Do You Need Life Insurance at Age 53? This is What You Need to Know.

Before you purchase a life insurance policy, it is important to understand the options that are available to you. When comparing various life insurance insurance policies it can seem a bit overwhelming at first. Fortunately, we’re here to make the selection process a little easier.

We are going to take a close look at what life insurance looks like for a 53-year-old. Since your situation is unique, you need to make sure that the policy you select can accommodate your needs. The first step is determining why you need/want life insurance.

Why Buy Life Insurance At 53?

The reason or reasons you need life insurance will help determine the type of policy you should buy. At 53, those reasons are likely different than they may have been at 43 or 33. Here are just a few of the many reasons you may be needing life insurance.

Mortgage Payments

Chances are that one of your most significant expenses is a monthly mortgage payment. If you were to die, your spouse (if you’re married) and/or children perhaps would still need to pay the mortgage payment each month. Would they be able to if you passed away without life insurance? A life insurance policy can ensure that your loved ones will be able to stay in the house and continue to either pay the monthly mortgage payments or perhaps even pay off the loan entirely.

Final Expenses

The average funeral can cost upwards of $12,000. Unfortunately, many individuals do not have that kind of cash lying around, which can put a significant burden on your family. Having a final expense life insurance policy in place can alleviate this expense and allow you to have the funeral service you want. There may even be some extra funds left over for your beneficiaries.

Estate and Legacy Planning

When planning your estate, you should consider any life insurance benefits, as they can be passed to your children. The money that your beneficiaries receive from the life insurance policy are income tax free. You may have a desire to leave a specific amount of money behind to a child or a grandchild. Life insurance is one way to do this and create a legacy.

Types of Life Insurance

You want to find a policy that fits your needs exactly. There are two primary types of life insurance: term and permanent. Each option can work great. Neither term or permanent insurance is better. However, one type is very likely more appropriate for your situation and for the reason you are needing/wanting coverage.

Below is quick breakdown.

Term Life Insurance

Term life insurance is the simplest type of coverage, and the easiest to understand. All you have to do is pick out the size of your death benefit (i.e., $250,000) and the length of your term (i.e., 20 years). From there, the insurance company will calculate your rates primarily based on your age, gender, health and your lifestyle habits.

One of the benefits of term insurance is that it is still quite affordable for 53-year-olds. Rates go up as you age, so the sooner you can buy a policy, the better. Most term life policies are actually called level term life. This means that your premium is locked in for the length of the level term period. The disadvantage, however, is that your rates will go up significantly at the end of the level term period. If you don’t need coverage beyond the level term period that’s really not an issue, because you can cancel the policy at anytime.

Term life insurance is there to provide temporary protection. And if your need for life insurance is temporary only then it’s very likely that term life is going to be the best policy for you. In fact, for most people a term life policy will be the best solution.

Having said that if you are needing coverage for your entire life no matter how long you live then permanent (whole) life insurance would be the best option for you.

Permanent Life Insurance

This kind of coverage can stay in force for no matter how long you live as long as the policy is properly funded. Compared to term rates, permanent life insurance is much more expensive.

Think about it from the perspective of a life insurance company. Let’s say you are 53 years old and you buy a 20 year term policy. If you live past age 73 the the insurance company doesn’t have to pay out a death claim. Therefore, since they only have to pay out a death claim if you pass away before age 73 they don’t need to charge as much.

However, let’s say you buy a permanent life insurance policy. If you fund the policy properly to last your entire life, the insurance company will have to pay out a death claim 100% of the time. This is because we will all pass away eventually. Therefore, the insurance company needs to charge more for a permanent life insurance policy.

There are many permanent life insurance policies that are designed to also build cash value. Typically, these are more expensive because of the cash value component. For low cost guaranteed permanent life insurance we most often recommend Guaranteed Universal Life when looking for life insurance when you’re over 50 years old.

Guaranteed Universal Life Insurance

These policies look and feel quite similar to a term life policy. At age 53, you could buy a guaranteed universal life insurance policy that stays in force until you are 120 years old if you want to. The premium would stay the same for the full 67 years in this case. In technical terms again it’s called guaranteed universal life. However, in layman’s terms you can kind of think of it as kind of like a lifetime term. So instead of perhaps a 10, 15, 20, or 30 year term, you can think of this as kind of like a term policy that lasts for your whole life.

Sample Life Insurance Rates for a 53 Year Old

Below are sample rates to give you approximate idea of the cost. You can also run life insurance rates yourself here.

53 Year Old Non Smoking Man in Excellent Health – $250,000

10 Year Term -$31 monthly

15 Year Term – $39 monthly

20 Year Term – $50 monthly

30 Year Term – $94 monthly

Guaranteed Universal Life to age 110 – $248 monthly

53 Year Old Non Smoking Man in Average Health – $250,000

10 Year Term -$59 monthly

15 Year Term – $73 monthly

20 Year Term – $95 monthly

30 Year Term – $164 monthly

Guaranteed Universal Life to age 110 – $310 monthly

53 Year Old Non Smoking Woman in Excellent Health – $250,000

10 Year Term -$25 monthly

15 Year Term – $29 monthly

20 Year Term – $38 monthly

30 Year Term – $72 monthly

Guaranteed Universal Life to age 110 – $207 monthly

53 Year Old Non Smoking Woman in Average Health – $250,000

10 Year Term -$44 monthly

15 Year Term – $52 monthly

20 Year Term – $62 monthly

30 Year Term – $127 monthly

Guaranteed Universal Life to age 110 – $257 monthly

How Insurance Companies Determine What Rates You Qualify For?

If a life insurance company is able to approve you for coverage you will be approved at a particular risk. The risk class you are approved at determines the cost you have to pay for coverage.

The best rate class is usually called either preferred plus or super preferred. Insurance companies use different terminology but it means the same thing. Then is preferred, standard plus, and standard. A standard rating is considered about an average rate class.

After standard are the substandard table ratings. Most companies go from a table 1 to table 8. If approved at a table 8 you would be approved but would have to pay the highest rates. If the insurance company company could not approve you at a table 8 then your application would be declined.

Insurance companies will want to find out as much information about you as possible to classify you accurately.

Here is a breakdown of the various elements that underwriters look at when determining your rates:

Smoking vs. Non-Smoking

Because smoking can significantly affect your health, insurance companies will see you as a much higher risk. Fortunately, if you’re a smoker, you can still get coverage. In most cases, you can expect to pay between two and four times what a non-smoker would.

Another point to consider is if you are a former smoker. As a rule, the longer it’s been since you quit, the less impact it will have on your rates. For example, if you haven’t smoked in five years, you may qualify for Preferred or Preferred Plus plans.

Also, it’s important to note that if you currently use certain tobacco products such as a cigar, pipe, or chew tobacco you can still qualify for non smoker rates with some companies. Other companies will give you a smoker rating no matter what.


Regardless of your health status, insurance companies will base your rates on your age. In other words all things being equal a 53 year old will have to pay more for life insurance than a 52 year old. This is simply because the older we are the shorter our anticipated life span.

Current Health and Overall Medical History

It is important to know that each insurance company will determine your rates differently. They all have different underwriting guidelines that they follow. For example, one company may approve you at a standard rating while another might approve you at preferred. One company might offer better rates for people that have diabetes and another might offer better rates for people that have sleep apnea. This is a big reason why it’s important that you submit your application to the insurance company that is going to look at you most favorably.

Life insurance companies will want a clear understanding of your overall medical history.

  • Hospitalizations – Have you ever gone to an emergency room for a health-related condition?
  • Surgeries or Procedures – Especially in the last 5 years.
  • Prescriptions – Are you currently taking any medication(s) or have you in recent years? If you stopped, why did you stop?
  • Medical History – Do you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, history of cancer etc…

The insurance company company will want to understand the specifics to of your health history to accurately determine what rates they can approve you for. To help them in making this assessment each insurance company will review you’re answers to the health questions on the application. In addition they will run a prescription drug check. They may also review your medical records and/or you may have to do a mini physical which consists of a blood draw, urine sample, and measuring your height and weight.

Know that some companies don’t require a medical exam and others won’t assess your medical records. All insurance companies have a different underwriting process.

Lifestyle Habits

When looking at your lifestyle, underwriters are paying attention to anything risky. Some examples can include excessive drinking, extreme sports (i.e., skydiving), or illicit drug use. Depending on your specific situation, your rates can go up. The more you engage in risky behaviors, the more you will pay each month. And it’s even possible you could be declined for coverage. For instance if you are using illicit drugs you would not be approved.

Another component that underwriters look at is your driving record. Specifically, they want to see if you have any DUI’s, accidents, or an excessive amount of moving violations. Understand that they look at these things on a sliding scale. For instance there’s a big difference between someone who had one ticket in the last 5 years for rolling through a stop sign, and someone who has had 2 DUI’s, or multiple major accidents or multiple speeding tickets.


Finally, your rates are based on your gender. Statistically speaking, women tend to live longer than men, so they pay less for life insurance.

What is the Life Insurance Application Process Like?

When comparing plans, it helps to know what to expect before moving forward with a company. Here are the typical steps involved in this process:

Step One: Filling Out the Application

Fortunately, these days this process is pretty simple or at least it should be. For instance we use docusign or similar electronic signature application. We collect the information from you over the phone and send to you for your review and electronic signature. This is so much easier than it used to be. There’s no paperwork that needs to be printed out or mailed. It’s all electronic.

Step Two: A Paramedical Exam

As mentioned already if you have to take a medical exam, the examiner will take general measurements, such as your height, weight. They will also take a blood draw and urine sample. Keep in mind there are no exam option as well. If you qualify for them you might want to consider instead.

One benefit of taking a paramedical exam is that the results can be used for multiple companies. These tests are usually valid for 6 months to a year, meaning that you can continue to shop around afterward.

Step Three: Medical Records

Another method is to request an Attending Physician’s Statement (APS). In layman’s terms these are your medical records which of course includes your medical history. Applying with an insurance company that will want to review your medical records does make the application process take longer.

However, many people also think that if the insurance company reviews their medical records that means they will get a higher rate. This is isn’t necessarily the case.

In fact, it can happen that an insurance company that doesn’t obtain your medical records may not approve you for coverage, where an insurance company that will review your medical records may approve you. This is because insurance companies don’t like the unknown. If they feel they don’t have enough information to to make a decision they may not approve your application. It’s important to speak to an experience independent agent that can help guide you here.

Step Four: Motor Vehicle Report

The insurance company will request your driving record from the DMV. Again, they will looking at how many tickets you’ve had, accidents, and/or any DUI’s and most importantly when they happened. A DUI 5 years ago is not nearly as big of a deal as a DUI 3 months ago for instance.

Contact Us Today

Buying life insurance at 53 does not have to be overwhelming. The fact is that if you are over 50 and needing life insurance you’ve come to the right place. We make it easy to help you get the coverage you need and strive to make the whole process as simple as possible.