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Buying life insurance can become more difficult as you get older, but it's certainly doable. In part, this is because life insurance gets more expensive as you age. But it's also because you may have developed health issues that make life insurers less inclined to approve your application. But if you're over 50 and in need of a new life insurance policy or additional coverage, you still have plenty of options. Best not to wait though.
We've researched the best life insurance companies for different situations and types of coverage. All have stellar reputations and financial strength ratings, plus offer valuable perks to the 50-plus crowd.
Best Overall : Nationwide
Ranked second for customer satisfaction by J.D. Power
Receives few customer complaints
No-medical-exam coverage available
Three living benefits included on most policies
Allows credit card payments
Final expense policies only available to existing customers
Men over 50 not eligible for 30-year term
It’s no surprise that Nationwide takes our top spot for best life insurance company for applicants over 50 years old, since it’s also our pick for best life insurance company of 2022. Nationwide is ranked second in J.D. Power’s 2021 U.S. Individual Life Insurance Study for customer satisfaction, has an A+ financial strength rating from AM Best, and has received very few complaints over the past three years for a company of its size. It offers a wide range of policy types, and no-medical-exam life insurance is available up to $1 million if you’re older than 50 (but younger than 60). Fifty-year-olds are eligible for no-med-exam coverage up to $5 million.
Most Nationwide policies include three living benefit riders at no additional cost—which is a standout benefit, considering many other companies only include one. Living benefits, also called accelerated death benefits, allow you to access the death benefit early if you experience certain triggering events. Nationwide policies include critical, terminal, and chronic illness accelerated benefit riders and offer an optional long-term care rider.
But Nationwide falls short if you need a final expense policy, also known as burial insurance. The company only offers these to existing Nationwide policyholders. And if you need term coverage, you face more age limits here than you do elsewhere. Men over 50 and women over 55 aren’t eligible for 30-year term coverage.
Read our full review of Nationwide life insurance to learn more.
Best for Financial Stability : Guardian
Fewest complaints among top companies, relative to its size
Highest financial strength rating
Well-priced term coverage
Policies available to 90-year-old applicants
Online application and claim filing not available
Just below average J.D. Power ranking
Guardian receives an A++ financial strength rating from AM Best, which is the credit rating agency’s top-tier grade and means the company has a superior ability to honor its ongoing insurance obligations, such as paying claims. It’s one of only two companies on this list with an A++ rating, and one of only nine companies of the 91 we reviewed with the rating. Plus, it has the fewest number of customer complaints of any company on this list, relative to its size.
The company pays dividends, and in 2022 made a record $1.13 billion in dividend payments to all eligible policyholders. It offers well-priced term coverage to 50-somethings based on our review of quotes for 55 year-old males and females in excellent health for 30-year $250,000 policies. It also offers policies to 90-year-olds, which is the highest issue age of any company we reviewed, and only offered by one other company on this list (MassMutual).
While this is an impressive collection of attributes, Guardian's website does not impress. Neither online applications nor claim filing are available. Plus, the company provides few policy details online, which means you’ll need to call an agent for specifics. It also ranked just below average in J.D. Power’s 2021 Life Insurance Study, trailing all the J.D. Power ranked companies on this list, except Protective.
Read our full review of Guardian life insurance to learn more.
Best for Term Insurance : Protective
Cheapest term policies
High issue ages on term coverage
Allows credit card payments
Ranked 16 out of 21 companies for customer satisfaction
Relatively low no-exam coverage amounts
Protective is our pick for best term insurance company for over-50s because policies are very affordable and issue ages are high. We collected quotes for $250,000 30-year term policies issued to healthy 55-year-old male and female applicants. We found that Protective’s quotes were the cheapest (tied with Banner). Plus, the company has some of the highest issue ages for term coverage we’ve seen. If you’re 58 or younger, you’re eligible for a 30-year term policy; if you’re 50 or younger, you’re eligible for a 35-year plan. Most companies don’t even offer 35-year term coverage—only four of the 91 life insurance carriers we reviewed do. An added benefit is that the company accepts credit card payments, which is also uncommon among life insurance carriers.
However, customer satisfaction is lacking, according to J.D. Power’s 2021 U.S. Individual Life Insurance Study. Protective came in 16th out of 21 of the largest life insurers, well below the industry average. And if you need a death benefit over $500,000, you won’t be able to apply for it without undergoing a medical screening past age 46. Some companies have much higher coverage limits for no-exam underwriting, such as Penn Mutual, which is our pick for best life insurance company for no-medical-exam life insurance. It offers accelerated underwriting for up to $7.5 million in coverage to applicants aged 65 and younger.
Read our full review of Protective life insurance to learn more.
Best for Dividends : MassMutual
Long history of paying dividends
Highest financial strength rating
Very few complaints
Policies available to 90-year-old applicants
Only one living benefit included
Of the three dividend-paying companies in this list, we chose MassMutual as the best for dividends because it makes eligible policies available to the oldest applicants and has one of the longest histories of dividend payments of all companies we reviewed. MassMutual has been paying dividends since 1869 and made its largest-ever dividend payment of $1.85 billion in 2022. It backs this up with the highest financial strength rating bestowed by AM Best (A++), as well as a better-than-average J.D. Power ranking, and a record of very few customer complaints over the past three years for a company of its size.
But if you’d like to have access to your death benefit in the event of a chronic, critical, or terminal illness—the three most common living benefit riders—MassMutual falls short. It includes a terminal illness accelerated benefit rider with most policies, which lets you receive a portion of the death benefit if you have fewer than 12 months to live. While this is nice, Mutual of Omaha and Nationwide do MassMutual one (or two) better by including two or three living benefits free of charge with most policies.
Read our full review of MassMutual life insurance to learn more.
Best for Final Expense : Mutual of Omaha
Policies available to 85 year olds
Some policies include a terminal illness rider
A+ financial strength rating
Online application available
Some policies don’t have a graded benefit
More complaints than top competitors
Mutual of Omaha is our overall winner for best burial insurance company. Burial insurance, also called final expense or funeral insurance, designates a small whole life policy available to older applicants (generally 45-85) that’s meant to cover immediate expenses after death, such as the funeral and bills. Application and approval are typically easy, especially since there is no medical exam and few or no health questions.
Mutual of Omaha offers two types of final expense policies. Both are available to applicants aged 45 to 85. One is a guaranteed-issue plan, meaning you can’t be denied coverage. An application is available online, there are no health questions, and coverage is available up to $25,000. The other involves a few health questions (but no exam), is only available through an agent, and the maximum death benefit is $40,000. If you have preexisting conditions, you may not qualify for this option.
We like Mutual of Omaha’s final expense policies in particular because you have options, plus $40,000 is a relatively high amount of coverage for this type of policy. And if you qualify for this particular plan, a terminal illness rider is included at no additional cost and there is no graded death benefit period, which is unusual. Many burial insurance policies limit the death benefit during the first two (or three) years of coverage, meaning your beneficiaries don’t get the full death benefit if you die of natural causes. Note that Mutual of Omaha’s guaranteed-issue plan does have a graded benefit period.
Read our full review of Mutual of Omaha life insurance to learn more.
Best for No-Medical-Exam Life Insurance : Penn Mutual
No-med-exam life insurance available for up to $7.5 million in coverage
Strong dividend-paying history
Very few customer complaints for a company its size
Well-priced term coverage for 55 year olds
Limited website information
Online applications and quotes unavailable
Penn Mutual offers possibly the most generous no-medical-exam coverage options in the industry. Of the 91 life insurance companies we reviewed, Penn Mutual has the highest coverage amount available to the oldest applicants. The company offers up to $7.5 million in coverage to applicants up to 65 years old. Penn Mutual claims it’s the only carrier to offer up to $7.5 million in no-medical-exam life insurance and our research supports that claim.
Plus the company has a very long history of paying dividends to its policyholders—it’s done so for the past 174 years—and has very few customer complaints. We also like that its term policies for applicants in their 50s are well-priced. We collected quotes for healthy 55-year-old male and female applicants for 30-year $250,000 policies across 32 companies. Penn Mutual’s policies were more than $20 below the overall company average.
One drawback to Penn is that you’ll need to work with an agent to get any policy. Online applications and quotes are unavailable on the company’s website. In fact, the website leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to providing information on which specific products are available and their features.
Every company in this list has excellent options for life insurance coverage for people 50 and older. Which company works best for you will depend on your needs and your age. Unfortunately, some policy types, like term, become unavailable the older you get. In general, you’ll struggle to find 30-year term coverage if you’re 55 or older. This is one reason Protective is our go-to choice for term coverage if you’re in your 50s. Another is that its quotes were the cheapest for this age group. However, other good options for term are Penn Mutual and Guardian, which both offer affordable coverage to 55-year-olds.
If you’re in the market for permanent life insurance coverage, you’ll find more options in your 50s, as most insurance carriers offer whole and universal life insurance policies to people up to age 80 or 85. Some companies, like Guardian and MassMutual, also make policies available to 90-year-old applicants. Those two companies (along with Penn Mutual) also offer dividends and have superior A++ AM Best ratings. But check out which living benefits each company offers. If getting an early payout due to a chronic, critical, or terminal illness is important to you, Nationwide policies include the most living benefits at no additional cost.
If you want high-coverage life insurance without having to undergo any medical screening, your options are much more age-dependent and, potentially, limited. If you’re over 50, check out PennMutual, which offers up to $7.5 million in coverage to applicants up to age 65, and Nationwide, which offers up to $1 million in coverage if you’re between 50 and 60.
But if you have health issues and just need a small policy for which approval is very likely or guaranteed, try Mutual of Omaha. And if you’re an existing Nationwide policyholder, check out its final expense coverage.
At what age can you no longer buy life insurance?
90 years old is the highest issue age we've seen from any life insurance company. But many companies won't issue policies to people older than 85. That said, different policy types have different age cutoffs; if you're looking for term insurance, issue ages are even lower.
Age limits vary somewhat between companies and between types of coverage.
- Permanent life insurance: Permanent life insurance refers to universal and whole life policies. Most companies make these available to applicants up to age 85, but some companies have a maximum issue age of 80 or 90.
- Term life insurance: Term life insurance is available in different lengths. Thirty years is the maximum length available with most companies, though some offer 35- and 40-year term policies. Generally, you won’t be able to get a policy with a term of 30 years or more if you’re older than 55. However, you’ll still be eligible for shorter-term policies with some companies until you’re in your 70s.
- Final expense insurance: These policies are built for applicants who are generally between age 45 and 85. But some companies cut off eligibility to anyone below 50 years old or above 80 years old.
How do I get life insurance when I’m over 50?
Depending on how much older than 50 you are, it’s likely you’ll need to undergo a medical screening (take a paramedical exam) to apply for life insurance coverage. However, more and more companies are offering policies that don’t require a medical exam. These policies employ an underwriting process that is not dependent on a medical exam to determine how much of a risk you are to the insurance company. Underwriting is a risk-assessment process in which the company decides whether to approve your application for coverage and at what rate.
Accelerated underwriting takes a thorough look at your health via medical-related questions and a check of your prescription history, but does so without a medical exam. A few companies offer accelerated underwriting to applicants up to 60 or 65 years old, for $1 million or more in coverage. But others may cap no-medical-exam life insurance for $1 million at age 50. If you need a larger death benefit, you’ll probably need to take an exam if you’re in your 50s or older.
How do I choose the best life insurance company?
Choosing the right life insurance company is a balancing act between how well a company’s products satisfy your needs (and wants) and how good that company is overall. That said, the latter may be better than the former, since the policy you own is only as good as the company backing it.
But you don’t have to compromise. You just need to establish what you need and then apply a set of filters to the life insurance companies you’re considering. A stepwise approach can help.
First, assess your needs:
- Determine why you want life insurance coverage: Is it to cover funeral expenses, to leave an inheritance for your loved ones, or something else?
- Assess your health: Are you in good overall condition for your age? Your health will impact your eligibility and your premium.
- Know what you can afford: Determine a premium amount that you can realistically afford. It’s quite possible that this number will determine how much coverage you can get.
- Determine how much coverage you’d like: It’s important in this step to be realistic. Life insurance costs more as you age and even more if you deal with health issues.
- Determine how long you need coverage for: Do you need permanent or temporary coverage?
Second, get life insurance quotes from solid companies:
- Choose companies with an A or above AM Best rating: AM Best gives A ratings and above to companies it considers to have an “excellent” (A-, A) or “superior” (A+, A++) ability to meet their ongoing insurance obligations.
- Consider customer complaints: You can see how many complaints a life insurance company has received using the NAIC’s Consumer Insurance Search tool.
- Review each company’s products: Once you’ve found a few insurers that meet the first two criteria, check out their life insurance products to make sure they have something suitable for you.
- Review policy inclusions: Some companies automatically include value-added benefits in their coverage, such as accelerated death benefit riders like chronic, critical, and terminal illness riders.
- Get and compare life insurance quotes: Many companies make quotes available online for term policies, and some offer quotes for final expense policies as well. But if you’re looking for more standard permanent life coverage, this is where you’ll need to reach out to an agent.
- Apply for coverage: Once you’ve determined which quotes you like, it’s time to apply.
How We Chose the Best Life Insurance Companies
In order to compile our list of the best life insurance companies for 50-year-olds and over, we developed a comprehensive life insurance methodology. We started off by researching what consumers want from life insurance companies, and for that, we looked to third-party consumer studies, including J.D. Power’s 2021 U.S. Life Insurance New Business Study and the 2021 Insurance Barometer Study, by Life Happens and LIMRA.
With those findings in mind, we gathered more than 50 data points on 91 life insurance companies, including ratings for financial strength, customer satisfaction, and customer complaints, as well as information about years in business, online tools, no-exam options, dividends, maximum issue ages, and available riders.
Our review process gave preference to companies with superior financial stability, a high level of customer satisfaction, and a robust suite of products available to applicants over 50 years old. In particular, we valued online quoting and application tools, transparent pricing, and no-exam policy options. Companies received ratings boosts for automatically including living benefit riders with their policies. We ranked each company according to the following categories and weights.
- Customer satisfaction ratings: 17%
- Ease of application: 16%
- Financial Stability: 15%
- Online resources: 15%
- Policy types and features: 15%
- Available riders: 8%
- Cost: 8%
- Maximum issue age: 6%
We compared individual offerings among companies by delving deeper into product specifics, including maximum coverage amounts, maximum issue ages, included riders, and product-specific application processes. We used this research to determine the best life insurance companies for applicants over 50.