That is a great question--and a common one. Please see the answers that David and Jason posted as they are both well done and very informative.
In my opinion life insurance has very little to do with your age. It really is a factor of do you have anything or anyone that you want to protect financially when you die. I will say that age does have a significant impact on insurability and RATES. Most people will have a decline in health as they become older and their coverage will get more expensive if they wait to apply. Even if you have a healthy lifestyle, factors such as elevated cholesterol and even hypertension (high blood pressure) will often rear their ugly heads. These conditions generally will not prevent you from getting insured, but they will hit your wallet a little bit harder...
When you have a chance you will want to explore the differences between term and permanent life insurance to see what is best for you. Good luck!
You should go out and get life insurance when you have people who are dependent on you. A few life event to consider are getting married, getting pregnant (including your significant other getting pregnant for men), buying a house.
If you have some of the above life goals, home, marriage or kids, and have a family history of illnesses, or are relatively healthy but have some health issues, you may want to be a bit more proactive and look into insurance on the earlier side. You may end up saving your money in the long run or ending up without the ability to obtain the appropriate coverage to insure your family.
Hope this helps,
David Rae CFP
Q. How old should you be to get life insurance?
A. You should be old enough that someone else in your life is dependent on you financially.
When you begin looking for a policy, know that there are many types of life insurance. I would highly recommend you stick with term life insurance, and do not buy a policy as an investment strategy.
Wyatt A. Moerdyk, AIF®
Chief Compliance Officer
Accredited Investment Fiduciary®
10004 Johns Road
Boerne, TX 78006
Investment Advisory Services offered through Evidence Advisors, LLC, a registered investment advisor. Investopedia, LLC and Evidence Advisors, LLC are not affiliated.
I always recommend planning your Life Insurance coverage around important events in your life like having kids, buying a house, or getting a promotion at work- the age that you should get coverage depends on when these type of events happen to you. I DO NOT believe in purchasing insurance as a primary investment vehicle and only recommend purchasing life coverage if there is a quantifiable reason and need to do so. Here's a great article from QuoteWizzard.com that I was quoted in discussing this exact topic in which I go a little bit more in-depth on some reasons it may be a good idea to get Life Insurance...
Life insurance is usually used to protect your income for the benefit of your dependents (although there are other reasons to purchase life insurance, such as for estate planning). You should in most cases purchase life insurance when you have dependents or when you have a large outstanding debt such as a mortgage. Keep in mind that the primary factors which determine the cost of life insurance are age and health. Life insurance tends to be less expensive when you are young and healthy. By purchasing life insurance earlier on in life you can lock in lower premiums in many cases. Which type of life insurance you should purchase will depend upon your specific needs and the purpose of the insurance.