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The Comprehensive Guide to Life Insurance for Children

June 21, 2023
Our goal is to educate and advise on life insurance options, so you can feel confident in making the right choice, whether that’s through Quotacy or somewhere else. To ensure we provide accurate and trustworthy information, our writers follow strict editorial standards.

We understand the uneasy feeling behind the words “life insurance for children.” The thought of a child’s death is unbearable and something you don’t wish on anyone.

However, life insurance coverage on a child goes beyond a death benefit. It guarantees their future insurability, and certain policies accumulate cash value.

In this guide, you’ll learn what children’s life insurance is, the options, what it costs, and if it’s worth it.

What Is Child Life Insurance?

Child life insurance is a policy that covers the life of a minor. Life insurance is mainly for financial protection and income replacement. But children don’t contribute financially to your household, so what is the need for coverage?

Parents buy life insurance on their children for three reasons:

  1. To guarantee their child’s future insurability.
  2. To start accumulating cash value early on.
  3. To help with finances should their child die unexpectedly.

Child Life Insurance Age Limits

Children’s life insurance policies have age limitations that dictate when you can buy coverage for the child. These age specifications can vary slightly by the insurer, but the usual age range spans from a few days after birth up to 17 years old.

Once the child reaches adulthood, parents often transfer ownership of the policy to the child, but this transfer is usually optional, not mandatory.

Who Can Buy Life Insurance on Children?

Parents or legal guardians can buy life insurance on their minor children. Insurance companies usually consider the following to be eligible dependents:

  • Biological children
  • Adopted children
  • Stepchildren (provided they reside with you in a conventional parent-child relationship)

Grandparents also have the option to buy life insurance for their grandchildren. Insurance companies usually don’t ask for parental consent if the grandparent is the primary caregiver.

However, some insurance providers may require parental approval on the application if the grandparent isn’t the primary caregiver.

Apart from parents and grandparents, no other relatives or friends can purchase life insurance for a minor child.

When buying life insurance for a child, the policy owner typically needs to have their own life insurance of equal or greater value than the amount on the child.

Children’s Life Insurance Options

Parents seeking life insurance for their children primarily have two options:

  1. Children’s whole life insurance
  2. Child rider (comes as term life insurance)

Many life insurance companies limit the face amounts available for children’s whole life insurance policies. The reason is simple: insuring a child for a large sum isn’t necessary. Except for rare circumstances of famous child actors, children don’t contribute financially to the family.

When applying for a children’s whole life insurance policy, you will likely have to complete a medical questionnaire about your children. However, a medical exam is usually not required, nor are medical records.

If you have a child diagnosed with a chronic medical condition or special needs, learn how to get them coverage without providing medical information.

Whole Life Insurance for Kids

Whole life insurance for children, or juvenile life insurance, is a permanent life insurance policy you can buy on your child. The coverage will last the child’s entire life as long as the premiums are paid.

Features and benefits of children’s whole life insurance:

  • Continuous coverage: The policy guarantees lifelong coverage as long as the premiums continue to be paid.
  • Guaranteed death benefit: In the unfortunate event of the child’s premature death, the policy guarantees a death benefit payout.
  • Cash value accumulation: The policy includes a cash value component that slowly builds over time.
  • Tax-free borrowing: The policy owner can borrow funds from the policy’s cash value without tax implications.
  • Fixed rates: The cost of the policy remains the same regardless of the child’s increasing age.
  • Unconditional insurability: As long as premiums are paid, the child will retain the coverage regardless of any future health complications or involvement in high-risk activities.
  • Option for additional coverage: Many policies offer the opportunity to purchase more coverage in the future without requiring evidence of insurability.
  • Wealth transfer strategy: The policy can serve as an effective tool for transferring wealth to heirs while minimizing tax obligations.

Life Insurance Child Rider

A life insurance child rider is an optional add-on when buying your own life insurance policy. The child rider provides term life insurance on any children under 18 years old and continues until adulthood.

A child rider is very inexpensive to buy. For example, an annual fee of about $50 can provide coverage of $10,000. Moreover, a single rider covers all of your minor children, regardless of whether you have one child or ten.

Features and benefits of a child rider:

  • Affordability: The child rider is cost-effective.
  • Manageable: Instead of buying individual policies for each child, a single rider is all you need to cover all eligible children.
  • Duration of coverage: Coverage lasts until the child reaches adulthood, typically between 18 and 25, depending on the specific policy terms.
  • Guaranteed death benefit: In the unfortunate event of the child’s premature death, the policy guarantees a death benefit payout.
  • Convertible: Once a child reaches adulthood, the rider can be converted into a separate permanent life insurance policy without requiring proof of insurability.
  • Transferability: After conversion, parents can transfer policy ownership to the child.

Guarantee Your Child’s Future Insurability

A children’s whole life insurance policy and a child rider can guarantee that your child will always be eligible for life insurance. When applying for life insurance as an adult, underwriting takes into account various factors, including:

  • Age
  • Height and weight ratio
  • Overall physical health
  • Personal medical history
  • Family medical history
  • Lifestyle habits
  • Financial stability
  • Driving record
  • Occupation and hobbies
  • Criminal record

An adult’s circumstances relating to these aspects can significantly impact their eligibility for life insurance and the policy’s cost. However, most of these factors are irrelevant if coverage is obtained during childhood.

When you purchase a whole life insurance policy on your child before all these factors come into play, they’ll never have to worry about increased rates or having their application denied based on one of the factors stated above.

Similarly, a child rider can achieve the same goal due to its convertible feature. The rider’s conversion period is often when your child is between 18 and 25. During this period, the child rider can be converted into an independent permanent life insurance policy without needing proof of insurability.

Most only choose to convert the rider if the child is otherwise uninsurable due to health or lifestyle factors. The coverage limit from a child rider conversion is capped, and the premiums for the new permanent policy can be high compared to a new term life insurance policy. So, if the child matures into a healthy adult, it might be more beneficial for them to purchase their own policy instead of converting the rider into a permanent one.

See what you’d pay for life insurance

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

How Much Does Kids’ Life Insurance Cost?

Children’s whole life coverage costs more than the term coverage that comes with a child rider. However, high-income parents may appreciate a whole life policy’s wealth transfer capabilities, so the higher premiums may be worth it.

Whole Life Insurance for Kids

Whole life insurance can be costly. However, when purchased for a child, the rates are significantly lower than those for an adult.

Most insurance companies allow parents (or grandparents) to buy whole life insurance on a child once they reach 14 days of age. While you can typically buy children’s whole life coverage until the child turns 17, the policy is less expensive the younger the child is at the time of purchase.

The table below provides sample rates based on the age of the child. The rates shown are for a continuous-pay participating $100,000 children’s whole life insurance policy.

$100,000 Children’s Whole Life Policy
Age at Purchase - Male ChildMonthly Premium
14 days old$43.41
5 years old$49.68
10 years old$57.42
17 years old$71.51

What a continuous-pay participating whole life insurance policy means:

Monthly rates are fixed for your entire life or until a certain age, typically 100 years old. If the insured dies before age 100, premium responsibilities cease, and the death benefit is paid. If the insured lives past age 100, premiums are no longer required.

A participating policy lets you earn dividends based on the insurance company’s investments and profits. Dividends can be used to pay premiums, taken as cash, or buy paid-up additions to increase the death benefit.

Once a child becomes an adult, parents (or grandparents) can transfer the ownership of the life insurance policy to them. The adult child can then assume the responsibility of premium payments and maintain the coverage, or they can cash it out for the surrender value.

Rather than purchasing a continous-pay policy, many choose a plan with a shorter premium payment period. This way, parents (or grandparents) can transfer a completely paid-off policy to the child. The child can then let the policy continue to earn dividends and grow its cash value, or cash it out.


Sue buys a 20-pay participating $100,000 whole life insurance policy for her baby boy. The policy costs $86.91 per month.

For his high-school graduation present, she transfers ownership of the policy to him when he’s 18 years old. For the next two years, she gifts him the premium payments.

At 20 years old, he now owns a paid-up whole life policy. Thanks to the dividends it earned over the years, the death benefit is approximately $141,000, and the cash value has grown to roughly $26,000.

At any time, he can choose to surrender the policy for its cash value or keep it and let it continue to accumulate. To access the cash value without surrendering the policy, he can borrow against it tax-free

Life Insurance Child Rider

When you buy a term or permanent life insurance policy on yourself, you can easily add a child rider to it. This is the most affordable way to get coverage for your children.

One rider insures all eligible minor children. The coverage for a child rider is sold in increments of $1,000. If you want $10,000 of coverage for your child, you will buy 10 units. Generally, the maximum amount a child rider can provide is $50,000.

Total Child Rider CoverageApprox. Monthly Cost

The monthly cost of a child rider is added to your life insurance policy’s monthly premiums, streamlining its management. For example, if you buy a 20-year term life insurance policy worth $250,000 at $15 per month and include a $25,000 child rider, your monthly premiums would increase to $26.

When more than one child is covered, the rider terminates and the premium drops once all children have reached adulthood.

If several children are insured under the rider, and only one chooses to convert their coverage to a standalone policy, the conversion will only affect that child. The remaining children are covered under the rider until they reach the age limit specified in the policy or choose to convert their coverage.

Pros and Cons of Child Life Insurance

Due to its low cost and easy management, a child rider has few drawbacks.

Pros and Cons of Child Riders


  • Inexpensive
  • Simple
  • Convenient
  • Guarantees future insurability
  • Provides parents financial security


  • Limited, temporary coverage

A child rider offers many of the benefits of a children’s whole life insurance policy but at a lower cost. That’s not to say children’s whole life doesn’t have its advantages.

Pros and Cons of Children’s Whole Life


  • Guarantees future insurability
  • Provides parents financial security
  • Cash value growth that can be used as a long-term savings vehicle


  • Money may be better used elsewhere
  • Low rates of return
  • Long-term commitment

Is Life Insurance for a Child Worth It?

Deciding if life insurance for a child is worthwhile depends on your family situation, finances, and choice between the child rider or whole life insurance.

We recommend that all parents purchase life insurance for themselves, and consider adding a child rider if they have minor children.

The cost of a child rider is low. One rider covers all eligible children, no matter how many you have, and includes future children. It’s also easy to get; just let your agent know when you buy your policy.

When it comes to children’s whole life insurance, the following should take precedence before making the purchase:

  • Get life insurance for yourself
  • Build an emergency fund
  • Build retirement savings
  • Repay high-interest debts

If it’s a good fit for you, getting whole life insurance on your kids allows you to pass nearly unlimited wealth onto the next generation and avoid substantial tax liabilities. And in the meantime, you can access its cash value.

Financial experts often view children’s whole life insurance policies as unnecessary. Instead, a two-fold approach is commonly recommended:

  1. Purchase a more cost-effective child rider to provide a death benefit and protect future insurability
  2. Invest in a 529 plan, savings account, or certificate of deposit (CD) to build funds for your child’s future needs.

Get a Life Insurance Quote and Get Coverage for Your Kids

At Quotacy, we work with over 25 of the nation’s top life insurance companies. Easily compare pricing and apply online.

Once you submit your online application, a dedicated agent is assigned to you. Their job is to find you the best coverage for your unique situation.

Need to add a child rider? It’s an easy step. Your agent can help add it to your policy.

Want children’s whole life quotes? Your agent can get those for you too.

Don’t wait. Start by getting free and anonymous term life insurance quotes today.

Note: Life insurance quotes used in this article are accurate as of June 21, 2023. These are only estimates and your life insurance costs may be higher or lower.


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