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When should I get life insurance?

Last updated 24th May 2024
4 min read

When considering what age you should get life insurance, there’s no right answer. People often recommend that you should start thinking about life insurance as early as possible, which may have you worrying that it’s too late to take out a policy.

While your age, alongside a number of other factors, will determine the cost of your premium, you shouldn’t panic if you didn’t take out a policy when you were younger – each of us will take out a policy at different ages and stages of our lives.

In this guide, we’ll help you to understand how your age impacts life insurance, if there’s a maximum age to take out a policy, and your options as you get older.

Is there an age limit for life insurance?

As life insurance is a financial contract, to take out a plan under your own name, you need to be at least 18 years old.

However, children of any age can be covered by life insurance that's been taken out by an adult.

But what about a maximum age when it comes to life insurance?

Depending on the type of policy, the majority of providers will let you take out a policy up to the age of around 80–85 years old. Other providers will let you take out a form of cover up to the age of 90, though this will only be on certain whole-of-life policies.

The age at which a policy expires will depend entirely on the type of policy. A whole-of-life plan, for example, will continue until death, whereas a term plan will end once the agreed term has been reached. Find out more about the difference between whole-of-life and term insurance.

Should you take out life insurance when you’re younger?

Some will recommend that you take out life insurance once you first become financially independent. Alternatively, many people choose to start their policy at the point when they have a house and children or other loved ones depending on them.

Some policyholders even take out multiple life insurance policies at different stages of life to cover life events, such as:

  • A new child
  • Moving house
  • Setting up a joint policy with a partner
  • Change in job meaning a life insurance benefit has been lost

These changes in circumstances may mean you have new financial responsibilities, and therefore multiple policies covering different eventualities might be appropriate.

You can find out how many life insurance policies you can have in our helpful guide.

Building up multiple life insurance policies when the time is right, rather than waiting until later in life, can result in lower-cost premiums, especially when medical checks and age are taken into account.

If this is not the path you’ve taken, or you’d like additional cover later in life, there are specialist life insurance policies designed for this, such as over 50s life insurance. Some providers will offer guaranteed acceptance with no medical check necessary.

SunLife's Guaranteed Over 50 Plan is an example of this type of life insurance.

The cost of life insurance by age

The cost of your life insurance policy will take into account a number of factors, including your age, lifestyle and health, as well as the payout and length of cover you’re looking for.

As you get older, the likelihood of your death increases. This added risk to the policy provider results in increasing premium costs with each age bracket.

The younger you are when you take out life insurance, the lower your premiums will be. In some cases, these cheaper premiums can be locked in for the entirety of your policy, unless you make any further changes.

Of course, each policy is individually determined by personal circumstances and the level of cover you require.

You can read more about how much life insurance you need in our guide.

What else could impact your premium?

Many life insurance providers will complete a medical check to determine whether you smoke and if you have medical conditions. These can lead to an increase in your premium.

SunLife's Guaranteed Inheritance Plan is over 50s life insurance that could offer a bigger payout if you pass a few simple health questions.

Is it too late to take out life insurance?

In short, no it’s not too late.

As mentioned earlier, most providers will let you take out certain policies until around 80 years old and sometimes even up to age 90. It just means that your premium cost may be higher due to your age.

If you’ve reached 50 and you’re worried about your existing medical conditions stopping you from taking out a policy, you can relax knowing you have the option of over 50s life insurance. SunLife's Guaranteed Over 50 Plan does not require a medical check.

Also known as whole-of-life cover, no matter how long you live, you’ll be able to leave a cash payout to your loved ones after you die.

If you’d like to explore your options, you can read more about alternatives to over 50s life insurance in our guide.

Next steps

We hope this guide has helped you to understand when you should get life insurance and the impact age has on your premium, especially if you haven’t taken out a policy earlier on in life. While taking out life insurance when you’re younger can help reduce your premium, you still have a number of options as you get older.

At SunLife, we offer a range of services to help support you as you reach retirement age and beyond:

Visit these pages for more information or get in touch today to find out how we can help.

The thoughts and opinions expressed in the page are those of the authors, intended to be informative, and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SunLife. See our Terms of Use for more info.