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What is modified life insurance?

Pay lower premiums now but slightly higher premiums for the life of the policy.

You may think that you can’t afford whole life insurance right now because of the expensive premiums that come with it. But a modified whole life insurance policy makes whole life affordable by offering a lower premium for the first few years.

What is modified life insurance?

Modified life insurance is a whole life insurance policy that allows you to pay lower premiums for the first few years — typically three to five years, but sometimes as many as 10 — then you pay slightly higher premiums for the remaining life of the policy.

How modified life insurance works

Similar to any other whole life policy, you sign up for the coverage you want, stipulating the death benefit that’s paid to your heirs when you die, as well as the savings amount or cash value.
Once the term of your lower premium expires, your premium is modified to a higher level, which you pay for the rest of your life.

Is modified life insurance worth it?

The years of lower premiums can make a modified life insurance policy great if you know your bills will decrease or your income will increase in the future. For example, if you’re paying for a child’s education for the next few years, or you’re on a career track with a salary increase, you could expect to have more budgeting room in the future.

Age can also be a factor. If you’re almost at an age where your premiums would be too high to afford and you want to lock in the lower premium before you could afford it, modified life might be a better choice than a traditional policy.

As with whole life insurance, the best candidates are people who don’t mind the higher premiums and want an investment tool. Modified life lets you start a policy with cheaper premiums than a standard whole life policy.

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What is the risk of choosing modified life insurance?

Since the future can be unpredictable, an unexpected expense or income decrease could make your modified policy unaffordable. And depending on how long you live, you could end up paying more than you would have with a traditional whole life policy.

Pros and cons of modified life insurance

Modified life insurance has a few benefits and drawbacks.


  • Lifelong coverage of a whole life policy.
  • Allows you to pay off a larger purchase, such as a car or mortgage, before your premium increases
  • Lock in a lower rate before you age up.
  • Extra years to accumulate cash value.


  • Lower accumulation of cash value in the years your premium is low.
  • Dividend is prorated for the first years based on the decreased premium.
  • An unexpected expense could make the policy unaffordable in the future.
  • Typically pay more in premiums than with a traditional policy over your lifetime

Compare modified life insurance

Name Product Issue age Minimum Coverage Maximum Coverage Term Lengths Medical Exam Required
Policygenius - Life Insurance
18 - 85 years old
10, 15, 20, 25, 30 years
Depends on provider and policy
Compare 12+ top insurers side-by-side to get the best possible deal, and shop return of premium policies online.
18 - 60 years old
5, 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 years
Compare 40+ insurers and apply online to get the lowest possible price — no medical exam required.
JRC Life Insurance
18 - 85 years old
10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40 years to lifetime/age 121
May be required
Compare policies up to $10 million from 45+ top insurance companies with the click of a button.
Nationwide life insurance
18 - 80 years old
10, 15, 20 and 30 years
Get term, whole, universal or no-exam life insurance with up to $1 million in coverage.

Compare up to 4 providers

Alternatives to modified life insurance

If a modified policy isn’t for you, consider these other whole life insurance options:

  • Traditional whole life. Provides coverage for your entire life and earns cash value from the portion of your premium.
  • Universal life. A whole life insurance policy with flexible payments for those whose income fluctuates.
  • Variable universal life. Allows you to invest the cash value of the policy in the market, which can increase the cash value of your policy, but comes with a risk.

Bottom line

A modified life insurance policy can be a great way to start investing in long-lasting life insurance that you couldn’t otherwise afford. But if you’re concerned about the increased premiums, later on, compare your other insurance options to find a better fit.

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