How much does life insurance cost?
Life insurance comes in many varieties at a wide range of costs. Find out what factors influence your premiums and how to choose affordable coverage that meets your needs.
How much is life insurance? The answer is… it depends. The average cost of life insurance varies based on what type of policy you choose and how much coverage you sign up for. For example, a healthy 30-year-old woman can buy a 30-year, $250,000 term life insurance policy for about $22 per month. If that same woman purchased a whole life insurance policy, it would be closer to $200 per month. (Read on to learn more about the cost and value of these two different insurance options.)
The cost of life insurance also depends on your health, how old you are when you sign up for the policy and what kind of features your policy offers (called riders). Still, we’re happy to report that, in many cases, a term life insurance policy will cost less per month than what you’re paying for streaming media subscriptions. Or that new sweatshirt you’ve been eyeing. Or any of the other items on this list of eight everyday expenses that cost more than term life insurance.
This means that life insurance can be an affordable part of nearly any budget. The average life expectancy in the United States is 78.6 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but you don’t buy life insurance because you’re worried that you might not beat the average. You buy life insurance because you want to plan ahead and help ensure your partner, children, parents and any other beneficiary has the money needed to cover your funeral costs, pay off your outstanding debts, maintain their standard of living without your income and achieve dreams like graduating from college.
And if you buy life insurance right now, you’ll save money. (That isn’t a sales pitch. That’s math.)
Here’s what you need to know about how much life insurance costs and how to choose an affordable life insurance policy for you and your loved ones.
If you buy life insurance right now, you’ll save money. (That isn’t a sales pitch. That’s math.)
In this article:
Getting life insurance now could save you money
A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that life insurance is something they won’t have to deal with until later. Maybe when the kids are a little older. Maybe when they have kids — because people without kids don’t need life insurance, right? (Wrong.)
But you’re probably thinking about purchasing life insurance now. That’s a smart move, because the younger you are when you purchase your policy, the more money you can save on your premiums over time.
Putting off the life insurance decision could turn out to be an expensive choice. Here’s an example of how your life insurance rates may change by age:
Let’s say that you, like me, are a 38-year-old woman in excellent health. If someone like me were to take out a 20-year, $500,000 Haven Term policy, issued by MassMutual, I’d pay $25.92 per month to protect my loved ones. That’s $311.04 per year or $6,220.80 over the life of the policy.
Now let’s say you wait ten years. You’re now 48. You might no longer be in excellent health. You’d no longer need a 20-year policy, but you might go for a 10-year-policy, or for 15 years to get you closer to retirement age. To get a 10-year, $500,000 Haven Term policy you’d end up paying $41.86 per month if you’re in “good health” or $61.24 if underwriting classifies you are “average” health. That’s more than twice the cost per month.
Life insurance rates by age and health
|Age and gender||Health||Coverage amount||10-year term||15-year term||20-year term||30-year term|
|Term life insurance quotes for the medically underwritten Haven Term policy issued by MassMutual. Coverage is available up to $3 million.|
When you’re considering life insurance, it pays to be an early adopter, and it’s also better for the financial health of your dependents. Term life insurance premiums are less expensive when you’re young and healthy. If you’re concerned about helping your beneficiaries cover things like your children’s college expenses and your own funeral costs in the event something happens to you, make a plan to get life insurance as soon as possible.
Like, this week. (You can do it!)
But before you start filling out our online life insurance calculator and getting life insurance quotes, we need to discuss what types of life insurance are available and how they might fit into your budget.
Choosing the best life insurance for your budget
There are a lot of different types of life insurance out there, and keeping track of all the different variations can be confusing. Here’s a quick overview of your options:
Term life insurance is designed to cover you for a designated period of time, typically 10,15 20 or 30 years. It comes in two common types:
- Medically underwritten term life insurance: A good choice for people who are in generally decent health and want to save money on premiums. In many cases, you will need to complete a life insurance medical exam to finalize your coverage.
- Simplified issue term life insurance: A good choice for people who, for various reasons, don’t want to take a medical exam. Your life insurance rates will be a little higher because of the lack of insight the insurer has into your overall health, but you’ll still be able to protect and provide for your beneficiaries at a rate that’s less than permanent life insurance policies.
Permanent life insurance covers you for the entirety of your life and is more expensive than term life insurance. It includes a “cash value” element that can be borrowed against or used to cover life insurance premium costs. Permanent life insurance comes in two common types:
- Whole life insurance: Permanent life insurance that guarantees coverage for your entire life
- Universal life insurance: Permanent life insurance in which monthly premiums and insurance coverage can be customized over time
Whenever possible, try to choose a policy that comes with guaranteed level premiums, which refers to a monthly premium or annual premium rate that lasts for the duration of the policy. This helps ensure that your policy will stay affordable over time. Level premiums are a common feature of many term and permanent life insurance policies.
In many cases, a term life insurance policy will be the best choice for both your personal needs and your budget. Why? Because the purpose of life insurance is to help ensure your partner and dependents have the income they need to cover current and future living expenses (like children’s college costs) and to make sure your loved ones have enough money to pay for your funeral and other final expenses. Most financial experts recommend that you have affordable term life insurance coverage during the years your family needs it most. Once the mortgage is paid off or your kids are adults, you should have had the time to build a nest egg, save for retirement and no longer need the protection of life insurance.
For those who want extra credit reading, let’s take a deeper look at the various types of life insurance.
Term life insurance
Term life insurance comes well-recommended by financial experts because of its affordability. As the name suggests, this type of life insurance covers you for a set period of time (the “term”). Common term lengths are 10, 15, 20 and 30 years. Typically, this is during the years your family needs it most — until the mortgage is paid off or the kids are no longer financially reliant on you. Most policies come with guaranteed level premiums, which means your monthly life insurance premiums will remain the same for the duration of the policy.
Remember, even if you don’t have a partner or kids of your own, you should still consider a term life insurance policy. Becoming an insured person who can provide a death benefit to designated beneficiaries such as parents or siblings means taking the stress off your family and extended family as they deal with your final expenses or unpaid debts, including co-signed private student loan debt.
Term life insurance comes in a couple of different types:
Medically underwritten term life insurance
If you’re decently healthy, medically underwritten term life insurance is often one of the most affordable types of coverage. The premium pricing is customized to each individual and is based on factors like your age, physical health, gender and lifestyle choices such as smoking.
With Haven Life, you can easily apply online for this type of term life insurance. If approved, you can start coverage that day. In most cases, you’ll need a short medical exam to finalize coverage, which can be taken at a time and place that’s convenient for you. There are some cases where a medical exam will not be needed thanks to advancements in underwriting technology, which is determined based on eligibility and the information in your application. It’s essential to be honest when completing your term life insurance application. The issuance of the policy or payment of benefits may depend upon the answers given in the application and their truthfulness.
What people are actually paying for Haven Term coverage:
- 15-year, $500,000 policy for a 38-year-old woman in excellent health: $19.89 per month
- 30-year, $250,000 policy for a 33-year-old man in excellent health: $22.97 per month
Not sure how much life insurance coverage you really need? Try calculating your needs.
Simplified issue term life insurance
Simplified issue life insurance is a type of term life insurance policy that does not require a medical examination or detailed medical underwriting. These policies are typically limited in coverage amounts, and it might be hard to take out a policy of more than $500,000.
A Haven Term Simplified policy, issued by MassMutual subsidiary C.M. Life, can help you access no-medical-exam life insurance. (Remember: It’s essential to be honest when completing your term life insurance application. The issuance of the policy or payment of benefits may depend upon the answers given in the application and their truthfulness.)
To buy Haven Term Simplified (or any type of simplified issue life insurance policy for that matter) all you’ll need to do is complete a short online application to determine eligibility. Remember that the convenience of avoiding medical underwriting comes at a cost because, by definition, the insurer knows less about you and your health.
As you’ll see below, many simplified issued policies cost at least twice as much per month than medically underwritten policies.
What you might pay for Haven Term Simplified coverage:
- 15-year, $500,000 policy for a 38-year-old nonsmoking woman: $58.62 per month
- 30-year, $250,000 policy for a 33-year-old nonsmoking man: $47.55 per month
What customers say about their life insurance rates
Dec 1, 2020
Haven Life was very easy to use
Haven Life was very easy to use. Application was simpler than other companies, and the medical exam was convenient, with someone coming to my house to do it. Rates were low and they are backed and owned by Mass Mutual, which is a highly rated company (if you're concerned about solvency). Highly recommend.
–JD Marlowread more at
Sep 2, 2020
I got quotes from 3 different…
I got quotes from 3 different companies. HavenLife did not deviate from the quote until it was issued. 1. Process was easy and quick 2. Received continuous support 3. Decision was fast 4. Filling up online was not offered by other 2 companies.
–Sriread more at
Aug 6, 2020
Website was easy to use
Website was easy to use. Great price for my insurance
–Yanyanread more at
Jun 17, 2020
Haven Life company provides a great product, price and website !!!
Haven Life company provides a great rate and a very easy to use process with a simple website to access. This is one of the best websites to use. I highly recommend this company.
–jamesread more at
May 21, 2020
Helped answer my question
Helped answer my question. I can’t believe what a good rate I’m getting, too!
–Sarahread more at
Permanent Life Insurance
Permanent life insurance is a type of coverage that lasts for the remainder of your life. Instead of paying for coverage for just 20 or 30 years, like you might do with a term life insurance policy, a permanent life insurance policy ensures that you’ll have life insurance coverage until you die — as long as the premiums are paid.
Here’s the other big difference between term and permanent policies: With a term life insurance policy, your premium payments go towards the death benefit your beneficiaries receive if you die before the term is up. With a permanent life insurance policy, part of your premium payments go towards the death benefit and the rest of the money helps build “cash value.” This money can be left to accumulate, withdrawn, borrowed against, used to pay future premiums, transferred to the death benefit, etc — but when you die, your beneficiaries receive the death benefit, not the cash value.
Because of the lifelong coverage and cash value component, a permanent policy costs much more than term life insurance (which can make it cost-prohibitive). On the flip side, a permanent policy might be a good option for those who want life insurance to be part of their long-term financial strategies. For example, it can be a good option for a parent who wishes to provide for a special needs child upon their death, whenever that may be, because the cost of care often remains high throughout that child’s life.
Whole life insurance
Whole life insurance is a type of permanent coverage that provides coverage for your entire life and includes a cash value component that can grow over time. This cash value feature of permanent life insurance policies is attractive for some buyers because it allows you to have a product that includes both a guaranteed death benefit and a cash accumulation feature that can be used to supplement your financial planning needs, like saving for college or retirement. Whole life insurance, like term life, has level premiums, but they are substantially more expensive, with one estimate finding that whole life insurance is 5 to 20 times more costly than term life insurance.
Universal life insurance
Universal life insurance is similar to whole life insurance (that is, it lasts for your lifetime and has a cash value), but with a twist: As you age and your needs change, you can choose to change the terms of your policy. For example, you may opt for lower premiums earlier in the policy while your income is still growing and then opt for a lower face value later in life, when you have fewer financial obligations to cover.
Universal life insurance has numerous other “customizable” options, making it a more complex product that often requires the assistance of a financial professional to help you manage.
Factors that affect the cost of life insurance
If you’ve been paying attention to all of those life insurance rate estimates, you probably noticed that there’s no single answer to the question “how much does life insurance cost?” There are literally dozens of potential answers. Your life insurance rates will be determined by several unique factors, starting with the two big ones:
- Whether you want term life insurance or permanent life insurance
- How much coverage you’d like your dependents and beneficiaries to receive ($100,000? $250,000? $500,000?)
Here are a few more factors that go into the cost of your annual premium:
- Gender (women usually have lower premium prices than men)
- Health history
- Family health history
- Lifestyle choices like smoking, drug use and even multiple motor vehicle infractions (which means that being a responsible driver could save both your life and your life insurance costs)
You won’t be able to cut your life insurance rates by, like, getting younger (the fountain of youth has yet to be discovered) but there are a few ways you can save money on your life insurance policy — and many of them are relatively easy to implement.]
How to save on life insurance rates
Choose the type of coverage you need
The type of life insurance you purchase has a significant impact on your monthly or yearly rate for coverage. Simplified issue may come with the convenience of “no medical exam,” but that convenience comes at a price. Whole life lasts for your entire life and has a cash value feature but can be too costly for cash-strapped individuals. Medically underwritten term life insurance offers affordable pricing but will often require a medical exam. (But at Haven Life we promise to make the medical exam as convenient as possible.)
Buy the right amount of coverage
Don’t pick a coverage amount at random. The more coverage you need, the more you’ll pay for your life insurance policy — so be thoughtful about your coverage choices. If you really only need $500,000 to adequately cover your mortgage, for example, there is no reason to increase your monthly premium by selecting a $1 million policy; if it’s a 20-year mortgage, taking out 30 years worth of life insurance coverage might not make financial sense. A life insurance calculator can help you determine the right amount of coverage for your financial situation.
Don’t put off buying a policy
Remember: if you get your policy while you’re younger (and healthier), you are going to reap the advantage of a lower premium. This is one of the easiest and best ways to save money on life insurance — but that’s not the only reason to get a life insurance policy while you’re young. We’ve got a list of eight reasons to get life insurance in your 30s, including “to protect your small business” (if you’re a freelancer or entrepreneur), “to cover final expenses” (if you’re… um… mortal) and my favorite reason, “to get it over with.”
Choose a healthy lifestyle
A non-smoker will enjoy significantly lower premiums than a smoker — so quitting smoking will be good for both your health and your wallet! (Most insurers require at least one to two years smoke-free before you will be classified as a non-smoker for underwriting purposes.)
Making healthy eating choices can also help lower your BMI, blood pressure and cholesterol — all of which will be taken into consideration when you buy medically underwritten term and permanent life insurance policies.
And don’t forget about sleep. Getting a good night’s sleep can reduce stress levels, boost your immune system, help you make healthier choices during the day and give you more relaxed quality time with those loved ones for whom you’re taking out that life insurance policy.
About Louis Wilson
Louis Wilson is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in a wide array of publications, both online and in print. He often writes about travel, sports, popular culture, men’s fashion and grooming, and more. He lives in Austin, Texas, where he has developed an unbridled passion for breakfast tacos, with his wife and two children.Read more by Louis Wilson
Our editorial policy
Haven Life is a customer-centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.
Our editorial policy
Haven Life is a customer centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.
Our content is created for educational purposes only. Haven Life does not endorse the companies, products, services or strategies discussed here, but we hope they can make your life a little less hard if they are a fit for your situation.
Haven Life is not authorized to give tax, legal or investment advice. This material is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for tax, legal, or investment advice. Individuals are encouraged to seed advice from their own tax or legal counsel.
Haven Term is a Term Life Insurance Policy (DTC and ICC17DTC in certain states, including NC) issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111-0001 and offered exclusively through Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC. In NY, Haven Term is DTC-NY 1017. In CA, Haven Term is DTC-CA 042017. Haven Term Simplified is a Simplified Issue Term Life Insurance Policy (ICC19PCM-SI 0819 in certain states, including NC) issued by the C.M. Life Insurance Company, Enfield, CT 06082. Policy and rider form numbers and features may vary by state and may not be available in all states. Our Agency license number in California is OK71922 and in Arkansas 100139527.
MassMutual is rated by A.M. Best Company as A++ (Superior; Top category of 15). The rating is as of Aril 1, 2020 and is subject to change. MassMutual has received different ratings from other rating agencies.
Haven Life Plus (Plus) is the marketing name for the Plus rider, which is included as part of the Haven Term policy and offers access to additional services and benefits at no cost or at a discount. The rider is not available in every state and is subject to change at any time. Neither Haven Life nor MassMutual are responsible for the provision of the benefits and services made accessible under the Plus Rider, which are provided by third party vendors (partners). For more information about Haven Life Plus, please visit: https://havenlife.com/plus.html
What our customers are saying
Jan 21, 2021
The process to get my policy was almost…
The process to get my policy was almost flawless. Correspondence was done in a timely manner. I like the fact I didn’t have to wait days for a response.
Jan 21, 2021
Really good expérience no spam calls
Really good experience buying life Insurance almost entirely online and phone call free. Had to do one phone call to schedule exam but besides that, the entire process was annoyance free and completely online which is preferred.
Jan 13, 2021
The application process was very easy.
Jan 13, 2021
Very affordable, I gathered quotes from 4 different life insurance companies and this was by far the least expensive for the same coverage. Relatively quick and easy process to sign up. Only reservation was that we were originally under the impression that no medical exams are required, but my husband received a message that he would have to get one (we later received a message that he no longer needed one).
–Louie Sread more at
Jan 13, 2021
My only concern was with the company...
My only concern was with the company used (Exam One) to complete my physical examination. The process took too long due to rescheduling and mishandling of my lab specimens. Other than that the process was simple.