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Understanding whole life insurance quotes & rates

Whole life insurance rates are much higher than term life insurance rates. But if you need life insurance that doesn't expire and has a cash value, the cost may be worth it.

Rebecca Shoenthal author photoAmanda Shih author photo

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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.

&Amanda Shih

Amanda Shih

Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

Amanda Shih is a licensed life, disability, and health insurance expert and a former editor at Policygenius, where she covered life insurance and disability insurance. Her expertise has appeared in Slate, Lifehacker, Little Spoon, and J.D. Power.

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This article has been reviewed by a licensed Policygenius expert to ensure that sources, statistics, and claims meet our standard for accurate and unbiased advice.

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By

Patrick Hanzel, CFP®

Patrick Hanzel, CFP®

Certified Financial Planner™ & Advanced Planning Team Lead

Patrick Hanzel, CFP®, is a Certified Financial Planner™ and Advanced Planning Team Lead at Policygenius. His expertise has been featured at Lifehacker, Consumer Affairs, Authority Magazine, Thrive Global, and Fatherly.

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There are many different options when it comes to buying the right life insurance policy to protect your family. Whole life insurance lasts your entire life and comes with a cash value savings feature. Policy premiums are 5 to 15 times more expensive than for term life insurance, which only lasts until a set expiration date and has no cash value.

The best whole life insurance rates you can get will depend on your age, health, lifestyle, and how long you plan to pay premiums. According to internal Policygenius data, a 35-year-old with few health issues could pay between $481 and $571 per month for a $500,000 whole life insurance policy paid until age 99.

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Whole life insurance rates by age

Your whole life insurance quotes will be higher if you’re older because your life expectancy goes down as you age. But rates also depend on when your policy will be paid up — i.e., when you’ve paid all of the premiums required to fund your death benefit and your cash value account.

When purchasing a whole life insurance policy, the insurer will often set up quotes based on paying your premiums until you’re age 65 or 99. Most people buy a whole life policy that they’ll pay monthly or annually until they die (usually called paid up by age 99).

Other, less common payment options for whole life policies are:

  • 10 Pay (paying the policy’s lifetime premiums over 10 years)

  • 20 Pay (paying the policy’s lifetime premiums over 20 years)

  • Single premium (paying the policy’s lifetime premiums upfront)

Funding your policy faster means paying higher rates, but can also increase the return on your cash value because you’ll be earning interest on more money. Below are monthly premiums for whole life policies with a cash value paid over different periods:

Average whole life cost payable until age 65

AgeSex$250,000$500,000$1,000,000
25Female$251.00$497.00$961.00
Male$277.00$550.00$1,070.00
35Female$384.00$763.00$1,492.00
Male$423.00$843.00$1,650.00
45Female$653.00$1,301.00$2,561.00
Male$711.00$1,419.00$2,793.00
55Female$1,499.00$2,993.00$5,935.00
Male$1,611.00$3,217.00$6,376.00

Methodology: Rates are calculated for non-smokers in a Preferred health classification, obtaining a whole life insurance policy payable within 65 years from MassMutual. Individual rates will vary as specific circumstances will affect each customer's rate. Rate illustration valid as of 7/01/2022.

Average whole life cost payable until age 99

Age

Sex

$250,000

$500,000

$1,000,000

25

Female

$175.00

$346.00

$660.00

Male

$199.00

$393.00

$765.00

35

Female

$243.00

$481.00

$947.00

Male

$288.00

$571.00

$1,121.00

45

Female

$360.00

$716.00

$1,417.00

Male

$435.00

$866.00

$1,690.00

55

Female

$589.00

$1,173.00

$2,332.00

Male

$692.00

$1,380.00

$2,173.00

Methodology: Rates are calculated for non-smokers in a Preferred health classification, obtaining a whole life insurance policy payable within 99 years from MassMutual. Individual rates will vary as specific circumstances will affect each customer's rate. Rate illustration valid as of 8/01/2022.

10 Pay and 20 Pay whole life insurance quotes

10 Pay and 20 Pay policies are most useful to people who will have disposable income over the 10- or 20-year payment period, since they’ll need to pay higher premiums over less time. 

10 Pay whole life insurance quotes

Age

Sex

$250,000

$500,000

$1,000,000

25

Female

$992.00

$1,983.00

$3,966.00

Male

$1,056.00

$2,112.00

$4,225.00

35

Female

$1,206.00

$2,412.00

$4,824.00

Male

$1,286.00

$2,572.00

$5,144.00

45

Female

$1,464.00

$2,929.00

$5,858.00

Male

$1,553.00

$3,106.00

$6,212.00

55

Female

$1,801.00

$3,601.00

$7,203.00

Male

$1,899.00

$3,799.00

$7,598.00

Methodology: Rates are calculated for female and male non-smokers in a Preferred health classification, obtaining a whole life insurance policy payable within 10 years. Individual rates will vary as specific circumstances will affect each customer's rate. Rate illustration valid as of 7/01/2022.

20 Pay whole life insurance quotes

Age

Sex

$250,000

$500,000

$1,000,000

25

Female

$375.00

$750.00

$1,471.00

Male

$412.00

$824.00

$1,621.00

35

Female

$493.00

$986.00

$1,947.00

Male

$545.00

$1,089.00

$2,145.00

45

Female

$653.00

$1,307.00

$2,576.00

Male

$712.00

$1,425.00

$2,808.00

55

Female

$886.00

$1,771.00

$3,502.00

Male

$960.00

$1,920.00

$3,796.00

Methodology: Rates are calculated for female and male non-smokers in a Preferred health classification, obtaining a whole life insurance policy payable within 20 years. Individual rates will vary as specific circumstances will affect each customer's rate. Rate illustration valid as of 7/01/2022.

If you want whole life insurance only for its permanent coverage, there are more affordable options, like guaranteed universal life insurance, that don’t include a cash value.

The best whole life insurance companies in 2022

We recommend two whole life insurance companies that offer coverage through the Policygenius marketplace, depending on what you want to get out of your whole life policy. We chose our top picks based on what coverage is offered, financial ratings, price, and dividends paid to policyholders.

MassMutual

3.8

Policygenius rating

How we score: Policygenius’ ratings are determined by our editorial team. Our methodology takes multiple factors into account, including pricing, financial ratings, quality of customer service, and other product-specific features.

MassMutual logo

MassMutual’s whole life plan provides medically underwritten lifetime coverage and builds cash value with the potential to earn dividends.

Pros

  • Strong financial stability ratings

  • Potential for dividends 

  • Unique free policy for low-income families

Cons

  • No option to skip the medical exam

  • High premiums

MassMutual checks all of the boxes for a great cash value whole life insurance company. This A++ rated mutual carrier pays higher dividends to its cash value policyholders than many competitors. The company has high customer experience ratings compared to other carriers on the Policygenius marketplace and consistently receives high third-party financial stability ratings, meaning you’re more likely to grow your cash value quickly with better dividend payouts.

Pacific Life

4.6

Policygenius rating

How we score: Policygenius’ ratings are determined by our editorial team. Our methodology takes multiple factors into account, including pricing, financial ratings, quality of customer service, and other product-specific features.

Pacific Life logo

Pacific Life has high third-party financial ratings and competitive underwriting for people with heavier builds, sleep apnea, and anxiety or depression.

Pros

  • More affordable permanent insurance pricing

  • Strong financial stability ratings

  • Better for people with minor health conditions

Cons

  • No cash value whole life policy

  • Doesn’t pay dividends

Pacific Life has limited whole life options, but its guaranteed universal life insurance offers the benefit of lifetime coverage at a lower price. If you only need permanent coverage and don’t need to build cash value, you’ll pay much less with Pacific Life — $171 to $198 per month for a $500,000 policy, compared to $481 or more. Rates are also competitive compared to other guaranteed universal life policies offered on the Policygenius marketplace.

How do insurance companies set whole life insurance rates?

Your age and when your policy is paid up aren’t the only things that affect your whole life insurance rates. The life insurance underwriter will also factor in your:

  • Current health status

  • Driving record

  • Family medical history

  • Gender

  • Personal health history

  • Prescription history

  • Risky hobbies 

  • Unhealthy lifestyle habits, like smoking

These variables decide your life insurance health classification, which then determines your premiums. There are four main life insurance classifications, from healthiest and most affordable premiums to least:

  • Preferred Plus

  • Preferred

  • Standard Plus

  • Standard

Whole life insurance policies also have higher premiums than term life insurance policies. These high costs are tied to two key policy features that are missing from term policies:

  • Cash value: The cash value works like a savings account and is funded by your premiums, which requires additional investment management.

  • Lifetime coverage: Whole life insurance never expires, unlike term life insurance, so there’s little chance your insurer won’t need to pay out your death benefit.

→ Find more information about life insurance classifications

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Is whole life insurance worth the cost?

Buying whole life insurance isn’t usually worth the expense for the average person, but there are reasons that someone would pay the higher rates.

“It's typically a good option to consider if you have a significant annual income or assets, complex estate planning needs, or a dependent with special needs,” says Patrick Hanzel, certified financial planner and advanced planning team lead at Policygenius.

Someone with a high net worth who has already maxed out other investment accounts could use whole life insurance for estate planning, making the high premiums worthwhile.

People who are leaving behind dependents with special needs may also find that whole life insurance is a better life insurance policy option, because the lifetime coverage ensures their family gets a payout no matter when they pass away.

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How to get whole life insurance quotes online

It can be difficult to get an accurate whole life insurance quote online because your rates depend on so many individual policy details. Online quoting tools rarely factor in different cash value options, for example. Speaking with an insurance agent is the best way to understand your different coverage options and your cash value’s potential.

At Policygenius, we have a team dedicated to helping you explore your whole life insurance options. Our agents can compare providers and policies to get you accurate quotes and help you choose the company that protects your family at a price that fits your budget. 

Frequently asked questions

How much does whole life insurance cost?

Whole life insurance premiums are based on each individual’s life insurance needs, but they tend to be costly: a 35-year-old could pay $481 to $571 per month for a $500,000 policy.

Is whole life insurance a good investment?

You’ll typically see better return on a traditional investment account than with whole life insurance. If you’re in a high tax bracket and have maxed out other investment options, whole life insurance can build additional untaxed wealth.

What are the disadvantages of whole life insurance?

Whole life insurance is more expensive than term life insurance, and cash value returns can be low.

Does whole life insurance pay out the full amount when you die?

Your beneficiaries get the entire death benefit when you pass away, as long as you paid all of your premiums and don’t have outstanding policy loans. They only get the cash value in some (more costly) whole life policies.

Authors

Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

Rebecca Shoenthal

Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

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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.

Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

Amanda Shih

Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

gray twitter icon linkgray linkedin icon link

Amanda Shih is a licensed life, disability, and health insurance expert and a former editor at Policygenius, where she covered life insurance and disability insurance. Her expertise has appeared in Slate, Lifehacker, Little Spoon, and J.D. Power.

Expert reviewer

Certified Financial Planner™ & Advanced Planning Team Lead

Patrick Hanzel, CFP®

Certified Financial Planner™ & Advanced Planning Team Lead

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Patrick Hanzel, CFP®, is a Certified Financial Planner™ and Advanced Planning Team Lead at Policygenius. His expertise has been featured at Lifehacker, Consumer Affairs, Authority Magazine, Thrive Global, and Fatherly.

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