Senior life insurance is an important decision for those entering or in their retirement years. In the event of your death, a life insurance policy can offer a financial safety net to take care of any final expenses or debt you may have remaining.
When analyzing life insurance providers, we assess the insurer’s reputation in the industry, as well as their product lineup, rider selection and underwriting standards. To determine industry reputation, our editorial team researches the company’s financial strength, accreditations, ratings and customer reviews.
Seniors face two major obstacles when shopping for life insurance: costs and the level of coverage. These five life insurance companies cater to seniors in terms of cheaper premiums, competitive underwriting and flexibility.
New York Life's insurance lineup caters to a wide range of needs. Its guaranteed universal life policies start at $25,000, which suits budget shoppers and those who don't need a lot of coverage.
On the flip side, its death benefits top out at the company's retention limits — which are reported to be in the millions. Also, the insurer offers a living benefits rider that allows policyholders to access up to $250,000 of the death benefit if you're diagnosed with a terminal illness.
Offers GUL policies up to age 85 without a medical exam. This is great news for seniors with pre-existing health conditions who might not otherwise qualify for coverage.
Sells term life policies in terms between five and 20 years, with the option to convert to a permanent policy before a deadline.
Depending on your policy, you might have access to a chronic care rider and disability waiver of premium.
In many cases, insurers charge seniors sky-high prices or deny coverage because their age and health pose a risk. But Legal & General has a more relaxed approach to underwriting — and in turn, offers slightly cheaper rates to seniors. Its competitive underwriting caters to those with pre-existing conditions like diabetes and poor family health histories.
Offers a final expense policy worth $15,000, with guaranteed acceptance for those aged 50 to 80.
Provides convertible term life policies up to age 70.
$100,000 – $10,000,000
10, 15, 20, 25 or 30 years
20 – 75 years
Best for guaranteed universal life policies: Mutual of Omaha
This insurance giant issues guaranteed universal life (GUL) policies up to age 85, and waives the medical exam for policies worth less than $250,000. Since the need for life insurance decreases with age, this number should be sufficient for most seniors' needs — making Mutual of Omaha an attractive option.
GUL policies start at $50,000, which is ideal for people looking for larger death benefits.
Excellent reputation for customer service. Mutual of Omaha ranked fifth of 23 insurers surveyed in J.D. Power's latest life insurance study.
Offers indexed universal life policies that provide coverage up to age 85, or longer if you pay a fee for a no-lapse guarantee.
$2,000 – $500,000+
10, 15, 20 and 30 years
18 – 68 years
Best for generous death benefits: Lincoln Financial Group
If you're looking for a larger policy, Lincoln Financial might be a good fit. The death benefit for its permanent policies start at $100,000, which is a higher entry point than most of its competitors. With this face value, you'll have access to a longer list of riders and be able to build cash value faster. Cash value grows with interest, too, so your earnings will be higher than they would be with a smaller policy.
A guaranteed insurability rider allows you to boost your death benefit at any time.
Other riders include an accelerated death benefit, disability waiver of premium, child or spouse rider.
Offers term life policies spanning 15, 20 and 30 years, with death benefits ranging from $100,000 to $500,000.
If you're buying life insurance to cover your end-of-life expenses, or if you want to skip the medical exam, you might be in the market for a simplified issue policy. Transamerica offers a solid final expense policy. Once your policy is approved, it's issued immediately, and the premiums never change. The insurer has various payment plans to choose from too, though you'll need to speak to an agent for more details.
Sells term, whole, universal and indexed universal life policies, along with accidental death coverage.
Term life plans are convertible and available in 10-, 15-, 20-, 25- and 30-year lengths.
Policies can be as small as $25,000, and cap out at $10 million.
Depending on your policy, you might be able to choose a level, increasing or decreasing death benefit.
$25,000 – $10,000,000
10, 15, 20, 25, or 30 years
18 – 80 years
Financial ratings for the best life insurance companies
An insurer’s financial strength is important because your beneficiaries might not file a claim for years — or even decades — to come. The five insurers on our list scored top-tier ratings with the major ratings agencies, and Mutual of Omaha and New York Life also ranked highly on J.D. Power’s latest life insurance study. To find out how providers treat their policyholders, we referred to the Better Business Bureau. Ratings and reviews reflect each company as a whole — and not just their life insurance departments.
Legal & General
Mutual of Omaha
New York Life
Standard & Poor’s
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
3 out of 5
2 out of 5
BBB customer reviews
1.5 out of 5 stars
2 out of 5 stars
1.5 out of 5 stars
Customer reviews for the best life insurance companies
To find out how providers treat their policyholders, we referred to the Better Business Bureau. Ratings and reviews reflect each company as a whole — and not just their life insurance departments.
Legal & General
Mutual of Omaha
1.5 out of 5 stars
New York Life
3 out of 5 stars
1.5 out of 5 stars
Protect your loved ones
Compare affordable quotes from 12+ A-rated life insurance companies side-by-side.
The maximum age you can apply for depends on your insurer, and the type of policy that you decide to go with. Generally, these are the guidelines:
New policy maximum age
Coverage cutoff age
Critical illness insurance
67 (or retirement)
Will I need to take a medical exam?
It depends on the policy you’re interested in. Most traditional policies are medically underwritten, which means you’ll need to complete a health questionnaire or take a medical exam to qualify for coverage.
But if you’d rather skip the medical exam, these are your options:
Guaranteed issue life insurance. Typically marketed to seniors over 50, these policies forgo both the health questionnaire and medical exam and offer guaranteed coverage — no questions asked.
Final expense insurance. If you’re simply looking to take care of your funeral costs, look into final expense insurance. Also known as burial insurance, it’s designed to cover end-of-life expenses, like funerals and unpaid medical bills.
Does life insurance cover preexisting conditions?
If you have a preexisting condition — like heart disease or diabetes — you may not qualify for a traditionally underwritten policy as a senior. But if you still need coverage, you can opt for a no medical exam policy — just know the premiums are typically much higher.
How much does life insurance for seniors cost?
The cost of life insurance becomes more expensive as you age. To get an idea of how much you might pay for coverage, compare monthly premiums for a 20-year term life policy with a $250,000 benefit.
Monthly premium for a non-smoker
Monthly premium for a smoker
*Sample rates provided by Quotacy.
What factors affect my life insurance premiums?
Life insurance premiums are calculated based on different risk factors. To set your premium, your insurer will assess the following:
Age. As you age, your risk of running into health complications rises — so insurers charge higher premiums to compensate.
Gender. Men have a lower average life expectancy than women, so they tend to pay more for coverage.
Smoking status. If you’re a smoker, you’ll likely pay two to three times more in premiums than a non-smoker. Most insurers consider you a non-smoker if you haven’t touched tobacco within at least a year, though some have stricter guidelines.
Medical history. If you have a poor family medical history or a number of preexisting health conditions, you may end up with more expensive premiums. But if your health issues are minor, you may be able to qualify for the standard rate class.
Driving record. If you have major traffic violations on your record in the past three to five years, you could face higher premiums.
Lifestyle and occupation. If you have hazardous hobbies or a dangerous occupation, your insurer will raise your rate.
How can I get cheap life insurance as a senior?
There are a few ways to reduce the costs of life insurance:
Choose the right level of coverage based on your existing financial obligations.
Take steps to improve your health.
Ask your insurer about bundling different types of coverage for a discount.
Consider various premium payment structures.
Compare quotes from a handful of insurers to get the best possible premium.
What expenses can life insurance cover?
Your beneficiaries can use the proceeds from your life insurance policy however they wish. These are some of the most common ways people spend the money:
Funeral and burial costs
Legal and probate fees
Everyday living expenses
Child care or aged care
Alternatives to life insurance: Critical illness and disability insurance
Most people buy life insurance for income replacement purposes. With that in mind, many seniors might not need life insurance. But if you have debt, financial dependents or want to make sure your beneficiaries aren’t burdened with your funeral costs or medical expenses, it’s worth looking into a policy.
Katia Iervasi is a writer from sunny Sydney, Australia. Her writing — and curiosity — has taken her around the world, and she now calls chaotic, creative New York home. With a journalistic eye for detail, she navigates insurance, mortgages and finance for Finder, so you can splash your cash smartly (and be a pro when the subject pops up at dinner parties).
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