What is life insurance?
Life insurance is an agreement between you (the policyholder) and the insurance company. You make monthly payments toward your policy, and your beneficiaries receive a tax-free payout, known as the death benefit, if you die while your coverage is active.
→ Read more about what life insurance is and how it works
What does life insurance cover?
Life insurance pays out for most causes of death. Natural causes, suicide, and accidents are all covered.
Learn more about what life insurance covers
How much life insurance do I need?
Our experts recommend getting coverage that equals 10 to 15 times your income so that your family has financial support for the long run.
Figure out how much life insurance you need
How do I buy a life insurance policy?
All it takes is a phone interview and a medical exam to get coverage. Some people can even get a policy without a medical exam.
Check out our guide to buying life insurance
What are the different types of life insurance?
There are many kinds of life insurance policies, but by far the most common ones are term and whole. Most people find term life insurance to be more practical — it is straightforward, affordable, and only lasts for as long as you need it. But the policy that’s best for you will depend on your individual circumstances, including your financial obligations, income, health, and lifestyle.
Term life insurance
Term life insurance is the most affordable type of life insurance policy. In exchange for relatively low rates, your beneficiaries get a tax-free lump sum of money after you die. It lasts for a fixed period of time — typically 10 to 40 years, depending on your policy — which is all that most people need.
Read more about term life insurance
Whole life insurance
Whole life insurance lasts your whole life and, in addition to a death benefit payout, it comes with a cash value that can be used to supplement your savings. This type of policy is best for people who have maxed out other investments or have long-term financial obligations.
Read more about whole life insurance
Another type of life insurance you might encounter is universal life insurance. Like whole life insurance, universal insurance coverage lasts for life and has a cash value savings feature. But you can adjust the premiums or benefit of a universal life policy, depending on your cash value performance. Unless you’re a high earner looking to maximize your investments, term or whole life are usually a better option than universal.
→ Read more about the different types of life insurance
How much does life insurance cost?
The cost of life insurance depends on many factors, including your age, health, and the specifics of your policy, but a healthy 35-year-old could expect to pay between $25 and $30 per month for a 20-year, $500,000 term life policy. Rates are five to 15 times higher if you buy cash value life insurance, like whole or universal life insurance.
Either way, it’s always better to buy sooner rather than later: Depending on your age, you add anywhere from 4.5% to 9.2% to your premium every year you wait to purchase a policy. We can help you compare life insurance quotes from top-rated companies to find the best policy for you — at your lowest price.
→ Read more about how much life insurance costs
Average term life insurance rates by age, August 2022
Age / Sex
$250K coverage amount
$500K coverage amount
$1M coverage amount
25 year old female
25 year old male
35 year old female
35 year old male
45 year old female
45 year old male
55 year old female
55 year old male
Methodology: The chart above reflects average life insurance premiums, as of August 1, 2022, for male and female non-smokers in a Preferred health classification, buying a term life insurance policy with a 20-year term length. Rates are based on the monthly Policygenius Life Insurance Price Index. Prices in the index are determined by internal actuarial rate tables for 10 life insurance carriers that offer policies through the Policygenius marketplace: AIG, Banner Life, Brighthouse, Lincoln Financial, Mutual of Omaha, Pacific Life, Protective, Prudential, SBLI, and TransAmerica.
Why do I need life insurance?
You need life insurance to protect your family from the loss of your income. Your savings will only go so far, especially if you pass away before you’ve had time to pay off all of your debts and save up for the future. People who usually need life insurance include:
Parents, especially new parents and single parents, who have significant financial responsibility ahead of them
Young adults with private student loans or other co-signed loans, like a mortgage
Older adults who are nearing retirement and need coverage to protect their savings plan
Seniors who can’t independently cover their end-of-life medical care or burial expenses
How can life insurance help protect my family?
The death benefit can replace your financial support for decades and ensure your family won’t struggle to cover the costs of a mortgage, a funeral, or care and college for your kids. It also means your spouse can continue to save for retirement or has money to support an aging parent.
What are the best insurance companies?
Protective, Banner Life, and Lincoln Financial are among our top-ranked insurance partners, but when it comes to life insurance, there’s no one-size-fits-all. The right policy for you depends on your individual needs and circumstances. That’s where we come in. As an independent insurance broker, we can give you reviews and recommendations of all the top insurance companies.
The best life insurance companies
Our tl;dr top picks let you quickly find the insurer that fits your needs.
Best life insurance companies
Life insurance company reviews
Read up on each insurer’s strengths with our deep-dive reviews.
Life insurance company reviews
How to buy life insurance
Before you start the process, take some time to review your financial needs and your health history. This will help speed up the process of getting a quote and applying for coverage.
After you figure out how much coverage you need, you can fill out a simple health questionnaire to start the application process and get some initial quotes.
Talk to an agent.
An agent will walk through your background and gather additional information to help determine which insurer will offer you the most affordable coverage. They’ll also advocate for you throughout the application process.
Take a medical exam (or don’t).
Insurers use the brief medical exam to verify the health information you provided and determine how much you pay for coverage. But some insurers will just check your previous medical records instead.
Sign your policy and pay your first premium.
Once you take this step, it’s official — you have life insurance! Sit back and relax. If your needs shift — say your beneficiaries or financial obligations change — you can always adjust your policy.