In life, there are certain significant birthdays one will have. Turning 16 usually meant that you could begin driving a car. At 21, it usually meant you could have a drink (legally). Unfortunately, at 85, you’re most likely going to lose the ability to purchase a traditional term or whole life insurance policy.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to qualify for any life insurance; it just means that now at your age, your options are going to be limited, and those options will be narrowing quickly because even those who will insure those over the age of 85 will stop providing coverage around 89-90 years of age.
But before we get started on what options might be available to someone aged 85 and older, let’s first discuss a term that doesn’t get discussed that often except when it can become an issue. That term is “insurance age”.
Insurance Age vs. Actual Age
Insurance age and actual age are two different terms that are used in the insurance industry. Actual age refers to a person’s chronological age. It is determined by counting the number of years from a person’s date of birth to the current date. This is the age that most people are familiar with and is used for everyday purposes, such as determining eligibility for certain benefits or services.
On the other hand, is the age that an insurance company uses to determine a person’s risk level and to calculate premiums for life, health, and other types of insurance. Insurance age is typically based on the age of the person on the next birthday.
For example, if a person is currently 59 years and 6 months old, their insurance age would be considered 60. Or, for the purpose of our discussion here, if a person is currently 84 years and 6 months old, their insurance age would be considered 80. It’s important to note that the insurance age is typically used to determine the premium rates, not isn’t always used to determine coverage eligibility. Additionally, not all insurance companies will use “insurance age” in their underwriting methodology. This is why it’s always best to speak with an insurance agent or financial advisor to understand how age is used in determining your eligibility.
Importance of Life Insurance at an Older Age
Life insurance is an important consideration for individuals of any age, but it can be especially important for those over 85. One of the main reasons is that it can help cover the costs of end-of-life expenses, such as funeral and burial costs. But that’s not all; end-of-life expenses can include a variety of costs that may arise during the final stages of a person’s life and after their passing.
Some examples you might not have thought of can include:
- Medical expenses: These can include costs associated with hospice care, hospital stays, and doctor’s visits.
- Legal expenses: This can include the cost of probate or the administration of an estate, as well as the cost of drafting a will or trust.
- Memorial expenses: This can include costs associated with a memorial service or other type of gathering to commemorate the person’s life.
- Travel expenses: These can include costs associated with traveling to be with a loved one during their final days or to attend their funeral or memorial service.
These expenses can be significant, and having a life insurance policy in place can provide peace of mind for both the individual and their loved ones.
Traditional Term and Whole Life Insurance
Traditional life insurance policies, such as term life insurance and universal life insurance, are typically not available to applicants over the age of 85. This is because most traditional policies have age limits beyond which coverage is not available. Some insurance companies may set their age limit at 80, while others may set it at 85. This means that if an individual is over the age limit, they will not be able to purchase a traditional life insurance policy through that insurer.
The reason for this is that as people get older, they are considered to be at higher risk by insurance companies. This is because they are more likely to have health issues and are more likely to pass away. As a result, insurance companies may not be willing to offer traditional life insurance coverage to applicants over a certain age.
It’s important to note that there are still other options available for seniors over 85, such as guaranteed issue life insurance or simplified issue life insurance, which typically have less restrictive age limits.
Insurance Policies that are available to individuals over 85
While traditional life insurance policies such as term and universal life insurance may not be available to individuals over 85, there are still other types of insurance policies that may be suitable for seniors in this age group.
One option is guaranteed issue life insurance, also known as guaranteed acceptance life insurance. This type of policy does not require a medical exam or ask any health questions, and it typically has lower coverage amounts and higher premiums compared to traditional term or universal life insurance.
Another option is Simplified issue life insurance, it’s a type of permanent life insurance that requires less underwriting than traditional policies, it’s more flexible and typically a better option for seniors over 85.
Differences between Simplified IssueLife Insurance Policies and a Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance Policies
The main differences between a simplified issue life insurance policy and a guaranteed issue life insurance policy are:
- Underwriting process: Simplified issue life insurance policies require less underwriting than traditional policies. They may still require a medical questionnaire or a phone interview to assess the applicant’s health, but they don’t require a full medical exam. Guaranteed issue life insurance policies, on the other hand, do not require any underwriting and do not ask any health questions.
- Coverage amount: Simplified issue policies typically have higher coverage amounts than guaranteed issue policies.
- Premiums: Simplified issue policies tend to have lower premiums than guaranteed issue policies.
- Waiting period: Some guaranteed issue policies may have a waiting period before the coverage takes effect, during which time the policyholder may not be able to collect death benefits. This waiting period is commonly referred to as a Graded Death Benefit and should be avoided when possible.
- Simplified issue policies usually won’t have a waiting period.
- Riders and options: Simplified issue policies may offer more options and riders compared to guaranteed issue policies, such as an option to add accidental death coverage.
Types of Life Insurance for Seniors Over 85
Life insurance premiums for seniors over 85 are typically higher than for younger individuals due to the increased risk of death. Several factors can affect the premium rates for seniors over 85:
- Age and health: The older an individual is, the higher the risk of death and, thus, the higher the premium. Additionally, pre-existing health conditions such as heart disease, cancer, or diabetes can also affect eligibility and/or the premium rates. Pre-existing medical conditions won’t be a factor when applying for a guaranteed issue life insurance policy, as no health-related questions will be asked when applying for coverage.
- Coverage amount: The higher the coverage amount, the higher the premium.
- Policy type: Guaranteed issue policies and simplified issue policies typically have higher premium rates than traditional policies.
- Smoking status: Smokers typically pay higher premiums than non-smokers due to the increased health risks associated with smoking. Smoking, however, won’t be a factor when applying for a guaranteed issue life insurance policy, as tobacco use will not be considered when applying for coverage.
- Gender: Women tend to live longer than men and, thus, typically pay lower premiums.
It’s important to note that the premium rates may vary from one insurer to another, so it’s always best to compare quotes and speak with an insurance agent or financial advisor to understand the options and requirements for life insurance coverage for someone over 85, and to find the one that best fits your needs.
How to Find Life Insurance Coverage for Seniors Over 85
Finding life insurance coverage for seniors over 85 can be challenging, but several steps can be taken to increase the chances of finding a suitable policy:
- Comparison shop: Compare premiums and coverage options from multiple insurers to find the best policy for your needs and budget.
- Work with an insurance agent: An experienced insurance agent can help you understand the options available and can provide guidance on which policies are best suited for your needs. They can also help you compare quotes from different insurers.
- Be honest about your health: When applying for a life insurance policy, be honest about your health status. If you have pre-existing medical conditions, they will be taken into account when determining the premium rate and coverage amount.
- And lastly, don’t get frustrated if at first, you don’t succeed.
This, in our opinion, is probably the best advice we can give any 85-year-old or family member looking to insure an 85-year-old loved one. Because, let’s face it, finding affordable coverage at 85 can be a challenge. A challenge that we have become quite good at. So, when you’re ready, feel free to give us a call so that we can review what options might be available to you.
Frequently Asked Questions
What types of life insurance are available for someone over 85?
Guaranteed issue life insurance and simplified issue life insurance are some types of policies that may be available for seniors over 85.
How does age affect my life insurance premiums?
As you get older, the risk of death increases, so premiums for life insurance for seniors over 85 tend to be higher than for younger individuals.
Are there any age limits for purchasing life insurance?
Some traditional life insurance policies may have age limits, typically around age 80 or 85, beyond which coverage is not available, however, other policies such as guaranteed issue life insurance do insure individuals up to age 90.
Do I need to take a medical exam to qualify for life insurance at 85?
It depends on the type of policy you choose. Guaranteed-issue life insurance policies do not require a medical exam, while simplified-issue life insurance policies may require a medical questionnaire.
How long does it take to get coverage for life insurance at 85?
It depends on the type of policy and the insurer. Some guaranteed issue policies may have a waiting period before coverage takes effect (2-3 years), while other policies may have a faster application process.
Do I need consent from the insured to purchase life insurance at 85?
Yes, to purchase a life insurance policy on another individual, you will need to obtain consent from that person before applying for coverage.