What affects the cost of life insurance?

The life insurance cost factors you can't control

Two of the biggest influences on life insurance rates are also the ones you can't control: age and sex. Generally, younger people pay less than older people because they're less likely to have health problems. And the cost of life insurance tends to be more for males because they have shorter lifespans and are more likely to have dangerous jobs or lifestyles, making them riskier to insure overall.

Term life insurance rates by age and sex

The life insurance rates by age chart below provides examples of the average term life insurance costs for males and females, 20 to 60 years old, quoting a 10-year term policy through eFinancial. As you can see, the average life insurance cost per month is generally higher for men than women. Plus, the average rates for 20- and 30-year-olds are nearly the same, while those for 40-year-olds skew higher as a result of increasing risk.

Whole life insurance rates by age and sex

The following chart compares the average rates for final expense insurance (a type of whole life insurance) for males and females, ages 50 to 70, at $35,000 in coverage. Since this final expense policy is only available starting at age 50 when health risks are already higher, you'll see that the potential rates can increase with each year. A whole life policy also costs more than a term policy since coverage lasts your entire lifetime and the policy has cash value. Learn more about the difference between term and permanent life insurance.

The life insurance cost factors you can usually control
  • Your health: Insurers typically look at your height, weight, and medical history
  • Tobacco use: Life insurance for smokers usually comes with higher rates than for non-smokers due to the number of medical conditions associated with smoking, including cancer.
  • Hobbies: If you sky-dive or partake in amateur stock car racing, you might have higher premiums than someone who collects stamps.
  • Criminal history: DUIs, previous arrests, and other criminal convictions may affect your rate or even disqualify you from coverage with some insurers.
  • Occupation: As with hobbies, the riskier your job, the more you could pay for life insurance. Police officer, firefighter, pilot, and construction worker are just a few of the occupations that may see higher life insurance rates
  • Financial history: Your actual credit score won't affect your premium, but any bankruptcies or other risk factors identified in your credit report may..
  • A W-2 or self employment tax information.
  • Coverage amount: As you'd expect, the amount of coverage you select will change your life insurance rate — more coverage means higher rates