As a senior, you may think you have limited opportunities to purchase life insurance, but this is a misconception. Many insurance companies offer products that will cover people over 65 and even up to age 90. In fact, there are so many insurance products available for seniors that choosing one can be overwhelming.
To help you identify some of the best choices, we reviewed over 25 life insurance companies. We compared plans, pricing, and policy restrictions to select our list of the best life insurance options for seniors over 65. These are our top picks and they'll help you find the right coverage for your personal life insurance needs.
The 7 Best Life Insurance Companies for Seniors of 2020
- New York Life: Best Overall
- John Hancock: Runner-Up Best Overall
- Transamerica: Best Guaranteed Issue Final Expense Coverage
- AIG: Best Term Life Options
- Mutual of Omaha: Best for Basic Plan Options
- Northwestern: Best Estate Planning Option
- Guardian: Best Second to Die Option
Best Overall: New York Life
New York Life is the largest mutual life insurance company in the United States based on revenues. Founded in 1845, New York Life offers all types of life insurance, including term, whole life, and universal life, which can be purchased well past age 60. It was the top-scoring life insurance company overall in our 2020 life insurance company reviews, plus it offers the option to receive dividends on some plans. All of these reasons are why we chose New York Life as the best overall life insurance for seniors.
New York Life's whole life policy, available for purchase up to age 90, makes you eligible for dividends. The term life policy is available up to age 75 and includes an option to convert your term policy to permanent coverage, as well as a level premium option that works for any budget. The policy purchase option allows you to purchase permanent coverage later on without a medical exam.
New York Life has a few advantages for seniors:
- A money-back option on some universal life plans
- Living benefits options, including chronic care and terminal illness
- Option to purchase paid-up additions on the whole life policy at a later time
- Spouse Paid-Up Option on the term life policy that allows your surviving spouse to purchase life insurance for themselves without any additional medical exam
New York Life also offers guaranteed issue policies with no medical exam for AARP members. If you are not a member, the membership cost of $16 will be added to the price of your policy, so it is easy to get. All non-AARP policies issued through New York Life may require simplified underwriting (medical questionnaires) or a medical exam. To get a quote, you’ll need to speak with a financial professional.
Read the full review: New York Life Insurance
Runner-Up Best Overall: John Hancock
Established in 1862, John Hancock offers term, final expense, whole, and universal life options. We selected John Hancock as the runner-up because the company has all the key policies needed to provide coverage for seniors’ needs, as well as features like accelerated death benefits, flexible underwriting for health issues, and potential premium refunds based on activity levels. These are all important features to have in one's senior years.
John Hancock offers term life insurance for 10- to 30-year terms, to a maximum coverage age of 90. For example, at age 75, the maximum term is 15 years. The term life policy can be issued without a medical exam if your completed questionnaire (simplified issue) is approved.
The whole life guaranteed issue final expense policy has no medical exam and is available up to age 80 with a maximum death benefit of $20,000.
Permanent life insurance coverage is available from John Hancock up to age 121 and can be issued up to age 90. Plans include death benefits, flexible premiums, and cash value accumulation that you can borrow from, as well as some other options including:
- A death benefit protection no-lapse guarantee
- Options to participate in the market
- Guaranteed interest rates (either 0% or 2%)
Rider options on John Hancock’s policies include living benefits such as critical illness and long-term care.
A key feature of the John Hancock policies is the Vitality Program, which allows policyholders to earn points that can translate into premium refunds. It also includes a fitness tracker, a health food benefit discount plan, and discounts for various wellness services. John Hancock has plans for diabetics and a Quit Smoking Incentive program (QSI) that charges you the premium cost of a non-smoker for the first three years of a life insurance policy to give you time and incentive to quit.
Read the full review: John Hancock Life Insurance
Best Guaranteed Issue Final Expense Coverage: Transamerica
Transamerica was founded in 1930 and offers term, whole, and universal life insurance products that seniors can purchase up to age 85. We chose Transamerica as the best guaranteed issue final expense insurance for seniors because of the instant coverage, quick underwriting, and ability to choose plans with budget-friendly premium payment options.
The company offers term life coverage ranging from 10 to 30 years with living benefit riders. There are also several options for universal life insurance, as well as a whole life option that offers level premiums and guaranteed cash values.
Although most of their policies require medical exams, Transamerica does offer a guaranteed issue final expense policy that is the best in our review for this type of protection. There are no medical exams or labs; they use simplified automated underwriting and can provide immediate coverage. Features of this policy include:
- Level premiums up to age 121
- No waiting period
- Issue ages up to 80 or 85 years old depending on the plan
- A minimum death benefit of $10,000 and a maximum between $25,000 and $40,000, depending on issue age
Riders with Transamerica include accelerated death benefits, terminal illness riders, a grandchildren's rider, and a return of premium rider on 20-year terms if you survive the term.
Transamerica does not offer quotes online for their products for seniors; however, you can call them and speak to an agent to get a quote.
Read the full review: Transamerica Life Insurance
Best Term: AIG
AIG was established in 1926 and is the eighth-largest life insurer in the U.S. The company has a financial strength rating of A+ (Superior) from AM Best. We chose AIG for best term life insurance for seniors based on the range of term policies they have available, with issue ages up to 80, as well as the living benefits options available through the company's Quality of Life (QOL) products.
AIG offers term life insurance with 18 different term lengths, some with living benefit options. It offers one of the longest terms—up to 35 years. AIG term life policies can be purchased up until age 80 (convertible up to age 70).
AIG also offers a Quality of Life Flex Term policy that includes living benefits, allowing you to access part of the value of the death benefit early if you are diagnosed with a chronic, terminal, or critical illness.
AIG issues permanent life insurance plans up to age 80, including a whole life policy (with coverage up to age 100) and universal life policy options. QOL products are also available with some of the plans at no additional cost.
There is an instant issue option with no health questions asked and no medical exam required, available up to age 85 with a death benefit up to $25,000. There is a reduced death benefit in the first two years of this policy if the cause of death is anything other than an accident, including suicide.
Read the full review: AIG Life Insurance
Best for Basic Plan Options: Mutual of Omaha
Mutual of Omaha is a well-known name in senior’s life insurance. We chose Mutual of Omaha as the best for basic plan options because of the range of straightforward plans available with easy application processes, and also because of the company’s reputation for dependability and customer satisfaction.
Here are the highlights of Mutual of Omaha's plans for seniors:
- Term life can be issued in 10-, 15-, 20-, and 30-year terms. Coverage can be purchased up to age 80, renewable up to 95. There is also a return of premium rider, which returns some of your premiums if you survive the term.
- There is a whole life guaranteed acceptance for purchase up to age 85. This policy has a graded death benefit. The maximum coverage on this plan is $25,000.
- There is a whole life policy with simplified underwriting and maximum limits of $40,000 (up to age 85) with a level benefit, or $20,000 on the graded death benefit plan.
- The company also offers universal life options with guaranteed interest rates of 2% or 0%.
Mutual of Omaha has a few types of riders available including accelerated death benefit options for chronic or terminal illness, accidental death benefit riders, and a residential damage rider.
You can get quotes online for some of their plans, including the graded benefit option, or you can also speak to an agent. The company offers policies with simplified underwriting, but you may have to take a medical exam if you don’t pass the questionnaire.
Read the full review: Mutual of Omaha Life Insurance
Best Estate Planning Option: Northwestern
Northwestern Mutual was established in 1857 and is the largest life insurer in the U.S. As a mutual company, Northwestern pays dividends to policyholders. The company offers 17 different life insurance plans, including several focused on estates, building wealth, and wealth transfer. For these reasons, Northwestern Mutual is our top pick for best life insurance for seniors focused on estate planning.
Northwestern Mutual offers term, whole life, and universal life on individual or on second-to-die plans (survivorship life insurance). Here is an overview of the Northwestern Mutual plans for seniors:
- Term life is available for 10 or 20 years—or for a term that lasts until a specific age—with either level or increasing premium plans. Issue ages go up to age 80. An advantage of the Northwestern Mutual term life policy is that it may make you eligible for dividends. Another advantage is the option for a blended policy that combines term with whole life in one plan.
- The whole life policy makes you eligible for dividends and is available for issue up until age 80. There is also a whole life policy that includes an estate plan. Features include flexible premium options and customization of guaranteed death benefits or cash values.
- The survivorship whole life policy insures two people on one policy, and also makes you eligible for dividends; this policy is often used as a tool to transfer wealth to heirs.
- Many types of universal life insurance plans with investment options from conservative to aggressive are also available as individual or survivorship policies.
The company offers accelerated death benefits or living benefits on many of its plans, along with other riders. Although there are no detailed quotes online, our research indicates that Northwestern Mutual's prices for seniors on term life are lower than competitors, and the pricing score in the J.D. Power 2019 U.S. Life Insurance Study also ranked Northwestern Mutual as “Among the Best.”
Read the full review: Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance
Best Second to Die Option: Guardian
Guardian Life Insurance Company was founded in 1860 and is one of the nation’s oldest life insurers. The company is a mutual insurer, meaning that it pays dividends to policyholders on eligible policies. We chose Guardian as the best second-to-die life insurance policy for seniors because of the policy options offered, the guaranteed values in both the whole life and universal life options, the available riders, and the issue ages up to 90 years old.
Guardian offers term life up to age 75 and permanent life insurance up to age 90. The whole life policy provides coverage up to age 99, 100, or 121. These plans have level premium options, guaranteed death benefits, and cash values guaranteed to grow until age 100 or 121, with a guaranteed payment if you survive the term.
Guardian’s universal life policy is available up to age 90 and offers a tax-advantaged second-to-die survivorship life insurance policy called Estate Guard Whole Life that features:
- Built-in living benefits
- The ability to withdraw money tax-free from the cash values
- Level premium payments
- Guaranteed death benefit
- Cash value guaranteed to increase each year
The Estate Guard policy also offers a policy split rider option, accelerated death benefits, a paid-up additions rider, and a survivor waiver.
Quotes for the permanent life insurance policies by Guardian are not available online, so you will have to speak to an agent or financial advisor to obtain rates and underwriting conditions (such as whether you will have to take a medical exam or not) based on your health and age.
Read the full review: Guardian Life Insurance
What Is Life Insurance for Seniors?
Life insurance for seniors is often referred to as final expense insurance or burial insurance. But, seniors are not necessarily limited to these options. The kind of life insurance you can get as a senior is only limited if your age exceeds issue age restrictions or your health precludes you from getting coverage. With 80% of older adults having at least one chronic disease, finding a life insurance company that will give good rates when you are in less-than-perfect health is important.
Why Should Seniors Consider Life Insurance?
It is important to consider life insurance as a senior because it can help cover final expenses. Life insurance is also a strategic consideration for seniors if they have savings or assets. You can consider using a whole life or universal life policy as part of your estate planning to help you leave your savings to your heirs as a tax-free death benefit, or to help them pay estate taxes.
What Is the Cost of Life Insurance for Seniors?
How much you pay for life insurance as a senior will depend on the type of coverage you decide to purchase. For example, at age 60, you can expect to pay between $100 and $200 a month for $250,000 of term life coverage on a 20-year term. If you wait until age 75 to buy coverage, your premium will likely increase to between $550 and $876 per month.
Guaranteed issue whole life insurance policies are usually available for coverage amounts from $5,000 up to $50,000, depending on the insurer. These policies have a much lower amount of coverage, so they are often the go-to for affordable easy coverage.
Whole life or universal life insurance will be more expensive than term insurance, so policyholders can expect to pay six to 10 times more for permanent coverage because of the cash value element that's included in the monthly premiums.
Is Life Insurance for Seniors Worth It?
The costs of long-term care can be very high, and Medicare does not cover full costs. Studies indicate that 50% of Americans over 65 will require some form of long-term care at some point in time, and someone who is 65 today has a 70% chance of needing these services in the future, with one out of seven projected to have a disability that lasts five years or more.
Life insurance for seniors is expensive, but buying life insurance can be a great investment to protect family members from hardship or leave an inheritance. Coverage can be especially beneficial if you include living benefit riders like long-term care or chronic illness. Life insurance with living benefit riders provides you with the peace of mind of knowing you can maintain independence when you have an accelerated death benefit option to help cover some costs.
How We Chose the Best Life Insurance for Seniors Companies
To find the best life insurance companies for seniors, we looked at the maximum issue ages for various policies, conversion options, and riders that could be helpful for seniors. We did independent price research, reviewed company websites, read product brochures, and spoke to agents to find the best senior options. We checked each insurer’s reputation, financial stability, customer satisfaction, and complaints history to help you find the best life insurance policies for seniors depending on your needs.
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Insurance Information Institute. "How to Choose the Best Type of Life Insurance." Accessed June 4, 2020.