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LIMRA, the life-insurance industry research group, reported in early November 2023 that individual life insurance premiums topped $3.7 billion in the third quarter of the year and that year-to-date sales were up 4% over last year.

Life insurance provides financial protection to your loved ones in the event of your death. There are different types of life insurance products, but the most common is term life.  Term is no-frills life insurance that only lasts for a certain period of time — or term— but meets the needs of many consumers.

There are other types of policies, such as whole life, indexed universal life (IUL) and variable universal life (VUL). Unlike term life, these permanent life insurance products have no expiration date and your policy is active as long as you make your premium payments.

LIMRA reported that, on a policy basis, sales increased in the third quarter for term, whole life, IUL and VUL insurance.  

To find out what’s driving life insurance sales, spoke with Alison Salka, Ph.D., LIMRA’s senior vice president and research director. A lightly edited version of the conversation follows. What’s the reason for the increasing demand for life insurance? What’s driving this? 

Salka: Demand for life insurance increased during the pandemic as events that remind people of their mortality tend to increase concerns around protecting their family’s financial future. The increase in policy sales throughout the year indicates that consumer demand may still be above pre-pandemic levels. Carriers are also likely seeing gains from investments in technology to streamline and improve the sales and underwriting process. Do you think demand will continue for the remainder of this year and into next year?

Salka: Demand depends on a number of things including economic conditions like inflation, unemployment, etc. Factors that put pressure on consumer discretionary income affect life insurance demand among the middle market. Currently, we expect a period of low growth in 2024 and 2025 on a premium basis. There is still opportunity, though. According to the 2023 Insurance Barometer Study, an annual report that looks at the perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors of insurance consumers that’s published by LIMRA and Life Happens, more than 100 million adults in the U.S don’t have enough life insurance. Meanwhile, interest rates and the yields on 10-year U.S. Treasury notes are back at levels not seen since before the global financial crisis, creating an attractive environment for insurers to grow in the U.S. At the same time, insurers are investing in key technologies and services to meet the needs of consumers and make the purchase process faster and easier. How important is it for families to have life insurance? 

Salka: Life insurance is critical for many families, and its importance depends on the family’s financial situation, obligations, and long-term goals. Life insurance offers a variety of benefits to families including financial protection. Life insurance can cover funeral and burial expenses, which can be substantial. This relieves the family of the financial burden associated with end-of-life costs. Life insurance benefits can provide financial support for surviving family members during a difficult time. It allows them to focus on healing and adjusting to life changes without the added stress of financial insecurity.

It also provides a financial safety net for dependents in the event of the insured person’s death. The death benefit can help replace lost income, cover living expenses, and maintain the family’s standard of living. It can help with debt repayment if a family has outstanding debts such as a mortgage, car loans, or credit card balances.

Life insurance used to pay off these debts can prevent financial strain on the surviving family members. It can also be used to help:

  • Fund the education expenses of children or other dependents.
  • Estate planning.
  • Provide liquidity to cover estate taxes or other costs associated with the transfer of assets to heirs.

Knowing that there is financial protection in place can provide peace of mind for the insured person and their family. In addition, certain life insurance policies, such as whole life or universal life, accumulate cash value over time. This cash value can be accessed during the insured person’s lifetime for various financial needs, providing flexibility in financial planning.

While life insurance is important for many families, the specific need for coverage can vary. It’s a good idea to consult with a financial advisor to determine the most suitable life insurance strategy for their needs. How do families determine how to buy the best life insurance product to protect their financial futures?

Salka: Choosing the best life insurance product for a family involves careful consideration of various factors. It starts with an assessment of need. Consumers should determine their financial needs, including ongoing living expenses, outstanding debts (mortgage, loans), education costs for children, and any other future financial obligations.

Then it’s helpful to familiarize yourself with the two main types of life insurance: term life insurance and permanent life insurance (which includes whole life, universal life, and variable life insurance). Each type has its own features, benefits, and costs. It’s also important to decide on the length of a policy term.

How long will the family depend on the insured’s income? 

Consumers also should consider coverage amount. A common rule of thumb is to have coverage that is at least 10 times your annual income, but individual circumstances vary. It’s also important to know about the different types of insurance. If someone is considering permanent insurance, they should understand the features, such as cash value accumulation, policy loans, and potential dividends. Keep in mind that permanent policies are typically more expensive than term policies.

You can work with a professional or gather quotes from different carriers. Companies considered should have good ratings and financial stability. It’s also important to consider and understand any additional features or riders that can be added to the policy, such as disability income riders, critical illness riders, or accelerated death benefit riders. These can enhance the policy’s flexibility and coverage.

If this seems daunting, seek professional advice. A financial advisor or insurance professional can provide personalized advice based on a family’s specific needs and financial situation. Remember that the best life insurance product for one family may not be the best for another, as individual needs and circumstances vary. Taking the time to carefully evaluate options and seeking professional advice can help ensure that you make an informed decision.

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John McCormick


John was a deputy editor at The Wall Street Journal and had been an editor and reporter at a number of other media outlets where he covered insurance, personal finance, and technology.


The opinions expressed by outside experts in’s “Expert Opinion & Commentary” section reflect those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of, its parent company QuinStreet Inc. or any of its affiliates and employees. Our editors review these articles and monitor them for accuracy after they've been posted, but the insurance industry sees constant rate changes, regulatory shifts, and other changes. Readers should always check an insurance company's website or contact.