Planning Ahead: Choosing Life Insurance for Adults 55 and Older


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the life expectancy for the average American today is 78.6 years old. But even in these twilight years, it's important to make plans to provide for your spouse, any dependents and your loved ones when the inevitable occurs. This highlights the importance of a life insurance policy, and it's never too late to purchase one.

Though life insurance policies become more expensive the older you become, it's the peace of mind that your loved ones will be taken care of that makes them so worthwhile. Here's a closer look at everything you need to know when it comes to life insurance for seniors.

Life Insurance Basics

Life insurance is essential for anyone whose family members would experience financial hardship upon their passing. And while a life insurance policy is marketed heavily these days toward Americans with young families, it's also important for senior citizens that may be more financially secure as well.

However, getting started with a life insurance policy can often feel overwhelming based on the variety of plans that you have to select from and what works best for you based on variables such as age, health and benefit payout. Here's a look at some of the most popular types of life insurance for seniors:


Term life insurance policies are the most affordable types of plans. However, they're also temporary plans that are usually purchased in terms of 10, 20 or 30 years. They're ideal for younger, healthy seniors and paid via a manageable monthly premium. If you were to pass away within the term, your dependents would be privy to the benefits, which typically start at $100,000. With term life insurance, you'll typically be required to take a medical exam to ensure your health is in good enough standing to qualify for such a plan.


If you have a whole life insurance policy and you're up to date on your payments, it will always pay out the benefits - regardless of when you pass away. Though they're more expensive than term policies and tend to be better intended to cover end of life expenses and not much else, whole life insurance policies do have their benefits. For example, these policies invest part of your premium over time to build cash value - and this cash that is accrued becomes yours if you're ever at a point where you decide to cancel your policy. There are two main types of whole life insurance:

  • Simplified: These policies often don't require a medical exam, but typically have smaller benefit payouts.
  • Guaranteed: Also commonly known as "final expense" insurance, these policies delay benefits payout by two years under most circumstances.

Guaranteed Universal

Think of these policies as a hybrid between term and whole life insurance. While similar to term policies in that they do expire over time, what's unique is that you select the age at which they will expire. Though you'll be required to pass a medical exam to qualify, death benefits are typically higher than those associated with whole life insurance policies, which can cover any outstanding debt and provide inheritance to loved ones.

Other Types of Policies

In addition to the main three mentioned above, other types of policies you may choose to consider include universal life insurance and annually renewable term life insurance.

Benefits of Life Insurance

Like we said above, life insurance is marketed heavily toward younger Americans these days as a way to ensure that spouses and any children are properly taken care of should the unthinkable happen. But life insurance for seniors is important too - and while any benefit from a policy may not go toward paying off a home or ensuring a more financially secure future for dependents, such a policy offers benefits and security in other, equally important ways. In fact, some of the benefits of having an adequate life insurance policy later in life include:

  • Paying for end of life expenses, such as hospice care and medical debt.
  • Financing funeral costs.
  • Paying off any significant outstanding debt.
  • Paying off any estate taxes.
  • Providing for spouses, children and even grandchildren.

Tips for Adults Seeking Life Insurance

Now that we've covered some of the basics on life insurance for seniors, it's worth discussing some tips for choosing the right type of policy. Here's a look:

  • Choose the right policy type and amount: Make sure the policy type and face amount is adequate to your financial needs. In some cases, it may be worthwhile to have more than one policy. For instance, you may have a whole life policy to cover end of life expenses in addition to a guaranteed or term life policy.
  • Does a rider make sense? Some common riders that can be added to policies include long-term care, accelerated death, and children and grandchildren. Though they come at an extra cost, many riders provide benefits while you live as opposed to taking care of dependents and loved ones after you pass.
  • Work with an independent agent: Rather than purchasing from a carrier, work with an independent agent who can shop policies and get you the plan that best suits your needs at the most affordable price.
  • Exam or no exam? If you can qualify for a life insurance policy without having to take a medical exam, do it. Know your options in these situations.


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