What Is the Average Cost of Life Insurance?

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  • The average cost of a life insurance policy ranges from $40 to $55 per month.
  • The true cost varies by the type of insurance, coverage amount, and personal factors.
  • Permanent insurance tends to be more expensive than term life insurance and is used differently.
  • Check out our guide to the best life insurance companies.

Life insurance is surprisingly affordable, but premiums vary based on the specific type of life insurance. The average cost for a single policy per month ranges from $40 for a variable life policy to $55 for a universal life policy.

You can explore various options with term and whole life insurance, guaranteed-to-pay-out whole life policies vs. plans with an expiration date, and more. Life insurance isn’t one-size-fits-all. While an average amount can give you an idea of what you’ll pay, many factors go into life insurance costs, like the type of coverage, age, where you live, and other personal factors.

What is the average cost of life insurance per month?

There are two main types of life insurance: permanent life insurance (whole, universal, and variable life insurance) and term life insurance. Each type grows and pays death benefits differently. Each insurance cost also has very different costs associated with it. Here are the differences between each type, along with the average cost, according to 2019 data from S&P Global Market Intelligence: 

Source: S&P Global Market Intelligence

Average cost of life insurance by sex

Sex plays a significant role in your life insurance rate. For the same insurance policy, a female and male will pay different amounts for coverage each month. Males will generally pay more each year. 

Here’s how this difference stacks up between male and female 35-year-old non-smokers, according to data from Policygenius.

Term life insurance 

Source: Policygenius

Whole life insurance

Source: Policygenius

Average life insurance cost by age

The most noticeable difference is in the older ages of the sample premiums — after age 40, premiums go up significantly. The sooner you get your coverage, the less you could pay each month. As the data below shows, waiting for life insurance coverage won’t make it cheaper. Here’s how term life insurance costs compare based on age, according to data from Insurify.

Source: Insurify

Insider’s Featured Life Insurance Companies

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Average life insurance cost by company

Life insurance coverage, costs, etc. will vary by company. Many life insurance providers will require you to obtain a quote through an insurance agent instead of getting a quote online. Here are the average monthly premiums of several insurance companies. 

Source: Insurify

Average life insurance cost by state

The average cost of life insurance also varies by state, though not by a lot. Below are the average rates of life insurance per state based on 2019 data from the S&P Global Market Intelligence. 

Source: S&P Global Market Intelligence. Data shows the estimated average annual premium of term life insurance policies per household.


More than just age, sex, and type of insurance can influence your rates. Your lifestyle and health history could also determine the price you pay. Here are a few things that could make your coverage more expensive than someone your age. 

Smoking history

Smoking can increase life insurance premiums quite a bit. Insurance company Protective Life research shows that life insurance is 100 to 300 times more expensive for smokers. According to its data, a 45-year-old male smoker with a 20-year, $500,000 policy would pay $289 monthly for coverage, while a nonsmoker would pay about $52.

History of risky activities

Avid skydivers, scuba divers, or travelers could find their insurance rates higher than others. It’s not uncommon for insurers to ask about your history with these activities, travel history, and future plans. A bad driving record could also add to the cost of life insurance. 

Health history and medications

Life insurance companies can check your health history and medication history in two ways: a medical records database and your medical exam (although it’s possible to get life insurance without a medical exam). Like health insurance, pre-existing conditions could also impact the rate you pay. 

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is key to lowering your life insurance premiums. Keeping your weight under control, avoiding smoking, and managing any medical conditions you have are among the biggest ways to do so. The cost of a life insurance policy will also tend to be lower for younger applicants than those who are older. 

While cost is important, it is a good idea to pick a policy that offers enough coverage and fits your needs. Traditionally, the rule of thumb is to get life insurance worth 10 times your annual income — so if you make $75,000 a year, you’d get $750,000 worth of coverage. However, many experts consider that a low estimate, especially if you have plans on sending your child to college, or are paying off a mortgage on your home. 

Nonethless, some life insurance is better than no life insurance, so purchase as much as you can reasonably afford. It is also important to pick a quality provider. Begin your life insurance search by checking out Insider’s top pick for the best life insurance companies.

There are several ways to purchase life insurance. You can find policies directly through independent insurance agencies to get multiple quotes at once. Or you could go directly through a life insurance provider. Keep in mind that many life insurance companies will not have the option of purchasing a policy online. Instead, you’ll have to speak to an insurance agent if you’d like to obtain a quote. 

You may need to complete a medical exam. However, some companies are changing their medical exam policies due to COVID-19. Talk with your prospective insurer to arrange an exam you’re comfortable with. 

If you’re looking to reduce your costs on a life insurance policy that meets your needs, it’s best to act quickly. The older you get, the worse your risk profile. If you have issues like high cholesterol or blood pressure, getting those under control can reduce your rates. Sometimes, it’s as simple as shopping around or reducing your coverage rates.