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life-insuranceGender can play a significant role in how much you pay for life insurance.

Why is there a difference? Men are considered a higher risk largely due to a shorter average life expectancy and earlier risk of things like heart attack.

Women live on average about five years longer than men. That fact plays into your rates, especially if you buy a longer policy that stretches into your senior years.

A man’s average lifespan is 74. A woman’s average life span is about 79. The difference between those five years for a life insurer increases the likelihood of having to pay a death benefit.

Read on for more about how gender affects life insurance.

Key Takeaways

  • Men have a shorter average life expectancy than women, which leads to higher life insurance rates.
  • Gender affects both term and whole life insurance rates, but life expectancy affects permanent life more, while other health risks affect term life more.
  • Shopping around and buying young can mitigate some of the rate differences caused by gender.

What role does gender play in term life insurance rates?

Term life insurance offers coverage for a specific number of years, usually from 10 to 30 years. If you outlive your term policy, your insurer won’t have to pay a death benefit.

The average age for a first heart attack in men is 65, while it’s 72 for women. So if a woman and a man both buy a 30-year term policy at age 45, the man is much more likely to die of a heart attach in that time frame. So, the insurance company charges more for that policy.

Let’s take a look at how the rates differ by gender.

Average annual premiums for term life death benefit of $250,000

Health profile and term lengthAge 30Age 40Age 50Age 60
Female non-smoker 10-year term$223$306$573$1,184

Male non-smoker 10-year term

Female non-smoker 20-year term$314$477$955$2,310

Male non-smoker 20-year term

Female non-smoker 30-year term$431$695$1,537$7,300*
Male non-smoker 30-year term$528$874$2,023$7,300*

*Limited quotes available. Data source: Compulife Quotation System 2023.

What role does gender play in permanent life insurance rates?

Permanent life insurance, such as whole life, lasts for as long as you live. As long as you pay your premiums, your survivors will receive a death penalty when you die.

Gender doesn’t affect permanent life insurance rates quite as much as term, but it does still make a difference. A person who lives longer pays premiums longer, so that the life insurance company earns more money before it has to pay out. The longer they are likely to collect premiums from you, the less you will pay, which is why rates are much lower if you buy the policy when you’re young.

What else affects life insurance rates?

Your habits, your health, your gender, and national mortality tables are the main factors life insurance companies’ underwriting departments use to set rates.

Do you skydive? Are you a pilot? Do you smoke? Insurers look to see if your behaviors and habits are risky and charge accordingly.

If your behaviors are tied to statistically shorter lifespans, chances are higher that a benefit will have to be paid before the term ends.

If you’re overweight, have diabetes or heart conditions, or have some other high-risk health situation, this too will increase your premiums. Your health history, as well as your current state, will be assessed during your medical exam, which most insurance companies require.

How to save on life insurance regardless of gender

A good first place to start when figuring out what policy to get is our life insurance advisor to see what’s best for your situation. You can also check out our life insurance calculator to find how much you need and look at our best life insurance companies.

As with anything, shopping around for multiple quotes is never a bad idea. Make sure you’re quoting apples to apples and see what different companies are charging. Remember, the higher the risk, the higher the premium some behaviors that contribute to a less-than-healthy lifestyle will cost you.

Traditional policies that require a medical exam typically cost less than policies that require no exam. Without one, the insurer is flying blind and is running with averages of lifespan. Without knowing specific history or current medical issues, their rates will be higher. Be honest, get examined and get the benefit of the better rate.

A few other ways to save when you’re buying life insurance include: buying when you’re young, choosing term life instead of permanent life insurance, and paying your premium annually instead of on a payment plan, which can add fees to each payment.

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