of how much a policy may cost.
The best way to get an accurate term life rate, however, is to work with an independent broker. At Policygenius, our experts are licensed in all 50 states and can walk you through the entire life insurance buying process while offering transparent, unbiased advice.
20-year term life insurance rates by age and gender
$250,000 coverage amount
$500,000 coverage amount
$1 million coverage amount
30-year term life insurance rates by age and gender
$250,000 coverage amount
$500,000 coverage amount
$1 million coverage amount
How are life insurance rates determined?
Life insurance rates are based on several factors that insurance companies use to assess how much of a risk you are to insure (the longer you live, the less risky). That’s why, generally speaking, the younger and healthier you are, the lower your rates will be.
When you apply, you’ll go through underwriting, which is the insurance company’s process for evaluating risk and assigning your rate.
Life insurance is federally regulated, so no insurance company will be able to offer you a discount, but term life insurance companies each have different underwriting guidelines. This means one company might offer you more competitive rates than others based on your specific profile and needs.
The best way to get a competitive rate is to apply through a broker like Policygenius who can help you compare prices across insurance companies at the same time.
Here are the main factors that will determine your life insurance rates.
The average cost of term life insurance goes up by 4.9% to 9% every year you put off buying a policy. Term life insurance rates for seniors, for example, can cost hundreds of dollars per month, whereas someone in their 30s would pay less than $100 per month for a comparable policy.
Because men have a shorter life expectancy than women,  they usually receive higher life insurance rates. However, health or lifestyle risks could override any difference in premiums you’d see based on your gender. Gender-nonconforming applicants won’t get higher rates based on gender identity, but must apply under one gender.
The healthier you are, the less likely you are to die while your policy is active or in force. That’s why your health is a key factor in determining life insurance prices and why many life insurance companies will have you take a medical exam.
Serious health conditions like a recent history of cancer or heart disease can lead to application denial, while conditions that are known to cause complications down the line, like sleep apnea or high cholesterol, can lead to higher term life rates.
Your weight and height
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) associates certain height-to-weight ratios with better health — and life insurance companies use that data to inform their own underwriting process and set premiums.
If you’re considered overweight or obese according to the CDC guidelines, your life insurance rates may be higher than for people within the healthy weight criteria.
Your family medical history
Life insurance companies use your family’s medical history as an indicator of your future health risks because some life-threatening conditions — like heart disease or diabetes — can be caused by genetic diseases.
But even if your loved ones have suffered from an illness, you’re not doomed to pay a high premium. Some insurers are more forgiving than others.
Your smoking status and/or marijuana use
If you smoke cigarettes, chew tobacco, or use e-cigarettes, life insurance costs two to three times more than it would otherwise. That’s because nicotine has known negative health effects.
Consuming marijuana won’t disqualify you from getting life insurance, but your rates and options will depend on the state you’re in, the type of marijuana products you use, and whether you consume them for medical or recreational reasons.
Using marijuana under the age of 25 can also have a more drastic impact on rates.
Your history of substance abuse
When you apply for life insurance you’ll be asked questions about current and past alcohol and drug use. Depending on the substance involved, recreational users should be able to get covered. But if you’ve abused alcohol or drugs in the past, you may not qualify for most policies.
Your driving record
During the application process, your insurer looks at your motor vehicle report (MVR). You’ll pay more for life insurance if you have multiple moving violations, license suspensions, or reckless driving violations, especially if they happened in the last five years.
If you have multiple DUIs or several moving violations in your recent driving history, you could even be disqualified from getting life insurance altogether.
Your lifestyle and hobbies
In addition to drug or alcohol use, hobbies like scuba diving or skydiving are considered risky and may result in higher rates. Likewise, some jobs are considered riskier than others and may affect how much you pay for life insurance.
Examples include active duty military and private pilots.
Your criminal history
If you have a criminal record, you can still apply for a life insurance policy. Having misdemeanors or lesser infractions on your record usually won’t change your premium rate.
However, if you have a felony conviction, getting life insurance will be more difficult and more expensive, especially in the first few years after your conviction.
Life insurance companies will also typically postpone your application if you're currently on probation.
Your credit history
The contents of your credit report, like past bankruptcies or missed credit card payments, affect your life insurance rates. Insurers make a soft inquiry of your credit report and assign you an insurance score based on your income and debts, insurance history, and driving history, which influences your final premiums.
What factors don't affect life insurance rates?
The following factors won’t affect your rates, but some of them will influence the type of life insurance you might want or be able to buy. Talking with a Policygenius expert is the best way to find the right policy for you.
Your credit score
While your credit history has an impact on your life insurance rates, your credit score doesn’t. Insurers consider the factors that contribute to your credit score, not the specific number.
Your marital status
Life insurance companies don’t consider marital status when determining your rates. When it comes to married couples, purchasing an individual policy for each spouse is usually more convenient and affordable than buying joint life insurance.
Where you live
The state you live in won’t usually affect the cost of your policy, but your location does affect the rules and regulations that surround it. States may also have laws that restrict who you can name as your policy beneficiary — and not every type of policy is available in every state.
The number of policies you have
The number of policies you have doesn’t influence your rates. It’s possible and legal to have multiple life insurance policies depending on the options available to you and your specific coverage needs.
The only time you can’t buy more than one life insurance policy is when you’re trying to get more coverage than you qualify for — most people can qualify for around 15 times their annual income in total life insurance coverage, but if you’re in your 20s or 30s, you'll typically be able to qualify for even more coverage.
The number of beneficiaries you have
Most people use life insurance as an income replacement and choose their spouse as their primary beneficiary so their life insurance proceeds can help pay the bills or cover future expenses, like your children’s college tuition. You can have multiple beneficiaries and this won’t affect your rates.
How much life insurance do you need?
The amount of life insurance you get should be enough to replace your lost income and cover all of your family's future expenses, like mortgage payments and bills. But it's easy to undervalue your policy and get too little coverage.
The key to protecting your family is to get enough life insurance to last them years down the line, so that their finances are never jeopardized.
Our coverage calculator can help you calculate how much life insurance coverage you need, but here are a couple of easy ways to do the math yourself.
Multiply your income by 10: One common rule of thumb is to multiply your income by at least 10 times to get your estimated coverage amount. This is an easy way to make an estimate based on the number of years you want to financially support your family.
The DIME method: For this method, you tally up any outstanding debts, plus your income multiplied by the number of years your family will depend on it, the amount left on your mortgage, and the cost of your children’s education.
→ Learn more about other ways to calculate how much life insurance you need
How long should your term life insurance last?
How long your life insurance should last will depend on your financial needs. Most people need term life coverage that lasts 20 to 30 years, but insurers also offer shorter and longer terms — from 10 years up to 40 years.
How to choose your term length
The best term length for your policy will depend on the reason you’re seeking financial protection — you can match your term length to your financial situation.
If you have a 20-year mortgage, for example, you’ll want at least a 20-year term life insurance policy to cover your mortgage payments.
If you have young children, consider how many years you’ll have to support them until they’re financially independent.
If you’re 35 and hoping to retire by 65, you could look at a 30-year term life insurance policy to protect your income until retirement.
It’s important to note that the longer your term, the more expensive your life insurance rates will be — a 30-year life insurance quote will be more expensive than a 20-year life insurance quote. This is because you’re locking in your rate for a longer period of time.
A licensed agent at Policygenius can work with you through the application process so you can get coverage from the best insurer for your circumstances at the most competitive price and the right term length for you.
→ Learn more about how to calculate how long your life insurance coverage should last
How can you get lower term life rates?
Life insurance is federally regulated, so insurers won’t be able to offer you any discounts. However, each life insurance company considers certain factors like your age and health differently, so shopping around with multiple companies is the best way to find the cheapest life insurance rates.
Here are other options to lower the cost of term life insurance.
Life insurance is cheapest when you’re young and healthy, so buying a policy in your 20s or 30s can save you money while still securing important financial protection. Applying early can help you lock in very competitive term life rates.
Consider paying premiums annually
Many insurers give a discount to applicants who agree to pay yearly instead of monthly. If you can afford to pay your life insurance premiums annually, you may get a discount up to 5%. Monthly premium payments are, however, more manageable for most people.
Opt for a shorter term or less coverage
As the sample term life insurance rates presented above showed, longer policies or policies with greater payouts are more expensive than shorter policies or policies with a smaller death benefit. While not ideal, settling for a shorter term or less coverage can help you lower your term life insurance premiums. Some insurance is better than none.
Keep a healthy height-to-weight ratio
Maintaining a healthy weight according to CDC guidelines can help you get a better health classification during the application process.
Health classifications are used by insurers to set your premiums. The best term life insurance rates are generally reserved for people with few health conditions and ideal height-to-weight ratios.
Manage your health conditions
If you have a pre-existing condition, life insurance companies will usually offer you better rates if you’ve been following any treatment plan prescribed by your physician.
If you want to be eligible for competitive term life rates, try kicking an unhealthy habit and making sure any pre-existing conditions are well managed for at least one year before applying.
The cost of term life insurance is two to three times higher for smokers than it is for non-smokers. If you want to lock in competitive rates, make sure to be nicotine-free for at least one year before applying for life insurance.
Avoid high-risk hobbies
Cooking, golfing, or painting won’t affect your life insurance policy. But riskier hobbies like outdoor climbing or flying a private plane can increase your term life rates, so try to avoid them.
If you do practice an adventurous activity, make sure to disclose it. Misrepresenting yourself or lying during the application process is considered insurance fraud and can result in higher premiums, policy denial, or cancellation of coverage.
Frequently asked questions
How much is term life insurance?
On average a male or female in their 30s pays less than $30 a month for a $500,000, 20-year policy. Your actual term life insurance rates will depend on your age and health, but in general, term life insurance is the most affordable type of life insurance.
Is a 10-year term life insurance policy worth it?
A 10-year term life insurance policy is worth considering if it fits your financial needs. For example, someone with seven years left on their mortgage or someone who took out a 10-year business loan might want a 10-year policy to cover those debts.
What is the cost of a $500,000 term life insurance policy?
A $500,000, 20-year term life insurance policy costs $20 to $30 per month for 25-to-35-year-old non-smokers in good health, $48 to $61 per month for 45-year-olds, and $109 to $152 per month for 55-year-olds.
How much is a million dollar life insurance policy a month?
A 25-year-old non-smoking female might pay less than $33 per month for a 20-year, million-dollar term life insurance policy, while a 45-year-old female in similar health would pay less than $86 per month. A 25-year-old non-smoking male might pay less than $44 per month for the same $1 million policy, while a 45-year-old male in similar health would pay around $112 per month.
How much does it cost to buy life insurance for a family of four?
The total cost of term life insurance for a family with two relatively healthy parents and one or more children can be as low as $77 per month (under $1,000 per year). This estimate includes a separate term policy for each parent in addition to a child rider to cover the children. A child rider is an optional add-on to your life insurance policy that pays out a small death benefit if any of your children pass away.