Q

When should you get life insurance?

A

Getting life insurance in your 20s or 30s locks in low rates and saves money in the long run. Learn why younger is better when it comes to life insurance.

Rebecca Shoenthal author photo

By 

Rebecca Shoenthal

Rebecca Shoenthal

Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

Rebecca Shoenthal is a licensed life, disability, and health insurance expert and a former editor at Policygenius. Her insights about life insurance and finance have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Fox Business, The Balance, HerMoney, SBLI, and John Hancock.

Updated  | 3 min read

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In their 20s and 30s, most people start setting financial goals: save for retirement, purchase a home, pay off student loans. But buying life insurance should be on that list too. 

The best time to buy life insurance is when you’re young – before you really need it – because the amount you pay for a life insurance policy is based on your age (among other factors). The older you get, the more likely you are to develop health problems or medical conditions that can increase your life insurance rates. 

Key Takeaways

  • The older you get, the more you’ll pay for life insurance

  • Life insurance coverage should outlast your longest debts or youngest dependents

  • Premium rates are lowest when you’re in your 20s or 30s

What’s the best age to get life insurance?

Waiting to get life insurance until you already have people who rely on your income (such as children or a spouse) may seem like the best option. In fact, people without any dependents rarely need life insurance. But if you anticipate having dependents sometime in the near future, the best age to get life insurance is in your 20s or 30s because it will cost you less and save you money over time. 

What’s the cost of waiting?

Take a look at the cost comparison for a term life insurance policy for a healthy 25-year-old vs. a similarly healthy person in their 30s, 40s, or 50s.

AgeSex$250,000$500,000$1,000,000
25Female$14.21$21.10$33.54
Male$17.18$26.97$44.79
35Female$16.55$25.53$42.76
Male$18.85$30.32$51.87
45Female$28.87$47.94$86.87
Male$35.55$60.80$112.94
55Female$61.56$109.12$208.38
Male$84.92$151.65$284.76

Methodology: The chart above reflects rates, as of May 1, 2022, for male and female non-smokers in a Preferred health classification with a 20-year term length. Rates are based on the monthly Policygenius Life Insurance Price Index. Prices in the index are determined by internal actuarial rate tables for 10 life insurance carriers that offer policies through the Policygenius marketplace: AIG, Banner Life, Brighthouse, Lincoln Financial, Mutual of Omaha, Pacific Life, Protective, Prudential, SBLI, and TransAmerica.

Buying life insurance early will save you a significant amount of money, up to hundreds of thousands of dollars depending on the type of policy, death benefit amount, and term length. 

For a 25-year-old male, $1 million of term life insurance coverage would cost an additional $9.04 per month (or $2,169.60 over the lifetime of the policy) if he waits until age 35 to buy it. And if he waits until age 45 to buy the same policy, it’ll cost more than twice what it cost in his 20s: $53.20 more per month (or $12,768 over the entire policy term). 

Whole life insurance rates are always going to be higher than comparable term rates because the policy never expires and often comes with a cash value savings component. But waiting to purchase a permanent policy will cost you too.

→ Learn more about life insurance costs 

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Is there a maximum age to get life insurance?

Most people no longer need life insurance above a certain age. And while there’s no maximum age to get life insurance, it can be difficult to qualify for (and afford) traditional life insurance policies if you’re over age 85. 

Seniors looking for life insurance can expect to pay more for a policy than younger adults. People older than 55 usually don’t need large face value life insurance policies.

Even so, a 30-year-old female shopper can save $1,248 a year by purchasing a whole life insurance policy in their 30s vs. their 60s. Over 20 years, that adds up to nearly $25,000 in savings, which can be put toward other expenses, retirement accounts, or education costs.

Is it worth it to buy life insurance early?

Getting life insurance in your 20s or 30s really pays off and can save you hundreds of thousands of dollars over your lifetime. The money you save by buying a policy early can be put toward other meaningful expenses for your future family or financial planning.

The benefits of buying life insurance outweigh the downsides in most cases. However, expenses look like a bell curve over time for most people. 

A Policygenius agent can help figure out how much life insurance you need and whether it’s the right time for you to buy coverage. 

Frequently asked questions

When should I get life insurance?

As soon as possible. If you’re in your 20s or 30s and anticipate needing life insurance in the next 10-40 years, you can lock in a low premium rate and save thousands of dollars by purchasing a policy now.

Is life insurance worth getting?

For people with dependents or debts, life insurance is a worthwhile expense that secures peace of mind and financial safety for your loved ones. Life insurance probably doesn’t make sense if you don’t have people who rely on your income, if you have a high net worth and can self-insure, or if you don’t plan on having a spouse or children in the future.

When can you get life insurance?

You can purchase whole life insurance at any age (even for a child, which we don’t generally recommend). To purchase a term life insurance, you must be at least 18.