Jeff is a well-known speaker and expert in life insurance and financial planning. He has been featured and quoted in Nerdwallet, Bloomberg, Forbes, U.S. News & Money, USA Today, and other leading finance websites. He is a licensed life insurance agent and has helped over 3000 people secure life insurance. He is licensed in all 50 states & DC. Jeff has spoken at top insurance conferen...

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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: Jan 15, 2021

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The Facts of Life
  • Unless you have outstanding debts or beneficiaries life insurance for seniors over 80 is usually not worth it
  • Getting term life insurance when you are 80 years or older can be very difficult and costly due to underlying medical conditions
  • Guaranteed issue, simplified issue, and final expense insurance are all great options for people over 80 who want life insurance

Getting life insurance over 80 can be difficult for most seniors. Life insurance companies don’t want to take the increased risk of insuring older people who might have more underlying medical conditions.

If you’re older than 80 you need to consider what your life insurance needs are. If you don’t have outstanding debts or beneficiaries for your policy, then you likely don’t need to deal with the hassle of purchasing a life insurance policy over 80.

Still, if you want life insurance you have options even over the age of 80. If you’re ready to compare life insurance rates for people over 80, enter your ZIP code above to buy affordable life insurance for people over 80.

Is Life Insurance Over 80 Worth It?

One of the biggest reasons people in their 80s buy life insurance is to cover final expenses and burial.

The National Funeral Directors Association reports the average cost of a funeral with burial in 2019 was $9,135, up about 4.5 percent in the past five years. Funeral costs continue to increase with each passing year.

People want assurances their coverage will take care of final expenses. They don’t want to leave a final burden either to a spouse or to children. Usually, the problem is centered on the concern of not having enough money to pay those final expenses.

Even if you’re looking at cremation as an alternative to a high cost of burial, cremations are getting more expensive as well. In 2019, the average cost of a funeral with cremation was $6,645. This cost has increased by almost 10 percent in the past five years.

Unless you already have money set aside, a life insurance plan could be your best way to pay these costs for your family.

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Can life insurance help replace income?

Another reason why somebody buys a final life insurance plan over the age of 80 is income replacement.

Usually, this is because there’s the potential for a spouse to live on for years but with less money to live on. The death of the first spouse would dramatically affect how the surviving spouse would live day-to-day.

Will life insurance help me leave behind a legacy?

In many cases, senior citizens over 80 buy life insurance to benefit a child or a grandchild. If you have land that you don’t want broken up, or you jsut want to leave your loved ones some cash, you might want to look into a life insurance policy to help you do this. 

If you’re looking for some kind of plan to help you manage a legacy or help manage a fair and equitable distribution of your assets, life insurance could play a role.

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What types of life insurance are available for people over 80?

Now that we know the main reasons people buy life insurance, let’s shift gears and talk about the most common types of life insurance for seniors over the age of 80.

Whole Life Insurance

The most common product for people over 80 is whole life insurance. Whole life insurance is a type of permanent life insurance which means it does not expire.

Whole life policies typically have premium rates that never increase. Their coverage amount can be guaranteed from the moment the policy is taken out, and the coverage never cancels due to age or health.

Average Simplified-Issue Whole Life Insurance Rates for Seniors Over 80
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This is different from a term life insurance policy that expires and won’t be available for many senior citizens to buy. It’s also different from guaranteed issue life insurance which requires a waiting period.

Average Cost of Guaranteed Issue Whole Life Insurance for Seniors Over 80
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If you died within a couple of years of buying a guaranteed issue life insurance policy, your family couldn’t receive the full death benefit. Instead, they’d get your premiums back with interest.

Likewise, if you died after your term policy expired, your family would not be able to file a claim for your death benefit.

So traditional whole life typically makes the most sense for people older than 80. Senior citizens face “permanent problems” such as paying for final expenses and replacing income. If they outlived a term life policy, they would still have the same concerns.

Pros of Whole Life Insurance for Seniors Over 80

A traditional whole life insurance policy has several key benefits:

  • Level Premiums: You get peace of mind your rates won’t increase as you age.
  • No Expiration: You won’t risk outliving your coverage as you would with term life insurance.
  • You Can Qualify: Even people older than 80 can get this kind of coverage. Your options become a lot more limited after age 85.
  • Cash Value: Permanent life insurance accrues value over time. With a smaller final expense policy, your policy won’t gain much value. But as the years go by your cash value could become more of an asset.

Cons of Whole Life Insurance for Seniors Over 80

The biggest drawback with whole life insurance is the potential for a two-year waiting period.

Sometimes, due to people’s health, insurers will cover only an accidental death during the first two years of the policy. After the waiting period, you’ll have full coverage.

A lot of seniors run into this wall as they look for coverage. Once they’ve been told about the waiting period — and about their high life insurance rates and small face amount, I might add — they call our agency.

We work with so many insurance carriers you’ll have a much better chance of finding a permanent policy with no waiting period. When you work with an agent who works for a specific insurance carrier, the agent won’t be able to offer a wide variety of choices.

Companies like AIG, Mutual of Omaha, and New York Life may have exactly the coverage you’re looking for. If you visit an agent who sells only one kind of insurance, you may never hear about the real type of insurance you should buy.

And, if you shop directly from an insurer such as AIG Direct, you’d automatically get a guaranteed issue policy with its 2-year (or maybe 3-year) waiting period.

This kind of shopping is especially important if you have medical conditions that could prevent insurers from covering you.

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Is universal life insurance available for people over 80?

Universal life insurance coverage allows for the option of temporary or permanent life insurance coverage.

One of the pros of these plans is that you may get more coverage per dollar of your premium payments than what you could find with a whole life type of plan. You could also qualify for living benefits such as an accelerated death benefit rider. With this rider, you could access your coverage before you died if diagnosed with a terminal illness.

If you’re looking for a lot of additional coverage and a whole life insurance plan seems too expensive, it’s worth looking at a universal life insurance policy. It may be a better option.

The biggest drawback with universal life is its more stringent underwriting compared with whole life insurance.

You’ll most likely have to take a medical exam as part of your application process. Many times you will get rated up or possibly declined for coverage. If you’re in good health, you’ll have a better chance of getting more affordable premiums. But if you have health concerns, you could pay a lot more.

My recommendation is to talk to a broker in advance to figure out if this is something you may qualify for.

Can I get no exam life insurance if I’m over 80?

Should you take the medical exam? A lot of shoppers over age 80 ask this question.

Health exams are sometimes optional but sometimes required. It depends mostly on the type of insurance product you plan to buy.

So, let’s talk about what you can expect based on the two types of products that we discussed in this article.

What can I expect out of a whole life insurance medical exam?

It’s very unlikely you’d need an exam with a simplified issue whole life policy.

All the clients I’ve referred to above have gotten their coverage with simplified issue whole life insurance products. These generally do not rely on examinations to come up with health determinations.

Many times underwriters simply look at your health history records to assess your eligibility — either instantly or within the next several days.

This is great because it can save you the time and the headache of trying to get scheduled for the medical exam or a visit to the lab. Final expense insurance underwriting assumes you’ll have some health problems because of your age.

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Are there medical exams with universal life insurance?

If you do want the lower cost and higher flexibility of a universal life plan, you may be asked to take a medical exam. Exams typically involve blood analysis and a full questionnaire done by your doctor. It can be a real hassle.

This is why I recommend this course of action only if you are extremely healthy and if your insurance agent thinks your good health will work in your favor.

Shopping for Life Insurance Over 80: The Bottom Line

Life insurance for seniors over age 80 is absolutely doable.

The best company or product will depend on your health situation. Just make sure you’re working with an agent or an agency that has the knowledge and products to find the best rates available for your situation.

Get life insurance quotes for people over 80, just enter your ZIP code below. We’ll help you buy life insurance for people over 80.