When you reach your 50s, your life and financial commitments probably look a bit different than they did in, say, your 20s. You may find yourself wondering whether you need life insurance at all. Before you make your decision, there are some variables to examine to see if a life insurance policy still makes sense.

Do I need life insurance if I’m older than 50?

As a baby boomer, it’s worth looking into life insurance in these situations:

  • You have people relying on your income. Above all, life insurance is an income protection policy. If you have loved ones relying on your income to cover their living expenses, a policy can ease their financial burden when you pass away — especially if you don’t have much in savings.
  • You want to protect your estate. Life insurance is a payable-upon-death asset, which means the proceeds of your policy typically won’t go through probate. If you’ve accumulated assets over your lifetime, a policy can help your heirs to hold onto those assets and pay any taxes owed.
  • You want to make sure you’re covered if you fall ill. You can add an accelerated death benefit or critical illness rider to most policies. These riders pay out a portion of your policy if you’re diagnosed with a serious illness, which can offset financial stress if you need to undergo treatment.
  • You’d like to take care of your funeral costs. Many people in their 50s purchase a policy to simply pay for their burial and end-of-life expenses. A funeral can cost $10,000 or more, so the payout from a life insurance policy can help your family through the grieving process.

How much does life insurance cost for over 50s?

You can find affordable coverage without sacrificing the quality of protection in your 50s. A simple way to get started is by comparing life insurance providers that offer policies in line with the coverage you need. As you look at policies, you’ll notice that starting from age 50 on, your life insurance premiums begin to increase drastically.

Let’s look at the cost of a 20-year term life policy with $500,000 of coverage for a man in perfect health. According to our research, a 50-year-old man in good health could get a policy from Legal & General for around $74.39 a month. However, that same amount of coverage from those same providers would be double the cost if you bought the policy at age 57, with the monthly premiums increasing to $148.35.

So as you get into your 50s, consider purchasing a policy sooner rather than later to lock in a lower premium.

Sample rates for a $250,000 policy

The cost of a life insurance premium is based on the level of risk the applicant presents to the insurer, depending on factors like:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Occupation
  • Medical conditions
  • Tobacco use
  • Hobbies

The tables below show what monthly premiums could cost for 10-, 20- and 30-year term policies offering $250,000 in coverage.

What kind of life insurance can I get in my 50s?

These policies are the best choices for someone in their 50s:

  • Term life insurance. This offers temporary coverage for a set period of time, like 10, 15 or 20 years. You could purchase a policy that would expire when you no longer have financial obligations — for example, the year you retire or pay off your mortgage, or when your grandchildren go to college. If you die during the term, your beneficiaries receive a guaranteed death benefit.
  • Whole life insurance. If you want to treat your life insurance policy as a cash asset, look into whole life. A portion of your premiums are invested to give your policy a cash value, which earns interest over time at a set rate. Once you’ve built up enough cash value, you can begin to borrow against your policy — which can be useful if you have large expenses to cover, like a home renovation.
  • Final expense insurance. Often marketed to those aged 55-plus, these policies are designed to cover end-of-life costs, such as a funeral and medical bills.
  • Simplified issue life insurance. If you have a preexisting health condition, you can forgo the medical exam with simplified issue life insurance. You may need to complete a health questionnaire, though.

Which riders should I add to my policy?

Depending on your needs, you could add these riders to your coverage:

  • Accelerated death benefit. Allows you to access part of the death benefit while you’re still alive if you’re diagnosed with a terminal illness.
  • Long-term care rider. Pays out a portion of the death benefit to help you cover long-term care expenses, like a nursing home or private nurse.
  • Term conversion rider. Available on term life policies, this rider gives you the option to convert to permanent coverage later on — usually before your 65th or 70th birthday.