Life Insurance Quotes

Several factors impact life insurance quotes, including an applicant’s age, gender, health and lifestyle. The type of insurance and policy details also play a role. You may be able to get a better life insurance rate by quitting smoking, losing weight or applying at an earlier age.

Understanding Life Insurance Quotes: The Basics

Life insurance companies consider several factors to calculate your life insurance quote.

How much you pay is based largely on a calculation of risk.

Insurers consider your age, gender, your driving record and hobbies when determining your life expectancy and the risk to insure you.

Young and healthy adults tend to get the best life insurance rates. Females pay less than males because of life expectancy averages.

Policy details will also affect your premiums. For example, people seeking lower amounts of policy coverage pay less than people seeking higher amounts of policy coverage.

Average Monthly Premiums for a 20-Year Term Life Insurance Policy in 2021
Coverage Amount 25-Year-Old Male 25-Year-Old Female 45-Year-Old Male 45-Year-Old Female 65-Year-Old Male 65-Year-Old Female
$100,000 $57 $44 $103 $91 $290 $228
$500,000 $216 $176 $447 $371 $1,207 $981
$1 million $405 $325 $829 $713 $2,380 $1,856
Source: Senior Market Sales

The initial quote you receive from a life insurance company is an estimate based on several personal questions.

To determine the final quote, insurers use a process called medical underwriting.

This can involve completing an extensive application with questions about your health, family medical history, occupation and lifestyle. According to the Society of Actuaries, this application can contain 60 questions or more.

You may also be required to take a medical exam. A doctor will typically check your height, weight and blood pressure along with taking blood and urine samples. Some insurers require an EKG or a cognitive assessment as well.

Insurance companies want to learn as much about you as possible. Insurers will often obtain medical records from your doctors and read up on your driving record, credit history and past insurance applications.

If you’re looking for the best life insurance quote, it’s wise to work with an experienced independent agent or broker who can compare companies and quotes based on your personal information.

Five Factors That Impact Life Insurance Rates

When insurance companies are deciding whether to insure you and how much your coverage will cost, they use data to assess your risk and life expectancy.

The lower your risk of death, the cheaper your premiums will be.

The five biggest factors that impact life insurance quotes include your:
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Health
  • Lifestyle and hobbies
  • Type of policy and policy details

Age

Your age is the biggest factor in determining the cost of life insurance.

As you age, the cost of purchasing a policy gets more expensive.

The likelihood that an insurer will payout a death benefit increases as you get older, so premiums also increase.

Each year that you delay buying a policy, the average cost of premiums increases by 4.5 percent to 9 percent.

That’s why young adults will always get better rates and quotes than older adults.

However, once you purchase a life insurance policy, your rates are almost always locked in and shouldn’t increase as you get older — as long as you continue to pay your premiums.

Gender

Your gender is another important determinant of life insurance pricing.

Women in the United States, on average, live about five years longer than men.

Because women are usually paying premiums longer, they pay less for life insurance than men do. Men, in general, also tend to participate in riskier activities and careers than women.

On average, men will pay 24 percent more for term life insurance than women.

Health

How healthy you are is one of the most important — and complex — factors in determining your rate.

It’s easy to understand why. The healthier you are, the less likely you are to die — and the less likely an insurer is to payout money to your beneficiaries.

Insurance companies typically want to know about your health over the last 10 years.

A history of serious medical conditions and illnesses, such as heart disease or cancer, will increase your premiums.

If you smoke, your rate will also be higher. In fact, smokers often pay more than twice as much as nonsmokers for comparable coverage.

Other health-related factors that may impact your premium include:
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Hepatitis
  • Recreational drug use

The health of your immediate family matters, too.

Your family’s history of certain diseases — such as diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular problems — can directly impact your ability to get a lower rate.

Insurance companies may request access to your health records before issuing you a policy. If this is the case, a HIPAA-compliant consent form will be included in your life insurance application.

Insurers also use third-party companies to check your prescription drug history and you may be required to undergo a medical exam.

Insurers will look at your height-to-weight ratio, blood pressure, cholesterol level and other metrics that could indicate future medical issues.

Lifestyle and Hobbies

If you consider yourself a risk taker, be prepared for higher life insurance rates.

Participating in dangerous hobbies such as skydiving, race car driving or scuba diving can inflate your rate.

However, which activities actually impact your rate can vary by insurer. Make sure to shop around for quotes if you enjoy high-risk activities.

Certain professions — such as mining, fishing, logging or transportation — may also cost you more since your chance of getting into a lethal accident at work is greater.

A criminal record can jack up your rate as well — or even get your application denied. This is especially true if you’re a convicted felon.

Your driving record is also considered. Small infractions such as speeding tickets likely won’t matter, but a DUI or other serious offenses will. Don’t be surprised if the insurance company runs a credit check, too.

Finally, if you’re considering lying to an insurer about your hobbies or lifestyle, think twice.

If an insurance company finds out that you lied on an application, they can invalidate your policy when you die and deny a death benefit to your beneficiaries.

Type of Policy and Policy Details

The details of your policy directly impact your premiums.

Policies issued for larger coverage amounts over longer terms cost more than policies with smaller coverage amounts over shorter terms.

For example, a 10-year term life policy will cost less than a 30-year term life policy. Likewise, a $500,000 policy will be more expensive than a $100,000 policy.

There are several different types of life insurance, and the type you choose will impact your bottom line.

Term life insurance is the most common type, and it’s also the most affordable. These policies last a specific time — such as 10, 20 or 30 years — and then expire.

On the other hand, permanent life insurance is much more expensive but offers lifelong coverage and extra features such as an investment-style cash value account. Permanent whole life insurance policies can cost five to 15 times more than a comparable term life policy.

Another option is a guaranteed universal life policy, which provides lifelong coverage at a guaranteed death benefit. These policies are more affordable than other permanent life options, but significantly more than term life insurance.

Average Monthly Premiums for a Guaranteed Universal Life Insurance Policy in 2021
Coverage Amount 25-Year-Old Male 25-Year-Old Female 45-Year-Old Male 45-Year-Old Female 65-Year-Old Male 65-Year-Old Female
$100,000 $57 $44 $103 $91 $290 $228
$500,000 $216 $176 $447 $371 $1,207 $981
$1 million $405 $325 $829 $713 $2,380 $1,856
Source: Senior Market Sales

Riders are a final policy detail that may increase your rate.

A life insurance rider is an additional benefit tacked on to your policy. They often cost extra, so make sure the potential benefit is worth a higher premium.

How to Get a Better Life Insurance Rate

You can’t control every factor a life insurance company considers when you apply for a policy, but there are steps you can take that can help you net a more attractive quote.

Purchasing life insurance at a younger age is one of the best ways to get a good rate. If you’re in your 20s or 30s and looking to buy a policy, you can save money by doing so now instead of waiting until you’re older.

Your health is the biggest variable you can control. Getting healthy can significantly impact how much you pay for coverage.

Losing weight, improving your cholesterol level or lowering your blood pressure are all ways to lower your rate.

Cutting back on risky activities also helps. Higher credit scores are a plus.

Even if you’ve already bought a policy, you might be able to get a lower rate if your health improves.

To see if you qualify for a better quote, call your insurance company. You might be able to go through a process known as reconsideration or re-rating.

For example, if you’ve quit smoking since purchasing life insurance, your nonsmoker status may save you money.

But keep in mind that you’ll need to prove you’re committed to your new healthy lifestyle for the long-term.

You may need to keep the weight off or quit smoking for at least a year before your rate can be reconsidered. Each insurance company is different.

You’ll also likely need to undergo another medical exam. The insurer may or may not cover the cost.

Last Modified: February 15, 2021

5 Cited Research Articles

  1. Huddleston, C. (2020, November 23). How To Compare Life Insurance Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/advisor/life-insurance/life-insurance-quotes/
  2. DaveRamsey.com. (2020, October 22). Understanding the Cost of Life Insurance. Retrieved from https://www.daveramsey.com/blog/understanding-the-cost-of-life-insurance
  3. Huddleston, C. (2020, September 3). How Life Insurance Companies Get Intel On You. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/advisor/life-insurance/personal-data/
  4. Huddleston, C. (2020, August 20). How To Get A Better Rate On An Existing Life Insurance Policy If Your Health Has Improved. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/advisor/life-insurance/rate-reconsideration/
  5. Dubey, N. (2020, February 25). How is life insurance premium calculated? Retrieved from https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/wealth/insure/life-insurance/how-is-life-insurance-premium-calculated/articleshow/73480007.cms?from=mdr