Yes, shopping for life insurance coverage in your 50s works differently than it did in your 30s. Rates for the same coverage will cost more now.
But you could also save if you need less coverage or a different type of policy.
Let’s explore the best life insurance companies and types of coverage for people in their 50s.
Best Life Insurance Companies for 50 and Older
Deciding which life insurance company to use depends a lot on what kind of coverage you need after age 50.
Here are the first insurers I’d check with for the following needs:
Banner Life: Best for Larger Term Life Policies
Some 50-somethings still need a simple term life insurance policy. Maybe they started a family later in life, or maybe they have some big liabilities like a mortgage on a beach house.
Banner Life, owned by Legal & General, offers some of the best term life policies for older shoppers in their 50s. These policies offer large death benefits, and you could even find longer-than-normal terms.
Banner Life has a simple and straightforward approach to insurance shopping. The underwriting process doesn’t happen fully online, but you can adjust policy details online.
If you’d like an online-only term life insurance provider, consider Haven Life or Ethos.
Banner Life Pros:
- Simple and easy to use
- Flexible underwriting options
- Good customer service ratings
Banner Life Cons:
- Not available in New York State (but William Penn Insurance offers very similar policies)
- Online quotes are available but buying a policy requires a phone call
AIG: Best for Smaller Term Life Policies
Term life isn’t only for young people who need large death benefits to protect growing families and huge mortgages.
People in their 50s often need smaller term life policies, and they often have health conditions that make underwriting these policies more difficult.
AIG can answer this need with its variety of term life insurance products. When you have so much control over term lengths, you can find your own ways to save money.
They do not offer online life insurance (except for guaranteed issue through AIG Direct) but you can find insurance agents across the nation.
AIG is one of the biggest life insurers in the world.
- 18 different term life options
- Good selection of riders
- A rating from A.M. Best
- Average customer service ratings
- Most policies require a medical exam
New York Life: Best for Universal Life
50-somethings who have an expiring term life insurance may be ready for a permanent life insurance policy.
Universal life insurance continues to be a flexible insurance product even as low-interest rates have stagnated the growth of their cash value.
Later in life you could use the cash value to subsidize premiums or change the policy’s death benefit.
You can choose an indexed universal or a variable universal policy. The difference lies in how the cash value gets invested. An indexed universal’s cash value tracks a stock index such as the S&P 500 or the DJIA. Variable universal policies let you invest the cash in mutual funds.
New York Life is an excellent choice for universal life insurance. This company has A++ ratings from A.M. Best and stellar customer service ratings. It’s also the oldest insurance company in the United States.
New York Life Pros:
- A++ A.M. Best rating
- Good selection of riders
- Great customer service ratings
New York Life Cons:
- Must work with New York Life agent
- No online quotes
Mutual of Omaha: Best for Guaranteed Issue Whole Life Insurance
Almost anyone can get approved for a guaranteed issue life insurance policy, but this doesn’t mean all guaranteed issue policies are the same.
Mutual of Omaha is a great choice for guaranteed issue whole life insurance policies for final expenses. This company has earned A.M. Best’s A+ rating.
These guaranteed issue plans are open to shoppers ages 45 to 85 in most states. They’re great for people who’d like to leave money for final expenses. Tobacco use isn’t an underwriting factor, and most health conditions also won’t affect premiums.
With a $25,000 maximum on the death benefit, though, this kind of coverage won’t provide income protection or leave much room for paying off debts. This isn’t a good plan for 50-somethings who still need a large life insurance face value.
Mutual of Omaha Pros:
- A+ rating from A.M. Best
- Guaranteed issue policy builds cash value
Mutual of Omaha Cons:
- Average customer service
- Limited online options
- Two-year waiting period (a common weakness with guaranteed issue)
Northwestern Mutual: Best for Estate Planners
Northwestern Mutual agents consider life insurance part of your overall financial health. 50-somethings with large estates often need this perspective when they buy new life insurance policies.
Northwestern Mutual is one of the best life insurance companies in the country with A++ ratings from A.M. Best and remarkably low complaint ratios from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
You can’t buy this coverage online; instead, you’d have to work with an authorized agent — but that’s the entire point in this case.
Like many large mutual companies, Northwestern Mutual frequently pays dividends to its whole life policyholders.
Northwestern Mutual Pros:
- A++ ratings from A.M. Best
- Excellent customer service ratings
- Big-picture perspective on life insurance
Northwestern Mutual Cons:
- Must work with an authorized agent
- Limited online access
State Farm: Best All-Around
Life insurance shoppers in their 50s who aren’t sure what kind of coverage they need could always consider walking into a local State Farm agency or shopping with this huge company online.
State Farm isn’t a life insurance specialist, but it has a wide variety of insurance products and an A++ rating from A.M. Best.
You can find better rates elsewhere, but if you don’t have special underwriting conditions such as a chronic illness or a dangerous job, State Farm can provide quick access to coverage from an agent in your neighborhood.
State Farm Pros:
- A++ ratings
- Good customer service from local agents
- Variety of policies
State Farm Cons:
- Not ideal for complex underwriting scenarios
Methodology: Why I Chose These Best Life Insurance Companies
Life insurance works best when it meets your specific needs at your current stage in life.
I kept this fact in focus as I chose these best life insurance companies for 50-somethings.
I also considered hard data, such as:
- A.M. Best Ratings: A.M. Best measures the financial strength of insurance companies. Ratings of A++, A+, and A indicate the insurer has a strong financial outlook.
- NAIC Complaint Index: States regulate insurance companies so they’re a good source of data for insurance company performance. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) compiles complaint data from all 50 states. Most companies on my list seldom show up in complaint data.
- J.D. Power Insurance Study: J.D. Power studies customer satisfaction across the life insurance industry. Five of the six providers on my list scored higher than the industry average for customer service. (AIG was just below the industry average.)
Why a Term Life Insurance Policy is Probably Best For You
Even in your 50s, with another 30 to 40 years ahead of you, a term life insurance policy still makes a lot of sense.
Term coverage has an expiration date which makes it much more affordable.
Because it’s so much more affordable, our clients in their 50s still like 20-year and 30-year term life policies.
And it’s not just about getting the lowest cost. Term also opens up larger payouts which many modern 50-somethings still need.
We’ve seen a shift over the past 20 years. People are waiting until their 30s and sometimes their early 40s to have children which means they may still have school-age children at age 50 or 55. They expect to be paying for the kids’ college even into their 60s.
Term life is the best option for people who want a large payout without facing higher premiums.
Of course, even when you’re in good health, term costs more for a 55-year-old compared to a 35-year-old. But compared to whole life insurance, term’s pricing fits a lot more budgets.
What About Term Lengths and Coverage Amounts?
Here’s where term life differs for 50-somethings compared to shoppers in their 30s and 40s: You may not be able to buy a 30-year term policy anymore. Some life insurance providers limit your options to 20-year or shorter terms.
Most of our clients don’t mind this limitation. They don’t expect to need life insurance at the same level beyond another two decades. Plus, life insurance premiums on 20-year terms are significantly lower than monthly premiums on a 30-year term.
Coverage amounts may come in lower, too, especially if you’re trying to find simplified issue life insurance with no medical exam. This is where you would only answer some health and lifestyle questions for underwriting. The answers on your questionnaire would help determine your coverage options.
To find the most affordable options, most people in their 50s need to take the medical exam.
Choosing A Permanent Life Insurance Policy
Other shoppers in their 50s are ready for permanent life insurance.
Unlike term, permanent life insurance does not expire. Plus, most plans build their own cash value which you can use as an asset later in life.
Several types of life insurance fall under the umbrella of permanent coverage:
- Whole Life Insurance: This kind of policy has a guaranteed death benefit and level premiums like term life. It builds cash, tax-free, over time which grows as it would in a savings account. Some shoppers like to add riders to access the death benefit early for long-term care or in case they get a terminal illness.
- Universal Life Insurance: A permanent life insurance option that could have flexible premiums and flexible death benefits later in life. This is possible because the cash value can interact with the death benefit and monthly premiums. These are great options for people who expect to live on a tighter budget during retirement.
- Guaranteed Universal Life Insurance: This is really a version of universal life but it guarantees the death benefit and level premiums in exchange for no cash value growth. This is the most affordable option for many shoppers in their 50s.
Do You Need Final Expense Life Insurance?
Many people 50 and older already have enough savings to protect their loved ones from financial losses. These shoppers often want life insurance to provide a little extra convenience for their survivors.
A final expense policy can provide this peace of mind. These small whole life insurance policies could provide enough for funeral expenses, estate taxes, small debts, or any other need.
This type of coverage features a low death benefit — usually about $25,000 — and easy approval — even for people with heart disease, diabetes, tobacco use, or other complex underwriting scenarios.
For reference, funeral costs average about $10,000.
This is a permanent policy so it will last the rest of your life; however, most insurers have a maximum age for buying new coverage. Usually, shoppers under 50 or older than 80 have few, if any, options.
Also, opting for guaranteed issue (which requires no medical exam and only a couple health questions) results in higher premiums and a two-year waiting period before the coverage goes fully into force.
How to Get Affordable Life Insurance After Age 50
One of the biggest misconceptions about life insurance after age 50 is this: Nobody can afford to buy a quality life insurance policy.
This isn’t true. Yes, age is a huge factor for life insurers, but it’s not the only factor that builds your life insurance rate.
A rate is calculated by your current state of health, any pre-existing medical conditions you might have and the amount of coverage you want.
If you have a pretty good idea of the kind of insurance you need, you can start today finding your best and most affordable options for coverage. You can fill out the quote form on the right or call us at 1-800-574-0245 ext. 101 for a personalized consultation and quote.
Sample Life Insurance Quotes for 50-Year-Olds
Below are some examples that will help you get a sense of the costs to anticipate:
A quote for a $250,000, 20-year term policy for a 50 year old male at three possible health ratings.
- Preferred Plus Non-Tobacco – $43.28 per month. This is the best possible rating class.
- Standard Non-Tobacco– $79.17 per month. People who are overweight or have high cholesterol may fall into this category.
- Standard Tobacco (for smokers) – $221.16 per month. This is the most expensive classification.
Getting the Best Rate for Your Life
If you are overweight or a smoker, you can still find better rates by working with the right life insurance providers. That’s where we can help most as an independent life insurance agency.
Our agency can help you compare quotes from all of the country’s top providers to find the best rate possible for you, and your family. Again, if you’re ready to take the plunge, simply fill out our quote form on this page.
Lastly, and as we wrap up this overview post, we’ll take a look at the sometimes complicated issue of the state of your health.
First off, and to dispel a common myth, it is not necessarily true that once you have a health condition you won’t be able to find life insurance.
Regardless of the health that you’re in, or any pre-existing conditions, there are plenty of affordable life insurance options for you. There are dozens of life insurance companies out there that specialize in working with high-risk applicants and they will give you a quality life insurance plan at a rate that works well for you.
Knowing When to Ask for Help Finding the Best Life Insurance
Your time is valuable. If you can’t find the coverage you need, we can help. Our independent agents can save you both time and money as you shop. We know how to find and apply for the best policies for your needs — even if you need complex coverage.
As we get healthier as a society and are living longer, more people need larger life insurance policies in their 50s and even their 60s.
Whatever age, financial disposition or health bracket you find yourself in, know that life insurance should serve you. An independent broker can find the best plan at the best price.