The link directs you to Guardian’s Term Life Calculator Quote page. This is one of the simplest you’ll find. Why? Because you don’t have to provide any hard-to-find information or make decisions about what kind of policy you need. It just asks four things before giving you an instant quote:
- Your gender
- Your age
- Tobacco use – yes or no
- Your salary
You don’t even have to give your name or email address – you’re immediately given the estimated monthly cost for a 20-year term life insurance policy with a death benefit payout that can help replace decades of income to help support your dependents.
There are other types of life insurance for people in different situations, but this quote is for term life insurance, specifically a medically underwritten level term life policy: premiums stay the same for the entire length of the term, and you have to undergo a medical test to determine (or confirm) your premium cost. Term is one of the two main types of life insurance – the other is permanent (either whole life insurance or universal life insurance).
True to its name, a term life policy lasts for a specific period of time, typically between 10 and 30 years. It can provide affordable coverage along with a death benefit (or payout). It’s sometimes called “pure life insurance” because unlike permanent life insurance, there’s no cash value component to the policy – it’s focused on giving your beneficiaries a death benefit payout if you die during the time period your policy is in force.
By comparison, permanent life insurance can provide coverage that lasts your entire lifetime1. Unlike term, it’s not a pure life insurance product because in addition to a death benefit there’s a cash value component: A portion of your premium dollars can grow over time2. You can borrow money against that cash value, use it to pay your premiums, or even surrender it for cash in retirement3. While universal life insurance premiums can be lower than those for a whole life insurance policy, for a given level of death benefit, a term policy will almost always be a more affordable option than permanent coverage4,5. Here are some other advantages and disadvantages of term life compared to permanent life insurance policies:
The pros and cons of term life
|Typically more affordable form of coverage||No cash value component|
|Provides coverage while it's needed most||Coverage is not permanent|
|Typically highest benefit amount per premium dollar||Once term expires there's no death benefit payout|
|Can be affordable for young, healthy policyholders||Can be more expensive to renew when you get older|
That’s a good question. Let’s look at an actual example: for a 28-year-old who earns $80,000 a year, the tool recommends $2,400,000 of coverage, which is 30 times his or her current earnings. Is that the right amount? The most honest answer we can give is this: We can’t be sure – but’s it may be a start. How many children do you have? What debts? Do you expect your earnings to increase over time? These are the types of issues you might explore with a financial professional in order to arrive at a number that may be more relevant to your needs. There are also some rules of thumb for calculating how much of a death benefit you might need:
Consider Multiplying your income by 10
This is one of the simplest rules of thumb. While this estimation method is very simple, it doesn’t actually take into account your true expenses and needs. That leads us to the next formula, which is just a bit more complex.
Consider Multiplying your income by 10 – and add college for each child
This approach gives you the added comfort of knowing you can help your children have more opportunities.
Consider the DIME formula.
DIME stands for Debt, Income, Mortgage, and Education – four big factors to consider when making a detailed estimate of your life insurance needs. Add those four factors up and that may be the amount of coverage to consider. If you have savings, or other life insurance (for example, through work), you can subtract that from your coverage amount.
Consider the Human Life Value Formula.
Some financial representatives calculate the amount you need using the Human Life Value philosophy, which is your lifetime income potential: what you’re earning now, and what you expect to earn in the future.
In its simplest form, the philosophy suggests that you multiply your income by a variable based on factors such as age, occupation, projected working years, and current benefits.
As with every individual, the amount of recommended insurance you purchase depends on many factors. A simple way to get that number, however, is to multiply your salary times 30 if you are between the ages of 18 and 40. The calculation changes based on your age group, so please refer to the chart:
|18-40||30 times income|
|41-50||20 times income|
|51-60||15 times income|
|61-65||10 times income|
|66-70||1 times net worth|
|71-75||1/2 times net worth|
Life insurance may be less expensive to buy than you think, but people put off getting it because they overestimate the cost.* Nevertheless, since it’s tied to life expectancy, life insurance does typically get more expensive as you grow older. So what’s one of the best ways to lower the cost of a policy? Don’t put off getting it. Other than that, there are two additional ways to adjust the cost of a term life policy:
- Adjust the coverage amount (or death benefit)
- Adjust the term length (i.e., the number of years you’re covered)
You can compare how those factors affect your quote on the Guardian results page. Right next to the monthly premium cost, you’ll see a slider to adjust the length of your term, and a drop-down menu for different coverage amounts. This makes it easy to quickly run through a number of different term length and coverage scenarios.
One note of caution: Don’t underestimate term length
If you’re getting life insurance for income replacement to protect your family’s finances, you should consider a term long enough to see your children out of the house and through college. The longer your term, the more you’ll typically pay each month, but it may be worth it to get a single policy that can help protect your family for as long as it’s needed, as opposed to getting a second policy later. Here’s why:
Say a 10-year term policy costs $600/year, and a 20-year policy for the same amount is $900/year. You may be tempted to get the cheaper 10-year policy now, then another 10-year policy if needed later. But if you believe your family needs protection for 20 years, how likely is it that in 10 years you’ll decide protection isn’t necessary? Two consecutive 10-year term policies may cost more in the long run.
The higher your age, the more you typically pay for life insurance. In 10 years, you’ll be an older applicant who may well have been diagnosed with a health issue, such as high blood pressure. Even if it’s under control, your premiums for a new policy could increase. This type of scenario is quite common – and over 20 years, you typically end up paying more by opting for two 10-year term policies.
Optional features you should think about getting
Insurance policies have optional provisions called riders that can provide additional protection and flexibility for an added cost6. A term policy can last up to 30 years, and a lot can happen in that time. Your health could unexpectedly change, or you may lose your ability to work at some point. So here are two important riders to consider:
- Term conversion rider - This lets you convert a term life insurance policy to a permanent policy with the same health rating for a specified period – so you won’t have to get a new medical exam. That’s important, because if your health takes a turn for the worse, conversion may be the only viable way to provide the long-term protection you want for your family. All Guardian Level Term policies provide this feature at no additional cost for the first five years of the term. If you click on Get Coverage That Lasts on the results page, you’ll see how affordable it may be to add an Extended Conversion Rider (ECR) which lets you convert to a whole life policy for the entire length of the term.
- Waiver of premium rider - If you become disabled and can’t work, this rider will help pay your premiums, allowing you to keep your policy in effect7. Guardian’s version of this rider includes a 7-year “own-occupation” definition, which means that even if you’re able to do some work, payments may be waived if you can’t work in your own profession or occupation. Guardian also offers an enhanced Waiver Plus rider: in conjunction with ECR (above), this lets you convert to a permanent policy at the end of the term period – and your premiums may still be waived as long as the disability continues. Click on Keep Your Coverage Through Hard Times to see how affordable it can be.
There are lots of ways to get an affordable online term life insurance quote, but how do you know you’re getting quality coverage from a reliable insurance company? There are four things to look for:
1. Get quotes from many types of providers
Some insurance companies, like Guardian, write their own policies. Other companies sell policies from other insurance carriers. Make sure you understand how the company you are considering is structured.
2. Look at the company’s Financial Strength8
Financial Strength Ratings are one way to determine if the company will be around years or decades from now to make a payout when your family needs it most. Guardian has historically received strong ratings.
3. Understand if the policy is convertible
Convertibility can be important: if you need to get a permanent policy later on, you may not want to undergo another medical exam. Every Guardian level term policy is convertible for the first five years, and an Extended Conversion Rider is available which allows conversion for the length of the policy.
4. Check the company’s reputation
Look them up on J.D. Power & Associates to review their customer satisfaction ratings. Guardian was ranked “Better than Most” in the 2019 survey.
What is the most affordable kind of life insurance?
Term and permanent life insurance policies can both be affordable. If you’re looking for life-long insurance protection that also provides a cash value component, there are two main options: whole life and universal life. A whole life policy offers level premiums and more guarantees, but a universal policy can be more affordable because it offers flexible premiums that you can raise or lower within a certain range. If you don’t need permanent coverage or a cash value component, term life insurance may be more affordable.
What is the least expensive form of life insurance?
Generally speaking, a medically underwritten term life policy is typically the least expensive way to get a given level of coverage – but it doesn't provide cash value. There are also guaranteed acceptance term policies, but these will generally cost more because the insurance company must assume that you present a health risk – otherwise you would opt for a more affordable, medically underwritten term policy.
What is the average life insurance cost per month?
Actual rates are affected by a wide number of variables including the insurance company, policy type, coverage amount, length of term, gender, health status, and other factors. According to the Life Insurance Learn Center**, the monthly cost for $1,000,000 of coverage for the average male at age 30 is $48; at age 40, it’s $73; at age 50, it’s $177. Women tend to live longer and enjoy slightly lower rates, so $1,000,000 of coverage for a female age 30 is $37; at age 40 it’s $53; at 50 it’s $133.