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Ask the Life Insurance Expert
I'm 76 years old. Is it too late to buy life insurance?
You're too old to qualify for term life insurance with some companies. Prudential Financial, for instance, doesn't issue term life to anyone over age 75. However, there are a few companies that will provide term life for folks as old as 80. Term life covers you for a certain period, such as 10, 15 or 20 years.
You're more likely at your age to qualify for permanent life insurance, such as whole life, than term life. Permanent life insurance covers you for the rest of your life, no matter when you die. But you'll pay much higher rates than younger applicants, especially if you have health problems.
The bigger question is whether you should buy life insurance, period. There is a point where the returns from a policy aren't worth the expense. Talk to a trusted financial adviser about your options.
Many people who purchase life insurance as seniors buy small, whole life policies to pay for final expenses. That way, their families aren't burdened with the funeral costs. These small policies, marketed as "funeral insurance" or "burial insurance," provide guaranteed acceptance, which means you don't have to undergo a medical exam or answer medical questions. They might be appropriate in some cases for someone who really needs but can't otherwise qualify for life insurance, but they cost more per $1,000 of coverage than standard life insurance policies.
You might also hear about "preneed insurance." This is a whole life policy sold by funeral homes in conjunction with the services you choose. In some cases, the funeral home locks in the prices of the services you want when you buy the policy, so you don't have to worry about funeral costs exceeding the policy's death benefit.
For more, see Are you too old to buy affordable life insurance?