If you’re over 80 you can get the life insurance you need. In fact, a lot of leading insurers have designed burial or final expense plans specifically for you.
Read more to see your best choices for coverage. Most of our clients over age 80 can qualify for life insurance without a waiting period.
IN THIS POST:
- Best Options for Senior Life Insurance
- What is Final Expense or Burial Life Insurance?
- What is an Ideal Coverage Amount to Buy?
- How Much Will My Coverage Cost?
- Sample Prices for Coverage
- Final Expense vs. Guaranteed Issue
- How to Avoid Waiting Period for Coverage
- Best Burial Insurance Providers
- Burial Insurance After Age 85
- What’s My Best Choice for Coverage?
- How Much Coverage Should I Buy?
- Worst Burial / Final Expense Options
- Applying for Coverage
- Making Arrangements to Pay In Advance
- Frequently Asked Questions
Best Senior Life Insurance Options
Shoppers in their 80s can no longer depend on term life insurance to provide affordable coverage. Instead, most seniors will need some form of whole life insurance.
Yes, whole life is usually costlier, but your coverage needs are now a lot smaller, and a smaller policy will drive down the cost of your coverage.
After all, when you’re no longer providing for dependents and paying off mortgages you just need enough life insurance to pay your final expenses so your heirs don’t have to.
Funeral and burial costs are much lower than a mortgage. Still, not everybody can come up with $15,000 or $25,000 on demand.
That’s why so many seniors like final expense life insurance. For a smaller premium, you can afford to provide this money for your family at the time of your death.
What is Final Expense or Burial Life Insurance?
Both these terms — final expense and burial life — mean the same thing. They refer to a whole life insurance policy with a small coverage amount, often up to $50,000 — usually just enough to cover your final expenses.
Since these are whole life plans you don’t have to worry about your coverage expiring as long as you keep paying the premiums.
Premiums won’t increase as you age. In return for you paying your regular premiums, your beneficiary can claim your policy’s death benefit when you pass away.
The death benefit will be tax free money for your beneficiary, whom you name when you buy the policy. Normally, seniors choose an adult child or grandchild they trust.
Trust matters because your beneficiary will have total freedom about how to use the money. You could leave instructions in a will. You could ask your beneficiary to use the money to pay off your small debts or pay for your funeral or burial.
But ultimately, your beneficiary would have complete discretion to use your policy’s death benefit as he or she sees fit. This counts for leftover money, too, if your policy provides more than needed.
Extra money is always a good thing!
How Much Coverage Can I Buy?
Burial or final expense coverage works like any other kind of life insurance. Your cost will be determined by the amount you buy along with details about your life.
So the questions become: “How much insurance can I afford?” and “How much will the insurance company let me buy?”
Buying more coverage costs more money. How much you can afford to spend on premiums month after month will play a big role.
And insurance companies limit the amount you can buy. Most insurers cap burial life insurance at $25,000 to $40,000. (On the other end of the spectrum, these policies almost always require you buy at least $2,000 in coverage.)
Shoppers who want larger death benefits — $75,000 to $100,000 in coverage, for example — normally need to buy multiple policies. This plan becomes too expensive for a lot of shoppers.
How Much Will My Coverage Cost?
We’ll share some sample rate tables below, but please know that life insurance premiums vary based on several factors, including:
- Your State: Every state regulates insurance differently which affects prices.
- Your Age: An 80-year-old will normally pay less than an 84-year-old.
- Your Gender: Males pay more than females for the same coverage.
- Your Company: Among leading insurers, prices are normally competitive. However, shopping around for the best rates on comparable coverage leads to savings.
- Your Policy Size: As we said above, buying more coverage normally costs more.
- Your Habits: Smokers normally pay a lot more for life insurance.
Get a Quote to Assess Your Actual Cost
With all these variables in mind, the only way to gauge your actual price tag for coverage will be to get quotes from insurance providers.
The quote box on this page offers a place to start comparing quotes.
Sample Prices for Burial or Final Expense Life Insurance
The following tables show average monthly premiums for burial life insurance coverage.
Once again, your actual rates will vary based on the factors above:
|Age at Purchase||$10,000 Female||$10,000 Male||$20,000 Female||$20,000 Male|
Please Note: Your price will not increase as you age once you’ve bought a policy and locked in rates. Your monthly premiums will be based on your age at the time of purchase and remain level the rest of your life.
Final Expense Life vs. Guaranteed Issue Life
You don’t need a waiting period for your burial or final expense life insurance to take effect.
A lot of shoppers get confused about this because some life insurance does require a waiting period — guaranteed issue. Guaranteed issue resembles final expense insurance; both types have smaller coverage amounts and appeal to older shoppers.
But there’s a huge difference: Guaranteed issue does not ask health questions. Burial life underwriters do want to know about your health.
Guaranteed issue works best for someone not healthy enough to still get coverage after a health discussion. Because they appeal to people in poor health, guaranteed issue policies require two to three years of waiting before a beneficiary could file a claim on the policy’s full death benefit.
In the first year of coverage, for example, the beneficiary could claim only a refund of premiums paid thus far. Each year the death benefit increases some until it reaches the full amount. Sometimes insurers call this a “graded” death benefit.
This graded benefit won’t apply to you when you buy an actual burial / final expense life insurance policy. You should not have to wait for your coverage to take effect.
How to Avoid the Waiting Period for Burial Life
Avoid the waiting period by making sure your final expense or burial life policy does not have guaranteed issue underwriting. Guaranteed issue has its place. But if you can qualify for coverage based on your health you’ll save money and avoid having to wait.
Offers you get in the mail or see on TV often do not tell the complete truth about this. They say you won’t have to wait for coverage but then, once you apply and get approved, the story changes.
You can tell the difference by:
- Asking: Ask your agent or company whether or not you’re getting guaranteed issue underwriting before finalizing coverage.
- Observing: Did your insurer ask anything about your health — other than asking whether you have a terminal illness or live in a nursing home? If that’s the only two questions you answered, you’re getting guaranteed issue insurance and will most likely have to wait 2 to 3 years to have full coverage.
Here’s another big clue: If the insurance company reaches out to you, you’re probably getting a guaranteed issue policy. If you choose your agent — someone who works for you — you’ll have a lot more control over the coverage you’re getting.
We would like to help you get the coverage you need by matching you with an agent who will advocate for your needs. Call us at (877) 800-0450 to get started.
Best Burial Insurance Providers for Seniors Up to Age 85
With life insurance, specific ages have a lot of significance, and 85 is a meaningful age for burial and final expense policies. Before you pass age 85 you have a lot more choices for coverage.
Some of the best options include:
Mutual of Omaha
Most of our clients who qualify for a Mutual of Omaha final expense policy get low rates, especially in their early 80s.
This coverage will not be available once you pass age 85. And it’s not available at all in New York State.
Get up to $40,000 coverage with no waiting period if you apply through an independent agency. Insurance purchased directly from MofO will be guaranteed issue.
Learn More: Read our full Mutual of Omaha Burial Insurance Review.
Aetna offers policies as large as $25,000 to applicants up to age 85. Applicants up to age 89 can still get $10,000 in coverage.
If you’re in California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Maine, New York, Vermont, Washington, Alaska, or Washington, D.C., you won’t be eligible.
Only licensed agents sell this coverage, but it’s worth the extra step because Aetna offers great rates.
Transamerica serves all 50 states with policies up to $25,000 for customers 85 and younger. If you have a health condition, such as diabetes, you may get better rates with Transamerica than with other providers.
Other shoppers may see higher premiums, but Transamerica offers quality coverage. Once again, you should shop with an independent agency like ours to get the best rates.
Licensed agents sell AIG policies, but you can also shop via AIG Direct if you’d rather buy directly from the provider.
But this is guaranteed issue, which means you will have a waiting period. Policies cap out at $25,000 and aren’t available in New York, Maine, or Pennsylvania.
If you have a health condition that keeps you from qualifying for a final expense or burial life policy, you will very likely qualify for AIG’s coverage.
You’ll also pay a higher premium, so buy this coverage only if you can’t find another option.
Learn More: Read our full AIG Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance Review.
Foresters is one of our favorite providers no one has heard of. Burial life policies max out at $15,000 and are available only for people age 85 and younger.
Shoppers in all 50 states can get final expense coverage through Foresters. Policyholders also get a free membership in Foresters Financial which offers financial counseling and other benefits.
Only licensed independent agencies offer these policies.
Learn More: Read our full Foresters Burial Insurance Review.
You could get up to $30,000 in final expense coverage from Americo which serves all states except New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Montana, Maine, and Connecticut.
As is true for most carriers, age 85 is the cutoff for these policies. Premiums may be higher with Americo but underwriting allows for more nuance than usual, too. If you have health concerns, you may still get approved.
Even though you’re paying more, your coverage would still be less expensive than a graded, guaranteed issue policy like one from AIG.
Learn More: Read our full Americo Burial Insurance Review.
American Amicable also has a more nuanced approach to underwriting. The company doesn’t automatically disqualify people with certain conditions from getting their coverage.
Yes, you’ll pay more, but again, the price will beat guaranteed issue, and you won’t have to wait two years for coverage to take effect.
Some familiar states — New York, Montana, New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut, and Vermont — don’t have coverage from AmAm.
In other states you could get up to $20,000 in burial life insurance.
Royal Neighbors of America
This is another insurer not many people have heard of, but it’s a favorite among independent agencies like ours.
We often send some of our most complex clients to Royal Neighbors with good results. Shoppers in Alaska, Alabama, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maine, New Hampshire, and New York will not be eligible.
Others could get up to $25,000 in coverage. Royal Neighbors has a higher-than-usual minimum coverage of $5,000. Keep that in mind if you’re shopping for a very small policy.
Burial Insurance After Age 85
If at all possible, buy your coverage before you reach age 85. The table above shows the way premiums increase each year. After 85 your choices become significantly more limited.
However, you can still get coverage from:
Coverage amounts will decrease to $10,000 after you pass age 85, but at least you can still get coverage, up to age 89.
Expect a more thorough health evaluation, too. Age 85 is significant to insurance companies for a reason. Underwriters take on more risk and will expect to know more about you.
You will need to ask an independent agent about this coverage since Aetna doesn’t sell it directly.
Security National Life
Another option post age 85 is Security National. You’d have to get in touch with a Security National agent to buy coverage directly. The age cut off is 90.
Security National is a respected and well-known company in the insurance industry, but we don’t have specifics because they don’t work with independent agencies.
What’s My Best Choice for Final Expense Insurance?
You’ve seen our top picks. Considering there are hundreds of insurance companies in the marketplace, having a handful to choose from makes life easier.
But you still have a decision to make — and you may want to choose a provider that’s not on our list.
So we’d like to share this guide with you about choosing the best provider for your specific needs. Matching customers with the best company is really what independent life insurance agents do best.
How Life Insurance Works
Life insurance and risk go hand-in-hand. A 30-year-old woman could get $2 million in term coverage for $60 a month. So why would it cost an 80-year-old woman $100 a month for $10,000 in coverage?
It all boils down to the risk your policy creates for the insurer’s bottom line. The greater your chances of passing away, the more risk your policy presents — and you’ll pay more for coverage to compensate for this risk. Age is a huge factor, obviously.
Burial life insurance exists specifically for people in their senior years. Their lower coverage amounts make them more affordable. But you’ll still need to know about a few variables to find your best coverage.
Your Health at Age 80 and Above
When you’re 80 and in ideal health you’ll have access to lower burial or final expense policy prices. You’d do OK with most any of the providers on our list above — assuming you live in a state with coverage available.
If you have a complicating health factor like COPD or diabetes, you’ll have to be more careful. Here’s where you’ll need more help from an agent who knows the business.
Worst-case scenario you will need a guaranteed issue policy with a graded death benefit. But applying to selective companies can get better coverage.
Prescription Medicine’s Impact on Life Insurance
Funeral insurance doesn’t typically require a medical exam the way medically underwritten life insurance does. But your insurer can still learn about your health in other ways.
Your prescription drug history, for example, will be available to underwriters. If you’re taking Coumadin or Warfarin, the insurance company will assume you have a heart condition.
This is common for an 80-year-old applying for life insurance, so many burial life insurance policies can still easily accommodate your condition, though you should expect to see higher premiums.
A combination of prescription medications can limit your choices.
The Work of an Independent Agent
When you choose an agent to work on your behalf, your agent should ask you health questions before applying for any coverage.
By doing this, your agent can guide you to the insurance companies most suited for your health conditions. This way you don’t have to apply for coverage unless you’re likely to get approved.
Same with higher premiums: If your agent knows you wouldn’t get coverage in your price range, he or she should advise against applying.
This takes some extra work but it sure beats getting declined for coverage time and again until you stumble across the right company.
How Much Coverage Should I Buy in Final Expense Insurance?
The size of your policy — within parameters allowed by your insurer — will make a big difference to your monthly premiums.
We recommend buying only what you need. If you need $10,000 to pay for your final expenses, buy a policy that size. Within the price point for this kind of coverage, a few thousand dollars will impact your premium each month.
So how much do you need?
An average funeral costs $8,000 to $10,000. Some cost more. If you have very specific directives, you may want to leave more money to pay for them.
What about other expenses? Do you owe a few thousand dollars on a car? Have you borrowed against any of your assets which would complicate your estate liquidation? Your final expense life insurance can pay for this, too.
Credit card bills will need to be paid off. Medical bills may also still come due.
What about helping pay hotel expenses for family members from out of town? It’s not a requirement, but you may want to think about these costs.
The key will be to make your own assessment of your needs. We suggest talking with your adult children or other people who care about you as you measure your needs.
Not only could your family help you decide how much coverage to buy, but they could also benefit from being involved in the discussion.
Even if you don’t involve your family in this discussion about building your coverage, be sure to let someone know you bought final expense insurance. Put your policy in an obvious place with other important papers. Your family will want to file for a claim as quickly as possible.
Worst Burial / Final Expense Life Insurance Ideas
Scam is too strong a word, but we still warn customers to stay away from these offers because they seem too good to be true. Some of these will seem familiar if you watch much TV.
It’s an established company with a great-sounding name. Their promises sound like the real deal when Alex Trebek lays out the details.
But you can do better. No matter what Alex got paid to say, you will have a waiting period, your premiums will be high, dollar for dollar, and you’ll get coverage limited to $10,000.
If you’re in poor health and wouldn’t qualify for an actual burial life insurance policy, you’ll do OK with Colonial Penn. But if you can qualify for the real deal, you’ll save a lot and get more coverage by taking a more proactive approach and contacting an agency.
Learn More: Read our full Colonial Penn Burial Insurance Review.
This company resembles Colonial Penn but without as much name recognition. Once again, you can find better coverage for less between the ages of 80 and 85, especially if you’re in pretty good health.
The real problem with this company is its tendency to say all the right things before, at the last minute, reclassifying you into an inferior product with — you guessed it — a two-year waiting period and a low cap on your coverage.
Learn More: Read our full Lincoln Heritage Review.
AIG Direct & Mutual of Omaha Direct
We listed AIG and Mutual of Omaha on our top-providers list above — and for good reason. Mutual of Omaha, especially, stands out as a great value for final expense insurance.
However, the way you buy your coverage makes a big difference. The products AIG and Mutual of Omaha sell directly to consumers don’t match the quality of coverage these insurers provide customers who work with independent agents.
The direct approach is a great idea when you’re a 45-year-old buying a simple term life policy. In your 80s, the direct approach will get you a guaranteed issue policy with a waiting period and higher-than-necessary premiums.
Once again, if you can’t qualify for a true final expense policy, you will probably do fine with a policy from AIG Direct or Mutual of Omaha Direct. If your health allows for better coverage for less, you should get it.
An ‘Agent’ Who Calls You
When you get a phone call from an agent you’ve never called or heard from before, don’t buy the insurance. These kinds of offers always require a waiting period and have low coverage caps.
If you do get into a conversation with a salesperson, be sure to ask whether your coverage is guaranteed issue. Often, the telemarketer will readily agree, thinking you’re happy about the guarantee.
As is true with so much about life insurance, knowledge is king. You know better. You know the guarantee means everybody gets covered which drives up your price if you’re healthy enough to get a real final expense life insurance policy.
Applying for Burial Life Insurance Coverage
When you’re ready to apply for your burial life insurance coverage, here’s what to do:
Contact an Agency
We recommend working with an independent agency in your community or finding an online agency like ours. You can get started by entering your information in the quote box on this page.
As we’ve already pointed out, an agent with access to a dozen or so insurance companies can match your application with the insurer most likely to approve coverage you can afford.
Here’s what we’ll do:
Gather Your Information
Before you apply for coverage, get ready to answer some health questions. Your insurer will want to know about your doctor’s visits, your diagnoses, your medication, and your need for hospitalizations or home health.
Again, if you’re working with an agent who doesn’t ask about your health, you’ll probably pay too much for your coverage because your insurer won’t know how healthy you are.
Apply for Coverage
You’ve identified some ideal insurance companies so it’s time to start applying. Often, agents will seek quotes from two or three ideal companies.
You should then be able to compare quotes and decide where to submit an actual application.
At this point you should not have paid any money yet. Paying your first premium will activate your coverage. Until then you don’t need to pay anything.
Accept the Policy
Assuming you get approved for coverage — and we always think you will or else we wouldn’t apply — you can finalize coverage by signing your documents online, submitting via fax, or signing in person if you’re working with an agent in your community.
Some carriers even let you sign over the phone via a recorded conversation and by entering a series of numbers which represent your consent.
This entire process can take two days or it can take a week depending on the insurer and your availability to respond quickly to requests for information.
But we recommend taking your time. Read the entire policy to learn about its exclusions and rules. An insurance policy is a legal contract. You’ll want to make sure you’re living up to your side of the contract. You’ll also want to get familiar with the insurer’s requirements.
Pay the First Premium
Paying the first month’s premium makes your coverage official. At about this same time you should receive formal documentation that you have coverage in force.
Put Your Policy in a Safe Place
Put your insurance policy in a safe, or in a file with other end-of-life information. You’ll want to make sure your family knows you bought coverage and how they can get in touch with the insurance company.
Your loved ones will need your death certificate in order to file the claim, but having contact information for your insurance company available can still save some time and hassle.
After all, you bought the policy for them so you may as well help them use it efficiently and quickly.
Making Arrangements to Pay Final Expenses
Some people like to do more than providing life insurance to cover their final expenses. They like to make the arrangements, too.
This is all based on personal preference. It’s OK to choose a funeral home and make some arrangements in advance if you want.
But this leads to a complicated question: Should I send my life insurance payout directly to the funeral home to cover the bill? Some even wonder whether they should make the funeral home their burial insurance policy’s beneficiary.
We advise against this. It seems like an elegant solution — one that keeps your family from having to get more involved with filing claims and paying bills.
But you want to have a little more control over the process. As the beneficiary, your funeral home would be the owner of your policy’s payout. As such, the funeral director would have total control over how the money would be spent.
It’s better to let a family member receive funds from life insurance and then use them to pay the funeral home or to reimburse money already spent before the claim comes through.
You should consider leaving detailed instructions about your wishes and even discussing them with your heirs in advance.
Frequently Asked Questions About Burial Coverage
We’ve covered a lot in this post but let’s review a little and also cover some new topics in these questions which people ask a lot.
Is 85 the cutoff for burial life?
Yes and no. Your policy options get a lot more limited after age 85, but a couple of insurers will still write a policy. Aetna, for example, has a $10,000 burial policy for people ages 86 to 89.
Does final expense life insurance require a medical exam?
No, in the vast majority of cases, your burial or final expense coverage will not require you to take a medical exam. Instead, you’ll answer questions about your health and consent to having underwriters search online about your medications and previous life insurance exams.
Can you get term life burial insurance?
No, term life is a great option for younger and middle-aged adults but seniors in their 70s and 80s can’t buy term life insurance for any purpose — final expense or otherwise.
Can I name anyone as my beneficiary?
Yes, you have the freedom to name your own beneficiary as you see fit. You could even name a charity or a foundation your beneficiary. Typically, policyholders name an adult child, niece, nephew, or family friend as the policy’s beneficiary.
Can I change my beneficiary?
Yes, you can change your beneficiary any time. More and more policies let you make these changes online. Some companies still require a phone call or a mailed form to finalize a change.
Do I need funeral insurance and final expense insurance?
No, these are two names for the same product. Burial insurance, final expense insurance, funeral insurance — all three mean the same thing: a whole life policy with a small payout and affordable premiums.
How soon can I buy burial life insurance?
Most insurers have minimum age requirements such as 55 or 60. Check with your agent or your individual insurer about its age requirements.
You don’t want to buy coverage too soon. If you’re 55, for example, and you see no reason why you won’t live another 20 to 30 years, you could ] save the money you’d spend on premiums. Within 20 years you should have time to save enough money to self-insure.
You’ll get the best value when you’re in your 70s or early 80s shopping for burial coverage.
Will my premiums increase as I age?
Once you buy a policy you lock in premiums based on your age on the date of purchase. You’ll keep these same premiums the rest of your life.
The longer you wait to buy coverage, the more your premiums will cost because new policies cost more for older applicants.
Does my beneficiary have to spend the money on a funeral?
No. Life insurance is remarkably flexible. Your beneficiary can claim your death benefit tax free and free of any limitations. The beneficiary becomes the owner of the money. He or she can spend it as needed.
Can my children buy a policy for me?
Yes, your kids — or anyone else for that matter — could buy a policy on you. Each state’s laws require you to be made aware of the policy.
My funeral home wants to sell me a policy. Is that legitimate?
Some states do allow funeral homes to sell burial life insurance policies. However, we advise against buying insurance from your funeral home since its options would typically be limited to one or two carriers.
An actual agency who specializes in life insurance can save you money and find you better coverage.
What if my beneficiary dies before I do?
You’d need to choose a new beneficiary if your primary beneficiary passes away before you. Many policies let you choose more than one beneficiary in case this happens.
If the insurance company can’t find a living beneficiary, it will seek out your next closest living relative. The company has an interest in paying your benefit because the money no longer belongs to the insurer once you die.
How much do funerals cost?
The average funeral costs about $7,500. Your personal preferences could decrease or increase this cost. Your family may also have preferences which affect the final price.
Who pays final expenses if I don’t have burial insurance?
Your next of kin or the executor of your estate would be responsible for paying final expenses. Burial insurance doesn’t change this fact. It simply gives your survivors funds to pay these bills.
What costs more: burial or cremation?
Cremation usually costs half or less than half of the price of a traditional burial which requires a casket and a grave.
Is there a waiting period for burial life insurance?
No, you don’t need to wait for your burial coverage to take effect after you’ve finalized a policy and started paying premiums.
However, if you buy guaranteed issue life insurance — for burial expenses or any other reason — you’ll likely have a 2 to 3 year waiting period before your full coverage amount becomes available to your heirs.
Does burial insurance accrue cash value?
Yes, as a whole life policy, your final expense coverage accrues cash value. However, most policyholders do not keep coverage long enough to gain significant value.
Can I get burial insurance if I smoke?
Smoking cigarettes drastically increases life insurance rates for young and middle-age shoppers. Smoking cigarettes will limit your options for burial life insurance, too, but the impact might not be as drastic as you’d think.
Yes, you’ll pay more, but you can still find quality coverage from Mutual of Omaha, Assurity, and American Amicable, for example.
Is burial insurance worth it?
This depends totally on your situation. If you have no funds set aside for final expenses and you’re not confident you can find and set aside enough money, burial insurance provides an elegant solution.
If you can set aside money in an account for final expenses, you don’t need burial insurance.