Once you get an explanation of term life insurance policies, it's fairly easy to understand how they work. You don’t need to look at complex illustrations, understand cash values, dividends, interest rates or loan provisions as you would with a whole life insurance policy. However, you still have some important decisions to make such as the coverage amount and how long of a term policy should you buy. In this blog post I’ll explore the question of how long of a term policy should you buy and give you factors to consider that will help you make that decision.
You can also compare term rates and lengths for yourself using our quote tool right below this paragraph, or keep reading for more on how long of a term life policy should you get.
To answer this question several factors that need to be explored. Your age, health, coverage amount, budget, and reason you are getting coverage are the elements that will help determine the answer.
Before we explore each of these factors, you should know that you don’t need to make this decision when you are applying for a policy. For example if you are comparing 20 year vs 30 year term life, you can apply for 30 and once you get approved, request that your policy be issued for a 20 year term. If this decision has been holding you back from applying, go ahead and apply and make up your mind later on - there are advantages to choosing this strategy, since you will know exact pricing after a medical exam is done and can make the best choice for you.
Your age is a major factor to determine how long of a term policy you should buy. The younger you are the cheaper the cost of coverage, and a longer term policy like 25 or 30 years makes more sense. If you are generally healthy the difference in price in minimal compared to what you may pay for a new policy in 20 years.
The healthier you are the more economical it will be for you to get a long term policy, like a 30 year term. If you are physically fit, and you can get Preferred Plus pricing it will make more financial sense for you to get a 30 year plan, even if you think you really need a 20 year policy - as opposed to a diabetic who is paying higher premiums, and the price difference between longer policies may be more substantial.
The lower the coverage amount, the less of a price difference you will see between a short term policy like a 10 year term and a longer term policy. However if you are applying for a $500,000 policy or a $1,000,000 policy then you will likely see a bigger difference. Pricing may play more of an issue based on coverage amount and would be a factor to consider when choosing the length of the term.
If you have a set amount you want to spend on your life insurance policy than budget will be the most powerful factor that helps you determine how long of a term to get. Price out your options and get the term length that works best for your wallet.
Hopefully you've already answered this question in your mind. There are multiple reasons why you might be buying life insurance. A 50 year old with teenage kids might want to get a 10 year policy to protect his kids until they are out of college, but the same 50 year old on his second marriage to a younger spouse (age 30) might want to get a longer term option to make sure she is covered until her retirement age. Answering the "why" might lead you in the right direction.
It is very common for me to have a conversation with a 55 or 60 year old looking for term life insurance. Their existing term has expired and they still want coverage. When they were 40 and bought a policy, they anticipated that they wouldn't need coverage by the time they were at this age, and turns out they were wrong.
If you’re between 40-50 years old, I recommend that you at least consider buying a longer term policy than you think you might need. Especially if you are healthy and the price difference isn't astronomical between a 15 vs 20 year term or between a 20 vs 30 year term - its worth considering a longer option.
For anyone that is unsure of how long a term they might need, apply for as long as you think you may want and delay the decision until after you get approved.
Let’s take a look at some options for term life pricing and compare rates for various term lengths and ages.
Healthy 30 year old male $500,000 policy 20 vs 30 year term life insurance
At Preferred Best Non Tobacco SBLI has the best pricing.
Healthy 45 Year Old male $500,000 Policy - SBLI has the best pricing for 20 & 30.
Protective Life has the best pricing for 25 year term
Healthy 55 year old $250,000 policy - Comparing 10,15,20,25,30 year term: