Life insurance for elderly people

Compare life insurance policies available for older people

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When seeking out life insurance quotes past a certain age, you have several options: a regular term life insurance policy; a dedicated senior life insurance policy, a form of life assurance; and funeral plans.

The option you choose will depend on your health, how much money you want to leave your beneficiaries and for what purpose, and the level of premiums you can comfortably afford to pay.

In This Guide:

What are my options for life insurance as a senior citizen?

Term life insurance products

Term life insurance policies are the most popular choice on the market for younger folk and will be a good option for the elderly too, if in excellent health. These policies run for a certain period of time and payout if you die within that time frame.

Many people arrange these policies to line up with their financial and family obligations. For instance, syncing a decreasing term policy with a mortgage, or a level term policy with the age of their youngest child.

However, past a certain age, you'll be excluded from term life insurance cover by some providers. Insurers will all have a maximum age for new cover which will range between 65 to 85 years of age. You won't be able to take out a policy past that age.

Additionally, if you do come in under the cut-off, you'll be limited in the length of policy you can acquire. Insurers set a maximum age past which their coverage won't extend. This is typically 74 years old, but occasionally policies will cover you into your 90s. These will be the most expensive on the market.

In general, the older you are when you take out the policy, the more you'll pay in monthly premiums. Opting for a shorter term, a decreasing term policy (where the payout declines over time), or a smaller payout will make your search for a policy easier and bring premiums out of the stratosphere.

Having pre-existing health conditions, which become more common with age, will further complicate your search for term life insurance cover. It will restrict the number of policies for which you are eligible and inflate your premiums.

You may be required to submit medical records or undergo a medical exam as part of the application process, and you could be rejected on that basis. If you're already in a high-risk group - for instance, if you're diabetic or a smoker - you may find it particularly tricky, if not expensive, to get term life insurance coverage in your golden years.

Dedicated senior life insurance policies

Dedicated senior life insurance policies are a type of whole of life or life assurance policy. That means they last for the rest of your life and, if you keep up with the monthly premiums, a fixed, lump-sum payout is guaranteed to your survivors, whether you die in five years or 35.

With these policies, if you're over 50 and under 80 (and occasionally 85), you can't be denied coverage. You won't have to submit information about your medical history or undergo a physical exam - acceptance is guaranteed.

However, senior life insurance policies come with much lower payouts than term life insurance. They typically won't be enough to support a family but can offset any costs your survivors may incur in the immediate aftermath of your death, including funeral expenses.

Senior life insurance policies can be somewhat inflexible - often, if you miss one monthly premium you will forfeit your survivors' rights to the payout. Furthermore, if you live a long time, you may end up paying more in premiums than your beneficiaries will receive after your death.

Inflation can also erode the value of the payout. But because there's no cash-out value for these policies, you're locked into those monthly payments if you want to recoup anything.

While the sum insured on senior life policies is mostly fixed, most come with a qualification period, or moratorium, of one to two years at the outset. If you die during this period, your family won't be able to claim the full amount.

Funeral plans

If you want to specifically ensure that your family can meet funeral or burial expenses following your death, you can seek out dedicated funeral cover policies. In 2018, the average funeral in the UK cost £4,271 - no small sum.

You can obtain funeral cover as part of your term life or senior life policy, but you can also take out a dedicated, pre-paid funeral plan. With these policies, you pay in advance for your final send-off, either in a lump sum or monthly installments.

This money is then either invested or put into an insurance plan by a funeral director or insurance provider. Following your death, it is paid out to match your funeral costs.

These policies aren't always good value for money. If you live for a long time after taking them out, the total you'll pay in premiums could easily eclipse the sum paid out after your death. You should also read the terms and conditions of these policies carefully: some will pay out only to cover the most basic costs of your funeral and exclude other big-ticket items, such as the cost of the burial plot and the memorial.

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Last reviewed: 1 August 2022

Next review: 1 September 2022