What is Senior Life Insurance?
Senior life insurance is an important consideration for senior citizens in the community. When we reach old age we finally begin to realise that our lives are not infinite, as we seem to believe when we are young. Seniors life insurance is especially important if we have reached old age and have not amassed a lot of money or assets in our own right. This is when this style of insurance can be handy if it is simply required to pay for final expenses: funeral, legal and medical costs. That said, there are many other reasons to consider life insurance at this stage of ones life. This article will discuss how funeral insurance designed for seniors is different to other plans and also outline its differences to Funeral Insurance.
Seniors Life Insurance
Who is it for?
Working or retired senior citizens over the age of 50
Suitable for people over the age of 64 that are no longer eligible to apply for some other life policies
When is the Benefit Paid?
Benefit is paid to your beneficiaries in the event of your death caused by natural causes, or accidental death
How is Seniors Life Insurance Paid?
A lump sum payment will be payable to your nominated beneficiaries, to cover expenses such as:
- Outstanding debts
- Outstanding taxes
- Hospital and medical fees
- Funds to cover funeral costs
What are Some Key Features of Seniors Life Insurance?
- Flexibility in choosing term of coverage: life insurance for seniors in Australia is normally term life insurance, which means you have the option to choose the period you would like to be covered for
- Guaranteed Acceptance Feature: this feature will ensure you do not have to undergo a medical examination and the availability of this feature will vary between insurers
- Your choice of Level or Stepped premiums: Stepped premiums will start out low and increase every year as you get older, while Level premiums will stay the same throughout the life of your policy
- Sickness benefit: if you become ill for certain period of time, this benefit allows a lump sum payment to cover bills and expenses
- Tax deductibility: seniors life insurance benefit payment is generally tax-deductible.
What Affects Life Insurance Premiums?
- Lifestyle: such as smoking and drinking habits
- Current health status
- Pre-existing medical conditions
Who is Eligible to Get Life Insurance?
- Between 18 to 59 years old
- An Australian citizen or permanent resident
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Some of the elderly may finish their lives in a position where they can feel independent of any life insurance needs because of a healthy private bank balance. Others may have paid for funeral costs in advance with a funeral parlour, or a separate bank account, but circumstances differ among everyone and there is always a need for some level of life cover among the majority of the population.
Types of life insurance for seniors
Insurance providers realise that seniors have different needs than those who belong to the younger set. Thus, the insurance solutions available for you as a senior are especially tailored to meet those needs. As a senior, there are two kinds of insurance solutions which will prove to be most helpful to you in the future - Seniors Life Insurance and Funeral Insurance.
- Seniors Life Insurance
- Funeral Insurance
Life insurance for seniors comes in the form of term life insurance. Your nominated beneficiaries will receive a lump sum payment upon your death if you die within the policy term. This means that you can leave your loved ones financially secure when you are no longer around to provide for them or take care of them.
Funeral insurance is often confused with life insurance. They are similar for the purpose of the benefit payment which is received at the death of the insured. While the benefits of a life insurance policy can be used for various purposes other than paying for the funeral expenses, the payout from funeral insurance is specifically and exclusively used for anything related to a funeral.
How are seniors life insurance premiums determined?
Life insurance premiums are calculated based on different risk factors a person is exposed to. The common factors insurers use to determine the level of risk you carry can be found from the following:
- Smoking status
With most types of insurance, the older you are, the higher your premiums will be. When you apply for cover in your senior years, you can expect the premiums you pay will be more expensive compared to people that apply for cover when they are young. This is due to age related health risks.
Men typically pay more in premiums than women because statistics have shown men have a lower life expectancy.
If you are a smoker you will usually pay two to three times more in premiums than a non smoker. To be assessed as a non smoker for insurance purposes you will have to have stopped smoking for 12 months.
A standard risk means you are in generally good health, and can qualify for a lower premium, even if you have minor health issues such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol. However, if you have a history of major health problems such as heart attack, stroke or cancer, your premiums can increase.
Is it possible to find cheap life insurance for seniors?
Finding low cost life insurance for seniors can potentially be challenging, but it is possible to find an affordable policy. There may be some restrictions in features and extra benefits on offer, and cost for a plan will be higher due to the increased level of risks that seniors carry. Therefore, it is essential that you take the time to do your research on the variety of plans that are available for seniors. Compare as many policies and quotes as possible so you can find the most suitable policy to your needs with a price that is just right for your budget.
If you are in good health, it is possible to get a reasonably priced life insurance plan for seniors. However, if you have health issues, no-medical life insurance plan with guaranteed acceptance may be more suitable to you.More tips on how to get cheap life insurance
The value of seniors life cover?
In most cases older people will not need a lot of life insurance as most will not have an overwhelming amount of debt. There is also the possibility that you might look at a reverse finance plan on your home if you are short of ready cash, but if you want to realise your lifelong dream of passing your assets over to your children and grandchildren when you go, senior life protection policy is what you need to look into.
One of the biggest drawbacks to seniors being able to obtain life insurance as we continue to age is that of health, if we have been able to retain good health it helps a lot but as we age this tends not to be true for many of us. Seniors will therefore tend to look at no exam life insurance. This is more expensive but if we only require a relatively small amount of insurance, enough to cover our final bills and funeral costs, it will be sufficient at this stage in our lives and we will have peace of mind in knowing nobody will be any worse off financially on our passing.
There are five main types of senior life insurance being offered, these are:
- Single Pay– This insurance is of particular benefit to applicants with substantial disposable income. It will let you use your money to the benefit of your beneficiaries. In brief, a single pay insurance policy can be purchased on a $100,000 policy on your life for one single premium. Depending on the financial climate at the time, the insured amount can sometimes double in value, and because it is a life insurance policy the death benefit, when paid out on, can be structured to be tax free.
- Whole of Life Insurance – Ironically, people who had taken out a whole life policy at a younger age may well come out better off in the end because of us living longer and therefore outliving term insurance policies, chosen by others who, in old age, have been stranded and left uninsured. In deference to others who had chosen term insurance because of the larger cover at a lower premium cost, the people who had chosen whole life cover will continue with their full cover at the original premium they started out with, right through until they finally die.
- Guaranteed Acceptance – This type of senior life insurance has a lower premium if you can pass a medical examination but because it is a guaranteed acceptance policy it can also be obtained with no examination being required. It is, in essence, a whole life policy but the benefits will be withheld for a stipulated period (usually two years) after you first take it out, for anything other than accidental death.
- Term Life Insurance – Although term life insurance premiums increase as you get older it may still be the best option for you if you have no interest in insurance which also includes an investment opportunity.
- Senior Life Insurance Funeral Cover – A popular cover for the senior citizen is that of funeral cover. This type of insurance is reviewed annually as the premium increases and can become quite expensive when the amount you are insured for is taken into consideration. It will however pay your funeral costs for you and you can pass on with the knowledge that no one left behind will be burdened with your bills.
When should I apply for seniors life insurance?
Seniors life insurance can be very valuable to anyone over the age of 50, because while your dependents will become less dependent on you as you get older, you do still need a certain level of protection for life’s unforeseen events. Just as it takes you longer to get over a cold, or back on your feet when you have a fall, as you get older it can be harder to get back on your feet financially if something unexpected happens too.
Luckily, life cover can offer you financial protection and peace of mind, even if you’ve already paid of all or most of your mortgage, and have a healthy nest egg of savings. In the event of your death or the death of your partner there will still be bills and other debts to pay – living expenses, credit cards and funeral expenses for example. Therefore, seniors life insurance can be useful even when you are nearing retirement, or comfortably settled into your golden years.
Seniors life insurance policies often include a sickness benefit, as well as a lump sum payment option upon your death. This means you can receive a benefit amount if you are sick for a certain period of time, to help cover your medical expenses, and even your bills if you have been working part time to cover your costs.
When considering taking out a life cover plan you will also need to look at what your life insurance benefits will need to cover, for example:
- Modifications to your home. As you get older or you suffer an illness or injury, you may need to install ramps or safety features to aid your mobility, and these modifications and additions can be costly work, carried out by qualified tradespeople.
- In home assistance. You may also need to cover the costs to have someone visit you regularly in your home for health and personal reasons, or you may need to employ someone full time.
- Ongoing medical needs. Even if you suffer an illness or injury, there are often ongoing costs associated with these treatments which can be costly.
- Nursing home. If you are unable to stay in your home, you may need to move to a nursing home which often requires a buy-in amount, and ongoing expenses.
What to look out for when you are doing a senior life insurance comparison
A seniors life cover is often a term policy which has been tailored with features which suit your needs – in this case, the benefits you need as you get older and retire. As a result, you should be looking for a policy with the following features:
- Automatic renewal
- Level or stepped premiums.
- Insurance company background
This means you will be able to renew your policy if you outlive the term of the insurance, so that you know you can remain covered no matter how long you live.
Depending on your age or circumstances you may choose stepped or level premiums to pay for your policy. Stepped premiums will start out very cheap, and increase each year as you get older. Level premiums will stay the same throughout the life of your policy, so you do not have to reconsider your budget at later stages. If you are taking out a seniors life insurance policy at a relatively young age, level premiums would probably suit you best, as you plan to be paying for your policy through your 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond. However, if you are taking out a policy late in life, and don’t expect to be paying premiums for decades, then stepped premiums may be an affordable to begin with, and you won’t have to worry about the high costs in 10 or 20 years time.
Cover for senior buyers can be much more expensive than traditional life insurance, because as you get older, you pose a greater risk to an insurance company. As a result there are many insurance scams waiting to take advantage of seniors looking for insurance, so make sure that your policy is from a reputable insurer by doing your research into the insurance provider's background.
How much life insurance do I need to take out as a senior?
It is easy to underestimate the amount of seniors life insurance you need, especially when you consider that your children have probably moved out, your mortgage is paid off, and you’re about to be able to access all of the super contributions your employer has been making on your behalf.
However, just because your children are grown, it doesn’t mean you won’t have anyone you need to look after. For example, you may have a child or a family member with a disability or special needs, who relies on you for support and financial help – if you were to die or become sick or injured, how would they pay for the care they needed? Or you may have other elderly relatives who rely on you, siblings for example, or perhaps even your own parents, and when you are considering the amount of seniors life insurance you need, remember to take the cost of this care into account.
Also remember that your life insurance can pay a benefit amount to cover your funeral expenses. You don’t want your family to be scrambling around to pay for your funeral when they should be grieving and remembering happier times. So instead, calculate a provision in your life insurance for funeral expenses. Just remember that funeral insurance generally won’t pay out in the first 12 months unless your death is accidental.
Pros and cons of life insurance for seniors
Taking out life cover can see like just another thing to organise, when all you want to do is relax and enjoy planning your retirement. However, there are some important benefits and limitations you should consider when looking at seniors life insurance:
What are the benefits of funeral insurance for seniors?
Life insurance for seniors is vitally important even if it's only to the cover the cost of your funeral and any outstanding debts you may have at the time that you die. It may be that you have built up certain assets over your lifetime and have some money put away in a bank account but even if you haven't, funeral benefit life insurance tidies up your final expenses and what you have left in your estate can be distributed as you wish without any final adjustments having to be made.
Funeral insurance puts one less worry to bed. At least you'll know that when you finally pass away nobody will have to come up at the last minute to front your final costs for you while your estate is being distributed. It allows you to go out with a final dignity no matter if that's all you had the leave this world with, or if you were able to leave a considerable legacy behind.
One of the main concerns for many applicants is the cost involved. Those of us who were lucky enough to carry a whole of life assurance policy along with us right to the end will not have any such problems as the cover will remain intact right through and provide enough money to pay all the final costs, including funeral expenses, as well as have enough left over to pass around loved ones left behind.
The best thing about funeral insurance for the elderly is that you won't be refused cover even up to age 79, no matter what your health, lifestyle or gender and you can take out a joint cover with your spouse if you wish. Some insurers offer seniors two choices, an age based premium option or a fixed premium option:
- The age based option is cost effective earlier on but as you age the premium cost automatically increases. The cost can become quite substantial as you get older but as you're committed you have to persevere, or otherwise find some other way of paying your own funeral costs, which many older people can't manage. Age based premiums are automatically increased by 5 percent each year to keep pace with the rise in funeral expenses.
- The fixed premium option is fixed at the time of taking out the cover and it will always remain the same. It's dearer than the age based option initially but if you live on to a ripe old age it becomes cheaper in comparison to the age based option at that time.
Tips to compare seniors life insurance
- Obtain quotes from multiple providers
- Choose a provider with financial strength
- Compare features and benefits of the policies
- Premium payment options
With some insurance companies charging as much as 50% more than others per year, make sure you compare quotes with each provider to ensure you are getting the best deal possible.
Make sure that you do your research into the insurance company's background before you decide to buy their product. Look for details such as the company's history, awards, customer service and claims process.
It is essential to find out which events the policy will or will not cover you for, with the benefits and features that are provided in the policy. Read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) to help you decide whether the life insurance plan is suitable for you or not.
Find out whether your policy includes flexible repayment options. Can often be a great benefit to choose whether to pay your premiums either monthly or annually. Annual payments be lower than monthly payments.
Tips to Help You Avoid Life Insurance Scams
It is important to bear in mind that if you are being offered life insurance from a company that you have not heard of before and the plan that they offering perhaps sounds too good to be true, in terms of the benefits it offers compared to the price being charged - the chances are it is too good to be true! You should never take any chances with something as important as life insurance and if you have any doubts at all, you should postpone making any commitments until you have delved into matters more deeply, which means doing things such as researching the provider, checking reviews from other customers, etc.
In order to ensure that those you leave behind are properly protected and that you are not wasting your money paying premiums on a life insurance policy that does not even exist, it is important to take measure that will help you to avoid life insurance scams. There are a number of important measures that can help you to avoid falling victim to a life insurance scam targeted toward seniors, which includes:
- Make sure you use a reputable provider: In this day and age, it has become increasingly important to use a reputable company, with the existence of fly-by-night companies and scam artists. A well known, regulated insurance provider cannot take the risk of deceiving its valuable customers, so you will have far greater security when you choose a company that is well known, reputable and regulated.
- Do your research: Research counts for a lot when you are doing something as important as choosing a life insurance provider and plan. You should therefore take the time to research any provider or plan you are considering, which means looking at customer reviews, finding out more about the provider if you are not familiar with it, and even comparing different plans and providers so you can boost your chances of getting a good deal from a reputable provider
- Ask questions: Since you will be paying for the privilege of having life insurance cover, you should not be afraid to ask questions for clarification and peace of mind. If you have any questions or are uncertain about anything, make a list of questions to ask the provider, from queries that you have about the plan itself to questions about the provider, its background, its policies, and anything else you want clarification about
- Don't rush into anything: Many seniors make the mistake of rushing into a decision or feeling pressured into making a decision when it comes to life insurance cover. However, this can increase the chances of you making a costly mistake. Take some time to think about your choice before you make any commitment and if necessary seek advice from professionals or even family members so that they can look over the plan and provider you are considering for additional peace of mind
If you’re still not sure whether you should be taking out seniors life insurance as you get closer to retirement, here are all of your questions answered:
What is the minimum and maximum entry age for seniors insurance?
The maximum age that seniors can apply for cover will really depend on the type of policy that they decide to go with. This may vary between providers but generally the following rules apply.
- Life Insurance: Entry age can be as low as 11 to a maximum of 75.
- Income Protection: Entry age is generally 16 to a maximum of 60.
- Funeral Insurance: Entry age is generally 17 to a maximum of 80.
- Accidental Death Insurance: Entry age is generally 18 to a maximum of 74.
- Accidental Income Cover: Entry age is generally 18 to a maximum of 75.
- If you become sick or injured, or in the event of your death, your family isn’t burdened with your final expenses, funeral costs, bills and other debts.
- Even if you’re healthy you’re not immune to accidents, and no one knows what the future has in store. Therefore, it is best to take out life insurance as early as possible, when you are less of a risk to the insurer, and your premiums will be lower.
- Depending on your insurer, you can have extras such as accidental serious injury insurance, and total and permanent disability insurance, so you don’t have to die to receive a benefit payout.
- Generally any Australian resident who is aged between 50 and 79 can apply for a policy. In most cases you won’t need to have a blood test or a medical exam. Then, as long as you continue to pay your premiums on time, you are guaranteed to have your cover renewed each year.
- As seniors are more active than ever before, the chances are good that you’ll be doing some traveling in your retirement. Therefore, you will generally be covered no matter where you are in the world, as long as you remain an Australian citizen.
- Most seniors policies will also allow you to add your partner and your children to the policy. In most cases you can cover as many dependents as you like, up until they turn 21.
- Most policies will have fixed premiums, so you won’t have to pay any more as you get older. Plus, there is likely to even be a premium waiver feature, where you don’t have to pay any more premiums once you turn 90.
Life insurance for elderly: Frequently asked questions
Why Would I Take Out Protection?
Should I take out seniors life insurance even though I’m healthy?
What is included?
Who can apply?
Am I covered everywhere?
Can I cover my family too?
What will the premiums cost?
As we get older, we think more and more about who and what we are leaving behind, and what sort of legacy we want to leave for our family and future generations. Therefore, if you want to make sure that your family is looked after when you’re gone, that you and your partner can live a stress free retirement protected against illness and injury, and that you leave a legacy which speaks of care and planning, rather than financial stress, you need to consider seniors life insurance.
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