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Getting the best term life insurance policy isn’t just a matter of selecting the lowest monthly (or annual) insurance premiums. You’ll want to select a policy that fits your budget and provides the right amount of coverage for you and your loved ones now and in the future.

Get an idea of how much coverage you may need by using our handy needs calculator takes the work out of this step for you and helps you find a few important numbers that will ensure you get the most accurate insurance policy quotes.

» Compare: Term life insurance quotes

Ask yourself:

After determining your coverage needs, it’s nice to know the risk factors underwriters look at and how they’ll impact how much you pay for term life insurance.

  • General health
  • Family medical history
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Smoking (currently or previously)
  • Lifestyle (high-risk activities)
  • Career
  • Primary residence

Finally, remember that your quotes will vary by carrier. A comparison tool like Quotacy’s is a great way to evaluate multiple policies and see the best term life insurance options side-by-side in order to make an informed decision.

Now that you’ve confidently determined how much life insurance coverage you need and a few of the factors underwriters look at, let’s look at some simple ways to make sure that you get the best term life insurance policy for you and your lifestyle.

See what you’d pay for life insurance

Comparison shop prices on custom coverage amounts from the nation’s top carriers with Quotacy.

Before you start your life insurance application:

Accessing your medical information allows your life insurance company’s underwriters to estimate how much risk they are taking on by insuring you and most term life insurance policies will require you to take a medical exam.

Before you apply for life insurance, we recommend that you are aware of any medical issues that you might have that could impact your insurance quotes.

All health changes that occurred since your last medical exam should be reflected in your medical records before you apply so that you don’t have any unwelcome surprises when you receive your quotes.

1. Know Your Height & Weight

When you run your quotes online at Quotacy, you’ll be asked to enter your height and weight.  We know that a good portion of you may fudge your numbers a little when it comes to your driver’s license. No real harm comes from this, but not so when it comes to applying for life insurance.

For those who don’t own a scale, it may have been years since you’ve weighed yourself. To get an accurate life insurance quote, you’ll need an accurate weight. If you simply guess your weight and the medical exam uncovers a much different weight, your estimated premiums are going to change (be higher). Knowing your actual weight beforehand will ensure there are no unwelcome surprises for you.

Your local YMCA, Walgreens, Walmart, CVS or other pharmacies often provide free scales and blood pressure machines. So, stop in and jump on one to get an accurate weight before you apply for life insurance.

2. Consider Improving Your Health

There’s no time like now to make healthy lifestyle changes—here’s another reason to do it.

The more positive your health profile is, the better your chances are of receiving the lowest premiums for the best term life insurance coverage.

Underwriters rate applicants based on their health and other factors. These ratings indicate your level of risk and help to determine your premium rate. A health improvement such as quitting smoking can provide a savings of as much as 25% on your premiums.

Your doctor can help you implement a plan to improve your health profile as you prepare for your medical exam. You may need to change your diet, follow a new exercise regime, or quit smoking.

3. Quit Smoking

Insurance premiums are higher for smokers and other nicotine users. It makes sense, as smokers are at a higher risk for certain diseases like lung cancer and heart disease. When you fill out your application for term insurance, you’ll be asked if you are (or were) a smoker.

Some life insurance companies may only view you as a non-smoker if you quit smoking more than six months prior to filling out your insurance application—and in some cases several years ago.

There’s no point in trying to fake it or leaving out your smoking status on your application—your insurer may request urine or saliva tests to check for the presence of nicotine. If you have any concerns our insurance advisors can help you understand how your smoking status may be viewed by your potential insurers. Regardless of how your insurance company sees your smoking status, though, quitting smoking will make you a more attractive applicant (and improve your health).

4. Consider Laddering (or Layering) Term Life Policies

Layering term policies means that you purchase more than one term policy to cover your needs at different periods in your life, according to your family’s projected needs. This is a cost-effective way to maintain your existing budget without skimping on your coverage.

Layering (or laddering) policies can save you a significant amount of money.

Here is one example:

Ann is 35 years old, and a healthy non-smoker. She decides on a $2 million policy for a 30-year term by estimating that she’ll need:

  • $500,000 for income replacement
  • $400,000 for future college tuition (she has four children, ages five through twelve)
  • $600,000 to cover her mortgage that she expects to have paid off in 20 years

Instead of purchasing a single $2 million, 30-year term life policy, she can save money by buying three policies that offer coverage for different terms.

  1. 30-year term policy for $500,000 to replace lost income
  2. 15-year term policy for $400,000 to pay her children’s college tuition
  3. 20-year term policy for $600,000 to cover the mortgage

The cost of the three policies will be less than the one large policy; Ann can cancel any of the policies, if her circumstances change and she no longer needs the coverage.

5. Buy Term Life Insurance ASAP

The younger you are, the less you’ll pay—but age isn’t the only reason that you shouldn’t wait to buy term life insurance.

If you are planning on having children, for example, your premiums will be less now than when you (or your partner) are pregnant.

Similarly, if you are planning to purchase a home or recently closed on one, then you’ll need protection for your family right away. If you unexpectedly die, your loved ones will be left with a significant amount of debt with no equity to borrow against for immediate cash.

There isn’t a perfect age to buy term life insurance. The perfect time in your life to buy is when key milestones are happening. If you are providing for yourself and loved ones, it’s time to get a life insurance quote.

6. Consider Taking the Life Insurance Medical Exam

If you’re between applying for life insurance that requires a medical exam and one that does not—such as simplified issue or guaranteed issue life insurance—we recommend that you take the plunge and go with the traditional life insurance policy that requires a medical exam.

Here’s why:

While skipping the usual medical exam might seem like you’re merely avoiding a time-consuming hassle, simplified issue and guaranteed issue policies often end up costing more in premiums and provide less in coverage. Because life insurance companies don’t require medical exams for these policies, they make up for this risk by increasing the premium prices.

These policies can be very beneficial to some, for example elderly or critically ill individuals, but if you’re reasonably healthy, you are better off applying for traditional life insurance.

If you’re extremely healthy, you may qualify for traditional life insurance that doesn’t require a medical exam anyway! More and more life insurance companies are beginning to offer what is called accelerated underwriting.

If you’re relatively young, have no health issues, no driving violations, and a great financial track record, the life insurance company may deem it unnecessary for you to complete a medical exam and you still get the same great policy.

7. Keep Your Driving Record Clean

A history of accidents or speeding tickets can negatively impact your life insurance premium rates. If you have four or more moving violations during the past three years, the likelihood of your application being rejected goes up significantly. We typically don’t recommend putting off getting life insurance, but if you do have negative marks on your record that are close to falling off (speeding tickets are often removed after 3 years, for example), it’s always a good idea to know when that will happen.

Your driving record, like your medical history, can’t be fudged: your insurer will check with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles to determine if you’re telling the truth about your driving safety record.

There are plenty of life insurance companies that will still insure people who have speeding tickets, DUIs and other driving violations so don’t let this stop you from applying.

8. Reconsider Dangerous Hobbies

Although you may feel like skydiving over the Andes Mountains is a life-affirming exercise, your potential insurer will likely see it as a red flag—a huge one.

That’s because insurers look at health risks as something their ideal applicants should avoid, rather than leap into headfirst. That doesn’t mean regular skydivers and paragliders can’t get any insurance, but their rates may be higher than someone who’s content to watch epic free falls on the Discovery Channel.

We don’t want you to give up a hobby or job you love, though, so if you’re a dare-devil with some questions about how staying airborne might affect your premiums, Quotacy’s insurance agents can walk you through your options.

9. Understand Policy Riders

Life insurance riders are add-ons that provide additional coverage if you would become critically ill or disabled.

A rider can protect your loved ones against unforeseen circumstances that leave you unable to work but will also make your insurance premiums more expensive. The life insurance policy you purchase is a personal decision, so we recommend researching and carefully considering the possible riders that might benefit you and your loved ones.

10. Don’t Purchase More Coverage Than You Need

As odd as it may sound, there is such a thing as too much coverage. Although you may have heard the saying that you need a life insurance policy equal to ten times your salary, it isn’t true for everyone.

For example, if you are a single recent college grad, you may need a policy to cover private student loans and other debts (so that your parents won’t be vulnerable to debt collection, if you were to pass on), but you might not need a $600,000 policy.

Conversely, if you’re a single parent caring for your aging parents and your family, you may require much more than ten times your salary to cover the loss of income and future expenses.

» Calculate: Life insurance needs calculator

How to Apply for and Get Your Best Term Life Insurance Policy

Purchase life insurance coverage for the expenses and debts that you have now while making sure that your loved ones are protected against unforeseen expenses.

You may also have to prepare for future costs such as college tuition or the purchase of a larger home, if you’re expecting your family to grow.

If you’re ready to explore your insurance options, take a look at our free life insurance quotes tool to find a range of policies without entering any of your contact details.

Just enter your:

  • zip code of your primary residence
  • gender
  • birthdate
  • smoking status

Select how much coverage ($50,000 to $25 million) you need and how long you want that coverage to last (10, 15, 20, 25, 30, or 35 years).

You’ll get a customized range of policy options and quotes instantly.

Once you compare and choose your preferred term life insurance policy from the results, you may complete your application online within five minutes.

Our advisors will review your submitted application to double check that you’ve found the best carrier for your needs based on the information that you provided in your application.

If we notice a better match, we’ll even contact you for permission to change carriers and get you a more appropriate policy.

We’ll then help you finalize the application process online by emailing you secure forms that will capture your driver’s license, Social Security number, beneficiary information, and signature via Docusign, a secure method of sharing private information.

Your reward will be financial peace-of-mind for you and loved ones for many years to come.

About the writer

Quotacy is the country’s leading broker for buying life insurance online. We are obsessed with making it easy for everyone who has loved ones who depend upon them to have life insurance.