How Much Should I Expect To Pay For Life Insurance? (2018 Update)


Last Updated: 02/28/2018


The time has come…it’s time to buy life insurance. Not sure how much it’s going to cost? We’ve got you covered.

This article will provide accurate expectations for what your new policy will cost you, and helpful tips on how savvy shoppers avoid overspending.

Quick Article Guide:

1. What is a Rate Class?
2. How Age and Health Affects Rates
3. Sample “Preferred Best” Rates for Men
4. Sample “Preferred Best” Rates for Women
5. How Lifestyle Affects Rates
6. Dangerous Destinations
7. How We Can Help

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Get your free life insurance quote in less than a minute

Coverage Amount

$500,000

  • $25,000
  • $50,000
  • $100,000
  • $200,000
  • $250,000
  • $300,000
  • $400,000
  • $500,000
  • $600,000
  • $700,000
  • $750,000
  • $800,000
  • $900,000
  • $1,000,000
  • $1,500,000
  • $2,000,000
  • $3,000,000
  • $4,000,000
  • $5,000,000
  • $10,000,000+

Term Length

20 Years

  • 10 Years
  • 15 Years
  • 20 Years
  • 25 Years
  • 30 Years
  • 20-Year Return of Premium
  • 30-Year Return of Premium
  • Lifetime

or (855) 902-6494

How Much Should I Expect To Pay For Life Insurance?

Life insurance actuaries utilize statistics and probabilities to determine the mortality “risk” of a population group. The group you fall in ultimately determines what that company will charge for your life insurance.

The main factors underwriters look at are an applicant’s age, gender, health, lifestyle, and death benefit amount. Using this information and comparing you to the general population for your age, life insurance companies assign a “rate class” to each applicant. This article is designed to provide you with an estimate of your life insurance cost per month.

What is a Rate Class?

Life Insurance companies have 16 different rate classes used to describe an individual’s mortality risk. In this rating system, “Standard” which is average for your age, is usually the 4th best rate/risk class.

#1 is the healthiest, equating to minimal risk. Most insurers call this rate class “Preferred Best” or “Preferred Plus”.

If you fall within the #16 ranking, life insurance companies will “decline” your application because they feel that your “risk” is too great to put money on your life. Unless you’re buying a lifetime policy, you’re each betting you’ll outlive your coverage. If this is unlikely, insurers will “decline” to offer coverage.

An experienced, independent life insurance agent will shop through multiple companies to minimize the chance of your application being “declined”. A decline is not good for you or them – if they can’t find you a suitable life insurance, they won’t be paid. There is zero cost for you to apply. An agent’s commission is derived from customers qualifying and paying for life insurance.

“Preferred Best” rates are reserved for individuals in the top 5-8% of health for their age. With most insurance companies, this rate class is followed by “Preferred”, “Standard Plus”, and “Standard”. If you’re in average health or better, adults find themselves in one of these 4 rate categories.

If you have been declined before or if you are a “high risk” for life insurance companies, don’t worry, Term Life Advice’s agents can help. There are over 1200 licensed life insurance companies. We work with more than 60 of the best, many specializing in insuring people with diabetes and history of ailments including various types of cancer. Please feel free to read our article, “Affordable Life Insurance for High Risk Applicants.”

Rate Classes

How Does My Age and Health Affect My Rates?

As you’d expect, the cost of buying life insurance is lower at a younger age. However, it’s common for people to not think about life insurance in their 20’s and 30’s when they feel invincible. Unfortunately, one health issue can change things greatly overnight. Like any insurance, you want to buy it before you need it. No one’s going to sell you fire insurance when the flames are racing down a hill beside your home.

In most instances, term life insurance is the most affordable option, providing the most “bang for your buck”. If your health is good, the cost of life insurance is pretty stable until you come to a point when you’re buying life insurance extending into your 60’s.

Buying life insurance after age 50 is where you see bigger leaps. Your risk of dying isn’t based on today, but the life of your policy. Statistics, as well as common sense, will tell you that most men and women will face health issues in their 60’s and 70’s. Life insurance companies are bearing a financial risk of paying a policyholder’s death claim, even if they never seek treatment for cancer, diabetes, health disease or anything else that catches up with many Americans.

Cholesterol MedicationMany of our clients are surprised to learn that most life insurance companies are very lenient with a good number of maintenance medications. In fact, some give you “credits” if your medication is giving you good results and the dosage has been stable. A blood pressure like Lisinopril, or cholesterol medication like Lipitor often won’t affect your life insurance cost at all. TLA’s experienced agents will pair you up with the correct life insurance companies for your specific prescriptions.

Many life insurance companies can be surprisingly lenient with weight. A handful of companies, including Prudential, will still consider offering “Preferred Best” rates to someone who is up to 30 pounds overweight! Some actually provide more weight allowance after age 50 or 60. They’re looking for a “healthy weight”, not necessarily an “optimal weight”, and that if you were to lose 20 lbs due to an illness (and lousy hospital food), that your lower weight isn’t providing a risk in itself. To learn more about how weight affects your life insurance rates, please read our article, “How Does My Weight Affect My Life Insurance Rates?”

The table below illustrates the cost of life insurance per month for someone who qualifies for a “Preferred Best” category. These are actual rates from a top-10, A+ rated company which has been in business for more than 100 years. These samples will give you a good idea how your age, length of coverage (your “term” when cost is guaranteed to not change), and gender affects life insurance rates.

Sample Male “Preferred Best” Rates for Term Life Insurance

AgeCoverage Amount10 Years15 Years20 Years30 YearsTo Age 90
40$100,000$8.35$9.12$10.93$17.89$50.50
$250,000$11.61$12.97$17.85$29.67$117.25
$500,000$18.06$20.21$28.38$52.46$228.50
50$100,000$14.11$18.49$22.27$36.81$66.90
$250,000$23.65$32.25$40.85$66.22$189.25
$500,000$41.71$57.19$74.39$125.13$372.50
60$100,000$28.56$38.53$53.23N/A$118.60
$250,000$60.09$77.83$110.03N/A$287.50
$500,000$112.66$148.35$205.97N/A$569.00
70$100,000$87.66$122.81$207.52N/A$189.80
$250,000$178.06$259.22$411.85N/A$462.74
$500,000$322.99$462.88$804.87N/A$925.00
80$100,000$388.03N/AN/AN/A$362.50
$250,000$781.66N/AN/AN/A$897.25
$500,000$1,523.61N/AN/AN/A$1,788.50

*Rates are accurate as of 03/01/2018 and are for illustrative purposes only.

As you can see from the charts above, the older you get, the closer in cost a 20-year Term Life Insurance policy becomes to a policy that is guaranteed until age 90. Purchasing a policy guaranteed until age 90 could potentially be lower in cost, even though it’s guaranteed to a later age. The ability to purchase these more aggressively-priced types of polices ends in most cases at age 79. To learn more, please read our article about Guaranteed Universal Life coverage to 90 or later. It’s important to note these are not “cash value” policies (most we consider bad investments), but strictly life insurance.

The rates above illustrate the top rate class. If you’re curious what health class you’ll likely fall into, and would like to learn more about your options without hype or a sales pitch, call Term Life Advice for free/no obligation quotes at (855) 902-6494.

If you would like to learn more about how life insurance companies determine your rate class, please see our rate class illustration.

What if I’m a Female, How Much Should I Expect To Pay For Life Insurance?

It’s no secret that women typically pay less for life insurance than men. There are a variety of factors, but generally speaking, women in America outlive men. They also tend to be more proactive with their routine healthcare visits/annual physicals.

The table below shows the life insurance cost per month for a health female, and illustrates that rates for a female are roughly 40% less than a male of equal health class and the age.

Sample Female “Preferred Best” Rates for Term Life Insurance

AgeCoverage Amount10 Years15 Years20 Years30 YearsTo Age 90
40$100,000$7.92$8.95$10.23$15.14$41.34
$250,000$10.75$12.47$15.27$24.72$101.75
$500,000$16.34$19.96$24.94$42.91$197.50
50$100,000$12.64$13.85$18.32$28.90$62.90
$250,000$20.43$23.87$31.17$52.25$154.75
$500,000$24.76$41.71$55.47$97.18$303.50
60$100,000$23.40$29.41$36.98N/A$99.90
$250,000$42.14$54.61$77.92N/A$241.00
$500,000$75.68$96.32$139.32N/A$476.00
70$100,000$58.78$77.66$157.21N/A$153.70
$250,000$108.26$153.94$269.95N/A$375.25
$500,000$200.28$260.04$531.88N/A$745.00
80$100,000$296.67N/AN/AN/A$327.50
$250,000$537.26N/AN/AN/A$809.75
$500,000$1,066.42N/AN/AN/A$1,613.50

*Rates are accurate as of 03/01/2018 and are for illustrative purposes only.

How Does My Lifestyle Affect My Life Insurance Rates?

skydiving dangerous hobbyLife insurance companies consider more than just your health. They’ll determine if your occupation, hobbies, or recent/future (usually 2 years) travel adds to your risk of an “early departure”. Even a trip across the border to Mexico could affect your rates. Again, each insurance company assesses risk differently….a good reason to have Term Life Advice do the shopping for you.

If you had a $1,000,000 on someone’s life, who would present a bigger concern to you… a guy who spends his weekends golfing, or one who pilots a home-built aircraft?

On the other hand, you’ll probably find it surprising that motorcycles only add risk if you professionally race them. Someone driving a motorcycle through LA traffic pays the same as a guy protected in a Humvee.

What Are Some Occupations and Hobbies that will cause a Life Insurance Company to add a Risk Assessment?  

  • Oil Rig Workers
  • High Rise Erectors
  • High Rise Window Washers
  • SWAT Team Members
  • Bomb Squad Workers
  • Smoke Jumpers
  • Flight Instructors
  • Anyone Receiving Hazardous Pay
  • Flying Experiment Aircraft
  • Student Piloting
  • Hang Gliding
  • Bungee Jumping
  • Sky Diving
  • Scuba Diving in Caves or Wrecks
  • Scuba Diving alone
  • Some types of Mountaineering/Rock Climbing
  • Motorcycle Racing

Please keep in mind, every company has its own underwriting guidelines. TLA’s agents are trained find the best priced policies for our client’s individual needs and “risk factors”.

What are Considered “Dangerous Destinations” by Life Insurance Companies?

Life insurance companies typically rely on the U.S. State Department’s Travel Warning List to determine which countries/areas pose the greatest risk to travelers.

The destinations that have created the biggest challenges for our client’s in recent years include the majority of the current “conflict” countries, including:

  • Iraq
  • Iran
  • North Korea
  • Parts of the Ukraine
  • Afghanistan
  • Syria
  • Somalia
  • South Africa
  • Ivory Coast
  • Gaza Strip and West Bank Areas

Life insurance is regulated on a federal and state level, with the state’s guidelines often taking precedence. It’s important to know that some states actually forbid insurance companies from asking about past travel, future travel, or sometimes both.

Your rules will be determined by the state in which you reside, but can also vary by insurer. States most liberal for international travel are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Tennessee, and Washington. If you want to learn if your past or future travel plans affect buying life insurance, call and speak to one of our experts who will research and present your best options.

Life insurance companies also consider your citizenship status, and type of visa if you are not a US Citizen/Permanent Resident. Some countries will not allow their citizens to purchase life insurance outside of their home country. The countries include Argentina, Belgium, France, Greece, Japan, Panama, Poland, Switzerland, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

We Can Help

Yes, there are many factors affecting your cost and ability to buy life insurance. That’s why you’ll benefit from professional assistance.

Fortunately, there’s no cost to receive the benefit of our years of experience helping thousands of clients find affordable life insurance.

Call Term Life Advice toll-free at (855) 902-6494.


Search from over 60 providers

Get your free life insurance quote in less than a minute

Coverage Amount

$500,000

  • $25,000
  • $50,000
  • $100,000
  • $200,000
  • $250,000
  • $300,000
  • $400,000
  • $500,000
  • $600,000
  • $700,000
  • $750,000
  • $800,000
  • $900,000
  • $1,000,000
  • $1,500,000
  • $2,000,000
  • $3,000,000
  • $4,000,000
  • $5,000,000
  • $10,000,000+

Term Length

20 Years

  • 10 Years
  • 15 Years
  • 20 Years
  • 25 Years
  • 30 Years
  • 20-Year Return of Premium
  • 30-Year Return of Premium
  • Lifetime

or (855) 902-6494

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