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Life Insurance for Seniors (The Complete Guide)

How do you choose the right senior life insurance policy for yourself or your parents?

Whether you’re a senior who needs life insurance or you’re helping decide on life insurance for your parents, this guide is for you.

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What is the best life insurance for seniors over 70?

The best type of life insurance policy for seniors is the policy that does what you need it to do.

In this complete life insurance guide for seniors, we cover the reasons why seniors want life insurance and then provide you with the details to help you get the right policy.

And while there are many reasons to consider life insurance, we break it down for you based on your individual needs.

Many people wrongly assume that their only option will be a smaller final expense policy (which is great for some), but other options may better suit your needs.

Term Life Insurance for Seniors

If you have short-term life insurance needs…maybe you have a mortgage you’re paying still or working and want to provide replacement income for your beneficiary, term life insurance for seniors may be right for you.

  • 70-year-olds – 20-year term life insurance is available from 8 companies.
  • 75-year-olds – 15-year term life insurance is available from 15 companies.
  • 80-year-olds – 10-year term life insurance is available from 13 companies.

For the right situation, a term life policy is a great option.

Universal Life Insurance for Seniors

Universal life insurance for seniors is often overlooked by many agents. While universal life will be more expensive than the above term policies, sometimes the premiums are close enough in price that you may want the universal life policy instead.

The type of universal life policy we recommend for most people is a Guaranteed Universal Life (GUL) policy. With this type of policy, the death benefit is guaranteed to age 110-120 depending on the company.

As long as you pay the premium, the product is guaranteed.

Many policies now include life insurance riders for chronic and critical illnesses that may appeal to you.

Whole Life Insurance for Seniors

Whole life insurance policies are another option available to you.

In fact, many of the guaranteed issue/final expense policies are whole-life products.

The guaranteed issue products are more expensive but everyone qualifies.

Bottom Line – Don’t automatically assume that a guaranteed issue life insurance policy is your only and best option. Let’s talk about your situation and figure out which policy is best for you!

Reasons Why Seniors Need Life Insurance

The following are some of the most common reasons why you may want a life insurance policy as a senior.

There are many reasons why, but here are some of the most common situations we encounter.

Final Expenses for Seniors

If you’re just looking for a policy that will cover your final expenses, funeral costs, etc., a final expense life insurance policy is a great option.

Most of these policies offer up to $25,000 of coverage and require very little medical underwriting to get approved.

The smaller policies are designed for people aged 65 or older.

These no-exam life insurance policies are easy to qualify for and can be finalized in about a week.

Drawbacks of guaranteed acceptance policies are the price (expensive) and graded benefits (during the first few years). Compare that to a fully underwritten policy that provides a death benefit from day 1.

For example, AIG has a guaranteed issue whole life insurance policy that we offer to some clients. A maximum of $25,000 is available. Compare that to Pacific Life’s fully underwritten guaranteed universal life policy.

If you’re healthy, it may be possible to get a better policy for a lower price than guaranteed issue coverage.

Male Rates by Company Age 701 Age 752 Age 803
AIG – Male Monthly Rates $291 $410 $520
Pacific Life – Male Monthly Rates $187 $262 $354
Female Rates by Company Age 704 Age 754 Age 804
AIG – Female Monthly Rates $221 $317 $513
Pacific Life – Female Monthly Rates $146 $204 $330
Quote comparison – California rates as of 5-17-2022. Pacific Life rates are based on standard non-tobacco rates with premium payments as follows: (1) premiums to age 85, (2) premiums to age 86, (3) premiums to age 90, (4) Premiums to age 89

If you have health issues, the final expense may be the best option, but sometimes that’s not the case either. Consider this example:

We used “standard table 4 rates” for the Pacific Life policy. A table 4 rating adds 100% to standard rates to cover health issues such as diabetes, sleep apnea, some heart conditions, blood pressure, and more.

Male Rates by Company Age 701 Age 752 Age 803
AIG – Male Monthly Rates $291 $410 $520
Pacific Life – Male Monthly Rates $233 $323 $435
Female Rates by Company Age 704 Age 754 Age 804
AIG – Female Monthly Rates $221 $317 $513
Pacific Life – Female Monthly Rates $183 $253 $400
Quote comparison – California rates as of 5-17-2022. Pacific Life rates are based on standard table 4 non-tobacco rates with premium payments as follows: (1) premiums to age 85, (2) premiums to age 86, (3) premiums to age 90, (4) Premiums to age 89

As you can see, the potential savings with fully underwritten life insurance is tremendous if you qualify.

We’ll let you know all your options when we discuss your coverage.

Mortgages for Seniors

Every year, more seniors age 65 or older are looking for life insurance to cover a mortgage.

If you have debt, term life insurance is a great option.

life insurance for seniors term lengths available

Life insurers offer level term life insurance up to age 80!

For ages 85 – 99, you can buy a 1 year term life insurance policy that is not renewable.

Income Replacement

If you’re still working and need to replace that income if you die, a life insurance policy will do that for you.

Again, a term life insurance policy may address your needs while you’re working.

You may also be behind on your retirement plans and need to have a policy that will definitely pay a death benefit.

In this case, whole life insurance or universal life insurance policies are the best options to consider.

Something to consider is how your death benefit will payout.

While the lump sum death benefit option is the most common, you have other choices that may be worth consideration.

Other life insurance settlement options include a life income option, fixed payments over a period of time, etc.

If you have a pension, you probably have a choice of benefits.

A maximum benefit for you, but nothing for your spouse if you die,

Or…

You may choose a reduced benefit that would continue paying to your spouse.

To maximize your pension, you can take the greater pension benefit now and buy life insurance to cover the loss if you die.

Legacy Planning

Legacy planning provides a death benefit larger than the assets you would have otherwise left to beneficiaries.

For instance, if you have money set aside for your offspring or grandchildren.

Instead of leaving money for them, you purchase a life insurance policy with that money.

The life insurance policy would then provide a death benefit greater than the money you would have left.

You can assign a life insurance policy to a trust, and set up the terms of the trust to pay your beneficiaries according to your wishes.

You may also use legacy planning to transfer assets such as a vacation home to your family. In this instance, a policy may be used to help with estate taxes, maintenance, and upkeep.

Universal life or whole life insurance policy are the types to consider for legacy planning.

Legacy planning has great potential, but there are also pitfalls if not carefully planned.

It’s important to only work with policies that are fully guaranteed.

The reason why is to ensure that the policy works as intended.

Estate Planning

Life insurance is an important tool for estate planning.

If you have a multi-million dollar estate, life insurance is used to offset estate taxes.

But estate planning is also commonly used by small business owners.

If one of your kids wants the business, but the other kids aren’t interested in the business, life insurance is perfect.

Life insurance may be used as an estate equalization tool so that the kids outside of the business receive an inheritance equal to your kids receiving the business.

Just make sure you revisit the coverage amounts from time to time as your coverage may not keep up with a growing business.

Many times, the type of life insurance for this situation will be a survivorship universal life insurance policy.

A life insurance policy can provide a benefit to the other kids so that they receive an equal inheritance from you.

What to Expect from Underwriting

When it comes to life insurance underwriting, some policies require full underwriting and a paramed exam.

Other life insurance policies are guaranteed acceptance life insurance policies.

Some people assume incorrectly that if they have a health problem, a guaranteed issue policy is the only option.

But, many times we are able to provide better options through underwriting.

Cognitive Screening

A number of life insurance companies have introduced cognitive screening as part of the underwriting process.

The tests are for proposed insureds aged 70 or older.

You may be asked to complete one of these tests. 

The examiners will not help you with the test but will tell you to read the directions and complete the test.

Cognitive Tests Used by Life Insurers

Landmark Drawing Copy Test – The medical examiner will give you a sheet of paper that will have a picture of a clock.

The time will be indicated on the clock. 

The examiner will ask you to draw the clock on a separate piece of paper.

Trail Marking Test – With this test, you will be handed a piece of paper. 

On this piece of paper you will see a bunch of circles with numbers or letters inside the circle. 

You will be asked to draw a continuous line without lifting up your pencil, to connect the circles in order 1,2,3,4,etc.. or A,B,C,D. 

For some life insurance companies, you will be asked to connect numbers to letters in order. 

For example, A,1,B,2,C,3,D,4, etc.. 

The object is to draw a continuous line from the circle to the circle until complete.

Delayed Word Recall Test – With this test, the examiner will show you 10 words on a flash card.

The examiner will ask you to use each word in a sentence.

Then they will have you repeat the 10 words in sentences again. 

Later on, during your paramed exam, the examiner will ask you to recall as many of the 10 words as you can.

Most life insurance companies will want you to take a brief paramed exam at the very minimum. 

Companies are looking to see if the senior has any evidence of cognitive impairments.

You must be able to perform all activities of daily living, otherwise only guaranteed acceptance is available.

Your age and the amount of life insurance coverage determine the paramed exam requirements.

We’ll tell you upfront what the exam requirements are.

Conclusion

Life insurance is available for seniors.

Once we know why you want life insurance, we’ll show you the options available and explain the pros and cons.

We’ll then help you find the best-priced life insurance policy that meets your needs.

 At RiskQuoter.com our service is a no-pressure, no-obligation service.

Custom Life Insurance Quote In less than 5 minutes!

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Meet the Author - Michael Horbal

That’s me to the left. I’m the founder and owner of RiskQuoter. I hate the fact that many people pay too much for life insurance because they end up with the wrong life insurance company, agent or both.

That’s why I started RiskQuoter.

We’re here to help you get the best life insurance rates available.

There’s never any pressure or obligation with my life insurance service. Get the information you need to make an informed decision for yourself.

The best life insurance companies in the business are available here

Kind words from happy customers who have a lot to say about our service!

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