Senior life insurance

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Life insurance can provide an essential safety net if you have loved ones who need looking after when you’re gone, or if you have a debt that needs paying off.

While you’ll probably have retired and your children will have grown up and moved out, life insurance can still be useful to senior citizens.

This guide will explain which life insurance deals are suited to seniors and offer tips on how to compare all the policies out there.

What types of life insurance are available to seniors?

  • Life insurance. Whether you’re a youngster or a senior you will have to choose between term life insurance or whole life insurance. While generally more affordable, term policies can have upper age limits of 70 years and will have stricter medical screenings.
  • Income protection insurance. Income protection insurance can offer you financial protection if you fall sick, are seriously injured, or made redundant. You can use the money how you choose, whether for rehabilitation or living expenses. Unfortunately, there can be upper age limits of 70 with these types of policies.
  • Critical illness insurance. With this type of policy, you’ll get a payout if you’re diagnosed with a condition your insurer has listed on its policy. It must be said, insurers might refuse to cover you based on your age and health.
  • Pre-paid funeral cover. The upside of funeral cover is that policies tend to freeze your funeral’s prices at today’s rates. So you’ll make a big saving if inflation raises prices. However, these policies often don’t cover all aspects of your ceremony and burial, meaning your family may have to fork out a big fee anyway.

Am I eligible for life insurance?

The maximum age you can apply for life insurance as a senior will depend on the type of policy you apply for. Some providers may have different cut-off points, but generally insurers will have the following limits:

  • Life insurance. You should be able to take out some form of insurance up until the age of 90.
  • Critical illness insurance. Whether you’re eligible to sign up to this type of policy will depend on the insurer, but generally there is a cutoff age of about 70.
  • Income protection insurance. Coverage will vary between insurer, depending on the policy there might be a cutoff age of anywhere between 50 and 70.
  • Funeral cover. You shouldn’t have trouble finding a pre-paid funeral plan, as long as you’re over 50.

What factors influence the cost of a life insurance premium?

Life insurance companies will calculate your premiums by looking at various risk factors, such as:

  • Age. The older we get the higher the chance we have of developing health problems, so insurers will hike prices for seniors.
  • Smoking. If you’re a smoker you usually pay far more in premiums than a non-smoker. Stub out the habit and after 12 months insurance providers could class you as a non-smoker.
  • Medical history. Having a serious pre-existing health condition will mean higher premiums, unfortunately. Or insurers may turn you down entirely.
  • Family medical history. Your insurer may ask details about the medical conditions of your immediate family members. This may include heart disease, cancers, diabetes, mental disorders and so on.
  • Hobbies. Insurance companies will want to know if you take part in any high-risk hobbies, as this can affect the insurer’s assessment.
  • Job. The line of work you’re in can impact the cost of your premium too.

Is it possible to find cheap life insurance as a senior?

While life insurance will be more expensive as a senior citizen, there are some steps you can take to find an affordable deal:

  • Do your homework and work out what policy will offer you the cover you need. Take into account your existing financial obligations. For instance, how big is your mortgage?
  • Get active and try to improve your health. Quitting smoking and cutting down on alcohol can lower your premiums in the future too.
  • Keep an eye out for insurance companies offering cut-price deals and discounts.
  • Taking out a joint policy with a partner can lower premiums. However, it will only pay out when the first one of you dies.

Is my pre-existing medical condition covered?

Many insurance providers will refuse to cover pre-existing health conditions, particularly if you’re a senior. This isn’t always the case though. A provider may also do the following:

  • Offer a policy but exclude the pre-existing medical condition.
  • Offer a policy but with restrictions on the condition, for instance, it might only provide a partial payout.
  • Fully cover you and your condition but for an additional premium.

What expenses can life insurance cover?

Life insurance typically provides your beneficiaries with a lump-sum when you die, the money can help with the following types of expenses:

  • Any outstanding mortgage and smaller personal debts
  • Funeral costs
  • Legal fees
  • To maintain your family’s lifestyle
  • To leave a gift to your family or a charity

Features to look for in a seniors life insurance policy

Some additional features to consider when looking at seniors life insurance plans include:

  • Write in trust. Writing your life insurance in trust can be a way to give money to your beneficiaries without it being charged inheritance tax. Speak to a financial adviser and your insurer if you’re unsure about the process.
  • Flexible policies. If you think your circumstances might change and you will need to increase or decrease your cover, try to find an insurer that will let you amend your life insurance policy.
  • Funeral benefit. An insurer might give a funeral benefit option, which will put a few hundred pounds towards the costs of your funeral.
  • Terminal illness cover. You can generally get this as an add-on to life insurance, providing you with a payout while you’re still alive to help with treating your condition.
  • Waiver of premium. If you become disabled or too ill to work, the premium will no longer have to be paid and the policy will remain in effect.

Benefits and drawbacks of life insurance for seniors

Maybe you’re still on the fence and unsure whether life insurance is worth it as a senior? To help with your decision take a look at some of the benefits and drawbacks to life insurance for seniors.

Benefits of life insurance

  • Protect your savings. If you’re still in work but have been forced to stop due to illness or injury, you don’t want to start eating into your retirement pot early. The right policy could protect you in such circumstances.
  • Cover your final expenses. It’s unlikely that saving towards your funeral was ever a main priority of yours. Certain life insurance deals can cover burial and ceremony costs.
  • Avoid inheritance taxes. Writing your policy in trust can provide your loved ones with a payout that isn’t charged any inheritance tax.

Drawbacks of life insurance

  • The cost. Taking out life insurance as a senior can be expensive. You’ll be charged higher premiums and probably get a smaller payout. Particularly with over-50s policies.
  • Coverage can have an expiration. Insurance policies can have upper age limits, at which point they expire. So always read the small print of any deal before signing up.
  • Pre-existing medical conditions excluded. Insurance providers will hike prices or even refuse cover to someone with pre-existing medical conditions, which could be a problem for some seniors.

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Tips to help when shopping for a life insurance policy

  • Use a reputable provider. Do research into an insurer before signing up. Look at reviews about its products and customer service, find out some more about its history and any awards it has received.
  • Use a broker. Maybe you’re not sure about what level of cover you need, or you’re struggling to find an affordable deal? An insurance broker could offer you some key advice.
  • Ask questions. If you are unsure about the details of your policy, clarify the details with your insurer. Ask about the plan, the provider, its background, its policies and anything else you need to know.
  • Don’t rush into anything. Shop around and really compare your options before signing up with a provider. Asking professionals or even family members to run their eye over a policy can help too.

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