Contributor, Benzinga
Updated: August 11, 2022

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If you have a spouse or children who depend on your income to pay for life’s necessities, chances are high that you’ve considered purchasing a life insurance policy in the past. And finding the best life insurance is important—it's a big investment into the well-being of your loved ones.

Multiple types of policies are available. The best option for you will depend on the unique needs of your family, what you can afford to pay in monthly premiums and a host of additional factors. 

Quick Look: The Best Life Insurance

The Best Life Insurance Companies

When it comes to this type of insurance, you have a ton of great options. In recent years, a solid roster of insurtechs have made quite an impression in the life insurance space. These future-focused providers leverage technology like blockchain, machine learning and AI to streamline the underwriting process.

Insurtechs are able to deliver highly targeted risk assessments and customized coverage, meaning you're likely to find just-the-right-fit from one of these providers. Read Benzinga's reviews to find the best term life, whole life policies and specialized policies for groups like seniors, young families and more.

1. New York Life

New York Life offers the AARP life insurance program. New York Life designed its AARP products for the needs of people ages 50 and older.

It offers term and whole life options, and you can obtain either without a medical exam. Its whole life insurance for seniors comes with additional benefits, including an accelerated benefit that you can use if you’re diagnosed with a terminal illness.

New York Life’s AARP products have a simple online application. You can also call for assistance. 

2. Bestow Life Insurance

If you’re looking to get term life insurance coverage without pages of legal jargon, consider a policy offered by Bestow.

Bestow is an online life insurance agency focused on simplifying and streamlining the insurance application.

You can enroll in coverage if approved in Bestow’s simple online application — no invasive medical exam required.

You’ll be given a final price after completing the application which takes only minutes. With simple signups and policies available with up to $1 million worth of coverage, Bestow is an excellent choice for anyone looking to make getting term life insurance easier. 

  • Bestow Life Insurance
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    Age Requirements
    18-59
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    securely through Bestow Life Insurance's website
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    *excludes New York


3. Ladder Life Insurance

Ladder’s focus is on fast coverage and low rates. Moving the process online helps Ladder keep rates affordable. Automating underwriting tasks helps the company stay lean — but not mean. Instead, you’ll find a vast help center and helpful online chat powered by licensed insurance pros to answer any questions you have.

Choose from 5 term lengths up to 30 years. Term length eligibility varies by age.

  • Ladder Life Insurance
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    Age Requirements
    20 - 60
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    Ladder Insurance Services, LLC (Cal. license # 0K22568; Ark. license # 3000140372) offers term life insurance policies: (i) in New York, on behalf of Allianz Life Insurance Company of New York, New York, NY (policy form # MN-26); and (ii) in all other states and the District of Columbia on behalf of Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America, Minneapolis, MN (policy form # ICC20P-AZ100 and # P-AZ100). Only Allianz Life Insurance Company of New York is authorized to issue life insurance in the state of New York. Insurance policy prices, coverages, features, terms, benefits, exclusions, limitations and available discounts vary among these insurers and are subject to qualifications. Each insurer is solely responsible for any claims and has financial responsibility for its own products.


4. Policygenius Life Insurance

If the thought of spending hours individually requesting a quote from dozens of life insurance companies seems exhausting, consider starting your search with Policygenius.

Policygenius offers an easy and intuitive policy search tool that helps you find the best life insurance options in your area in just a few minutes.

Simply enter a bit of personal information, choose your preferred death benefit and Policygenius will instantly collect quotes for you on your behalf.  

From there, compare plans from the most trusted providers.

Want an idea of how much your life insurance premium will be before you start comparing? Scroll down a bit to use Policygenius' life insurance calculator and get a quote.

  • Policy Genius Life Insurance
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    Age Requirements
    18 - 80
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5. Colonial Penn

Colonial Penn offers a unique whole life insurance product. Its guaranteed acceptance policies are available to those 50 and older. You don’t need to answer any health questions. It limits the benefit amount during the first 2 years you have the policy, though. Colonial Penn also offers permanent and term life insurance.

It also offers a life insurance product with a living benefit. Its Living Insurance pays out partial benefits if you have a heart attack, stroke, cancer or a disabling illness. You can get a quote online or by calling its customer service team. 

  • Colonial Penn Life Insurance
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    Age Requirements
    18 - 75
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6. State Farm

State Farm also has high marks from rating agencies. Its unique whole life products are what got it a spot on our list, though. State Farm offers a standard whole life product.

If you don’t want to pay premiums for the rest of your life, you can opt for one of its other products.

You can buy a whole life policy with a single payment or with payments over a set term. These policies still have cash value, but they give you some flexibility. 

  • State Farm
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    Age Requirements
    18 - 75
    Overall Rating
    securely through State Farm's website
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What is Life Insurance?

A life insurance policy is a contractual agreement between you and an insurance company that, in most cases, guarantees a payout to those who you select and add to the policy should you die while your policy is active.

How Does Life Insurance Work?

Life insurance offers an affordable way to provide for others or pay for final expenses. If you die while your policy is in force, your policy pays a death benefit to your chosen beneficiary. In most cases, death benefit payouts are tax-free to beneficiaries, which helps your coverage go further. 

Common Benefits, Coverage and Terms

Your policy often provides more than just death benefits, though. For example, you’ll also find options for living benefits that can help pay expenses due to chronic illness. Some policies even offer a rider that pays your premiums if you become disabled.

Today’s choices range from short-term policies that provide coverage for 5 years or less to lifelong coverage that never expires. Some policies also offer an investment component that can help the policy grow in value. There’s a life policy available for nearly every situation.

Many people have coverage through an employer but these types of policies tend to have low coverage amounts. There’s also a risk that your coverage goes away if you change employers or lose your job. Purchasing your own coverage helps ensure that you get the coverage amount your family needs and that your coverage is in place for as long as you need it.

How to Compare Life Insurance

You’ll want to consider the following factors before you pick a policy.

  • Term Length: The first thing you’ll need to consider when you purchase a policy is how long you’ll need coverage for. If you’re searching for a policy to cover a specific goal (for example, until your children graduate college) you’ll usually be better off with a term policy. If you’re looking for income replacement for your spouse, a permanent or whole life policy might be a better choice.
  • Death benefit: Next, consider how much you’ll want to leave behind after you die. Consider things like your income, the amount of money that you owe on your mortgage loan (if you have one) and the costs of expenses for your children when you choose a death benefit.
  • Consider the insurance provider: The insurance company you choose to file your policy is almost as important as the type of policy you choose. If you have a current insurance policy for something like a car or home, you may want to consider starting your search with the provider you’re working with now.

Term vs Permanent Life Insurance

There are 2 major categories of life insurance policies: term life or permanent life. There are several subtypes of life insurance that fit within these 2 categories, like whole life, a type of permanent policy. The major difference between these 2 types of policies is the time period your policy is active.

Term Life

Permanent Life

  • Coverage for a set period of time or to a specified age.
  • Terms typically range from 1 to 30 years, often offered in increments of 5 years.
  • Coverage varies widely, commonly ranging from $50,000 to $5 million.
  • Usually less expensive than permanent life insurance.
  • Common types of life insurance include level -term, decreasing-term, no medical exam life insurance and convertible life insurance.
  • Your beneficiaries only get a payout if you pass away while your term policy is active.
  • Term life doesn't include an accumulated cash value.
  • May be renewable, though your premium may go up with each renewal as you age.
  • Convertible term life allows you to convert to a whole life policy.
  • Others are convertible to whole life insurance.
  • Coverage lasts for the duration of the policyholder's lifetime.
  • Usually more expensive than term life insurance
  • Common types of permanent life insurance are whole life, universal life, variable life and indexed universal life.
  • Permanent life insurance offers a guaranteed death benefit.
  • Your beneficiaries get a payout as long as your policy is active when you pass.
  • Permanent life insurance typically includes accumulated cash value.
  • Permanent life insurance is often used as an investment product
  • You may withdraw accumulated cash or borrow against it.
  • Policies are active from when you sign up for a policy until your death. Coverage may only be cancelled stop paying your premium or in other unique situations.

What are the Different Types of Term Life Policies?

  • Level term policies offer a fixed premium and death benefit throughout the course of the term. These policies are usually more expensive as the insurer must adjust for increasing risk of death as the policy ages, which increases the cost of the premium.
  • Decreasing term policies offer a death benefit that decreases as the policy ages and risk of death increases. These typically offer fixed premiums and may be less expensive than level term policies.
  • No medical exam policies allow an applicant to skip standard medical exams, usually in favor for answering some self-reported medical questions. This significantly reduces the amount of time it takes to get coverage. However, these policies may be more expensive due to the risk of insuring a person without assessing the state of their health.
  • Convertible term life policies allow the policyholder to convert to a whole life policy with a conversion rider. It allows the insured to obtain whole or permanent life coverage without a new risk or health assessment, essentially reusing the same underwriting information from when the policyholder bought their plan. Premiums vary here but will typically go up when the plan shifts to a permanent policy.

Note: some providers may refer to these policies by different names.

What are the Different Types of Permanent Life Policies?

Permanent life insurance policies do not have a term. This means that your beneficiaries are guaranteed to receive your death benefit, no matter when you pass.

These policies also include a cash-value portion that grows over time. When you purchase a permanent life insurance policy, your insurance company invests a portion of your premium. Also, this is an investment that grows tax-deferred over time and may be accessible while you are still alive.

  • Whole life insurance provides a guaranteed death benefit that doesn't change over the course of your policy. The rate of return on the cash value portion of your policy also grows at a guaranteed rate. These typically have higher premiums.
  • Universal life insurance usually have lower monthly premiums, but the cash value and death benefit of your policy may fluctuate based on market conditions. 
  • Variable universal life insurance offers a range of ways to use your policy to invest. Be careful, though -- losses due to investment choices may cause your policy to lose cash value and lower the death benefit. These may also provide variable premiums and death benefit options.
  • Indexed universal life insurance have a minimum interest rate guarantee, but no fixed interest rate. This increases the risk, meaning you could see big gains -- but also big losses.
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Key Takeaways

  • Policygenius is our favorite way to compare multiple quotes at once.
  • The people who you select to receive your death benefit are called your beneficiaries. You can name 1 person, multiple people or even an estate or business as your beneficiary.
  • Like most types of insurance, you’ll need to pay a monthly premium to keep your policy active.
  • The length of time your policy is active will depend on the type of life insurance policy you have and the term you select.
  • Certain types of policies, such as whole life, may also accumulate a cash value portion you can access while you are still alive.

How Much Does Life Insurance Cost?

Use the tools and guide below to get a solid view of how much you can expect to pay for life insurance.


Life Insurance Calculator


Average Cost of Life Insurance

Health, age, gender and coverage amounts all play a role in your insurance premiums. Coverage length also drives rates, with longer coverage terms leading to higher premiums. Smoking has a big effect as well. In many cases, rates for smokers triple compared to non-smokers.

GenderAgeSmokerCoverage AmountLength of CoverageEstimated Monthly Premium
Female30No$500,00020-year$16.68
Female30Yes$500,00020-year$55.56
Male30No$500,00020-year$19.49
Male30Yes$500,00020-year$68.81
Female45No$750,00030-year$89.06
Male45No$750,00030-year$116.70

How to Buy Life Insurance

Here is a general outline of what to expect during the buying process.

  • Determine what type of coverage you need and what type of coverage is available to you.
  • Compare quotes (at least 3) from reputable providers -- use our recommendations to start.
  • If you find a quote that fits your needs and budget, follow through with the provider on the next steps.
  • Next steps may include: providing basic personal and health information and getting an in-person physical or medical exam.
  • If the provider doesn't require a medical exam, you may be able to complete the process start-to-finish online and get same day coverage.
  • In the instance that the provider does require a medical exam, you may still be able to finish the process online, but your chosen provider should provide you with exact instructions.

Starting the Search for Life Insurance

When is this type of coverage worth it? If you have a spouse who relies on your income or children who you’d like to leave a nest egg to when you die, it's something to consider. Even if you aren’t sure you need a policy, collect a few quotes — the peace of mind that comes with coverage might be much more affordable than you think. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q

What factors are most important when choosing a life insurance policy?

A

You should consider your personal income, goals and any outstanding debts you have when you select your policy. Speaking with an insurance agent can help you find a policy that’s affordable for you.  

Q

Does life insurance pay funeral costs?

A

Your beneficiaries may choose to use your death benefit for funeral costs if they wish. There are no laws that dictate how your beneficiaries must use your death benefit.   

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Methodology

Benzinga crafted a specific methodology to rank life insurance. To see a comprehensive breakdown of our methodology, please visit our Life Insurance Methodology page.