For many people, life insurance is primarily a way to provide for their loved ones in the event of their death. It makes sense that you would want to do this in the most cost-effective way possible, assuming that coverage amounts and other requirements are met.

Briefly, you buy a life insurance policy from a life insurance company, either directly or through a broker. With term life insurance, assuming you’ve paid the annual premiums, your beneficiaries will receive a death benefit if you die during the term of the policy.

A permanent policy – such as whole life or universal life – can provide coverage until you die or until you reach a certain age. These policies sometimes act as an investment vehicle because they accumulate cash value over time. Read How Does Life Insurance Work and How to Buy Life Insurance for more information.

Different companies charge different premiums for the same amount of coverage, so it pays to shop around for the best deal. We determined the cheapest life insurance companies to help you find the right company to fit your budget.

Cheapest Life Insurance Companies

Any rates listed are for illustrative purposes only. You should contact the insurance company or insurance agent directly for applicable quotes. These sample rates were provided by Hallett/Quotacy, an insurance brokerage. When you use certain links on our pages, U.S. News may receive a commission from Hallett/Quotacy.

  1. Banner Life: Banner Life is the cheapest life insurance company in our ranking, with a sample monthly rate of $46.63. Our sample case is a 35-year old woman with average health and 20-year term life insurance with $1 million in coverage. Learn more in our Banner Life review.
  2. Pacific Life: Pacific Life is the second cheapest life insurance company in our ranking, with a sample monthly rate of $46.72. Read more in our Pacific Life review. Learn more in our Pacific Life review.
  3. Principal: Principal is the third cheapest life insurance company in our ranking, with a sample monthly rate of $47.18. Learn more in our Principal review. Learn more in our Principal review.
  4. Protective: Protective is the fourth cheapest life insurance company in our ranking, with a sample monthly rate of $57.32. Learn more in our Protective review.
  5. Mutual of Omaha: Mutual of Omaha is the fifth cheapest life insurance company in our ranking, with a sample monthly rate of $61.28. Learn more in our Mutual of Omaha review.

How We Found the Cheapest Life Insurance Companies

Our cheapest life insurance companies are based on sample monthly rates for a 20-year term policy with $1 million in coverage for a 35-year-old non-smoker female who falls in the Standard Plus risk class (average health).

Monthly premiums charged by our Best Life Insurance Companies vary considerably. The cheapest are listed in the chart below and range from $46.63 a month for Banner Life to $61.28 a month for Mutual of Omaha. The rates are for a 35-year old woman with average health and 20-year term life insurance with $1 million in coverage.

Many factors affect how much a given life insurance company will charge you for a specific policy. All of these considerations help the company determine how long you might live and thus the likelihood that it will have to pay out on a claim. Factors that determine how much you will pay for life insurance include:

  • Length of term: For term life insurance, the longer the term, the more total premium payments you will make. This is simply because you are more likely to die during a longer term than a shorter one.
  • Amount of coverage: The more coverage you buy (i.e., the higher the death benefit) for a given type of policy, the higher your life insurance rates will be.
  • Age: This is the most important personal characteristic for determining your life insurance cost. All else being equal, the older you are, the likelier that an insurance claim will be filed and the more you will pay.
  • Gender: Women often have lower life insurance costs than men because they tend to live longer.
  • Health history: Before selling you a life insurance policy, the insurance company usually will require a medical exam. It also reviews copies of your medical records to determine your current health and your medical history. If you have a serious condition like heart disease, or have had one in the past, your premiums will likely be higher. Other factors taken into consideration include weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. Finally, people in poor health can expect to pay more for life insurance because they are at greater risk of life-threatening health problems. By contrast, those who are in excellent health will have more affordable life insurance.
  • Family health history: Many health conditions are hereditary, and family history of one – even if you don’t have it yet – could raise your premiums.
  • Smoking: This is a well-known risk factor for cancer, heart disease and other potentially fatal conditions. If you smoke or use other tobacco products, you typically pay more for life insurance.
  • Hobbies and occupation: If you skydive, scuba dive, or engage in other potentially dangerous recreational activities, you generally will pay higher life insurance rates. This is also true if you are a firefighter or have another high-risk job.

Premiums aren’t the only factor to consider when purchasing life insurance. For term life insurance, you also want to get a term that’s long enough to meet your needs – for example, to provide coverage until your children graduate from college.

Permanent life insurance such as whole or universal life presents other considerations, including the rate of return on your investment and the rate you would be charged for borrowing against the policy. Our guides on whole life insurance and universal life insurance explain the advantages and disadvantages of these types of policies.

If the main reason you’re buying a life insurance policy is to take care of your loved ones, shopping based primarily on price could be a good idea. However, if you want your policy to serve as an investment vehicle or as part of your retirement savings plan, other factors should be considered as well. Before purchasing life insurance, talk to a financial consultant who can help you think through all of these considerations. For more information on life insurance, see How Life Insurance Works.

Find the best life insurance for you

Get free quotes and compare life insurance policies without your contact information.

Determining how much life insurance to buy can be tricky. On the one hand, you don’t want to purchase too little insurance and leave your dependents with financial obligations they can’t pay, such as a mortgage or other debts. On the other hand, buying life insurance with an excessive tax-free death benefit may be a waste of money that hinders you from accomplishing other long-term financial goals.

  • How many dependents you have, the standard of living you want them to have after you die and their future educational needs.
  • Your family’s current and probable future debts, income and assets.
  • Out-of-pocket costs your estate will owe after you die, including credit card debts, mortgage payments,funeral and other end-of-life expenses.
  • How your loved ones will support themselves without your salary.

The Insurance Information Institute says you should also consider “hidden income” that isn’t part of your annual salary. Examples are your employer’s 401(k) matches, health insurance subsidies and other fringe benefits. All of this will be lost upon your death and must be replaced by life insurance coverage if you want your beneficiaries to maintain the same standard of living.

It’s best to talk over these issues with your beneficiaries before buying a policy. Once you estimate the life insurance payout you need, determine the monthly premium you can afford to pay. Finally, choose a policy that provides enough coverage, stays within your budget and accomplishes any other financial goals you may have, such as accumulating cash value as an investment.

For an idea of how much life insurance might cost you based on your age, see the chart below. These average monthly costs are for a non-smoking female who falls in a Standard Plus risk class (average health) and is buying a policy with $1 million of coverage. These rates are for policies purchased within the last five years through Hallett and Quotacy.

Cost Comparison Chart

Some employers and membership-based groups offer life insurance, often known as group life insurance, as a benefit. The American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI) explains that group life insurance is based on a contract between the employer or group to provide life insurance – usually term insurance – to all employees or members. Some employers provide this free of charge as part of the employee’s benefit package.

According to the ACLI, group life insurance represented 43% of all existing life insurance policies in 2018. Group life insurance coverage offered by employers is usually a multiple of an individual employee’s annual salary.

There are several pros and cons to group life insurance. On the plus side, it’s subsidized by your employer and is often guaranteed regardless of your age or health status. However, the amount of coverage usually isn’t enough to fully provide for your dependents.

Moreover, group policies don’t allow much customization, such as changing or accelerating the death benefit. Group policies also aren’t portable: If you’re fired from or leave your job, your coverage goes away. Some group policies can be converted to individual policies in that situation, but the premiums will likely be higher.

If you have access to group life insurance, it’s a good idea to take advantage of it, especially when it’s provided for free. That said, you will probably need to supplement this with an individual policy to have a high enough coverage level, especially if you end up leaving your employer.

Cheapest Life Insurance for Women

The sample monthly rates below are for a 20-year term, $1-million policy for a female non-smoker who falls in a Standard Plus risk class (average health).

These sample rates were provided by Hallett/Quotacy, an insurance brokerage. When you use certain links on our pages, U.S. News may receive a commission from Hallett/Quotacy.

Cheapest Life Insurance for Men

The sample monthly rates below are for a 20-year term, $1-million policy for a male non-smoker who falls in a Standard Plus risk class (average health).

These sample rates were provided by Hallett/Quotacy, an insurance brokerage. When you use certain links on our pages, U.S. News may receive a commission from Hallett/Quotacy.

Cheapest Life Insurance for Seniors

Seniors can expect to pay more for life insurance than younger people. These sample monthly rates are for a 10-year term policy with $500,000 in coverage for female non-tobacco user in the Standard risk category. Individuals in this risk category may have one or two chronic diseases.

These sample rates were provided by Hallett/Quotacy, an insurance brokerage. When you use certain links on our pages, U.S. News may receive a commission from Hallett/Quotacy.

These sample monthly rates are for a 10-year term policy with $500,000 in coverage for male non-tobacco user in the Standard Risk category. Individuals in this risk category may have one or two chronic diseases.

These sample rates were provided by Hallett/Quotacy, an insurance brokerage. When you use certain links on our pages, U.S. News may receive a commission from Hallett/Quotacy.

Cheapest Life Insurance for Smokers

Smokers pay more for life insurance than non-smokers, all else being equal. Here are sample monthly rates for a 20-year term life insurance policy with $1 million in coverage for a 35-year-old female smoker.

These sample rates were provided by Hallett/Quotacy, an insurance brokerage. When you use certain links on our pages, U.S. News may receive a commission from Hallett/Quotacy.

These sample monthly rates are for a 20-year term life policy with $1 million coverage for a 35-year-old male smoker.

These sample rates were provided by Hallett/Quotacy, an insurance brokerage. When you use certain links on our pages, U.S. News may receive a commission from Hallett/Quotacy.

Cheapest Life Insurance for Children

Because they present little insurance risk, life insurance for children is relatively affordable. A parent or guardian often will add a child rider to an existing term or whole life policy rather than buy a standalone policy for the child. Standalone policies for children are so rarely requested that many companies don’t even offer them.

This type of rider is typically available for children up to ages 18 to 25, depending on the insurance company. One rider usually covers all of an individual’s dependents, no matter how many children he or she has.

You may not qualify for a child rider if the life insurance company assigns you a table rating. This refers to a portion of the risk category that the underwriter determines after evaluating your health and lifestyle.

The following are annual costs for a child rider providing $10,000 coverage.

Company Coverage Range

Age Availability

Expiration Age

Annual Cost

Banner Life $5,000 – $10,000 20-55 Child’s 25th birthday $55/year
Pacific Life $1,000 – $10,000 18-55 Child’s 25th birthday $55/year
Nationwide $5,000 – $25,000 18-55 Child’s 22nd birthday $50/year
Protective $1,000 – $25,000 18-64 Child’s 25th birthday $60/year
Mutual of Omaha $1,000 – $10,000 18-55 Child’s 23rd birthday $72/year

These sample rates were provided by Hallett/Quotacy, an insurance brokerage. When you use certain links on our pages, U.S. News may receive a commission from Hallett/Quotacy.

Cheapest Life Insurance With No Exam

When you apply for a life insurance policy, the insurance company normally will require you to get a medical exam to determine how healthy you are, and thus what sort of insurance risk you present.

You might be able to skip the physical exam and speed up the approval process by applying for no-exam life insurance. Premiums for a no-exam policy are often higher than with a traditional policy, but there are a few options available. The least-expensive option is probably to look for a standard policy that offers accelerated acceptance. One low-cost route is to look for a company that offers accelerated acceptance or accelerated underwriting on its term policies. For individuals in good health, accelerated acceptance waives the medical exam for no additional fee.

Some no-exam life insurance policies provide less coverage than a traditional policy can. Older people, smokers and those who just want to speed up the application process should consider a no-exam policy. But if you’re healthy, not in a rush, and/or want a large amount of coverage, a traditional policy is probably the best way to go.

The Best Life Insurance Companies

While it may be tempting to purchase life insurance based solely on price, that could be a mistake, because a cheap policy might not provide the coverage, add-on riders or other features you need. At the same time, paying too much for life insurance could delay or prevent you from achieving other financial goals. It’s important to strike the appropriate balance between cost, coverage and features given your unique circumstances. For help, see Best Life Insurance Companies and How to Buy Life Insurance.

Learn More

For more information about life insurance, see the following guides:

For more information on other types of insurance, see the following guides:

Methodology

We explain what our research has determined matters most to consumers, experts and professional reviewers when it comes to life insurance. Then we provide an unbiased evaluation of the life insurance companies our research determined consumers, experts and professional reviewers searched for most frequently. Our goal is to empower consumers with information and tools to help them make informed decisions. More information about our 360 Reviews methodology for evaluating life insurance companies is here.

All life insurance information was accurate as of August 19 , 2020.

U.S. News 360 Reviews takes an unbiased approach to our recommendations. When you use our links to buy products, we may earn a commission but that in no way affects our editorial independence.



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