When should you get life insurance?

The best time to buy life insurance is usually as soon as possible. That's because the younger and healthier you are when you purchase a policy, the lower your premium will generally be. If you're single with no children, life insurance may not be a priority. But if you have a family or are planning on starting one soon, or if you have debt that your estate would be responsible for should you die, you should consider a life insurance policy.

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What's the best age to get life insurance?

Generally, the younger and healthier you are when buying life insurance, the more money you'll save. As we age, we're at increased risk of developing health conditions, which can result in higher mortality rates and higher life insurance rates. You'll typically pay less for life insurance at age 25 than at age 40. Waiting until age 60 may mean an even bigger rate increase and limited policy options.

Life insurance in your 20s and 30s

You may be putting off life insurance in favor of paying off student loans, buying a home, or starting a family. However, if you were to pass away before paying off certain debt and you don't have life insurance, your loved ones may end up responsible for those loans. And for each year you wait, your potential life insurance premium will likely increase.

Pro tip:

Life insurance is for single people as well as those with dependents — the death benefit can be used to cover your final expenses, pay off debts owed by your estate if you pass away, or generally support your beneficiaries.

Adults under 30 may prefer a term life insurance policy due to the lower premium costs. Opting for an affordable policy is better than owning no policy at all. Look for a coverage amount that can cover funeral costs as well as any debt like a mortgage, credit card debt, or private student loans.

Learn about how much life insurance you need and term vs. whole life insurance.

Life insurance for couples

Without life insurance, your spouse may be responsible for your debt if you pass away. Plus, if you support you and your partner financially, a death benefit could provide them with a safety net if you pass away unexpectedly. You can likely stick with a term policy that expires when you'll be debt-free or when you'll retire. But keep in mind future children and their education costs when choosing a term length.

Life insurance when you have children

Once you start a family, your life insurance needs as a new parent can change. A term policy might still be the most attractive option, but your death benefit amount should likely increase. Consider how much money your spouse or partner would need to raise your children on their own, including higher education costs.

Note: It's possible to name a minor child as a beneficiary, but doing so has legal implications. It's often simpler to name your beneficiary as whomever would care for your children if you passed away. You can also add a child life insurance rider to your policy or even purchase a separate life insurance policy for your children. These would both provide a death benefit if your child were to pass away while the policy was active, which could help cover costs during a difficult time.

Life insurance for seniors

As an older adult, you should consider a life insurance policy for your retirement. Your projected income, financial obligations, and physical health when you retire can help you decide what type of policy and payout amount you need. Note that life insurance for smokers and people with medical conditions can be more expensive.

Depending on your age and physical health, you may have fewer options for life insurance. For example, some insurers may not offer 30-year term life policies to those over 60. If your only financial concern is paying for your funeral expenses, then final expense life insurance may be your best option. These policies are designed for older applicants, and there's no life insurance medical exam required. Learn more about life insurance options for seniors.

LIFE INSURANCE FOR YOUR PARENTS:

This is also the age when many people begin considering how to care for their aging parents. If you'll be responsible for your parents financially, whether it's medical expenses, debts, or funeral services, you might look into getting a life insurance policy for your parents. This type of policy will require their consent, and you'll have to demonstrate an "insurable interest" to the insurance company.

What type of policy is right for me based on my age?

Research the types of life insurance and which life insurance policy is for you, but start with these general guidelines:

  • Under 30 years old

    For most young people, term life insurance is popular because it's more affordable. You'll need to choose a term length, and coverage will only last for the term you choose. A popular choice is to have the policy last as long as your children will depend on you, or for as long as you plan to work. If you're able to afford it, a whole life policy provides coverage for your entire life.

  • 30 to 60 years old

    Whole life or universal life policies, if you can afford permanent coverage, can provide more financial security for your loved ones. But if you have a lot of debt, you may opt for a high-value term life insurance policy until the debt is paid down. If you don't need a large death benefit, a mid-range permanent life policy can provide lifelong coverage and grow cash value over time. If affordability is your main concern, opt for a term policy.

  • Over 65 years old

    Final expense coverage (also known as burial insurance) may be a good option for seniors who are only concerned with covering end-of-life expenses. This type of policy is both affordable and accessible for older individuals. The smaller death benefit is often used to pay for funeral and burial expenses, removing or reducing that burden for your loved ones. Learn more about how burial insurance works.

What policy length should I consider?

Deciding which term length is best for you will depend on your age and certain life events like having children, buying a home, or starting a business. Generally, you should choose a term length that covers the period of life when your family will have the highest costs and would be at the most risk if you passed away.

Most term insurance policies last 10, 20, or 30 years. There's also a one-year, short-term life insurance option through eFinancial if you'd like to try out a low-commitment policy first.

According to LIMRA's 2022 Insurance Barometer Study, 44% of Americans say their families would feel financial hardship within six months of a wage earner passing away. Life insurance can be your loved ones' much-needed safety net.

How to get life insurance

Get a life insurance quote online, or call 1-866-912-2477 to speak with a licensed Progressive Life by eFinancial representative about your options.

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Learn more about life insurance policies.

Please note: The above is meant as general information to help you understand the different aspects of insurance. Read our editorial standards for Answers content. This information is not an insurance policy, does not refer to any specific insurance policy, and does not modify any provisions, limitations, or exclusions expressly stated in any insurance policy. Descriptions of all coverages and other features are necessarily brief; in order to fully understand the coverages and other features of a specific insurance policy, we encourage you to read the applicable policy and/or speak to an insurance representative. Coverages and other features vary between insurers, vary by state, and are not available in all states. Whether an accident or other loss is covered is subject to the terms and conditions of the actual insurance policy or policies involved in the claim. References to average or typical premiums, amounts of losses, deductibles, costs of coverages/repair, etc., are illustrative and may not apply to your situation. We are not responsible for the content of any third-party sites linked from this page.