Life insurance can be the perfect way to protect both yourself and those you care about. However, individual insurance companies may place age-related restrictions on life insurance policies. If you are an older American, you may encounter limits or reductions in coverage. Age can also affect how much you can pay for a life insurance policy. To see how life insurance options play into your larger estate planning, consider working with a financial advisor.
How age affects life insurance policies
Age can have a big impact on life insurance policies and can cause some Americans to have trouble getting coverage. But what works for one insurance company may not work for another. The type of policy also matters. The same insurance company may offer one type of policy for those up to age 64 and another type of policy for those up to age 55, for example.
Each insurance company sets its own age limits and restrictions. However, whole life policies generally have higher age limits than term life policies. Physical health also plays a role. If you are older but in perfect health, this may not be a problem. But if you have one or more pre-existing health conditions, you may need a physical exam.
Finally, age can affect how much you pay for your life insurance policy. As you age, you become more at risk of dying, which in turn is a risk of paying out for a term life insurance policy, or there may be fewer years you pay for a lifetime. Insurance companies usually give the lowest rates for policies that they think will pay premiums for the longest period of time.
Life Insurance Options for Seniors
As mentioned earlier, your age can affect your life insurance options, but this varies by company and policy type. Here, we’ll look at a few options you may have, as well as the age you should be if you’re considering each. The top five life insurance options for seniors are:
If you’re still relatively young, term life insurance can be a good option, as premiums are often low relative to the amount of coverage. These policies usually have terms of 10, 20 or 30 years. However, you may have fewer options as you age, and fees may also increase, making this an option, but not necessarily a great one.
For example, you may not be able to purchase a 30-year term life policy if you are over 55 years of age. However, some insurance companies offer term life policies with shorter terms for those over the age of 85. Check with your insurer to see what their options are.
2. A lifetime
Whole life insurance is sometimes a better option for older Americans because it stays in effect for the rest of your life. Whole life insurance generally has higher premiums than term life insurance, but comes with a permanent death benefit for your beneficiaries. They also have a cash value that you can borrow against in the form of a loan while you are still alive.
Whole life policies are also less likely to require a medical exam than term life policies, so this may be a better option if you have pre-existing health conditions. Some insurance companies offer whole life policies for individuals up to the age of 80. However, the fewer years the company expects you to pay premiums, the more expensive the policy will be.
3. Universal life
Universal life insurance is like whole life insurance in some ways, as it comes with lifetime protection and has a cash value. Again, premiums will be high, but you can usually be covered up to age 100 for many policies. The main way universal life differs from whole life is the premiums and death benefit. In whole life both are fixed but in universal life both are flexible. Both death benefits and premiums can be reduced to lower your monthly bills, or increased if you want more coverage.
4. Guaranteed universal life
Guaranteed universal life insurance is a hybrid between whole and universal life insurance. The premium is guaranteed, but you have flexibility with your death benefit. It also tends to be cheaper than whole life insurance because there is minimal accumulation of cash value. This is usually one of the best options for those later in life who do not expect much cash value from their life insurance. Some policies provide coverage up to age 121 and can provide coverage for hundreds of thousands.
5. Final Expense Insurance
Final expense insurance is a permanent life insurance policy typically offered to adults up to age 85. These policies usually only cover your end-of-life expenses, such as funeral expenses and medical bills. These policies do not provide as much coverage as whole or universal life, but premiums can be much lower.
What should seniors look for in a life insurance policy?
Choosing a life insurance policy that works for you is a fine balance. You don’t want to pay too much, but you also want to make sure you have enough coverage. If you have multiple dependents and multiple pre-existing health conditions, you probably need a high level of coverage. But if your children are grown and no longer dependent on you, and you don’t have significant health problems, you probably don’t need as much coverage.
A financial advisor can help you consider these considerations before making a final decision. Ultimately, you’ll want to consider how long you expect to live, how much coverage you need, and how much you can afford before making your final decision.
Buying life insurance isn’t always as easy for older people as it is for younger people, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have options. If you are younger than 80, you may still be able to find a 10-year term life policy. If not, options like whole life and guaranteed universal life may be better options. Although your options may be somewhat limited if you are older, it is still possible to find a life insurance policy that fits your needs.
Life Insurance Tips
A financial advisor can guide you through important financial decisions, such as purchasing life insurance. SmartAsset’s free tool connects you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches for free to decide who is the best fit for you. If you’re ready, find an advisor who can help you reach your financial goalsstart now
Deciding what life insurance to buy is not easy, especially with so many things to consider. SmartAsset’s life insurance calculator can help you estimate how much life insurance you need in your unique situation.
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