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Life Insurance Finder

Find out how a policy can protect your family’s financial future.

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This article was fact-checked and reviewed by Andrew Flueckiger, a licensed insurance agent and Certified Insurance Counselor. Content has been updated for 2020.
Shopping for life insurance isn’t something you do every day, and it can be tough to understand the lingo enough to find a policy that meets your needs. Finder’s life insurance research team spends thousands of hours sifting through policies and analyzing quotes from life insurance companies across the US. That’s a lot of research to help you find the best deal on the coverage you need to protect your loved ones.

Compare life insurance quotes from top companies

Name Product Issue age Minimum Coverage Maximum Coverage Medical Exam Required
LadderLife™ Life Insurance
20 - 60 years old
Term life insurance with no policy fees and the freedom to cancel anytime. Simple application process that can get you approved for coverage instantly.
18 - 85 years old
Depends on provider and policy
Compare affordable quotes from 12+ A-rated life insurance companies side-by-side.
21 - 54 years old
Affordable 10- and 20-year term life insurance policies with instant quotes and no medical exams.
25 - 60 years old
Depends on policy
Get affordable term life insurance with accelerated underwriting or no-exam coverage up to $1,000,000. Available in all states except CA, NY and MT.
Haven Life
18 - 64 years old
Customized term life insurance policies up to $3 million, no medical exam for certain applicants.

Compare up to 4 providers

Just some of the brands we’ve reviewed

Our editorial team researches, analyzes and fact-checks hard-to-find details for the life insurance companies we review. Read accurate, unbiased reviews that can help you narrow down insurers that meet your needs, lifestyle and budget.

  • AIG
  • Legal & General
  • Globe Life
  • Gerber Life Insurance
  • New York Life
  • Prudential

Compare all reviews

What is life insurance?

Life insurance is a financial safety net for your loved ones in the event of your passing. Think of life insurance as a contract between you and your insurance company. You pay a premium to maintain your coverage, and when you die, your insurer pays out your policy to your beneficiaries. This payment is known as a death benefit, and it can help your friends and family focus on healing and celebrating your life, rather than grieving while trying to figure out how to pay all the bills.

Watch our short video below to learn the basics of life insurance:

Key terms

Life insurance glossary

When is life insurance paid out?

The death benefit is paid out when you die. It’s typically paid out in a lump sum — but you can instruct your insurer to pay the death benefit in installments or annuities.

Your beneficiaries can then use the money however they wish. The most common ways people spend the cash include:

  • Mortgage payments
  • Living expenses — like utility bills, groceries, rent, health and car insurance
  • Cosigned debts that don’t disappear when you die — such as student loans or credit cards
  • End-of-life expenses — including funeral costs and unpaid medical bills
  • Child care
  • Long-term care — like a nursing home or medical expenses for ailing parents
  • College tuition

Life insurance death benefit

Is the death benefit taxed?

No, the death benefit isn’t considered taxable income, with one exception: If your estate is worth higher than the IRS threshold, it will be subject to federal estate taxes. The life insurance payout will be counted as part of your estate and taxed accordingly.

Can I access the money before I die?

Maybe. There are two ways you can tap into your policy while you’re still alive:

Living benefits riders

Some insurers offer living benefits riders, which pay out your policy early in certain circumstances. These include:

  • Accelerated death benefit rider. If you’re diagnosed with a terminal illness, this rider pays out a portion of the death benefit.
  • Critical illness rider. If you’re diagnosed with a critical — but not terminal — illness, this rider kicks in to pay a lump sum. Heart disease, cancer, stroke and kidney failure are some of the most common covered illnesses.
  • Disability income rider. If you become totally disabled and can no longer work, this rider will pay a monthly cash benefit for a specific period of time.
Cash value in permanent policies

More on this in a minute, but these policies accumulate cash value over time. Once you’ve built up enough cash value, you can begin to borrow against your policy.

11 of the most common life insurance riders

What are the different types of life insurance?

Life insurance plans are lumped into four main categories: term, permanent, no-medical exam and group life policies.

Group life insurance

  • A type of term life insurance offered through the workplace as part of employee benefits.

Permanent life insurance

A life insurance policy and investment product rolled into one, these policies offer lifelong coverage and accumulate cash value over time. When you pay your premium, a portion will go towards the cash value of your policy, which earns interest as it grows.

Whole life insurance

  • The simplest permanent plan, whole life insurance earns a fixed rate of return set by your insurer.

Universal life insurance

  • The cash value is tied to a stock index, such as the S&P 500, and earns interest based on the current market rate.

Variable life insurance

  • The cash value of this policy is invested in a portfolio of stocks, bonds and mutual funds of your choice.

Variable universal life insurance

  • A hybrid policy that offers flexible premiums and the ability to invest your cash value in investments that match your risk tolerance.

No-medical exam policies

If you don’t want to take a medical exam for whatever reason, these are your policy options.

Simplified issue life insurance

  • This policy requires you to fill out a health questionnaire, and there are a few “knockout questions” that could deny you coverage.

Every type of life insurance, explained

Compare the different types of life insurance

FeatureTerm lifeWhole lifeUniversal lifeVariable lifeSimplified lifeGuaranteed issueFinal expenseGroup life
Coverage for a set period
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Lifelong coverage
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Guaranteed death benefit
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Requires health questionnaire
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Requires medical exam
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Fixed premiums
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Flexible premiums
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Builds cash value
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Offers tax free loans
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What life insurance riders can I get?

Most insurers allow you to dress up your policy with riders. Besides the living benefits riders we talked about above, these are some of the most popular ones:

  • Term conversion rider. Gives you the option to convert your term life insurance policy to a permanent policy within a certain time frame.
  • Waiver of premium rider. Waives your premiums if you become unemployed or fully disabled and can’t work.
  • Child term rider. Pays out a death benefit if your child dies, and typically expires when your child gets married or turns 25.
  • Return of premium (ROP) rider. Reimburses you for any premium paid if you outlive your term life policy.
  • Guaranteed insurability rider. Lets you boost your coverage without completing another health questionnaire or medical exam.
  • Cost of living adjustment (COLA) rider. Increases your policy’s death benefit to keep up with inflation.

Who needs life insurance?

Here’s the golden rule. If you have loved ones who depend on you financially, you most likely need life insurance. Your policy can help to provide for them when you’re gone. These people have the greatest need for life insurance:

  • Parents with children or other dependents
  • Breadwinners
  • Those with co-signed debt
  • Business owners
  • Homeowners
  • Those with medical expenses
  • Wealthy individuals planning their estate
  • Stay-at-home parents and/or partners
  • Those who may be in need of future long-term care

Who buys life insurance?

According to LIMRA’s latest life insurance study, 57% of Americans own a policy. Of this number, 28% have an individual life insurance policy, and 18% have group life insurance — which is usually offered as an employee benefit. A smaller number of consumers — 11% — own both policy types.

Take our quiz: Do you need life insurance?

How do I get a life insurance policy?

1. Compare policies

Get quotes from a range of insurers to find a policy that suits your budget and needs. Once you’ve settled on a policy, choose your coverage amount and select riders.

2. Apply for coverage

Submit your personal and contact details, as well as information about your income and employment. You might have to fill out a health questionnaire or take a medical exam, too.

3. Pay your premium

Your insurer will charge a monthly or annual premium to keep your policy active. Try to make timely payments to avoid a policy lapse.

Can I get coverage if I have a medical condition?

A preexisting condition like heart disease or high cholesterol can complicate the process, but it doesn’t mean you’ll automatically be denied coverage. The key is to be completely upfront with your insurer.

To boost your chances of getting the strongest possible policy, follow these steps:

  1. Jot down information on condition. Include the name of the disease or illness, as well as details about the medications you take and any treatments or surgeries you’ve had.
  2. Request a letter from your doctor. If you have a preexisting condition working against you, your insurer will ask for an Attending Physician’s Statement (APS) from your doctor. They’ll know what to do.
  3. Apply for a policy with multiple insurers. Every insurer has its own underwriting standards, and some are more lenient than others. To score the cheapest rate, get quotes from a bunch of insurers.
  4. Take the medical exam. If you’ve taken on these tips, you have nothing to hide. The medical exam can help your insurer to better assess your risk level. If the results aren’t great, you can always apply for a no-medical exam policy — though brace yourself for higher premiums.

Buying life insurance with a preexisting condition

How much does life insurance cost?

While rates can vary wildly, the average cost for life insurance is less than $50 a month. For example, a 20-year term life insurance policy worth $500,000 for someone between the ages of 25 and 40, and in good health, would average around $28 a month.

Your rate depends on a range of factors, like your age, gender, health, weight, occupation, lifestyle and whether you’re a smoker. The coverage amount, term length and type of policy you’re applying for come into play, too. Insurers weigh these factors differently, which is why it’s important to compare quotes from multiple companies.

How much coverage should I buy?

It really comes down to how much coverage you can afford. When you’re doing the math, factor in these three things:

  • Income. The golden rule is to buy a policy that would replace your income and cover your family’s cost of living for five to 10 years. To do this, multiply your salary by five or 10.
  • Assets. As you move through life, you’ll most likely acquire assets such as a house, car, savings account or 401(k). Your life insurance policy should protect these assets. Figure out their value and add that dollar figure to your coverage.
  • Financial obligations. Total all of your expenses now and those you can expect in the future — like childcare or college tuition.

How do I manage my life insurance policy?

There’s a little bit of life admin involved in buying and maintaining a life insurance policy. Here’s what you need to know.

Choosing and changing beneficiaries

Most people name their spouse or children as their beneficiaries, but you don’t have to. You can choose another family member, friend, business partner, charitable organization or a legal entity — like an estate or trust.

Things can get a little complicated if you live in a community property state or want to elect a minor.

You may name multiple beneficiaries, and indicate which percentage of the death benefit should go to each. You can update the list at any time.

Adjusting your coverage

Foresee needing more or less coverage in the future? Some policies allow you to increase or decrease your coverage:

  • Variable life, universal life and variable universal life. These permanent policies give you the freedom to change your coverage amount — just keep in mind that this will also affect the death benefit.
  • Decreasing term life insurance. With this type of term life insurance, the death benefit gradually decreases as you age. It’s ideal for those who know they’ll have less debt as time goes by.

Canceling your policy

You can cancel your life insurance whenever you want. But you’ll only receive a refund of any premiums you paid in these situations:

  • You cancelled during the “free look period.” When you buy a policy, your insurer is legally required to give you time to change your mind. This is the free look period, and it lasts 10 to 30 days depending on the state you live in.
  • You bought a return of premium rider. If you cancel your coverage, you’ll be reimbursed for the premiums you paid — minus any administrative fees.

How to compare life insurance policies

To find a comprehensive life insurance policy at the best rates, look into how coverage amounts affect your premiums, the flexibility of your policy options and additional riders or features specific to the providers you’re interested in.

To simplify the process of comparing different policies, ask yourself:

Should I buy directly or through a broker?

You have options when shopping for a life insurance policy. You’ll find brokers that work with a range of companies to help you find the best prices in their network on the coverage you need, but they may not offer the personalized service you’ll find with a direct agent.

Both broker and agents work on behalf of providers to sell you a life insurance policy. It all comes down weighing each against what you’re looking for.

Buying life insurance from a broker

  • Not limited to one provider, offering access to a wide range of products for potentially greater choice.
  • Can flex their knowledge of the market to help you find coverage to suit your circumstances.
  • Can help you assess your situation to determine the type and amount of coverage you need.
  • Can offer overall advice regarding life insurance and annuities.
  • Depending on their expertise, may offer higher coverage levels and stronger features outside of your typical policy.

Guide to life insurance brokers

Buying direct from an insurance provider

  • Limited to one provider’s products, though with expertise to talk about them in detail.
  • May allow you to fully sign up online or by phone, with immediate conditional approval.
  • Online providers may offer faster underwriting and turnaround.
  • Direct products might have higher coverage available — with some offering coverage amounts of up to $15 million.

Guide to life insurance agents

Frequently asked questions about life insurance

Read more on this topic

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