Life Insurance

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Life insurance can help protect your family financially if anything happens to you, but it’s important to make sure you’re not overpaying for the coverage you need.

How does life insurance work?

Life insurance is a planning tool that provides financial protection for your dependents.

The asset provides a tax-free lump sum of money which is paid to your dependent after your death. Typically, life insurance is bought so that your dependents would be able to sustain payments for bills, college tuition or other after-life expenses.

Key components of life insurance policies are:

  • Term: When buying life insurance you would choose how many years your policy will last. This will also depend on the type of life insurance that you purchase — permanent insurance has a term that will last your whole life for example.
  • Death benefit: The face value for the life insurance policy. This is the amount of money that would be paid to the beneficiary if you passed away.
  • Premiums: The monthly or annual payments that you give to the insurer to keep the life insurance policy in place. If you miss a payment or decide not to pay the life insurance policy would be canceled.

How to calculate your life insurance needs

your needs

Every individual has a different financial situation and therefore will require different life insurance needs.

When calculating your needs you should consider what the life insurance will be used for and why you may need life insurance in general.

If you are young and do not have any dependents then buying life insurance may not be a necessary purchase at this point in your life. On the other hand, if you are starting a family in which the financial livelihood of the family relies on your salary, then you may want to consider purchasing some life insurance coverage and calculate your future needs.

When beginning to calculate how much life insurance you need, you should start by adding up your current and future financial obligations. This can include obligations such as:

  • Future salaries
  • Mortgage balance
  • Debts
  • College costs
  • Funeral costs

After you have figured out your obligations, you can add up your current assets such as savings and college funds. Finally, by subtracting your current assets from the obligations you will arrive at a target amount for how much life insurance you will need. It is important to note that this is a rough estimate for coverage and it may be useful to purchase slightly more life insurance to compensate for unexpected financial situations that your dependents might face.

Types of life insurance

Life insurance companies will typically offer two different types of life insurance: term life insurance and permanent life insurance.

A term policy will last for a set period of time before expiring while permanent plans stay in effect for your entire life. Furthermore, some permanent life insurance policies will have a cash value component that will grow as you make premium payments.

Term life insurance
Permanent life insurance
Period of coverageSpecified term, usually one to 30 yearsLifelong
Cash valueNoYes
Average monthly premiumCheapExpensive

Depending on your situation and what the purpose of your life insurance is, the type of life insurance that you need will change.

For example, if you are looking for a cheap policy to cover future financial obligations like college tuition, then choosing a term life insurance policy with a death benefit that matches the total tuition may be the best option. On the other hand, say you have Type 1 diabetes and have had problems with getting approved for life insurance. In this case, a permanent policy like guaranteed acceptance life insurance may be a better option for coverage.


Average cost of life insurance policies

The cost of your life insurance policy will be dependent on a variety of factors including your health, age, occupation and if you smoke. However, the largest determinant will be if you are a smoker.

Smokers will have an average cost of life insurance that is 306% higher when compared to a nonsmoker.


Average Cost of Life Insurance for Non-Smokers vs Smokers

graph comparing life insurance cost of non-smokers vs smokers
graph comparing life insurance cost of non-smokers vs smokers

Find Cheap Life Insurance Quotes in Your Area

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Life insurance company reviews

When searching for the best cheap life insurance we would recommend getting life insurance quotes from as many insurers as possible. To aid you in this process we have provided detailed reviews of some of the best life insurance companies in the industry.

You will notice that many life insurance providers will have favorable underwriting requirements for certain individuals. For example, if you smoke you may find that Northwestern Mutual will have some of the best smoker life insurance rates available. Additionally, some insurers will specialize in certain products such as Mutual of Omaha which has one of the cheapest guaranteed whole life insurance products in the industry.

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class=\"ShortcodeImageBare--root \" \u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeImageBare--image-container \"\u003E\n \u003Cspan\u003E\u003Ca class=\"js-event-click\" data-eventcategory=\"Teaser\" data-eventlabel=\"Gerber Grow-Up Plan & Life Insurance Review: Better for Seniors Than Saving for College\" title=\"Gerber Grow-Up Plan & Life Insurance Review: Better for Seniors Than Saving for College\" href=\"https:\/\/www.valuepenguin.com\/life-insurance\/gerber-life-review\"\u003E\u003Cimg alt=\"Gerber Life logo\" class=\"ShortcodeImage--image lazyload\" data-src=\"http:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_1.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_1600\/v1\/referral_logos\/us\/life_insurance\/ZGRB\" src=\"http:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_2.0,e_blur:1000,f_auto,h_1600,q_1,w_1600\/v1\/referral_logos\/us\/life_insurance\/ZGRB\" 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teaser-review--image\"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeImageBare--root \" \u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeImageBare--image-container \"\u003E\n \u003Cspan\u003E\u003Ca class=\"js-event-click\" data-eventcategory=\"Teaser\" data-eventlabel=\"New York Life Insurance Review: Great Variety of Whole and Universal Life Insurance Policies\" title=\"New York Life Insurance Review: Great Variety of Whole and Universal Life Insurance Policies\" href=\"https:\/\/www.valuepenguin.com\/life-insurance\/new-york-life-review\"\u003E\u003Cimg alt=\"New York Life logo\" class=\"ShortcodeImage--image lazyload\" data-src=\"http:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_1.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_1600\/v1\/referral_logos\/us\/life_insurance\/NEWY\" src=\"http:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_2.0,e_blur:1000,f_auto,h_1600,q_1,w_1600\/v1\/referral_logos\/us\/life_insurance\/NEWY\" 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data-srcset=\"http:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_1.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_1600\/v1\/referral_logos\/us\/life_insurance\/ladder-3 1x, http:\/\/res.cloudinary.com\/value-penguin\/image\/upload\/c_limit,dpr_2.0,f_auto,h_1600,q_auto,w_1600\/v1\/referral_logos\/us\/life_insurance\/ladder-3 2x\"\u003E\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n \u003Ch3 class=\"h4 teaser-review--label\"\u003E\n \u003Ca\n class=\"teaser-review--link js-event-click\"\n href=\"\/life-insurance\/ladder-life-review\"\n data-eventaction=\"click\"\n data-eventcategory=\"Teaser\"\n data-eventlabel=\"Ladder Life Insurance Review: Quick and Simple Coverage You Can Manage Online\"\u003ELadder Life Insurance Review: Quick and Simple Coverage You Can Manage Online\u003C\/a\u003E\n \u003C\/h3\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E","\u003Cdiv class=\"node-teaser teaser-review block row\"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"block teaser-review--image\"\u003E\n 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Life Insurance Research & Analysis

Surprise! You Can Add Life Insurance to Your Baby Registry

A new baby registry cash fund aims to make it easier for new parents to get life insurance—through family and friends. Read More

One (Surprising) Thing Life Insurance Covers: Getting Your Brain Cryogenically Frozen

This isn't a sci-fi movie plot. Cryogenics promises a second chance at life—and some people are using life insurance to make it happen. Read More

Life Insurance for Cancer Patients & Survivors

Life insurance after a cancer diagnosis is more expensive, and you may have limited coverage options, but both cancer patients and... Read More

Voluntary Life and AD&D Insurance

Voluntary life insurance and AD&D policies are offered to employees through their workplaces, and you can typically purchase coverage... Read More

Return of Premium Life Insurance Policies and Riders

Return of premium life insurance, or ROP insurance, typically refers to a term policy that pays back the money you spent on premiums if you... Read More

AIG Life Insurance Review: Low Rates & Great Selection of Term and Permanent Policies

AIG is a great life insurance company that excels in providing a variety of customizable term and permanent policies to fit nearly every... Read More

How to Tell When You Should Cancel Your Life Insurance

If you died next week, how would your family's finances be affected? Do you have enough saved to fund their retirement? Here's how to tell... Read More

Fabric Life Insurance Review: Great Service with Competitive Rates but Limited Options for Term Coverage

Fabric Insurance is a startup life insurance agency that offers both accidental death insurance and term life insurance policies. Fabric is... Read More

New York Life Insurance Review: Great Variety of Whole and Universal Life Insurance Policies

New York Life offers a wide range of permanent life insurance policies to fit most budgets, risk profiles and financial goals. New York... Read More

2 Misconceptions Millennials Have About Life Insurance

Life insurance isn't a priority for most young people, but that may be because they misunderstand its purpose and how affordable it really... Read More

Does Life Insurance Pay for Suicidal Death?

Life insurance policies will usually cover suicide so long as it occurred at least two to three years after the policy was purchased. But... Read More

Millennials' Obsession with Fitness Will Benefit Life Insurers

Life insurance coverage has been on the decline for the past several decades, but fitness-based discount programs may offer a solution to... Read More