Individuals in their 50s and older need to consider different factors when choosing life insurance than people in their 20s or 30s do. While this demographic (ages 50 to 100+) has a wide range of needs, providing funds to care for young children until adulthood usually isn’t one of them. Most people purchase those policies as new parents in their 20s, 30s, and 40s.
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The problem: Once you’re in your 50s or older, it can be harder to qualify for life insurance, especially at affordable rates. Yet, individuals in this age group may still need life insurance for reasons like these:
- To provide for a surviving spouse or partner
- To ensure funding for a child’s college and post-graduate education
- To pay off outstanding debts
- To maximize a pension’s survivor benefit
- To leave money to heirs
- To leave money to charity
- To pay for estate taxes
This review will help you understand which life insurance companies provide the best policies for people 50+. We’ll discuss both whole life insurance (also called permanent life insurance) and term life insurance and provide our take on the best companies for each.
Best Companies for Obtaining Life Insurance Over 50:
- Mutual of Omaha: Best for Customer Satisfaction:
- Transamerica: Best for Final Expense Insurance with Lots of Options
- Lincoln Financial Insurance Group: Best for Large, Flexible Term Policies for Older Seniors
- Fidelity Life: Best for Lots of Options
- Haven Life by MassMutual: Best for Term or Convertible Term Coverage if You’re 64 or Younger
How We Chose the Best Life Insurance Companies
We chose the best life insurance companies by doing what we thought the typical consumer would do if they were shopping for a policy. First, we identified 33 nationwide life insurance companies that are household names or that came up in the top search results when we looked for life insurance for people over 50.
Then we compared each company’s financial strength and customer service ratings. We wanted to make sure each company was top-rated by A.M. Best, a trusted company known for its financial strength ratings of insurers. We only wanted to include insurers with ratings of A- or higher. All 33 companies passed this test.
We then turned to J.D. Power’s consumer satisfaction ratings and awards for 23 top life insurance companies. These ratings are designed to reflect the typical experience of a representative sample of consumers. We ranked life insurers more favorably if they scored well with J.D. Power and less favorably if they scored poorly (1 is the lowest rating and 5 is the highest). Some companies aren’t rated; we didn’t hold that against them.
After that, we visited each of the 33 companies’ websites to see what we could learn about their insurance offerings for 50+ applicants in about 10 minutes. What consumer has more time than that? At this stage, we had to disqualify 21 companies because they couldn’t answer the most basic question a consumer would want to know: Am I too old to qualify for one of your policies?
We then took a qualitative look at the unique benefits each of the remaining 12 insurers offers older applicants to create the following list of suggestions for term and whole life policies.
It’s easy to see why Mutual of Omaha earned a 4 out of 5 in J.D. Power’s ratings. The company’s website provides clear information about who is eligible to apply for a policy, the factors that will affect your premiums, and how the underwriting process works.
You can apply for term insurance through age 80 with exceptions based on term length, state of residence, and policy value.
You can also buy final expense insurance through age 85 with coverage amounts of $2,000 to $25,000 with exceptions based on state of residence. During the first two years of your policy, if you die for any reason other than an accident, your beneficiaries will receive all premiums paid, plus 10%. After two years, beneficiaries receive the policy’s full benefit for any cause of death.
- Insurance types: Term, final expense
- A.M. Best financial strength rating: A+
- J.D. Power customer satisfaction rating: 4
- Application process: Contact an agent. Instant price quote available online without providing personal information.
For applicants up to age 85, Transamerica offers two types of final expense whole life insurance that pay the full death benefit from your first day of coverage unless the cause of death is suicide. You can pay the policy’s entire premium up front or spread the cost over 10 years. The minimum death benefit is $1,000 and the maximum varies by age, from $50,000 if your 55 or younger to $25,000 if you’re 76 to 85. A third policy is more restrictive but may be right for some consumers. Accelerated death benefit riders are available at additional cost. We wish the company had a better customer satisfaction rating.
- Insurance types: Final expense
- A.M. Best financial strength rating: A
- J.D. Power customer satisfaction rating: 2
- Application process: Call or start a quote online.
Under the name Lincoln LifeElements® Level Term (2019), Lincoln Financial Insurance Group sells 10-year term policies to 80-year-olds, among other offerings. You can buy longer-term policies if you’re younger, such as 15 years at age 75 if you don’t use tobacco, or 20 years if you’re 65 and do use tobacco.
This product is not available in New York.
Lincoln Financial’s life insurance policies have a minimum death benefit of $250,000, and the maximum benefit varies by individual. You can decrease your death benefit over time if your needs decrease and you want to lower your premiums.
When your term expires, you can keep your policy until age 95 if you’re willing to pay the increasing premiums and receive a lower death benefit. Accelerated benefits and waiver of premium riders are available. If you’re younger than 70, you’ll have the option to convert your term policy to a permanent one. .
- Insurance types: Term
- A.M. Best financial strength rating: A+
- J.D. Power customer satisfaction rating: 3
- Application process: Through a Lincoln advisor.
Fidelity Life, whose value proposition is affordable insurance for the middle class, offers the following types of insurance for older individuals.
Whole: Ages 50 to 85; policy amounts of $10,000 to $150,000; limited payout for first three years.
Term: Ages 50 to 70; terms of 10, 20, or 30 years; policy amounts of $10,000 to $150,000; limited payout for first three years.
Final expense whole life: Ages 50 to 85; amounts of $5,000 to $35,000; not for people with serious health problems.
Guaranteed issue whole life: Ages 50 to 85; amounts up to $20,000; no medical restrictions; limited payout for first three years.
- Insurance types: term, whole, final expense, guaranteed issue
- A.M. Best financial strength rating: A–
- J.D. Power customer satisfaction rating: n/a
- Application process: Must buy through an agent. Start a quote online, call, or email.
Haven Life, whose policies are issued by MassMutual, strongly impressed us with its transparency, its digital application process, and its understanding of what modern consumers want. It provides detailed answers to dozens of FAQs and personalized premium quotes. It offers customer service via phone, email, or chat, and you can buy your policy online.
Policy amounts of $100,000 to $3 million are available with term lengths from 10 to 30 years. Not all amounts and terms may be available to all applicants. All policies require medical underwriting, which means healthier applicants will be able to get better rates and more coverage than they could with a guaranteed issue policy, but applicants with health problems may be turned away. You can keep your term policy after it ends if you’re willing to pay a higher rate. Accelerated death benefit and waiver of premium riders are available.
A similar product called Direct Term can be purchased online through MassMutual’s website. A key difference is that you’ll have the option to convert it to a permanent policy.
- Insurance types: Term, convertible term
- A.M. Best financial strength rating: A++
- J.D. Power customer satisfaction rating: Haven Life: not rated. MassMutual: 3
- Application process: Apply and buy online.
AIG Direct provides good information online about its guaranteed issue whole life policies, but needs more information about its term, whole, and universal life policies.
Ladder issues term policies from Allianz in New York and Fidelity Security in other states. Fabric issues convertible term policies from Vantis Life. Both provide a convenient and informative online application process that doesn’t involve an insurance agent. But neither will sell you insurance if you’re older than 60.
Gerber Life and John Hancock both offer guaranteed acceptance whole life insurance up to age 80. Policies max out at $25,000 for Gerber and $20,000 for John Hancock.
Choosing the Best Life Insurance Policy for You
When you’re 50 or older, trying to buy life insurance can be an exercise in frustration. Many financially strong, well-known insurance companies don’t provide enough information on their websites for consumers to know if they should bother to apply. People don’t want to be automatically disqualified based on their age or health, or find out that premiums are unaffordable, but then be stuck on a company’s marketing list for the rest of their lives.
Of the 33 companies we examined, 21 insist that you contact their call center, connect with a financial advisor near you, or submit your personal information through a contact form to get some of the most basic information about that company’s offerings. Their websites sometimes offer lots of great educational content about life insurance, but don’t offer the information people need to see if taking the next step with that company will be a good use of time.
Working with an insurance broker can save you time and help you learn about options other than those listed here. Brokers can be especially helpful for people with health conditions, as the best brokers know which companies issue policies at favorable rates to individuals with a history of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other concerns. Consider our list a starting point for your research and not the definitive word on the best policies for your specific needs.
Companies other than the ones we named in our “best for” list may very well offer excellent life insurance for older consumers. Even the companies we chose might insure applicants 50 and up through other products that their websites don't provide enough details on. But since they’re keeping that information a secret — either on purpose or through poor marketing — we can’t recommend those products.