Life insurance plays a different role in every stage of life. Younger adults who purchase life insurance typically have dependents in mind who would need continued financial support if something happened to them. Later in life, older adults may look into life insurance for an entirely different set of reasons, which include covering funeral expenses and outstanding debt, such as potential medical bills from a terminal illness.
A funeral can cost anywhere from $5,000 (with cremation) to over $9,000 (with burial). Life insurance is a good way to ensure that this financial burden doesn’t fall on surviving family members.
While it’s true that life insurance gets more expensive as you age, life insurance for older people might cost less than you think. Since there are fewer term life insurance options for older adults, most policies for seniors fall into the permanent life insurance category. These policies never expire as long as premiums are paid.
To choose the best life insurance for seniors, we looked at policies from 25 different insurers and compared key areas, including price, customer service, benefits, and limitations. In the end, we chose insurance companies that provide excellent coverage to older adults.
Best Life Insurance for Seniors in 2021
Mutual of Omaha
Best Final Expense Insurance
Best Term Life Insurance
Best Whole Life Policy
Best for Grandchildren
Best for Seniors Over 80
Best Living Benefits
Best Overall : Mutual of Omaha
Excellent customer service ratings
Wide range of policies
Get a policy up to age 85
Medical exam required for some policies
Some policies must be purchased through an agent
Limited riders available
Our top pick for life insurance for seniors, Mutual of Omaha, offers term, whole, and universal life insurance with flexible policy provisions. Mutual of Omaha has a solid reputation for customer service and satisfaction. They were ranked fifth out of 23 life insurers by J.D. Power in its 2020 U.S. Life Insurance Study.
Great service includes a comprehensive website with easy-to-use tools for choosing a policy and filing claims, as well as phone support and the option to meet with local agents. Additionally, Mutual of Omaha has received an A+ (Superior) financial strength rating from AM Best. You can trust in their ability to meet the obligations of the policies they write.
Term life insurance policies are issued up to age 80 and can be renewed yearly until age 95 with coverage starting at $100,000. Whole life policies are available to applicants up to age 85 with coverage options from $2,000 to $25,000. The whole life policies don't require a medical exam or any health-related information to begin coverage.
Mutual of Omaha is fairly competitive in its pricing. Premiums on term life insurance aren't the lowest available, but they're not overly expensive, either.
Why We Chose It: Mutual of Omaha is the friendliest to seniors, with a range of different policies available to applicants as old as age 85. The company is at the top of its class in customer service, offering support online, over the phone, and in-person with local agents. Mutual of Omaha's winning combination of pricing, benefits, and service makes them best overall in our review.
Read the full review: Mutual of Omaha
Best Final Expense Insurance : AIG
Coverage options from $5,000 to $25,000
Guaranteed acceptance up to age 80
Chronic and terminal illness accelerated death benefits included at no additional cost
Limited benefits for first two years
Living benefits capped at 50% of death benefit amount
Negative customer service reviews
Final expense insurance is a term for whole life insurance policies with lower coverage geared toward helping pay for funerals and other end-of-life costs. AIG’s guaranteed whole life insurance policies fit the bill for this purpose, with coverage available in amounts between $5,000 and $25,000.
Acceptance is guaranteed for anyone up to age 80 with no medical exams required—which puts AIG ahead of the pack, as many other providers have an age cutoff much sooner than age 80.
In addition to providing peace of mind for covering funeral costs, AIG’s policies give an additional sense of security by providing access to the policy benefits in case of a chronic or terminal illness. While many insurers charge additional fees for living benefits, AIG offers this rider at no additional cost. Depending on the illness, up to 50% of the total policy value can be used toward medical care, assistance, or any other costs.
The main drawback to AIG is its poor customer service ratings. In the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Life Insurance Study, the provider ranks 15 out of 23 for overall customer satisfaction.
Why We Chose It: AIG makes final expense insurance available at a reasonable price to any applicant up to age 80, years after most competitors stop offering coverage. No medical exam is required, and living benefits are included free of charge, putting AIG at the top for best final expense insurance.
Read the full review: AIG Life Insurance
Best Term Life Insurance : Banner
Extremely competitive pricing
Few customer complaints
Must be 75 or younger to sign up
Limited policy options
Legal & General has been around since 1836 and is based in the UK. It has operated in the United States since 1949. In 1983 they bought GEICO Life Insurance and renamed it Banner Life. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) reported only five complaints filed against the company in 2020. The insurer also holds an A+ (Superior) financial stability rating from AM Best.
Operating under the Legal & General brand name, Banner offers term and universal life insurance. However, the scope of policies available is more limited than some competitors, and consumers may be frustrated by the lack of clear policy information on the provider’s website.
Still, for seniors looking for the best price on term life insurance, Banner is the clear winner. While you must be 75 or younger to sign up, your coverage will continue beyond then for the length of your policy.
Why We Chose It: Term life insurance policies get more expensive as the applicant grows older, so it’s hard to find an affordable policy for seniors over 65. Banner provides affordable insurance options with term life policies being available for purchase up to age 75 and coverage continuing beyond then until the end of the policy. For term life coverage, Banner is our top pick in this review.
Read the full review: Banner Life Insurance
Best Whole Life Policy : MassMutual
Unique convertible policy
Comprehensive online tools
Best for younger, healthier seniors
Medical exam required within 90 days
Online application not available for anyone 65 or older
No living benefits for seniors
MassMutual was founded in 1851 and provides insurance and financial services nationwide. The company maintains an A++ (Superior) AM Best rating, the highest possible rating for an insurance carrier, and excels at both whole life and term policies. For this review, though, it is the leader in whole life coverage for seniors.
MassMutual has a unique convertible policy that begins as term life insurance but can be switched to a whole life policy. This insurance plan, called Direct Term, can be purchased online by applicants up to age 64 and is convertible beyond the issue age. Other whole life insurance policies for death benefits over $25,000 for seniors are available by speaking with a MassMutual agent. A medical exam is required within 90 days to sign up for a MassMutual whole life policy. Guaranteed issue policies are not offered and no living benefits are currently available.
While MassMutual’s whole life policies only make financial sense if you anticipate living long enough to pay the premiums for several years, they do have several benefits. For example, you can borrow against the cash value of the policy, your beneficiaries will receive a guaranteed death benefit no matter how long you live, and you may even earn dividends in the meantime.
Why We Chose It: MassMutual’s whole life policies have higher limits than traditional guaranteed whole life insurance geared toward seniors. If you need a policy with a larger face value that won’t run out at the end of its term, MassMutual has the solution and is the clear winner for best whole life insurance.
Read the full review: MassMutual Life Insurance
Best for Grandchildren : Gerber
Premiums will never go up
Save 10% by setting up automatic payments
Value doubles once the child reaches age 18
Maximum death benefit of $300,000
Lower return than other long-term investment options
Average customer ratings
Seniors with grandchildren may wish to contribute to their financial future by purchasing a life insurance policy in the grandchild's name. The Gerber Grow Up Plan was created for this exact purpose. Premiums start when the child is young, and the policy value automatically doubles at age 18. When the child turns 21, they automatically become the policy owner and can choose to either cash in the full value or continue coverage for life.
Premiums on a policy for your grandchildren will be much cheaper than purchasing life insurance for seniors. What's more, there's no guarantee they'll be eligible for life insurance as adults, so this plan starts grandchildren off on a guaranteed path to important life insurance protection.
When you sign up for automatic payments, you get a 10% discount on premiums.
While life insurance for grandchildren sounds like a thoughtful gift, it's important to note that there may be better investment options based on your intentions. For example, if your goal is to start a college savings fund, there are better options, such as mutual funds that grow at exponentially better rates. However, starting a child's life insurance policy ensures they have some protection if they develop health issues at an early age.
Why We Chose It: Gerber's life insurance plan for grandchildren costs just pennies per day in exchange for relatively high benefits in case of premature death. When the child turns 18, the policy's face value instantly doubles, and your grandchild has the option to receive the cash value as a lump sum payment if they choose.
Read the full review: Gerber Life Insurance
Best for Seniors Over 80 : Transamerica
Certain policies issued up to age 85
Many different policy types
Limited website functionality
Only available through an agent
Below-average customer service ratings
Transamerica was founded in 1904 in San Francisco, California, and maintains an A rating with AM Best. Where most life insurance companies won’t even issue policies to seniors over 80, Transamerica will allow seniors up to 85 to sign up for final expense insurance. Furthermore, Transamerica will issue term life insurance to people up to age 80; many others limit new term life policies to age 70 or 75.
Most of Transamerica’s final expense life insurance policies can be issued up to age 85 with higher death benefit limits than most competitors. You could be eligible for up to $40,000 in coverage from age 56 to 65, $30,000 from 66 to 75, and $25,000 from 76 to 85. The majority of the policies start offering full benefits on day one; other insurers may have a delayed benefit period of up to two years.
One downside of Transamerica is that website functionality is extremely limited. You’ll have to call an agent to get a quote on most policies. The provider also receives customer service ratings from J.D. Power that fall significantly below average.
Why We Chose It: Seniors at more advanced ages may find their options extremely limited. However, Transamerica offers term life up to age 80, which is very notable. They also offer final expense policies up to 85, making them the stand-out company for seniors over 80.
Read the full review: Transamerica Life Insurance
Best Living Benefits : Prudential
Living benefits pay up to 100% of full death benefit
Wide range of policies available
Living benefits are not available in all states
Does not offer whole life insurance
High number of customer complaints
Prudential was founded in 1875 in Newark, New Jersey, and maintains an A+ rating from AM Best. Prudential has over 10 life insurance products that include various term and universal life types. One advantage of life insurance for seniors is that many policies include accelerated death benefits, also known as living benefits.
Prudential offers an impressive range of living benefits with multiple serious illness and disability riders available with both term and universal life insurance policies. In most cases, policyholders can qualify if they have been in a nursing home for at least six months and aren’t expected to leave or if they’ve been diagnosed with a terminal illness with less than six months to live.
While most competitors limit living benefits to around 50% of the total policy value, Prudential’s riders allow for up to 100% of total benefits to be accessed depending on the conditions of the illness. The caveat: living benefits must be added when you purchase the policy, and only those up to age 80 are eligible.
Why We Chose It: Prudential offers multiple types of living benefits that allow the insured to receive up to 100% of the policy value in case of serious illness.
Read the full review: Prudential Life Insurance
What Is Life Insurance for Seniors?
Life insurance for seniors is the same type of life insurance available at any age, but it’s often priced and marketed differently. This is because seniors have unique needs and financial situations. Term life insurance may be limited for seniors depending on their age and life expectancy, and premiums are typically very high. The more common type of policy in this age group is permanent life insurance, which is usually sold to seniors as final expense or burial insurance. This low-benefit whole life insurance can help pay for final costs such as funeral expenses and certain final medical costs.
What Is Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance?
Guaranteed issue life insurance is a type of whole life insurance that doesn’t require a medical exam. This type of insurance is especially popular among seniors, who are more likely to have health conditions than younger adults. However, keep in mind that some insurers may ask limited health screening questions on your life insurance application, such as weight and whether you smoke. Your answers to these questions might not disqualify you from coverage, but they could raise your premiums.
What Does Life Insurance for Seniors Exclude?
As with all life insurance policies, there are a few exclusions seniors should be aware of. Suicide is typically not covered within a certain amount of time from the policy start date, and some specific causes of death, like private plane crashes, could also prevent a payout. Some policies for seniors may delay benefits entirely for the first two years, most often guaranteed whole life policies. Of course, if you withhold information such as preexisting health conditions on your insurance forms, there’s a good chance your beneficiaries will be denied compensation.
What Are the Expected Costs of Life Insurance for Seniors?
Life insurance costs for seniors depend on age, coverage amount, term, and health status.
Most insurance companies require new applicants to choose either "male" or "female" when applying for insurance and don't always offer an option for those who identify as nonbinary or transgender. While being nonbinary doesn't disqualify you from getting insurance, you should be aware that most insurance companies haven't updated their underwriting processes to reflect an awareness of gender issues.
What Is the Cheapest Life Insurance for Seniors?
The best way for seniors to get cheap life insurance is to only get the coverage they absolutely need. Whole life insurance policies with high coverage amounts are much more expensive than final expense policies and more practical. On the other hand, term life insurance policies may save money for those who need higher coverage levels but may not need it forever. Seniors in good health may also be able to get cheaper life insurance by passing a medical exam.
How We Chose Life Insurance Companies for Seniors
To choose the best life insurance companies for seniors, we evaluated policies from 25 different insurance companies using several criteria. First, we looked at policy premiums and coverage options available to seniors, including policy riders that offer additional personalized coverage. We also considered age restrictions for applicants and any other limitations that might affect seniors’ chances of being approved, such as medical exam requirements.
We read through customer reviews, walked through the process of getting a quote, and looked at available support options to evaluate the overall customer experience. Finally, we considered the insurance company’s financial stability rating, which gives a good indication of the insurer’s ability to pay out claims for decades to come.