When you’re over 50 and looking for life insurance, it's important to shop around to find the best price for the coverage you want. If you are among the 46% of Americans who have life insurance through work, your coverage may not be portable or affordable after you retire. Your 50s are a critical time to start planning and a great time to buy life insurance because rates go up quickly from this age onward and policy options start diminishing.
To help find the best life insurance for readers over 50, we looked into some of the individual differences among providers, including plans that don’t require medical exams. As part of our process, we reviewed over 25 life insurance companies in the U.S. for offerings, price, customer service, stability, and other valuable options, like riders, living benefits, and cash value growth potential.
The 7 Best Life Insurance Companies for People Over 50
- New York Life: Best Overall
- Mutual of Omaha: Best on a Budget
- AIG: Best Low-Cost Term
- Guardian: Best Value
- State Farm: Best for Money Back and Quick Service
- Northwestern Mutual: Best for Wealth Transfer
- Transamerica: Best for Riders and No Medical Exam
Best Overall: New York Life
Founded in 1845, New York Life Insurance is one of the oldest insurance companies in the U.S. and the largest mutual insurer. As a mutual insurer, the company pays dividends to eligible policyholders and has done so for 175 years.
New York Life offers 10 different types of life insurance plans including term, whole, and universal life, as well as several group insurance plans, including for AARP members and veterans. New York Life’s financial stability is the highest possible as rated by AM Best, with a rating of A++ (Superior).
New York Life offers term life insurance plans that have a maximum issue age of 75 and include conversion options, which make it possible to lock in a low rate and convert to a permanent policy later without having to take a new medical exam. The level premium convertible plan is available for 10- and 20-year terms.
New York Life has a guaranteed-acceptance, no-medical-exam group plan for AARP members with maximum death benefit amounts up to $50,000.
New York Life also offers several riders that can make life insurance even more beneficial for policyholders over 50:
- Options to purchase additional amounts of coverage without medical exams
- Living benefits for terminal illness or chronic care
- A money-back option on one of the universal life plans that lets you get your money back if you decide you no longer need your policy
New York Life was the top-scoring life insurer overall in our comprehensive review of the top 25 life insurance companies for 2020. New York Life also administers the plan endorsed by the AARP. All of these factors make them our top pick for life insurance for customers over 50.
Read the full review: New York Life Insurance
Best on a Budget: Mutual of Omaha
Mutual of Omaha was founded in 1909 and has very high rankings for both customer satisfaction and financial strength, holding an A+ (Superior) rating by AM Best.
Mutual of Omaha offers several types of life insurance policies for people over 50, including level premium, convertible term, and whole life with simplified-issue and no-medical-exam options. Issue ages for the term life policy are 18 to 80 years old, on 10-, 15-, 20-, and 30-year terms. Policies can then be renewed at the end of the term and on an annual basis up until age 95. However, this also means your price can go up every year after the term ends.
Mutual of Omaha also offers three universal life options, one of which has a 2% guaranteed interest rate on the cash value, while another protects policyholders from any losses in the event of a market decline.
Mutual of Omaha offers riders including:
- Disability income and disability waiver of premium
- Waiver of premium for unemployment
- Residential damage, which waives you premiums for six months if your home sustains $25,000 or more of damage
The company also offers Mutual Perks to customers, a discount plan to help you save on mortgages, wellness services, and more. With so many ways to get just the coverage you need at affordable prices and with protections in place to preserve your investment, Mutual of Omaha is the clear choice for best on a budget when shopping for life insurance over age 50.
Read full review: Mutual of Omaha Life Insurance
Best Low-Cost Term: AIG
AIG is a global insurance company that was founded in 1919. It is the fifth-largest life insurer in the U.S. and has an AM Best financial stability rating of A+ (Superior).
AIG offers term, guaranteed whole life, and universal life insurance with living benefits. There are 18 different term options that are either renewable (up to age 95) or convertible. The 35-year term is the longest term we saw among any of the insurance companies we reviewed.
Here are some quick facts on AIG’s policy options for those over 50:
- The QoL Flex Term policy has living benefits
- The Select-a-Term plan gives you level premiums for the duration of the term and is renewable term after that
- Some of AIG’s plans let you convert your policy to universal life without going through an additional medical exam
- Other options include a guaranteed-issue whole life policy (issue ages 50 to 85), survivorship life, and universal life insurance options with living benefits like long-term care
A key feature of AIG policies is the Quality of Life (QoL) series of riders, which allow you to access part of the death benefit if you are diagnosed with a chronic illness, critical illness, or terminal illness. You may have to pass a medical exam or complete a medical questionnaire before being able to confirm coverage.
We selected AIG as the best value for people in their 50s because of all the options available, including a 35-year term, with access to living benefits at competitive prices.
Read the full review: AIG Life Insurance
Best Value: Guardian
Established in 1860, Guardian Life has excellent customer satisfaction rankings and AM Best's highest financial stability rating possible, A++ (Superior). Guardian is also a mutual insurance company, and, as such, they pay dividends to eligible whole life policyholders. This feature can provide you with extra money that you wouldn’t get from non-dividend-paying insurers.
Guardian offers both term and permanent life insurance options but has no guaranteed issue policies. The term life policy is available for issue ages up to 75, and the whole life policy can be issued up to age 90.
The whole life policy coverage has:
- Level or limited payment options
- A death benefit and guaranteed cash values up to age 100 or 121
- Guaranteed level premium options are available to age 95, 99, or 121
Guardian has a survivorship life policy designed to help with wealth transfer. This policy allows you to borrow from the cash values in the policy tax-free and covers two people. Universal life policies are also available, one of which has a guaranteed interest rate of 2.5%.
Riders with Guardian cover all the basics, including waivers of premium for disability (up until age 65), a long-term care rider, an index participation rider to add investment features to the cash values, and accelerated death benefits riders. One of the company's standout features is their willingness to underwrite policies for people who may have health risks (such as people with HIV).
Guardian’s living benefit riders, a vast range of products with high issue ages, and guaranteed cash values with level premiums are some of the reasons Guardian is our top pick for value in life insurance over 50.
Read the full review: Guardian Life Insurance
Best for Money Back and Quick Service: State Farm
State Farm was established in 1929 and is the seventh-largest life insurer in the U.S., holding the highest financial strength rating of A++ (Superior) by AM Best. Although many companies provide friendly service, State Farm has consistent top rankings in customer satisfaction in life insurance year after year.
State Farm offers several term life policy options, one of which is a 20-year-term Return of Premium plan available for issue ages up to 60 years old. The Return of Premium plan not only offers the possibility of a return of premium if you survive the term, but is also the only term life insurance policy we found that allows policyholders to borrow against the death benefit amount of their term life policy.
State Farm also offers a final expense policy for ages 50 to 80, and whole life insurance policies with limited pay or single premium options.
- Single premium is available up to age 80.
- The limited pay options are 10, 15 or 20 years with maximum issue ages between 75 and 85 years old, depending on the plan.
Universal life policies are also available, including a joint universal life option that covers two people on one policy and pays on the first to die (unlike survivorship life, which only pays when both insureds die).
Riders from State Farm include:
- Spouse or child riders
- Accidental death benefit rider
- Waiver of premium for disability riders (up to age 60)
- Accelerated death benefit rider
When we researched products, the response from State Farm’s licensed representatives was thorough, personalized, and quicker than any of the other companies we contacted. State Farm also offers bundling discounts among several product lines.
Based on State Farm’s quick service, options to insure more than one person on a policy, and the cash value or money-back options, the company is the top pick when you're looking for life insurance that provides opportunities to both save and access your money while enjoying friendly, reliable service.
Read the full review: State Farm Life Insurance
Best for Wealth Transfer: Northwestern Mutual
Founded in 1857, the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company is the largest provider of individual life insurance in the U.S. As a mutual company, Northwestern pays dividends to eligible policyholders. The company also has the highest financial strength rating of A++ (Superior) by AM Best.
Northwestern Mutual offers 17 different plans, including term, whole, universal, and a blended life policy which is unique to this provider. Plans can be individual or survivor life plans. Whether you want to purchase life insurance to cover estate taxes upon your death or leave a legacy, Northwestern Mutual has options.
For wealth transfer options, the Single Premium universal life policy allows you to put a lump sum into a permanent life policy to provide your beneficiary a tax-free lump sum death benefit payment.
- Term insurance is available with level premiums for 10 or 20 years or to age 80 on convertible plans that may also give you the opportunity to earn dividends, which is not typical.
- The whole life policy offers a death benefit with level premiums up until age 65 or age 90 and the ability to build guaranteed cash values.
- Whole Life Plus is the combined term and whole life policy that offers options including accelerated benefits and disability waivers.
Northwestern also offers a range of riders in addition to living benefits, some of which are noteworthy for customers ages 50 and above:
- Waiver of premium for disability is only available for issue ages up to 59 years, and coverage is only accessible to 60 years of age or to a maximum of 65 in certain circumstances.
- The Early Payment Benefit allows access to an early payment of the death benefit if you are diagnosed with a terminal illness and less than six months to live.
Northwestern Mutual offers virtual financial planning tools, and life insurance products are sold through financial advisors who will work with you to build a financial plan focused on wealth accumulation and preservation. This makes Northwestern Mutual our top choice for those over 50 interested in using life insurance to enhance their estate planning and enable wealth transfer.
Read the full review: Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance
Best for Riders and No Medical Exam: Transamerica
Transamerica was founded in 1904 and originally had its roots in banking, but shifted its focus to insurance in 1930 and is now the 9th-largest life insurance company in the U.S. AM Best gives Transamerica’s financial strength an A rating (Excellent).
Transamerica has term life insurance from 10 to 30 years (in 5-year increments), with coverage limits from $25,000 to $10,000,000. Acceptance to term and whole life policies is based on a medical questionnaire or medical exam. The term policies can offer living benefits or conversion options with no additional medical exam.
Transamerica also has several whole life and universal life options with level or flexible premiums, no-lapse guarantees, death benefits, and cash values that grow tax-deferred, or that you can borrow from or use to pay premiums.
Transamerica offers three guaranteed-issue final-expense policies to choose from:
- Immediate Solution
- 10-Pay Solution
- Easy Solution (this plan has a graded death benefit)
The issue ages are from 0 to 85 with higher-than-average policy limits up to $50,000 (up to age 55) and $40,000 (for ages 56 to 65). All of these policies are instant issue.
If you are looking for instant-issue or guaranteed policies, it is important to pay attention to the payout conditions in the first two years of a policy. Policies with graded death benefits limit the payout in the first two years if death is caused by anything other than an accident.
The Transamerica Immediate and 10-Pay Solution do not have the same limitation, which is a great advantage when you’re looking for a final expense policy and a fast, easy option.
Transamerica’s riders are ideal for clients over 50, here are some features:
- A children’s and grandchildren's benefit rider
- Accelerated death benefit rider with nursing home benefit
- Waiver of premium rider (for disability)
- Monthly disability income rider that pays up to $2,000 of your monthly income if you are disabled for up to two years
- Return of premium rider that returns eligible premiums if you survive the 20- or 30-year term of your policy
We chose Transamerica as best option for no medical exam after comparing pricing, age limits, and policy options to others offering similar coverage. Transamerica had higher limits available, instant-issue options, and also a plan with no graded death benefit.
Read the full review: Transamerica Life Insurance
What’s Different About Life Insurance Over 50?
When you’re over 50, you may not have the same financial obligations that you did when you were younger, but you also have to be savvy with your money as you plan for retirement, put older children through college, pay off a mortgage, or contemplate wealth transfer. There are many different types of policies available that can help you with these needs. At age 50, you can still qualify for term life products with level premiums up to 30- or 35-year terms. You also have the option of whole life policies (that may even pay dividends) or universal life policies with investment options.
Tips and Questions to Ask for Life Insurance Over 50
Here is a quick list of tips and questions that can help you make sure you understand the coverage options for the life insurance plans you are comparing when shopping for life insurance over age 50.
- Confirm the maximum date for conversion in any term life policy you buy, and whether or not it will require a medical exam.
- Ask about age limits on the riders you purchase: Is there a maximum age for the rider? For example, some disability riders may only apply until age 60.
- Ask what the exclusions or limits are in the first two years.
- If you are buying a survivorship life policy, ask what benefits are available for the survivor or if there are any special riders for purchasing additional coverage once the first person has died.
- For whole or universal life, ask about cash values and if they have any guarantee.
- Ask about how borrowing from the policy impacts the death benefit, or if you have to pay it back.
- If you are counting on keeping life insurance from a work insurance plan, ask your benefits advisor if it is convertible or portable once you retire and get a sample of the rates you can expect at age 65.
What’s the Maximum Age for Life Insurance?
Life insurance can be purchased with many insurance companies up until age 90, but pricing starts to go up significantly in your 50s. Once you are in your mid-50s to 60s, you can still purchase life insurance, but many companies limit the products you can buy and increase the cost.
What Does AARP Life Insurance Cover?
The AARP offers life insurance for members, and although the plans have limited options, they may be helpful if you only need final expense coverage or have medical issues and prefer to avoid a medical exam. The AARP insurance plan by New York Life is available to members ages 50 to 80. The program has three different policy options:
- A level benefit term life plan with up to $50,000 in coverage and no medical exam
- A permanent life policy with up to $50,000 of coverage with guaranteed rates and simplified underwriting (no medical exam, but acceptance based on answers to health questions)
- An Easy Acceptance Life Insurance policy, which is a whole life policy (with a limited death benefit in the first 2 years), only one health question, up to $25,000 of coverage, and guaranteed rates
How Does Renewable Coverage Work?
Renewable term life insurance is a life insurance policy offering a death benefit for a set premium and a limited time. People use this type of policy when they need to have coverage on a temporary basis. Coverage is inexpensive but isn't a good idea for a long-term strategy. Pricing for renewable term plans will reflect your health status and age at renewal. Costs will increase each year when you renew your policy.
How We Chose the Best Over-50 Life Insurance Companies
We researched over 25 companies in our best life insurance companies for 2020 reviews. As part of this process, we checked financial stability ratings, company histories, customer satisfaction reports, online reviews, and complaint records, including through the BBB and the NAIC. For the best over-50 life insurance, we took the top-ranked insurers offering products for people over age 50 and compared what they were offering in terms of policy options and riders to find the ones offering the most advantages, flexibility, and affordability.
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