Life Insurance for Seniors

It should come as no surprise that the costs of life insurance typically increase with age. Seniors should expect fewer coverage options and higher monthly premium prices. Life insurance companies view those ages 60 and over as a much greater risk. What are the best life insurance plans for people age 65 and over? The answer varies according to your individual circumstances and what benefits you are seeking.

What is Life Insurance?

A life insurance policy is a contractual agreement between the holder of the policy and an insurer. The insured makes premium payments in exchange for some lump sum death benefit payable to the beneficiary named by the deceased. There are dozens of types of life insurance policies. Term and permanent are the two primary types of life coverage.

Life Insurance Considerations

There are a host of considerations that seniors may factor into their policy selection as follows:

  • Whether there is a living spouse or not
  • Other assets that the individual has such as a home, retirement account(s), etc.
  • Any current debt and the amount(s) owed
  • If any children are still dependent financially
  • Any estate taxes that would apply upon death
  • Whether elderly parents or adult children who are disabled are relying on support financially       

Term Life vs Whole (Permanent) Life Insurance

A term life policy lasts for a specified time period of up to 30 years. Compared to whole life insurance, it may be seen as a temporary policy. Term policies are generally more affordable. The insurer may not ultimately have to pay a death benefit if the insured outlives the policy term.

A whole (permanent) life insurance policy remains in effect as long as the premium is paid and usually builds cash value. The insured party may use this cash according to the terms of the contract. These are typically much more costly than term policies.

Annual Premium for$500,000, 10-YearTerm Policy(Healthy/Non-Smoker)
Age 40Age 50Age 60Age 70

The above chart shows the large disparity in prices based on gender. Premiums for females ranged from roughly 13% to 38% less costly.

Age Limitations on Life Insurance Products

As you advance in age, there are fewer options available for term policies. These age-related limitations vary by company. Generally, the maximum term available for those 70 years of age is 20 years. At ages 75 and 80, the maximum terms decline to 15 and 10 years. Whole life policies for this age range are quite costly and are rarely offered beyond age 75. Seniors are also likely to encounter a requirement that they submit to a medical examination.

Concerns Regarding Medical Conditions

Seniors in their early 60s who are in good health may qualify for a term policy with a monthly premium of roughly $100. Being in good health allows access to better rates. This is partly due to the chance that the policyholder will live beyond the term of the policy. These healthy individuals may find that submitting to a medical exam lowers their rates.

MetLife typically requires applicants over the age of 50 to submit to an electrocardiogram and both blood and urine tests. New York Life often requires those over the age of 70 to undergo cognitive and physical testing. Prudential Insurance may reference a database showing any prescription drugs applicants take.

Avoid Buying Cash Value Policies Over Age 65

Universal life insurance policies are a form of whole life policies that accumulate cash. Policyholders can obtain a loan from their policy while still alive. These types of policies are generally not recommended for seniors. The premium tends to be high due to the cash value feature of these policies. In addition, they tend to have administrative or management fees that can approach 3%. The policies are often best for those focused on longer-term goals.

Burial or Final Expense Policies

Those well into their 70s will likely have few options. Those over 80 years of age may only be eligible for a burial policy. Burial insurance is a form of whole life coverage that exclusively pays “final” expenses. The death benefit in the policy is unlikely to exceed $40,000, with many in the $10,000 to $15,000 range. Typically they do not require a thorough medical exam. These policies are useful for seniors with health concerns who want ensure their family does not have to pay for funeral expenses.

Evaluating the Insurance Carrier

You may recall seeing advertisements, such as those with celebrity spokesmen, discussing life insurance policies with “guaranteed” acceptance. They commonly promote that no medical exam is required. The insurer knows that these policies are particularly appealing to those with health concerns. As a result, the policy premium is typically inflated and death benefits are generally limited.

You should feel comfortable that a life insurance company is stable and legitimate before purchasing a policy. It is often advisable to check their Standard and Poor rating or AM Best standing. Avoid purchasing policies that have extremely confusing terms and conditions. You should have a firm understanding of what the agreement entails.

The Advantage of Purchasing Through an Independent Agent

There are many types of life insurance products on the market from many carriers. A smart way to consider your options is by consulting with an independent agent. These insurance professionals are able to identify your needs and find policies that are suitable. An independent agent is not “captive”, meaning that they may offer policies from more than one carrier. This allows seniors more life insurance options and will help with finding an affordable solution.

Life Insurance Agency in Casa Grande

Our team of insurance professionals at the Gebhardt Insurance Group has provided life insurance to those of all ages for years. We also assist those locally with auto, homeowners, business insurance and much more. We encourage you to contact us today at (520) 836-5244.