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The true costs of life insurance

Fact-checked with HomeInsurance.com

Life insurance is a type of insurance where you pay monthly premiums while you are alive to an insurance company in exchange for a lump-sum payment made to your beneficiaries upon your death. Depending upon your needs, you can choose between term life insurance, which provides protection for a defined period of time, or permanent life insurance (whole and universal life) which will cover you for your entire life.

However, the costs of life insurance vary widely based on a number of factors which can make navigating the life insurance process confusing and intimidating. Your age, gender, lifestyle habits and much more all impact the cost of your premiums.

Because of this, many people worry that they cannot afford life insurance – but this is simply not the case. Life insurance can actually be quite affordable, depending upon how you structure your policy.

Factors that impact the cost of life insurance

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that life expectancy for women is longer than men, with women living an average of 81 years, while men only average 76 years. Because of this, it tends to be a little easier to get cheaper premiums as a woman since the insurance company is less likely to have to pay out your death benefit – especially if you have term life insurance.

Other factors can also impact your coverage, like your age, health and lifestyle habits. The insurance company takes everything into consideration when considering your premiums. Read on to discover how different factors will impact your costs.


Your age has an enormous effect on your life insurance policy because it helps to determine how long you will pay on the plan. A 30-year old is likely to spend several decades paying monthly premiums. In contrast, an older individual that is 60 or even 70 will likely have their policy for a much shorter time before they die, accumulating far fewer benefits in this shortened time frame.

The price of life insurance multiplies exponentially between the ages of 30 and 60 – and that’s for both men and women. The earlier you start your life insurance policy, the less you can expect to pay. 


Your health is one of the driving factors in the price of your quote. If you are relatively healthy, you are more likely to hold your policy much longer than someone who is struggling with poor health. 

Life insurance premium rates are consistently lower for women than they are for men. That being said, insurers are generally pretty forgiving of health issues when you are proactive about your conditions and seek treatment for them.

If you suffer from high blood pressure or cholesterol, you will likely see some of the highest pricing on your policy. Surprisingly, if your family has a history of cancer, it doesn’t produce high-end rates, instead falling somewhere in the middle.


There is an enormous difference between men and women. In fact, this is one of the most defining price segments overall. Because women live longer than men, as mentioned above, they can expect to pay less for life insurance premiums. 

Both genders see steady increases in pricing as they age, but the differences are much more noticeable for men. The higher price tag remains consistent despite fluctuations in age. It is no doubt due to the shortened life expectancy for men. 

Policy type

You may not be able to help your age or gender, but you can choose the kind of life insurance policy you purchase for a little more control over your coverage and cost.

There are two kinds of life insurance that you can buy: term life insurance and whole life insurance. When you buy a term life insurance policy, it is like a savings account that you pay into for your own personal death benefits. These will be paid out to a beneficiary, such as a parent or a child, when you die. A whole life insurance policy also works as death benefits when you pass, but its major advantage is that it can also build cash value that you can draw from later in life. 

The shorter the term, the less you can expect to pay. You will see much higher rates for both men and women when working with a whole life policy than you do with a shorter period like a 20-year or 30-year term. 


How you live your life can also determine your life insurance rates. The cost won’t be the same for a daily smoker as it is for a non-smoker who is less likely to experience medical issues and requires pricey care. 

Additionally, you’re likely to pay higher rates if you engage in risky hobbies like skydiving or if you work a dangerous job like lumberjacking. 

The takeaway

  • Life insurance can actually be an affordable way to take care of your family after you die
  • By paying monthly premiums, you contribute to death benefits that will be paid to your beneficiaries upon your death
  • Factors like your age, gender, health and lifestyle will all determine how much you pay for your life insurance premium

It’s only natural to worry about the well-being of those you leave behind when you die. The death benefits from a life insurance policy can go a long way to secure the safety and welfare of important beneficiaries, such as your children, siblings or even parents.

The cost of your life insurance policy will depend on many key factors, such as your gender, age and health. Still, there are many ways to customize the type and term of your life insurance to create a policy that you can afford and also gives the coverage you need.

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