Term Life Over 50: The Guide You’ve Been Looking For
Choosing life insurance can be a confusing task, especially after the age of 50 when you are more conscious of the need to protect your family.
But the process doesn’t have to be daunting, and you don’t have to try to figure it all out yourself.
Use this guide to better understand your options and find the coverage that’s right for you.
Here’s what we'll cover in this post:
Quick Article Guide
Here’s what we'll cover in this post:
How Much Life Insurance Do I Need at Age 50?
Before you begin shopping for life insurance, it’s best to have a general idea of how much coverage you need and how long you would like your coverage to last.
You can easily narrow down your life insurance coverage needs by answering a few basic questions:
- What is your budget?
- Do you need a policy to cover you until retirement or one that will last your entire life?
- What debts are you protecting?
- Who is financially dependent on you, and how long will they be?
These are all questions to consider, but let us boil them down into one question:
Do you need life insurance for if you die or for when you die?
To help you quickly calculate your life insurance needs, we made this easy to use tool:
What Type of Life Insurance is Best for 50-Year-Olds?
There are many types of life insurance policies, depending on the types of needs and wants you have for coverage.
The types of policies available to you will largely differ based on a few key factors:
Outside of these factors, depending on what company and policy type you choose, rates will differ along with policy add-ons or riders.
Depending on how you answered the question of: "Do you need life insurance for if you die or for when you die?", certain policies may be best for you.
Generally speaking, life insurance policies are broken down into two main types:
In the following sections, we examine various types of term and permanent life insurance policies, comparing coverage, rates, and who they may be best for. This should help to give you an idea of the type of policy that is best for your situation, and how much you can expect it to cost.
1. Term Life Insurance - Coverage for If You Die
If your main concern is protecting your family in case you die prematurely or unexpectedly, term life insurance will likely be the best choice. Consider which of the following debts you might need to cover:
- Cost of raising your children
- Children’s college expenses
- Large business loans
- Income replacement for your spouse
Next, calculate how long until:
- Your house is paid off
- Your children finish college
- Any other major debts are paid off
- You reach your planned retirement age
Term life enables you to secure affordable coverage aligning with your current and future finances. If you are going to be set with a pension or 401k when you retire, you can choose a “term” that will extend past your need for coverage. Most term life insurance companies offer term life for those over age 50 in 10-, 15-, and 20-year terms. Some might allow for 25- and 30-year policies.
How Much Does Term Life Insurance for 50-Year-Olds Cost?
We often find that rates for "Lifetime" policies are actually lower than those of 25 or 30-year term life policies for people aged 50-59. We've displayed the rates for these policies below.
The tables below show rates for a male aged 50-59 in excellent health seeking a 10-year, 15-year, or 20-year term policy.
To see more rates, or rates for a Female, please go to our Rates By Age page.
Why Term Life Insurance is Best for Most 50-Year-Olds
There are a few main reasons why we often recommend term life insurance coverage to most 50-Year-Olds:
Choose the Perfect Term Length for Your Needs
Real-Life Example:James is 52 and Helen is 50. They have two children, ages 7 & 10, and 19 years remaining on their home mortgage. James will be eligible for his pension at the age of 67 and plans to retire before the age of 70.
Once James’ and Helen’s house is paid off and their children have graduated from college, they will no longer need life insurance, because James’ retirement funds would be enough to support Helen after the mortgage is settled.
For James and Helen, a 20-year term life insurance policy works perfectly, as James will retire in 18 years and they will no longer have a mortgage to pay in 19 years. Their children will also be well out of college at that time. Should something happen to James before then, the money will be there for Helen to pay the mortgage and care for the kids.
You Can Convert Your Term Policy to Permanent Coverage
The term life insurance policies we offer come with a guaranteed option to convert all or a portion of your death benefit to a permanent life insurance policy,regardless of whether your health changes after your term policy started.This is one of the most important features of term life insurance, and yet it’s rarely mentioned.
Real-Life Example: So, going back to the example of James and Helen, if James later determines he would want $50,000-$100,000 of coverage for final expenses once the mortgage is paid, he will be able to convert his term life policy to a permanent policy that never expires, without having to pass a new medical exam.
If James were to be diagnosed with a serious health issue, such as cancer or a heart attack, this feature would be extremely valuable, as it becomes both more difficult and more expensive to qualify for life insurance with a major health concern. Converting your term life policy allows you to avoid unsuspected pitfalls that lead to coverage gaps.
Massive Savings Over Permanent Policies
As you will see in the section below, you can save thousands of dollars over the lifetime of a policy by choosing term life coverage instead of permanent. Obviously for some people, this is not a viable option.
However, for a vast majority of our clients, we have been able to save them lots of money by customizing term life insurance policies for them. The beauty of choosing term is that if the need for permanent coverage arises, you can always elect to convert your policy as we explained in the last section.
Ultimately, unless you are planning for an estate, or to create a life insurance trust, there are few reasons we suggest investing in permanent coverage.
On the fence between choosing term or permanent coverage? These comprehensive resources should be able to help you narrow down your choices:
Lots of Creative Ways to Customize Your Coverage
On top of converting your term policy to permanent coverage, there are also lots of other ways that you can customize your term life insurance policy in order to get the best bang for your buck at any age, regardless of your coverage needs.
One of the best ways to do this is called layering (or laddering) term life policies. We won't get into this too in depth here, but essentially, this involves taking out multiple policies with different term lengths, and layering the coverage amounts over one another so that your coverage amount either increases or decreases over time - to change with your financial needs.
Want to learn more about how you can customize your term life policies to save thousands? Here are some very helpful resources we have put together for you:
2. Guaranteed Universal Life Insurance (GUL) - Coverage for When You Die
If you need coverage for the rest of your life, a guaranteed universal life (GUL) policy provides a happy medium between term life and universal life. These policies are similar in cost to term life, but rather than providing coverage for a certain number of years, rates are instead guaranteed to a specific age.
You can lock in your rate to age 90, 95, 100, or even 121 without locking up your money to build a "cash value".
We often find that rates for GUL policies are actually lower than those of 30-year term life policies for people aged 50-59.
How Much Does Guaranteed Universal Life Insurance for 50-Year-Olds Cost?
More often than not, these GUL policies will offer the most affordable rates for 50-Year-Olds looking for permanent coverage.
The tables below show rates for a male aged 50-59 in excellent health seeking a "Lifetime Policy", or GUL with rates and coverage guaranteed to age 90, 95, or 100.
To see more rates, or rates for a Female, please go our Rates By Age page.
Who is GUL Best For?
We’re seeing that the best savings and smartest strategies are in buying a GUL at age 75 or older instead of a term life policy.
For example, at age 75, you could buy a 15-year term life policy with a $500,000 death benefit for roughly $1,257.75. Or, you could lock in the same coverage up to age 100 with a GUL policy that would cost roughly $1,484.44.
What we really love about GUL policies, though, is that they do not carry the market risk of non-guaranteed universal life insurance.
Many people take a misstep in buying a non-guaranteed policy, only to find that their overfunded investment later performs poorly and drains the cash accumulation. A GUL does not build cash value you only pay for the coverage you need and nothing more.
Looking to learn more about Guaranteed Universal Life Insurance in order to figure out if it is best for you? Here are some great guides which will help answer your questions:
3. Final Expense Life Insurance - Small Coverage Amounts
Smaller death benefits between $50,000 and $100,000 are considered “final expense” or "burial insurance" policies and are generally available without a medical exam.
There are 2 key things to pay attention to when shopping for a Final Expense policy.
- Is the cost (“premium”) fixed, or does it increase as you age?
- Is it a lifetime policy, or does coverage end at a specified age?
When buying a final expense policy, most people want an affordable fixed rate with coverage guaranteed for life.
How Much Does Final Expense Life Insurance for 50-Year-Olds Cost?
The table below shows final expense insurance rates for 50-year-old males who are in Standard health and are non-smokers. Premiums are in monthly amounts.
As you can see, this type of policy is more expensive in terms of cost per thousand dollars of insurance when compared to term life. This is why we only recommend it to people who have no other insurance options.
If you are not sure whether burial insurance is right for you, these resources should be able to help:
Who is Final Expense Insurance Best For?
There are a few groups of people that final expense insurance is best for:
- Those who are denied traditional coverage
- People with pre-existing health conditions
- People with terminal or chronic illnesses
- People who need coverage fast
- Those who are afraid to take a medical exam
- People who need very small coverage amounts
- Those with high-risk occupations or lifestyles
We do not recommend burial insurance to anyone who is in good health, unless they need coverage extremely fast, or want coverage that strictly covers final expenses.
Even in this case, most healthy people will be able to qualify for policies with medical exams, which lead to much cheaper rates.
Looking for final expense life insurance quotes for 50-year-olds? Use our free quoting tool:
Laddering Term Life Insurance Policies - For Decreasing Debts Over Time
Ideally, the older you get, the more “self-insured” you become. When you retire, the goal is to have paid off all of your debts so you can leave a legacy to your family.
Term laddering (also called term layering or term staggering) is a strategy where you stack two or more term life insurance policies to cover debts that will diminish over time (such as your mortgage). Try our term laddering calculator to see if this might work for you.
In the same vein as term laddering, you might even consider buying a term life policy and a GUL policy if you will still carry a sizable need for coverage into your 80's or 90's.
How Does Laddering Term Life Insurance Policies Work?
Real-Life Example: Robert is 53 and the sole breadwinner for his household. Robert’s mortgage is paid off, but he needs to insure his income until his planned retirement age of 67, when his pension is fully vested.
If Robert were to die tomorrow, his wife would need $1,500 per month for day-to-day expenses. He also does not want her to have to sell their house if he and his income were gone.
His wife would need this money until she is able to access Robert’s retirement money in 14 years. For those 14 years, she would need $252,000 total to pay for living expenses (including the mortgage).
We recommended that Robert purchase a 15-year term policy with a $250,000 death benefit to ensure that his income would be replaced for his wife if he passed away before he retired.
In addition to Robert’s need to insure his income until retirement age, he also wanted to leave an inheritance for his two daughters. For that separate need, we recommend that Robert purchase a guaranteed universal life policy to age 100.
Robert is now insured for a total of $350,000 of coverage until he is 68, when he will begin collecting his pension, and about 1 year before his term policy expires.
Once Robert begins receiving his pension, he will cancel his term life insurance (with no fees or penalties) but keep his guaranteed universal life policy. This way, he is able to make sure that $100,000 will be left behind for his daughters when he dies.
How Much Does Life Insurance Cost for 50-Year-Olds?
Your cost of coverage will depend primarily on your health. Over age 50, you should be getting regular checkups. We highly recommend taking a medical exam for life insurance, because if you’re in good health, you can get extremely favorable rates even over age 50.
It is possible to get a non-medical policy (meaning you don’t have to take a medical exam), but the rates will be higher. Also, keep in mind that age 65 is the cutoff for non-medical life insurance. If you’re the type who doesn’t like to go to the doctor, understand that it will be difficult to get a fully underwritten life insurance policy.
Life insurance rates also take many other factors into account, such as:
- Type of Policy
- Family Health History
- & More...
With that being said, no matter what your situation is, there are life insurance options out there for you. If you want to save thousands by comparing life insurance rates for 50-year-olds, use this instant quoting tool:
What Are the Best Life Insurance Companies for 50-Year-Olds?
Which company is best for you ultimately depends on your needs and the factors listed above. However, when it comes to finding affordable life insurance for 50-year-olds, there are a few companies which really stand out.
|Company||A.M. Best Rating||Customer Satisfaction|
|Prudential||A+||4.4 / 5|
|AIG||A||4.2 / 5|
|Protective Life||A+||4.5 / 5|
|Transamerica||A+||4 / 5|
|New York Life||A+||4.1 / 5|
Founded back in 1875, Prudential has maintained its positive reputation as one of the largest providers of life insurance. They offer a range of term and permanent policies with extra features that can better customize options for those 50 and older.
They were the first to offer policies to those living with pre-existing health conditions and smokers. Applicants can get protection for children and convert a term policy to a permanent one within the first five years if situations change. With Prudential, applicants can get term policies one year at a time, ideal for paying off shorter debt.
AIG is a great option for those over 50 who might otherwise be pushed into a lower class rating in smaller companies. They are a substantial company, operating since 1919 and have issued policies to over 90 million clients.
Protective has a customer satisfaction rating well above average. For those over 50, they have life insurance for children which is great for parents and grandparents who want to give their family protection too. They are a low priced option for term policies.
Transamerica has a wide range of term and permanent options. They have a super policy that can go as high as $10 million in coverage for those with greater need. They also offer higher cut-off ages for their longer terms. As an example, Transamerica is one of the only proivders that will offer a 30-year term to a 58 year old.
New York Life
New York Life is potentially one of the higher ranking options on this list with customer service ratings well above average. They are the oldest mutual life insurance company in America, but they do not offer online quotes.
For people over 50, their convertible term policies can be renewed on an annual basis without providing any new health information which can be very helpful for those whose health might decline. For the first ten years of this policy, the premiums increase by a guaranteed amount, so those on a budget can plan for them annually.
Why You Should Buy Life Insurance in Your 50's
You should not wait until you are too old to purchase a life insurance policy. As you get older, your policy options reduce:
- Once you turn 57, you lose out on the option for 30-year policies
- Once you turn 65, you lose many other options including 20-year term policies
- After 75, you cannot get permanent policies or many of the term policies
As you get older your health can change and it can change quickly. Fast changes can be detrimental to your policy options and prices. The sooner you purchase your life insurance policy, the better your health will likely be which means you can lock in a more favorable rate long-term.
Cost for life insurance policies also goes up every year you get older. So the longer you wait, the more it's going to cost.
Where to Find Affordable Life Insurance for 50-Year-Olds
The best way to ensure you get the best coverage at the best rate is to work with an independent agent who can shop multiple carriers as opposed to only being able to sell through the insurer they work for.
JRC has longstanding relationships with 50+ top-rated life insurance companies. Save yourself the hassle of calling multiple companies, and let us do the work for you! Call us today at 855-247-9555, or get a free life insurance quote online.
Co-Founder and Managing Partner
Jason offers more than a decade of life insurance experience to JRC where he is a co-founder and managing partner. He specializes with helping clients who are considered a “high risk" for life insurance by finding the most affordable options for coverage available to them. Outside of work, Jason enjoys surfing, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.