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While there are many different types of life insurance options, term life insurance is usually the best choice for most people. It’s a straightforward product and is generally the most affordable type of life insurance policy. A 35-year-old female pays $440 a year for $500,000 in coverage for a 20-year term, while a 35-year-old male pays $516. 

How much a term life insurance policy actually costs varies by age, coverage amount, term length, and your smoker status. However, insurance companies look at an application holistically. They also evaluate your health, lifestyle choices, and family history to determine how much you pay for life insurance

Each individual’s profile is unique, so we can’t tell you the exact amount you’ll be paying for coverage. But we can give you a ballpark of what to expect based on your smoker status, age, and how much coverage you’re buying. Read on to learn more.

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Average term life insurance rates
For a 25-year-old male

How much a $500,000 policy costs annually for healthy, non-smokers

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How much a $500,000 policy costs annually for smokers

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How much a $750,000 policy costs annually for healthy, non-smokers

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How much a $750,000 policy costs annually for smokers

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How much a $1 million policy costs annually for healthy, non-smokers

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How insurers determine your life insurance premium

To set your life insurance premium, you will need to go through the underwriting process. Life insurance companies use the underwriting process to determine how much you pay for a policy. This often includes a medical exam and background check.

During this process, insurers will evaluate the following:

  • Age: Life prices go up with age. 
  • Health: Medical conditions will increase the cost of your life insurance premium, depending on the severity and treatment plan.
  • Lifestyle choices: Risky hobbies or a risky occupation may increase your premium.
  • Financial background: If your credit history shows bankruptcy, you will pay more for coverage. 
  • Criminal history: If you have a felony on your record, you will pay more for coverage, if you are eligible. However, misdemeanors shouldn’t affect your premiums.

How much life insurance you should get

When buying term life insurance, you need to consider how much coverage you need and how long your policy’s term length should last. 

Term length

When it comes to term life insurance, getting the right term length is very important. If you get a term length that isn’t long enough, the coverage you’re paying for might be useless. But if you get a term length that is too long, you’re overpaying for coverage. For this reason, it’s important to find the sweet spot.

For example, if you have young children you plan to support through college, then you’ll want to get a policy length that lasts at least 20 years. But if you have a 30-year mortgage, then you’ll want a policy that lasts at least 30 years. 

Coverage amount

Getting enough life insurance coverage is just as important as getting the right term length. Again, if the policy’s face amount is too little, it won’t provide the financial support you’re paying for. But if the policy’s face amount is too high, you’re paying more in premiums than you need to. 

For example, if you make six figures annually, you probably need at least $1 million in coverage. But if you’re only buying coverage to pay off your funeral expenses, you’re going to need significantly less than that. 

Most people need at least 10 to 15 times their income in life insurance coverage. But the exact amount you need will depend on your individual circumstances. To get an accurate amount, tally up:

  1. The debts you owe
  2. The amount of income you earn multiplied by the years you plan to provide financial support
  3. Your mortgage
  4. The cost of your children’s education. 
  5. Any other financial obligations

Because life insurance isn’t one size fits all, you may want to talk to a Certified Financial Planner to ensure you’re getting the right amount of coverage.

How to get the most affordable life insurance rates 

  • Shop around: Each insurer underwrites differently, so while one may offer you a high rate, the other may offer you its most competitive premium. Shop around with at least three to five insurers to make sure you’re getting the lowest rate possible. Check out our list of Best Life Insurance Companies to get an idea of which insurer is right for you.
  • Apply ASAP: Life insurance prices increase as you age, so getting coverage as soon as possible will save you money in the long run.
  • Get healthy: The healthier you are, the lower your rates. Exercising, eating healthy, and drinking lots of water will help you perform better on the life insurance medical exam.
  • Quit smoking: Smokers pay significantly more than nonsmokers. But you can’t just quit right before buying a policy — you’ll need to be nicotine free for at least one year.

How much you’ll actually pay for life insurance will depend on your profile, but walking into the buying process knowing what to expect ensures you won’t overspend. 

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