How does age affect life insurance?

6 min Read Published: 14 Sep 2023

How does age affect life insurance?Age is one of the key factors in calculating the cost of life insurance quotes. Age can also create limitations to the life insurance you are able to buy.

In this article, we take a look at how and why age affects life insurance. We also explore at what age it is best to buy life insurance.

How and why does your age affect life insurance?

Your age is used by a life insurance company to calculate your risk. By risk, the life insurance company simply wants to understand how likely it is that you will die within the terms of the life insurance contract, resulting in a potential future claim. As you get older throughout the term of your life insurance contract, the more likely it is that there may be a claim and this is why your age affects your life insurance premiums.

Life insurance companies, like most businesses, are trying to make a profit. In order to do this, they have to charge their customers enough money to cover any potential claims and make a healthy return for the shareholders. Also, like any other goods or service supplier, life insurance companies compete with one another on price which keeps the cost of life insurance coverage competitively low.

When you request a quotation for a life insurance contract, you're required to provide your age and confirm whether you smoke. These two factors affect life expectancy and are the foundation of what is used to price your life insurance. A person of older age and one who smokes will pay more for their life insurance than someone who is younger and who doesn't smoke.

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Can you get life insurance at any age?

No, life insurance is available from around the age of 18 years old. Depending on whether you wish to buy term or whole of life insurance, the minimum and maximum age limits can vary.

Term life insurance age limits

Term life insurance policies provide cover for a set number of years up to a maximum age (Usually 90), however, most people choose for them to finish much earlier. Many life insurance companies offer a maximum policy term of around 40 years and the minimum term offered is usually 1, 2 or 5 years depending on the insurance company.

Whole of life insurance age limits

A whole of life insurance policy will carry on covering you until you die, whichever age you live until and will cost you more than a term life insurance policy. Whole of life insurance does have a maximum age for entry and is usually between 70 and 85 years old, depending on the insurer.

Life insurance is available throughout most of your life, albeit at higher premiums the older you get. Applying for life insurance while you are younger is a good way to ensure lower monthly premiums. Do keep in mind that your premium will be impacted by other factors such as your health and smoker status.

At what age should you buy life insurance?

Ideally, we should all try to buy life insurance as soon as it is sensibly possible. The standard price for your life insurance is cheapest when you are young and only gets more expensive with each passing year. Also, the risk of your health changing will increase as you age and may increase the cost of your life insurance even further.

Practically, most people don't start thinking about buying life insurance until they have commitments and responsibilities. Events such as cohabiting, getting married, having children, buying a home or starting a business usually get us thinking about the financial impact our death might have on others in our lives. These events happen to different people at different points in their lives so they come to life insurance as and when the need arises.

Most people would benefit from buying a modest amount of life insurance at a young age as the foundation for their future needs. Someone in their 20's buying around £200,000 of life insurance over a 30-year policy term is likely to only pay around £5 per month.  This relatively small monthly premium could provide the initial building blocks of personal insurance you'll need as time goes by.

What is the maximum age for life insurance?

The maximum age you can buy life insurance is around 87 years old, but it can be lower depending on the type, amount and length of life insurance policy you wish to buy. The application process for your life insurance can become trickier later in life.

A life insurance company may ask you to attend a medical examination and provide financial evidence to support your need for life insurance. These are automatic requirements based on your age and how much life insurance you want to buy. Again, automatic application requirements vary between life insurance companies so if you want to avoid medical exams and additional testing it is wise to speak to a specialist life insurance adviser*.

People over the age of 50 who are in poor health and want a small amount of life insurance to cover a funeral, for example, can buy an over 50s life insurance that doesn't ask about your medical health. You can read more about these types of life insurance in our article, "Which is the best over 50s life insurance?"

How does age affect how much critical illness cover costs

The effect of age on the price of critical illness cover is more significant than it is for life insurance. Morbidity rates reflecting the rate at which acute and serious illnesses occur within a population are higher in the UK than mortality rates reflecting death.

The older you are, the more critical illness insurance will cost and most life insurance companies don't offer critical illness insurance beyond the age of 70. That being said, children's critical illness insurance is available within an adult policy or as an additional policy. Children can be covered by a critical illness insurance policy from 24 weeks of gestation, right up until they reach age 23. Age limits do vary between life insurance companies.

The average cost of life insurance by age in the UK

Age affects life insurance rates and the price increases significantly more later in life. Here we have provided a table showing monthly premiums for life insurance by age, showing exactly how age affects what you pay for life insurance.

Level term assurance is one of the simpler types of life insurance and covers you for a lump sum of money should you die within the policy term. For clarity, the term is the number of years that you're covered for.

Monthly premium for level term life insurance over 20 years

Non-smoker aged: £200,000  £400,000  £600,000 
20 £4.20 £6.46 £8.69
30 £6.44 £10.50 £14.47
40 £11.89 £22.18 £31.07
50 £26.98 £53.31 £77.93
60 £78.95 £150.35 £230.57

Life insurance quotes are based on a person of healthy build and lifestyle with no history of poor health

Monthly premium for level term life insurance over 20 years

Smoker aged: £200,000  £400,000  £600,000 
20 £6.14 £9.63 £13.68
30 £10.58 £18.40 £26.34
40 £25.05 £46.25 £72.75
50 £68.50 £132.73 £191.53
60 £196.09 £379.50 £557.87

Life insurance quotes are based on a person of healthy build and lifestyle with no history of poor health

How to get life insurance quotes

It can be quite straightforward to find life insurance quotes online using comparison sites or life insurance company tools. However, these methods don't provide advice or guidance with choosing the right types of life insurance for your circumstances and budget. They don't really even help you to pay the lowest premiums as the quoted price can change after you apply for your life insurance.

Your age could limit the options available to you via an online comparison site and so you may not realise that there are other options to choose from. The options via an online comparison site are usually limited to the simplest products, which may or may not be the right option for you.

The best way to find the right type of life insurance for you is to speak to someone who has access to the whole market. This will give you access to all the life insurance products that are available.

At Money to the Masses we suggest that you speak to a specialist life insurance adviser*. You can complete the contact form and an adviser will call you at a time that suits you.

You'll be able to discuss all your needs with a financial professional and they'll provide advice that is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), giving you financial protection against poor advice. They will ask you for your budget and stick to what you want to pay for life insurance.

Advice is free and so you'll only pay for your policy and you're not obliged to take the advice that you're given. If you do, though, you'll receive up to £100 cashback as a Money to the Masses reader.


If a link has an * beside it this means that it is an affiliated link. If you go via the link, Money to the Masses may receive a small fee which helps keep Money to the Masses free to use. The following link can be used if you do not wish to help Money to the Masses and do not wish to qualify for the cashback referred to in the article - LifeSearch