Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Benjamin Carr was a licensed insurance agent in Georgia and has two years' experience in life, health, property and casualty coverage. He has worked with State Farm and other risk management firms. He is also a strategic writer and editor with a background in branding, marketing, and quality assurance. He has been in military newsrooms — literally on the frontline of journalism.

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Reviewed by Benji Carr
Former Licensed Life Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Sep 28, 2021

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It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right life insurance coverage choices.

Advertiser Disclosure: We strive to help you make confident life insurance decisions. Comparison shopping should be easy. We are not affiliated with any one life insurance provider and cannot guarantee quotes from any single provider.

Our life insurance industry partnerships don’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own. To compare quotes from top life insurance companies please enter your ZIP code on this page to use the free quote tool. The more quotes you compare, the more chances to save.

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about life insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything life insurance-related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by life insurance experts.

Buying Life Insurance Quick Facts

  • Term life insurance is cheaper than whole life insurance.
  • whole life insurance is better for long-term solutions.
  • Purchase supplemental life insurance to add more coverage to your life insurance policy.
  • life insurance rates are determined by age, gender, health, and even occupation.

Our guide shows you how to buy life insurance wisely and how to find the best life insurance companies in the United States. We’ll explain what to look for when buying life insurance and even how to buy life insurance online.

Is term life insurance or whole life insurance better? Find the answer to this question and more in the article.

If you want to learn how to buy life insurance right now, enter your ZIP code in the FREE comparison tool above.

How to Buy Affordable Life Insurance

The first step to buying a life insurance policy is to figure out your budget. Life insurance for people in their 20s and 30s is quite affordable. However, middle-aged and senior life insurance policyholders will pay a lot more per month.

Regardless of your age, we’ll give you a step-by-step guide on how you can buy life insurance.

#1 – Determine the Type of Life Insurance You Need

There are several types of life insurance coverage you can choose from. The main life insurance types are term life insurance and whole life insurance. However, there are other life insurance options. Here’s a list of life insurance coverages you may be interested in.

  • Universal Life Insurance
  • Accidental Death and Dismemberment (AD&D)
  • Variable Life Insurance
  • Group Life Insurance
  • Final Expense Life Insurance

These are just examples of life insurance coverage options that are out there. What’s the difference between term life and whole life? Let’s explore the differences in brief descriptions.

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What is term life insurance?

Term life insurance is the cheaper of the two life insurance policies. It only lasts a select number of years. If you outlive the term life insurance policy, you’ll lose the policy’s value to the life insurance policy.

What Is whole life insurance?

Whole life insurance lasts for your entire life. There are different types of Whole life insurance policies, such as universal life insurance, variable universal life insurance, and final expense insurance (also called funeral and burial insurance).

#2 – Select a Life Insurance Company

As you get closer to selecting a life insurance coverage, start thinking of which life insurance company you want. Here’s a list of the best life insurance companies and their average life insurance rates.

Average Monthly Life Insurance Rates by the Top Companies
CompaniesAverage Monthly Life Insurance RatesA.M. Best Rating
Banner Life$9A+
Guardian Life$10A++
Haven Life$11A++
New York Life$11A++
John Hancock$11A+
Mutual of Omaha$12A+
State Farm$15A++
Northwestern MutualN/AA++
Pacific LifeN/AA+
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Your life insurance rates could vary based on age, gender, health, coverage limits, and the company that holds your policy.

#3 – Receive Policy Offers

When you want to get a life insurance quote, life insurance companies will show you a few policies that they offer.

You can receive life insurance policies from $250,000 to $2 million. The values of life insurance coverage are the same as the coverage limits. However, you can expand coverage with supplemental life insurance.

#4 – Get a Medical Examination

One of the most essential factors in determining life insurance is through a medical exam. Life insurance companies classify policyholders on various levels.

You may have seen them listed Super Preferred, Preferred, and Standard. Let’s examine the cost of a 20-year life insurance policy valued at $500,000.

Average Monthly Life Insurance Rates Based on a 20-Year Life Insurance Policy Worth $500,000 by Age and Gender
Age and GenderAverage Monthly Super Preferred Life Insurance RatesAverage Monthly Preferred Life Insurance RatesAverage Monthly Standard Life Insurance Rates
30-Year-Old Female$16$19$30
30-Year-Old Male$19$24$35
40-Year-Old Female$24$30$44
40-Year-Old Male$55$65$97
50-Year-Old Female$28$35$56
50-Year-Old Male$70$83$130
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Super Preferred policyholders pay less for life insurance because they’re more healthy (nonsmokers and people without preexisting conditions).

But, Preferred and Standard life insurance rates are more expensive. Also, males tend to pay more for life insurance than females. Smokers are usually in the Preferred and Standard category.

#5 – Fill Out Important Documents

After you receive a medical examination, the life insurance company will give you some specific documents before starting your life insurance policy. Be sure to fill out these documents as accurately as possible.

Don’t forget to ask questions about something you don’t understand. This will prevent you from making payments for life insurance that you don’t need.

#6 – Pay Your Life Insurance Policy

With all of the information out on the table, you can purchase a life insurance policy. You will have the opportunity to pay your policy in full. Anyone can pay for the life insurance policy for the year.

However, middle-aged and senior policyholders may find it more cost-efficient to pay life insurance rates per month. If you need a little more on your life insurance, consider adding riders.

What are Life Insurance Riders?

Life insurance riders are extra benefits you can add to your life insurance policy.

The Alabama Department of Insurance often refers to riders as accelerated benefits. Here’s a list of riders that you can add.

  • Guaranteed Insurability
  • Accidental Death
  • Waiver of Premium
  • Family Income Benefit
  • Accelerated Death Benefit
  • Child Term
  • Long-Term Care
  • Return of Premium

Ask about life insurance riders and see if they fit into your budget. Riders can help you with those gaps in life insurance that aren’t usually covered.

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Why do you need life insurance?

Life insurance is an excellent investment that will protect loved ones, reassure business partners, and pay off debts. It gives a financial cushion for those left behind, and it creates wealth if you happen to outlive your life insurance policy.

But which life insurance is best? Continue to the next subsection to learn that answer.

Which type of life insurance is best?

The short answer to that question is there isn’t a “best life insurance type.” Each life insurance coverage is designed to meet the needs of the policyholder. Every individual has different reasons why they want life insurance.

Examine these features of life insurance coverage options to see which life insurance is best for you.

Life Insurance Features Summary
Life Insurance FeaturesTerm Life InsuranceWhole Life InsuranceUniversal Life InsuranceVariable Universal Life Insurance
Builds Cash Value Over Time
Cheap Life Insurance Options
Flexible Death Benefit Amount
Flexible Life Insurance Rate Payments
Guaranteed Cash Value
Has death benefits
Has living benefits
Linking Cash Value to Other Investments
You can choose policy length
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Although term life is cheaper than whole life, it’s a better alternative than not having life insurance at all. universal life and variable life insurance can give you more on savings and investment.

Getting Life Insurance Quotes Online

The internet has made it easier to find life insurance online. In recent years, life insurance policyholders would rather search for life insurance on themselves instead of using agents or brokers to find life insurance. Purchasing life insurance online is much cheaper and easy to understand.

How to Buy Life Insurance: The Bottom Line

The best way to buy life insurance is to compare quotes from the best life insurance companies as you research the type of life insurance you need. If you’re looking for cheap life insurance, lean toward a term life policy.

However, if you want life insurance that feels more like a long-term investment, go with whole life insurance policies such as universal life or variable life Insurance.

Enter your ZIP in our FREE online quote tool to learn how to buy life insurance right now.