Life insurance in your 50s (and up)

For Life Insurance Awareness Month, we’re illustrating the need for life insurance across different life stages. Your later years (50 and up) can be a critical time to have life insurance coverage. Learn why:
Do I need life insurance if I'm over 50?

Here are some reasons you may need life insurance if you are 50 years old or older:

  • You have financially dependent children or grandchildren
  • You are paying off debts, like a mortgage or credit card balance
  • You are worried about covering your final expenses
  • You want assistance with estate or legacy planning
  • You want to supplement your retirement income with the cash value component of a permanent life insurance policy
  • You want to protect your existing assets

Here are some reasons why you may not need life insurance:

  • You are financially secure enough to retire comfortably and take care of final expenses
  • Your children are grown up and financially independent
  • You've finished paying off significant expenses—like a mortgage, child’s college expenses, etc.—and have a comfortable nest egg
Term vs permanent: What's the best type of life insurance for you?

Term life insurance:

Term insurance is a good fit for people who are looking for coverage for a set period. For example, you may feel that you need coverage until your kids are finished with school, or until your mortgage is paid off. Term life insurance provides coverage for a set period or “term” (typically 10–30 years) and is designed to protect your dependents during that term. If you pass away during the term period, your beneficiaries receive a cash payment referred to as the “death benefit” that can be used to cover expenses or income loss related to your passing.


Permanent life insurance:

Permanent life insurance is a good option for people who want the security of lifelong coverage (as long as payments are made). It can be helpful with final expenses and legacy planning, and the cash value component can be beneficial to retirees. Due to the cash value component and the coverage duration, permanent life insurance policies are more expensive than term. There are some permanent policies—like Ethos’ guaranteed-issue whole life policy—that are geared towards seniors. This policy guarantees coverage to all applicants between 65–85 and is a good fit for people looking for help with their final expenses.


Life insurance and end of life planning

Life has unexpected twists and turns, many of which we’re not adequately prepared for. Our Financial Legacy Index found that many Americans have not taken critical steps toward protecting their family’s financial future if the unexpected happens. Here are some of our findings:

  • 52% of Americans say they often worry about the financial situation they will leave behind for their children/future children after they pass away.
  • 33% of Americans say their family would be left financially unstable or bankrupt in the event of their death.
  • 82% of Americans value leaving behind a strong financial legacy, but 38% lack confidence they will do so.
The bottom line on life insurance in your 50s and up

Life insurance can be a valuable financial tool for people 50 and older. Even though life insurance later in life is more costly, it can be well worth the cost for those who need it. Now is still the best time to get life insurance, primarily if people rely on you and your income.

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