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As an overall demographic, senior citizens are the group that’s most likely to need life insurance in the next decade, yet those without coverage will find slim pickings when they start to shop around. Many life insurers only offer policies to younger age groups — up to age 65, or in some cases only up to age 55 — and those who do offer policies to seniors charge much higher premiums to account for the increased risk.

Fortunately, you can get life insurance as a senior citizen if you’re flexible and know where to look. In fact, the best life insurance for seniors may even be more affordable than you think, and it’s possible to purchase coverage that lasts until the day you die.

Our guide aims to explore the best life insurance options for seniors and the limitations you’ll find with each kind of plan. So if you’re a senior who’s hoping to leave money to your heirs for final expenses or another reason, keep reading to learn more.

Term life insurance for seniors

While some types of life insurance are permanent term life insurance for seniors lasts only for a specific term or time frame, usually 10 to 30 years.

Keep in mind that term life insurance for seniors typically requires a medical exam, although the coverage amounts you can qualify for with term policies can be higher than no exam life insurance alternatives. Also, remember that term life insurance will eventually lapse if you outlive the length of your policy, meaning if your policy expires, your heirs won’t receive any benefit when you pass away.

Term life insurance for seniors also tends to come with specific limits. For example, you may only be able to buy coverage with a relatively low death benefit, such as maximums of $100,000 or $300,000. Maximum age limits can also apply.

Whole life insurance for seniors

Seniors can get guaranteed issue whole life insurance policies, but it
PHOTO: iStock
Seniors can get guaranteed issue whole life insurance policies, but it’ll cost more and coverage will be lower.

You can also buy whole life insurance as a senior in the form of a guaranteed issue policy. This means that acceptance is guaranteed and you won’t have to go through a medical exam to qualify, but your premiums are likely to be higher and your death benefit will be on the lower side.

For example, with a DreamSecure Senior Whole Life Insurance policy from American Family Insurance, you can qualify without a medical exam if you’re between the ages of 50 and 80. Your policy also builds cash value, and your premiums will never go up.

But remember that whole life insurance for seniors is expensive for what you get. American Family Insurance quotes a price of almost $40 per month for just $10,000 in coverage on a 60-year-old nonsmoker. If that 60-year-old lives to be 80, they’ll have already paid almost $10,000 in premiums and will need to keep paying every month just so their heirs can get the death benefit in the end.

No exam life insurance

No exam life insurance for seniors is the same as guaranteed issue coverage. You’ll be able to secure life insurance regardless of your health, but you’ll only be able to get a small amount of coverage, and you’ll pay higher premiums as a result.

As an example, with guaranteed issue life insurance for seniors from Gerber Life, you can be accepted with an easy application process and no medical exam. You can buy coverage until you’re 80 years old, and you don’t even have to provide information on a health questionnaire.

But in the case of Gerber Life’s guaranteed issue life insurance policies, you can only buy up to $25,000 in coverage, which is a relatively small amount when it comes to life insurance. A policy like this is probably best used to cover your final expenses when you’re gone.

Guaranteed universal life insurance

Guaranteed universal life insurance can be a good choice for seniors who can pass a medical exam.
PHOTO: iStock
Guaranteed universal life insurance can be a good choice for seniors who can pass a medical exam.

Guaranteed universal life insurance is a popular option for older people whose existing term life insurance policies have expired or are about to expire. While this type of coverage is permanent — meaning it lasts your entire life — it doesn’t build cash value like whole life insurance and other types of permanent coverage. That makes the premiums significantly more affordable, particularly for seniors.

Even though you won’t build cash value with guaranteed universal coverage, it does come with benefits such as fixed premiums up to an age you choose, and a guaranteed death benefit. However, you usually have to pass a medical exam to qualify for guaranteed universal life insurance, which may not be feasible for seniors in poor health.

Final expense life insurance

Final expense life insurance is another type of policy that aims to offer a death benefit large enough to cover your final expenses, such as funeral costs. While these policies are marketed to elderly individuals who don’t have many assets, there are many companies offering affordable policy options.

According to Ray Barragan Jr., president of the final expense agency Golden Memorial Insurance, a typical final expense policy can cost between $15 and $30 per month, or about $180 to $360 annually. However, most final expense policies have a death benefit that amounts only to $10,000 or $35,000 at most.

With final expense insurance, the premium never goes up, and the policy remains in force as long as premiums are paid each month. Meanwhile, the death benefit never goes down. Some final expense policies also build cash value, although it depends on the provider and the plan.

Should seniors get life insurance?

Even if you
PHOTO: iStock
Even if you’re an at older age, it’s worth looking at your life insurance options.

Buying life insurance as a senior may sound costly, but it’s possible that an ideal policy could be more attainable than you think. Just remember to compare the different types of life insurance for seniors, and consider whether you want coverage that lasts for a specific term or the rest of your life. While permanent coverage will cost more as a senior citizen, you can rest assured knowing it’ll be there when your family needs it most.

Want more life insurance options? Read CNN Underscored’s guide to the different types of life insurance.

Get all the latest personal finance deals, news and advice at CNN Underscored Money.

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