Seniors and life insurance

by The Editor, SeniorInsider | Jun 02, 2011

Once you reach the status of being a senior citizen you may be wondering whether it makes sense to have life insurance for seniors or not.  For many over the age of 60, this issue and end of life planning in general becomes a puzzling conversation with the family.

You could be thinking to yourself that the reason you acquired life insurance in the first place was to protect your children when they were young.  However, your children are all grown and gone, so you no longer have a need to provide protection for them should something happen to you.  

Do You Currently Have Life Insurance?

The answer to this question could very well determine the actions you take relative to life insurance for seniors.  If you already have a life insurance policy in place from years ago, you will have to decide whether to continue it.  If you do not currently have life insurance, you will have to decide whether or not you need some form of life insurance for seniors.

Can You Continue Your Current Insurance if You Get Life Insurance for Seniors?

If you have a life insurance policy that you purchased when you started your family, it is time to evaluate your options.  The type of policy you have will determine what your options are going forward.

If it is a term life policy, you need to determine when the term ends and whether or not you can renew the policy.  Keep in mind that term life insurance is temporary insurance that expires at the end of the designated time period, or term.  For example, if you bought a 30-year term life insurance policy at age thirty-five, it expires when you turn 65.  

However, you may have the option to renew it for a new term.  Keep in mind that if you renew the policy, your premiums will be based on your current age, which means they will be higher than what you previously paid.  In addition, most insurance companies will only give you the option of renewing term life insurance for seniors up until the age of 95.  

On the other hand, if the life insurance that you purchased all those years ago was a whole life policy, your options are different.  Whole life insurance is permanent insurance, and it will continue to provide you coverage as long as you continue to pay the premiums.

Buying New Life Insurance for Seniors

If you do not currently have a life insurance policy, there are still options available to you.  The key point to remember about shopping for life insurance for seniors is that age 85 is the maximum age to obtain life insurance coverage.  If you are above this age, you will be unable to buy a new life insurance policy.  If a salesman tries to sell you one knowing you are older than 85, be alert to the probability that it is a scam of some sort.

If you are younger than the age of 85, you have multiple options for acquiring a new life insurance policy.  The question becomes what sort of coverage you need and at what dollar value.  There are several variables that will affect what type of coverage is right for you.  These include your age, your health, any medical issues that you might have and the purpose of the life insurance coverage.  One of the more popular types of policy being sold as life insurance for seniors is sometimes referred to as “death insurance.”

What is Death Insurance?

Death insurance is known by multiple names, so it is important that you recognize all of them when you are evaluating this type of insurance.  You might find it called burial insurance, death insurance or final expense life insurance.  No matter what you call it, this type of life insurance for seniors is sold as the way to provide adequate funds to cover your funeral expenses, as well as any medical bills or final expenses that might exist as a result of your death.

If you do not have any other life insurance by the time you reach your senior years, a death insurance policy might ease your concerns about leaving your loved ones with thousands of dollars of medical and funeral expenses.  On the other hand, if you already have some other form of life insurance that will remain in effect until your death, there is little reason to acquire this death insurance.

The Basics of Death Insurance

If you do purchase a death insurance policy, you need to understand what the normal conditions of such a policy will be.  For example, these policies are only for people between the ages of 50 and 85 years.  Normally, there is no medical exam required, though you will have to answer a number of health and medical related questions.  Most of these policies have guaranteed coverage, meaning that you will not be denied coverage.  If you have some serious medical issues, the level of coverage and the timing of when the full policy becomes active may be delayed for up to three years.  There is also often an upper limit of $50,000 in coverage level.

What Life Insurance for Seniors is Right for You?

Only you can answer this question.  However, it pays to give it some thought before you either reach your 85th birthday or an overly aggressive insurance salesman gets your attention.  Take some time to review what insurance policies you already have in place, evaluate your financial situation and try to project it forward, and then think about your family dynamics and what likely will happen upon your death.  With all of this information in mind, you can make an educated decision about life and death insurance.



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