When Is the Best Time To Get Life Insurance?

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It’s generally best to purchase life insurance as soon as possible since you will pay lower premiums when you are younger and healthier. However, if you want a term life insurance policy, then when you should buy coverage may depend on how long you expect your dependents to rely on your income.

Read below to learn more about when to get life insurance, how to find the best policy for your family’s needs and when it may be best to forego life insurance coverage altogether.

Key Takeaways

  • Age and health status are two of the biggest factors that determine life insurance rates, so it’s generally best to buy a policy while you are young and healthy.
  • Permanent life insurance policies accrue cash value over time, which means buying your policy earlier in life will give it more time to accumulate more money.
  • Term life insurance is generally cheaper than permanent life insurance but it only provides temporary coverage, so you may want to wait to purchase a policy until you know how long your loved ones are likely to depend on your income.
  • Senior citizens face higher life insurance premiums and a higher chance of being rejected by life insurance companies, although they can still generally qualify for burial insurance that can help cover their final expenses.
  • You may not need life insurance if you have no dependents or if you already have enough money saved up to provide for your dependents in case you die.

When Is the Best Time To Buy Life Insurance?

In general, it’s best to buy life insurance earlier in your life rather than later. Younger people get lower rates for permanent life insurance because they are less likely to die early on in the coverage period, meaning there is usually more time for them to pay premiums to their life insurance company. Similarly, younger people pay less for term life insurance since they are less likely to die during the coverage period at all, which means the insurance company may not have to pay out a death benefit.

It’s also worth noting that permanent life insurance policies accrue cash value that you may be able to withdraw before dying. As a result, buying a policy early can allow you to earn more cash that can supplement your retirement income or help you cover other major expenses later in life. Keep in mind that taking money from your policy early may require you to forfeit your policy, lower your death benefit or pay back the amount you take out depending on the details of your policy.[1]

Conversely, you will face higher life insurance prices and a greater risk of being denied coverage as you get older.

While your options may be limited if you are already around retirement age, it could still be worth buying burial insurance in order to secure a small death benefit to help your loved ones pay for final expenses such as funeral or cremation costs after you die.

reasons to buy life insurance young infographic

When Should I Shop for Life Insurance?

Even if you don’t have any dependents and don’t feel like you need coverage yet, it could still be worth shopping for life insurance if you think you will ever need coverage. Most life insurance policies allow you to select multiple beneficiaries and change your beneficiaries at any time, so there’s generally no harm in buying a policy early so you can secure a lower rate and then changing the details of the policy later.[2]

For example, if you’re currently single and don’t have any children, you may still want to purchase life insurance now if you plan on getting married and having kids at some point since you could add them as beneficiaries later on. Alternatively, you could select another family member or a charity to be your life insurance beneficiary instead if you end up staying single.

One caveat to keep in mind is that not every type of life insurance allows you to alter the policy’s death benefit over the course of your coverage period. As a result, you may want to buy universal life insurance if you plan on shopping for coverage before getting married or having kids since this type of policy allows you to change the death benefit more easily.[3] For example, if you end up having a larger family than you initially planned, you may want the freedom to raise your beneficiaries’ death benefit in exchange for paying a higher premium.

When To Hold Off on Shopping for Life Insurance

You may want to delay buying life insurance if you are in poor health but plan on taking steps to significantly improve your health in the near future because your health status is another major factor that influences your life insurance prices. In addition, your premiums generally won’t change over time if you buy whole life insurance or level term life insurance, so it could save you money if you improve your diet and exercise routine before buying a policy and locking in a premium for the duration of your coverage period.

Meanwhile, you may not need life insurance at all if you don’t have any dependents and don’t plan on starting a family. You could also do without life insurance if you are wealthy enough to self-insure, meaning you have enough money saved up that your dependents would not need financial support if you were to suddenly die.

When Should I Buy Term Life Insurance?

Since it provides temporary coverage, the right time to buy term life insurance depends on the time frame during which you expect others to rely on your income, although it will still typically be cheaper the younger you are when you buy it.

For example, you may want to buy a 20-year term life insurance policy once you decide to stop having children since your children will all be adults and may not need your financial support anymore by the time the policy expires. Conversely, if you are paying to send your children to college, you could buy a 20-year policy when you start paying off their student loans to ensure that money from your estate doesn’t have to be used to pay off the debt if you die before the end of your coverage period.

Term life insurance may also be a good idea if you have a mortgage. For example, you may want a 30-year term life policy to match your 30-year mortgage. That way, if you’re the sole income provider and you die, your spouse can use the life insurance death benefit to continue making mortgage payments

Despite the higher costs, term life insurance policies can also be beneficial later in life. For example, if you are the sole wage earner in your household, you could buy a 10-year policy at age 55 so your spouse will not lose out on your income if you die before retiring.

How To Get Life Insurance

As soon as you’ve decided when to buy life insurance coverage, you should request quotes from about three to five different life insurance companies. You should be prepared to share your age, contact information, health records and more, which can be overwhelming if you reach out to each insurer individually.

Instead, consider taking advantage of an insurance marketplace like SmartFinancial. We can connect you with agents in your area who can offer you customized life insurance policies and help you compare life insurance quotes from multiple insurance carriers for free. To get started on a questionnaire about your coverage needs and budget, simply type your zip code below.

Compare Life Insurance Quotes Today!


Do I need to wait until a certain age to get life insurance?

You don’t need to wait until a certain age to get life insurance since it will generally be cheaper the younger you are when you buy it. That said, you may want to wait until you know you’ll have dependents if you’re worried about purchasing a life insurance policy without any beneficiaries who would benefit from it.

Can I get life insurance for my parents?

You can buy life insurance for your parents as long as you have their consent and can demonstrate insurable interest, which simply means that their deaths would have a financial impact on you.[4]

Are there age restrictions when purchasing life insurance?

Age restrictions for life insurance vary from company to company but it’s generally hard to find coverage once you are 75 to 85 years old.[5]

When should you get life insurance for final expenses?

People most commonly purchase burial insurance to cover their end-of-life expenses when they are 50 to 85 years old, although you can likely purchase coverage earlier in your life if you so choose.[6]


  1. Allstate. “What Is Cash Value Life Insurance?” Accessed Oct. 2, 2023.
  2. Nationwide. “Life Insurance Beneficiary Designation.” Accessed Oct. 2, 2023.
  3. New York State Department of Financial Services. “Types of Life Insurance Policies.” Accessed Oct. 2, 2023.
  4. Lincoln Heritage. “Guide To Buying Life Insurance for Parents - Elderly, Burial.” Accessed Oct. 3, 2023.
  5. Protective Life. “Life Insurance Over 50.” Accessed Oct. 3, 2023.
  6. Lincoln Heritage. “2023 Guide to Funeral and Burial Insurance.” Accessed Oct. 3, 2023.

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