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Life Insurance Policies and Quotes for February 2024

Key takeaways

  • A life insurance policy pays a sum of money to your beneficiaries if you die while the policy is active.

  • There are two main types of policies: term and permanent.

  • You may be able to buy a life insurance policy that goes into effect instantly.

When you’re shopping for the best life insurance policy for you and your family, there are important decisions to make. We’ll show you how to choose the right type of policy and coverage amount, get life insurance quotes and find the best company for you.

What is a life insurance policy?

A life insurance policy is a contract between you and an insurance company. In exchange for regular payments, called premiums, the insurer pays out money after you die. This money goes to the people you choose as life insurance beneficiaries — usually children, a spouse or other family members.

Who needs life insurance?

A life insurance policy can be an important safety net if anyone depends on you financially. For example, if you’re the breadwinner, a parent, a homeowner or someone with co-signed debt, you may need life insurance coverage.

Beneficiaries can use the money for any purpose, such as repaying debts, replacing your income or covering your funeral and burial costs.

How to buy a life insurance policy

When you’re in the market for a life insurance policy, these are your options:

  • Online. Depending on the type of policy you want, you may be able to apply for and buy a policy online and get coverage on the same day. This is known as instant life insurance. Many insurers and brokerages use algorithms to determine whether you qualify for a policy, and ask a series of questions about your health and lifestyle to set your rate.

  • Through an agent or broker. If you’re a high-risk applicant or you simply want someone to help you navigate the buying process, you can go through a life insurance agent or broker. Captive agents sell policies from one company, like State Farm, while independent agents typically offer policies from multiple companies.

  • Directly from the insurer. Most insurers allow you to buy a policy through their site, over the phone or in person. Before committing to a company, be sure to compare quotes to make sure you’re getting the best possible coverage at the lowest possible price.

Which life insurance policy is right for me?

In general, there are two main types of life insurance: term and permanent. Term life policies cover you for only a set period of time, such as 10 or 20 years. Permanent life insurance can last your entire life and typically includes a cash value component.

Find the right life insurance plan for you

Make sure you and your loved ones are covered – compare customized life insurance quotes from our partners.

How much life insurance should I buy?

  1. Add up any long-term debts like a mortgage or college fees.

  2. Multiply your annual income by the number of years you want your beneficiaries to be covered after you die.

  3. Subtract any funds or assets you currently have that can be used to cover these expenses.  

Need more help? Use our coverage calculator to estimate your coverage amount.

How much do life insurance policies cost?

In general, term life is cheaper than permanent life insurance. When comparing the different types of permanent coverage, whole life is typically more expensive than universal life. 

It’s important to find a policy that you can afford. If you miss payments, the insurer may cancel your policy, leaving your beneficiaries without a payout. 

Life insurance rates vary among insurers — sometimes significantly — so it’s a good idea to compare life insurance quotes from several companies before you buy.

Compare top-rated life insurance companies

Once you know the type of life insurance policy and amount of coverage you need, it’s time to find the best company. Check out some of the top insurers on our list by reading our life insurance reviews.

5.0

NerdWallet rating 

NerdWallet’s ratings are determined by our editorial team. The scoring formula incorporates consumer experience, financial strength ratings and complaint data.

Term, whole, universal and variable universal.

5.0

NerdWallet rating 

NerdWallet’s ratings are determined by our editorial team. The scoring formula incorporates consumer experience, financial strength ratings and complaint data.

Term, whole, universal and variable universal.

5.0

NerdWallet rating 

NerdWallet’s ratings are determined by our editorial team. The scoring formula incorporates consumer experience, financial strength ratings and complaint data.

Term, whole, universal and variable universal.

5.0

NerdWallet rating 

NerdWallet’s ratings are determined by our editorial team. The scoring formula incorporates consumer experience, financial strength ratings and complaint data.

Term, whole, universal and variable universal.

5.0

NerdWallet rating 

NerdWallet’s ratings are determined by our editorial team. The scoring formula incorporates consumer experience, financial strength ratings and complaint data.

Term, universal, variable universal and indexed universal.

5.0

NerdWallet rating 

NerdWallet’s ratings are determined by our editorial team. The scoring formula incorporates consumer experience, financial strength ratings and complaint data.

Term, whole and universal.

5.0

NerdWallet rating 

NerdWallet’s ratings are determined by our editorial team. The scoring formula incorporates consumer experience, financial strength ratings and complaint data.

Term, whole and guaranteed issue whole life.

Find the best life insurance policy for you

Are you looking for the best life insurance policy for a specific need? Check out our roundups for:

Understanding life insurance quotes

A life insurance quote is an estimate; it gives you an idea of how much you’ll pay for the coverage. Quotes are typically based on a few details like the type of policy you’re shopping for, the amount of coverage you need and personal factors like your age and smoking habits.

How to compare life insurance quotes

It’s a good idea to compare life insurance quotes from multiple insurers before buying a policy. But when you do, make sure you compare the same features from each company. For example, select the same type of policy with the same coverage amount or term length, and give the same personal details for each quote. This will help you get a more accurate comparison.

Life insurance quotes vs. rates

A quote is an estimate of what you’ll pay based on minimal information. Rates are what you’ll actually pay for the coverage. When you apply for a policy, the insurer typically collects more detailed information about you to calculate your final rate, which may differ from the initial quote.

This final rate is your premium. Life insurance premiums are typically based on your life expectancy. To estimate your life expectancy, each life insurance company weighs factors like your health, family health history, lifestyle and driving record.

Did you know…

Two of the main factors that affect your life insurance premium are your age and health. So, the younger and healthier you are when you apply for coverage, the better your life insurance rate is likely to be.

Find the right life insurance plan for you

Make sure you and your loved ones are covered – compare customized life insurance quotes from our partners.

Life Insurance illustration of mother with young child

Life insurance ratings methodology

NerdWallet’s life insurance ratings are based on consumer experience, complaint index scores from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners for individual life insurance, and weighted averages of financial strength ratings, which indicate a company’s ability to pay future claims. Within the consumer experience category, we consider ease of communication and website transparency, which looks at the depth of policy details available online. To calculate each insurer’s rating, we adjusted the scores to a curved 5-point scale.

These ratings are a guide, but we encourage you to shop around and compare several insurance quotes to find the best rate for you. NerdWallet does not receive compensation for any reviews. Read our editorial guidelines.

Insurer complaints methodology

NerdWallet examined complaints received by state insurance regulators and reported to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners in 2020-2022. To assess how insurers compare with one another, the NAIC calculates a complaint index each year for each subsidiary, measuring its share of total complaints relative to its size, or share of total premiums in the industry. To evaluate a company’s complaint history, NerdWallet calculated a similar index for each insurer, weighted by market shares of each subsidiary, over the three-year period. NerdWallet conducts its data analysis and reaches conclusions independently and without the endorsement of the NAIC. Ratios are determined separately for auto, home (including renters and condo) and life insurance.

Frequently asked questions