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What happens if you outlive your term life insurance?Many plans let you convert your term life insurance policy to a whole life insurance policy. You may be able to convert the plan without going through a medical exam, but you’ll need to do so before your term life insurance policy expires.  

Term life insurance policies usually last anywhere from 10 to 30 years. Once your policy expires, you no longer have coverage. But if you still need coverage, you have options. 

If you no longer need coverage then you can let your policy expire.

Key Takeaways

  • You should renew your insurance policy, if you are in poor health, you will get coverage and rates will be higher.
  • Buying a new term life policy might be wise as long as you are healthy and still young.
  • Most policies you buy will let you convert your term insurance to permanent life insurance.
  • If you’ve saved enough to give to your family at the time of your death, you can decide to let go of your life insurance policy.

What happens if you outlive your term life insurance policy?

If you outlive the policy’s term, the coverage will expire and you will no longer have life insurance protection. Because term life insurance pays out a death benefit only if the insured person passes away during the policy term, there will be no payout to your beneficiaries if you outlive the term.

Most term life insurance policies offer the option to convert your policy into permanent coverage. If you still need coverage, this is the best option because you won’t have to retake the medical exam and pay high premiums due to any changes in your health.

What to do if your term life insurance policy is expiring

Here are four options if your term life policy is expiring:

Buy a new policy

Buying a new term life policy could be a wise decision if you’re young and in good health.

This option can cost you less than converting to a permanent life policy depending on your age and health. However, the insurer will review your medical history to make sure you’re not too high of a risk to insure.

When choosing a new life insurance policy, read what policyholders have to say about their experience with their insurer, and choose from among the best life insurance companies for customer service, value and price.

Convert to permanent life

Most term life insurance policies allow you to convert term to permanent life insurance. Before you buy your policy, you’ll want to confirm with your insurer if it’s a rider that’s added on to your policy. 

How much more you will pay for a permanent life insurance policy depends on the person and company. You probably won’t have to go through the insurability process again if you convert to permanent life, but you will likely pay higher premiums because permanent life insurance is generally more expensive than term life insurance. 

But if something in your health changes and you have trouble getting a new policy because of a new health condition, you can convert your term policy and not have to be worried about being denied.

Let your policy expire

If you don’t need life insurance coverage anymore, you can simply let your policy expire. There is nothing you need to do if your policy’s term is ending — you will stop paying premiums and you will no longer have coverage. 

Policyholders should check policies with their agents and insurers to make sure they understand the policy’s provisions. Don’t wait until your policy is running out. Spend time figuring out your policy and your options well before then.

Frequently asked questions

Do you still need life insurance after your term policy expires?

You may still need life insurance coverage after your term life insurance policy expires. Assess your financial obligations and responsibilities. If you have dependents, debts, or ongoing financial commitments, having life insurance can provide financial protection for your loved ones after you’re gone.

Can I increase the death benefit when I convert to a permanent policy?

Yes, when converting a term life insurance policy to a permanent one, it’s possible to get an increased death benefit. If you wish to convert to a permanent policy with a higher death benefit than your existing term life policy, you might need to undergo the underwriting process again.

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Shivani Gite
Contributing Writer


Shivani Gite is a personal finance and insurance writer with a degree in journalism and mass communication. She is passionate about making insurance topics easy to understand for people and helping them make better financial decisions.