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A Guide to Life Insurance for Seniors

July 25, 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.

Life insurance comes in all shapes and sizes. If you’re a senior looking to buy life insurance to protect your loved ones, it’s not too late.

In this guide, we’ll delve into the world of life insurance for seniors. Learn when seniors may need life insurance, your options, and tips to make an informed choice.

Do Seniors Need Life Insurance?

Seniors may not require life insurance once their children have grown, their mortgage is settled, and retirement benefits cover daily expenses.

However, life insurance can provide benefits beyond income replacement or a means to cover funeral expenses. It can act as a strategic financial tool in a variety of situations. Each person’s circumstances are unique, and there are certainly cases where senior life insurance makes sense.

When life insurance is beneficial for seniors:

  • Income replacement: Life insurance offers financial security by replacing your income after death. This is crucial if your spouse relies on your pension or Social Security income.
  • Funeral expenses: A funeral isn’t cheap. The life insurance death benefit can help your family honor your life without worrying about the costs.
  • Medical expenses: Health issues and their subsequent costs (medications, hospital bills, etc.) may pass on to burden your loved ones. Life insurance can help manage these costs.
  • Grandchildren: More than 2.3 million grandparents are the principal caretakers of their grandchildren. For these grandparents, life insurance ensures their grandchildren continue living happy and healthy lives.
  • Estate planning: A properly structured policy provides a tax-free death benefit that may be used to pay any estate taxes, thus preserving the estate’s value for heirs.
  • Wealth transfer: A policy’s death benefit passes to beneficiaries tax-free and can be used to provide a financial legacy for children, grandchildren, and other heirs.
  • Charitable giving: You can name a charity as your beneficiary and leave all or a portion of your death benefit to support their cause.
  • Supplemental retirement income: Certain life insurance policies build cash value over time. This cash value can be borrowed against tax-free in retirement, providing an additional stream of income. However, these loans may have other implications.
  • Long-term care costs: Some life insurance policies offer riders that allow policyholders to access a portion of the death benefit during their lifetime to cover long-term care expenses. This can be particularly useful as healthcare costs continue to rise.

Learn more about who needs life insurance, when they need it, and why. 

Who Can Buy Life Insurance on Older People?

If you want to buy life insurance on a senior, or anyone else, two things must be true:

1. You Have an Insurable Interest

Having an insurable interest means you could suffer financial hardship if the insured died.

It’s why you can’t take out a life insurance policy on a stranger – you need to have a legitimate stake in that person’s continued existence.

2. The Insured Gives Consent

You cannot purchase life insurance on another person without their knowledge and consent.

The insured must be part of the process and approve coverage. This typically involves answering some health questions and possibly undergoing a medical exam, depending on the policy.

Types of Life Insurance Policies for Seniors (With Rates)

There are many different types of life insurance options available to seniors. What you can qualify for depends on factors such as your age and overall health.

Term Life Insurance for Seniors

Term life insurance is the most affordable life insurance option for seniors. It’s beneficial if you need life insurance coverage for a short period since the term length options are limited for older adults.

All term length options are available if you are 45 or younger. But once you reach your 46th birthday, you’ll experience more restrictions.

AgeTerm Lengths Available
4510-40 years
46-5010-35 years
51-5510-30 years
56-6010-25 years
61-7010-20 years
71-7810-15 years
79-8010 years

As people age, financial obligations, like raising children or paying off mortgages, are more likely to be fulfilled. Therefore, the need for life insurance decreases. 

In these cases, a 10-year life insurance policy may be enough, as it offers coverage for a specific period, aligning with remaining obligations like a residual debt or supporting a surviving spouse.

Costs are influenced by the risk class you’re assigned during the underwriting process. The most favorable rate class, Preferred Plus, is designated for exceptionally healthy individuals. Seniors don’t often qualify.

Instead, they’re frequently “table rated” due to health concerns that have developed over time. Chronic health conditions that affect life expectancy typically result in substandard risk assignment. Implementing table ratings helps insurance companies manage their risk.

Table ratings run alphabetically (A-P) or numerically (1-16), depending on the insurer. Each step up in the table rating generally represents a 25% increase in the cost of the policy premium.

The table below provides term life insurance rates for seniors. It illustrates how your age and health class at purchase impact the price.

Monthly Quotes for a 10-Year $250,000 Term Life Insurance Policy
Risk ClassAge 60Age 70Age 80
Preferred Plus$58.51$175.63$787.25
Standard Plus$88.27$261.36$1200.87
Substandard Table 2/B$128.59$388.22$1,939.10
Substandard Table 5/E$189.05$578.51$3,112.73
Substandard Table 10/J$289.83$895.65$4,838.95

The rates above are reflective of non-smoking male applicants. Use the tool below to calculate your own term life insurance quotes instantly.

Whole Life Insurance for Seniors

Term life insurance only pays a death benefit if you die during the term. Permanent life insurance is lifelong; it pays out no matter when you die.

Whole life insurance is one of the most well-known types of permanent life insurance.

Features include:

  • Lifelong coverage
  • Cash value accumulation
  • Possible dividend earnings
  • High price tag

The table below shows whole life insurance rates for seniors. It illustrates how your age and health class affect the price.

Monthly Quotes for a $250,000 Whole Life Insurance Policy
Risk ClassAge 60Age 70Age 80
Substandard Table 2/B$1,166.02$1,940.54$3,147.45
Substandard Table 5/E$1,333.06$2,255.69$3,783.20
Substandard Table 10/J$1,570.79$2,725.06$4,789.57

The quotes above are for non-smoking male applicants applying for a participating (dividend-earning) 100-pay whole life policy.

Looking for whole life insurance quotes? Complete this short form and receive personalized quotes from one of our agents.

Guaranteed Universal Life Insurance for Seniors

Guaranteed universal life insurance is designed to be the most affordable type of permanent life insurance. It focuses on the death benefit rather than cash value or dividends.

A guaranteed universal life insurance policy is probably your best bet if you’re near or already in retirement. While the cash value and dividends are nice features in other permanent policies, they’re less valuable to you this late in life because they have very little time to grow with interest. 

Features include:

  • No cash value or dividend features
  • Lifelong coverage
  • Most affordable permanent policy

Guaranteed universal life insurance offers a cost-effective death benefit for your loved ones.

The table below provides guaranteed universal life insurance rates for seniors. It illustrates how your age and health class at purchase impacts the price.

Monthly Quotes for a $250,000 Guaranteed Universal Life Insurance Policy
Risk ClassAge 60Age 70Age 80
Preferred Plus$427.67$610.75$1,977.40
Standard Plus$468.82$770.00$2,312.86
Substandard Table 2/B$662.92$1,058.24$2,452.08
Substandard Table 5/E$842.24$1,405.47$3,425.70
Substandard Table 10/J$1,391.57$2,464.06Not available

The quotes shown above are for non-smoking male applicants. Get instant guaranteed universal life insurance quotes by using our quoting tool. Choose “Forever” under Length of Coverage.

See what you’d pay for life insurance

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

Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance for Seniors (Burial Insurance)

You may have seen direct mailings and TV advertisements that market life insurance policies specific to seniors. These are guaranteed issue life insurance policies — also known as final expense or guaranteed acceptance life insurance.

Features include:

  • A type of whole life insurance
  • Available to seniors regardless of health
  • Coverage amounts are limited, typically $5,000-$25,000
  • Suitable coverage for end-of-life expenses, like a funeral

The table below provides guaranteed issue life insurance rates for seniors.

Monthly Quotes for Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance for a Male Applicant
Face AmountAge 60Age 70Age 80

Relative to their low coverage amount, guaranteed issue policies are costly. Typically, the only reason to go this route is because you don’t qualify for traditional life insurance.

h Note: Guaranteed issue life insurance policies have a graded death benefit, meaning benefits are limited during the first two years of the policy. If you die within that time, your beneficiaries only receive a refund of the premiums you paid. However, many policies will pay out the full benefit during the graded period if death results from an accident.

Tips for Choosing the Best Senior Life Insurance

At this stage of your life, there are some things to think through if you’re shopping for life insurance.

1. Do you actually need life insurance?

As age increases, life insurance needs and long term financial obligations decrease. End-of-life costs, like a funeral, can often be managed through a mix of resources, including retirement savings, pension funds, veterans benefits, and Social Security death benefits.

Review your finances carefully before buying a new life insurance policy to ensure the premiums are worth it.

2. Are you insurable?

It’s advisable to first apply for traditionally-underwritten life insurance, such as term or whole life, before considering guaranteed issue life insurance. You get more for your money if you go the traditional route.

3. Broker or agent?

If you have specialized needs or a preferred insurance company, you may prefer an agent with in-depth knowledge about a specific insurer’s products. If you aren’t sure what type of coverage to buy or if you’re even insurable, a broker is better because they have access to multiple insurers and product options.

How Much Life Insurance Do Seniors Need?

Coverage for life insurance policies can vary widely, from modest amounts of $5,000 to several million dollars. The amount of life insurance each person needs depends on their individual circumstances.

Generally, seniors don’t need as much life insurance as those in earlier stages of life. Younger individuals in their 30s, 40s, and 50s often deal with financial responsibilities like:

  • Loan & debt repayment
  • Raising kids
  • Saving for retirement
  • Supporting a family

Most seniors don’t have these financial commitments anymore. However, their needs may be robust and complex if they’re using life insurance for estate planning.

Policies that meet such needs should be purchased earlier in life. Buying them when you’re older isn’t worth it because they’re expensive, and benefits take years to accumulate.

If you’re buying life insurance as a senior, consider purchasing enough to cover the following:

  • End-of-life expenses: Funeral and burial costs can be significant. Purchase enough coverage so your loved ones aren’t responsible for these costs.
  • Support for a surviving spouse: If your spouse depends on your income or benefits, you likely want enough coverage to replace it for a little while after you’re gone.
  • Inheritance or charity: After your final expenses are covered, any leftover funds from your policy can be left to your family or donated to a charity you care about.

Get Life Insurance Quotes for Seniors Through Quotacy

Discuss your end-of-life wishes with your family. Tell them you have life insurance, how to locate the policy, and where your will is.

Whether you’re 25 or 75, we can help you get life insurance. As a broker, we have access to many different life insurance companies and products.

To check pricing on term life insurance or guaranteed universal life insurance, hop on over to our life insurance quoting tool for instant quotes.

Contact us today if you’re more interested in whole life or guaranteed life insurance. Our friendly agents are available to answer questions and provide personalized quotes.

Note: Life insurance quotes used in this article are accurate as of July 25, 2023. These are only estimates and your life insurance costs may be higher or lower.


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