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Life insurance for seniors over 70

You’ll likely have two options depending on your health – term life insurance or final expense insurance

Life insurance can play an important role for seniors over 70, whether it’s paying for final expenses, end-of-life medical bills, replacing a lost pension or if you have a term life policy that’s expired. Buying a new life insurance policy in your 70s is more expensive, but it’s still possible and can offer value to your loved ones.

What’s the best life insurance for seniors over 70?

The best insurance for people over 70 is typically a shorter-term policy or a guaranteed issue permanent life insurance policy. The two biggest factors that affect your life insurance rates are your age and health. People in their 70s with one or two health complications can secure a guaranteed issue permanent life insurance policy regardless of health status. For healthy people in their 70s, a 10- or 20-year term policy is likely going to be the cheapest option.

We recommend: Final expense life insurance

If you don’t qualify for traditional term life insurance because of health conditions, a final expense policy can assure you’re approved for coverage no matter what your health condition is. Final expense insurance is just another name for a guaranteed issue whole life insurance policy. These types of policies typically come with a low death benefit, such as between $10,000 and $50,000.

A final expense life insurance policy can be used for things such as paying for your funeral and burial expenses and any end-of-life medical bills. Even though these policies come with a low benefit and aren’t cheap, they can leave your loved ones with enough money to cover your final expenses, allowing them to properly grieve instead of worrying about finances.

Many guaranteed issue life insurance policies come with an important caveat: If you die within a year or two of purchasing your policy, your beneficiaries might not receive the total payout. If you die after the specified waiting period, your beneficiaries receive the full benefit.

How much does it cost?

Depending on which insurer you choose, your insurance rates for a final expense policy may still be partly based on your health condition, though they are guaranteed to be issued to you. You can reasonably expect to pay at least $70 a month for a $10,000 policy, though this number may be higher if you have a serious condition such as cancer and your insurer asks you a few health questions.

Term life for 70-year-olds

If you’re healthy and don’t have any serious health complications, buying a term life insurance policy might make the most sense in your 70s. You’ll have greater flexibility in choosing your death benefit amount, and you may qualify for a death benefit of $100,000 or more.

You’ll likely have a more rigorous medical exam and health questionnaire compared to buying a final expense policy, but you’ll be able to buy more insurance for less money. But buying a term policy in your 70s is really only an option if you’re in good health. Otherwise, you may be denied coverage.

How much does it cost?

The average cost of a 10-year term policy can range between $149 to $620 monthly, while a 20-year term policy can range between $362 to $1,572 monthly depending on your age, gender, health, coverage amount and other factors.

To give you an idea of costs we pulled sample quotes between three insurers to find average rates for a healthy 70-year old man and woman.

10-year term policy
$250,000 policy$500,000 policy$1,000,000 policy
20-year term policy
$250,000 policy$500,000 policy$1,000,000 policy

Whole life for 70-year-olds

Buying a whole life insurance policy in your 70s likely won’t make much sense due to the high cost. A final expense policy is a type of whole life insurance, but if you want a higher death benefit amount and the cash value growth that a whole life policy brings, you’re likely to pay quite a bit of money.

The cash value benefit of a whole life insurance policy takes time to build, so it may not be worth the cost if you’re buying a new policy in your 70s.

How much does it cost?

There may be minimum death benefit requirements to buy a standard whole life policy, meaning you might not be able to buy one for less than $50,000 or $100,000 in coverage. The cost of a $100,000 whole life policy in your 70s could be between $500 and $600 a month.

Universal life for 70-year-olds

Universal life insurance is another type of permanent life insurance, which means it lasts your entire life and allows you to build cash value. It’s similar to whole life, though it allows you to adjust your premiums or death benefit. However, these types of policies require upkeep to make sure your policy doesn’t lapse.

The benefit of flexibility and cash value may not outweigh the higher costs of buying it in your 70s. You likely won’t see much cash value growth in your policy, and it can be expensive to maintain this insurance.

How much does it cost?

A universal life insurance policy likely costs about the same as a whole life policy if you’re in your 70s, which could be as high as $400 to $500 a month or higher, and that’s if you’re healthy. While you do have the ability to adjust some of your premiums, you’ll likely be able to save the most money by buying a term policy.

Do I need to answer questions about my health to get life insurance?

Yes, you’ll typically need to answer questions about your health to get life insurance. Most standard permanent life insurance policies require both a health questionnaire and a medical exam, while term policies may require both if the death benefit is over a certain amount, such as $100,000. Some term policies under $100,000 only require a health questionnaire.

Guaranteed issue life insurance policies typically don’t require a medical exam, but in some cases, may ask a few basic health questions. Some insurers have a strict rate that’s purely based on age, while others may base rates on the answers to those health questions, such as if you currently have cancer or have had cancer in the past five years. Insurers that do ask health questions will still likely approve your application, but your rates may be slightly higher if you have a condition such as cancer.

What’s the difference between a medical exam and a health questionnaire?

A health questionnaire is typically completed by the applicant and is a part of the application process. It usually includes questions such as if you currently have or have recently had certain health conditions in the last 5 to 10 years or if you’ve had family members who have had those conditions.

A medical exam is performed by a licensed paramedical who sets up an appointment with you. They typically ask similar questions that are on a health questionnaire, but they’ll also collect bloodwork, urine and possibly more tests, depending on the death benefit amount. Large life insurance policies typically require the most testing.

How do pre-existing conditions affect getting life insurance at 70?

If you have a pre-existing health condition at any age, but particularly in your 70s, it is more difficult to buy life insurance. Insurers look at the likelihood that it’ll have to pay out a death benefit and set its rates accordingly, so people with health conditions are considered riskier to insure.

If you have pre-existing conditions and are in your 70s, your only life insurance option is likely a guaranteed issue policy. These types of policies cost more than other types of life insurance, but they can still make sense if you have medical expenses or your family doesn’t have the funds to pay for a funeral.

What happens if I outlive my policy’s term?

If you have a term policy and outlive it, that policy expires and no longer provides a death benefit when you die. To have coverage, you’ll need to buy a new insurance policy and complete the application requirements of the new policy.

You’ll need to take a new medical exam, if required, and your rates are determined by your current age. If you buy a new policy, you can reevaluate your life insurance needs since you might not need as high of a death benefit as you did before.

Bottom line

Buying life insurance in your 70s is in many ways similar to buying it at any other age. If you’re healthy with no history of health problems, you can probably qualify for a low cost, high benefit term life insurance policy. If you have health problems and want to ensure your end-of-life expenses are paid for, buying a guaranteed issue final expense insurance policy is likely the best route.

Andrew Flueckiger's headshot

Andrew Flueckiger is a licensed insurance agent and Certified Insurance Counselor with experience in insurance and finance. A graduate of Indiana University, Andrew contributes a wealth of knowledge and experience to Finder. When Andrew isn’t writing, reading or practicing insurance, he can be found spending time with his family and playing the guitar. See full bio

Andrew's expertise
Andrew has written 28 Finder guides across topics including:
  • Commercial insurance
  • Personal insurance
  • Life insurance
  • Insurance trends

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