Buying Life Insurance for Your Parents: A Step-by-Step Guide

Buying a life insurance policy for your parents can help ensure that you’re able to afford their end-of-life expenses, including funeral costs and final medical bills.

As long as you meet certain requirements, you can purchase a life insurance plan on your parents’ behalf. You might also want to encourage your parents to buy their own life insurance coverage.

Last Updated: 5/14/2022
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While you may be familiar with purchasing life insurance policies for yourself, you might be surprised to learn it’s also possible to buy life insurance coverage for other individuals, including your parents.

You may want to purchase life insurance for your parents if you anticipate needing help to cover costs like their funeral expenses and end-of-life medical bills. A life insurance policy can also help ease the financial burden if you need to take time off of work to care for your parents or if you need to pay off their debts after they die.

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Key Takeaways

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It’s possible to buy life insurance for your parents with their consent.

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Life insurance can help cover end-of-life expenses for your parents.

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The right policy for your parents depends on their budget, health, age and other factors.

How to Buy Life Insurance for Your Parents

To purchase a life insurance policy for your parents, you’ll need their consent. You’ll also need to prove that you have insurable interest. In some cases, it may be easier to help your parents take out a life insurance policy and list you as a beneficiary instead.

1

Ask for their consent.

To open a life insurance policy on your parents’ behalf, you’ll need their consent. It’s a good idea to begin a conversation about life insurance with your parents as soon as you can. If they agree to allow you to open a life insurance policy for them, you can proceed with the following steps.

2

Make sure you have “insurable interest.”

Insurers also require that you demonstrate your “insurable interest” when opening a policy for your parents. Basically, you’ll need to prove that their death will financially impact you.

3

Choose an appropriate coverage amount.

There are several different types of life insurance plans, including term life insurance, whole life insurance, and final expense insurance. The kind of coverage that is right for you depends on your and your parents’ budget, income and preferences.

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Insurable interest means having a financial stake in a particular matter. In the context of life insurance, this means that you’ll be impacted financially in the event of your parents’ death.

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How to Ask Your Parents for Consent to Buy Life Insurance

Life insurance can be a sensitive topic for children and parents to discuss. If you’re interested in purchasing a life insurance policy for your parents, you should approach the subject with care and tact.

While it can be awkward to talk about, discussing life insurance and end-of-life plans can help ensure that everyone is on the same page and that everything goes smoothly when the time comes. The earlier you can begin the conversation, the better.

Individuals can’t take out a life insurance policy for another person without their knowledge and explicit consent. In other words, you can’t take out a life insurance policy for your parents without them knowing about it.

While there are many benefits to life insurance, it’s not possible to purchase a policy if your parents don't agree to it.


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Do:
  • Approach the topic with care and sensitivity
  • Explain why life insurance is important
  • Discuss policy basics, including who will pay the premiums and who to list as a beneficiary
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Don't:
  • Attempt to purchase a life insurance policy for your parents without their consent
  • Be insensitive when discussing end-of-life plans and expenses
  • Pressure parents who are uninterested in life insurance to buy a policy

When talking about life insurance with a parent or loved one, you should be patient and understanding, regardless of what your parents decide. While you can encourage them to purchase life insurance and offer assistance with the process, they still have the final say regarding whether or not to buy a policy.

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A little bit of patience and sensitivity can go a long way when talking to relatives about financial matters. Try to be understanding and approach the topic with compassion and respect.

How to Choose the Right Life Insurance Coverage for Your Parents

Once you and your parents have decided to get a life insurance policy, the next step is to determine what type of coverage is right for your situation. Asking your parents a series of detailed questions about their coverage needs can help you find the best type of policy for them.

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The answers to the above questions can help you narrow down the type of life insurance policy that makes sense for your situation. For example, if your parents are interested in guaranteed coverage for life and cost is not a barrier, you might want to consider whole life insurance.

On the other hand, if they don’t have room in their budget for high monthly premiums and you anticipate needing some help to cover the cost of a funeral, a final expense life insurance policy might be a better fit. If your parents have dependents, it might make sense to purchase a more generous life insurance policy to provide for those dependents.

Learn more about some of the most common types of life insurance coverage in the table below.

Common Types of Life Insurance Coverage
  • Coverage Type
    Description
  • Simplified Issue Life Insurance
    Simplified issue life insurance is one of the easiest types of life insurance to be approved for. This policy does not require a medical exam, and the application process is quick and simple. However, healthy applicants may secure more affordable monthly premiums with a different type of policy.
  • Guaranteed Acceptance Life Insurance
    Guaranteed acceptance life insurance is a good choice for applicants with health issues who may not be able to obtain other types of coverage. As the name suggests, this type of policy is available to all applicants. It’s also a good fit for those with a limited budget. Keep in mind that these policies only provide a small amount of life insurance coverage, typically around $25,000.
  • Whole Life Insurance
    Whole life insurance policies provide coverage throughout a person’s entire lifetime, regardless of how long they live. These policies tend to be significantly more expensive but can provide peace of mind for parents with dependents and those looking for tax advantages.
  • Term Life Insurance
    Term life insurance policies cover a specific term length, usually between 10 and 30 years. These policies tend to be more affordable than whole life insurance policies.
  • Final Expense Life Insurance
    Final expense life insurance is technically a type of whole life insurance since it has no expiration date. These inexpensive policies generally have a modest coverage limit of $5,000 to $50,000 and are designed to cover end-of-life expenses like funeral costs.

A term life insurance policy with a term length based on age is a good choice for many people. Customers can also add features called riders to their life insurance plans.

Riders can provide benefits like the option to convert to a whole life insurance policy and increased death benefits in the case of an accident. If your budget is a limiting factor, you might want to consider a final expense life insurance policy to cover basic expenses.

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Just because a policy sounds impressive doesn’t mean that it’s the best bang for your buck. You should only purchase the coverage you need.

When to Buy Life Insurance for Your Parents

If you’re considering buying life insurance for your parents, opening a policy as early as possible is best. If you wait, your parents could develop health issues that disqualify them from getting insured. The older your parents are, the more expensive life insurance policies become.

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It can be more challenging for customers with pre-existing conditions to qualify for a life insurance policy. Pre-existing conditions are a customer's health issues before purchasing a policy, like asthma or cancer.

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Ensure you’re getting the best rate for your life insurance. Compare quotes from top providers to find the most affordable life insurance coverage for your needs.

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Benefits of Buying Life Insurance for Your Parents

Life insurance policies can help cover the cost of final expenses for your parents, including burial costs, end-of-life medical bills and other costs.

Depending on the type of policy you purchase, you may also receive more generous cash benefits you can use to help care for any dependents or other purposes.

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    It covers final expenses.

    One of the main benefits of any life insurance policy is that it will help cover final expenses like burial costs.

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    It can help cover other end-of-life expenses.

    Many policies can also help customers cover other end-of-life expenses like medical bills. Life insurance may also provide a financial cushion if you need to take time off from work to care for a dying parent.

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    It may provide additional financial support.

    Depending on the coverage you choose, some life insurance policies come with additional payouts for the beneficiary.

The Cost of Buying Life Insurance for Your Parents

Life insurance rates increase with age. On average, it costs three to four times more for someone to buy life insurance in their 50s than someone in their 30s, and up to 10 times as much for adults 60 and older.

Average Cost of 20-Year Term Life Insurance with $500k Coverage

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30-Year-Old

Monthly Cost

$25
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50-Year-Old

Monthly Cost

$93
Life insurance for older individuals costs on average:$68 more

This is 272% more expensive.

Even if your parents are in excellent health, it can be expensive to insure them. Whole life insurance policies and policies that don’t require a medical exam tend to be even more costly.

Before you purchase a life insurance policy, it’s a good idea to compare rates and coverage amounts for several policies to ensure that you’re selecting the best possible plan for your situation.

Cost of 20-Year Term Life Insurance for a 50-Year-Old

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  • Coverage
    Monthly Rate
  • $1,000,000
    $175.62
  • $500,000
    $92.27
  • $250,000
    $57.31
  • $100,000
    $31.41
Cost of Whole Life Insurance for a 50-Year-Old

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  • Coverage
    Monthly Rate
  • $1,000,000
    $2,082.02
  • $500,000
    $1,044.31
  • $250,000
    $525.46
Cost of Guaranteed Acceptance Life Insurance for a 50-Year-Old

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  • Coverage
    Monthly Rate
  • $25,000
    $93.47
  • $10,000
    $39.40

Whole life insurance and guaranteed acceptance life insurance tend to be more expensive than a term life insurance policy. Other policies may not make the most financial sense for healthy individuals who qualify for a term life insurance policy.

While it can be tempting to purchase the lifelong coverage whole life insurance provides, in practice, you may be better off financially if you choose a term life insurance policy.

Before you ultimately decide on a policy, it’s a good idea to do your due diligence and research all available policy options to ensure that you get adequate coverage at an affordable price.

Compare Life Insurance Rates

Ensure you’re getting the best rate for your life insurance. Compare quotes from top providers to find the most affordable life insurance coverage for your needs.

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Insurance Rates

Frequently Asked Questions

Buying life insurance for your parents can sometimes be confusing since it works a little differently than purchasing a policy for yourself. We’ll cover some common concerns that come up when purchasing life insurance for your parents.

About the Author


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Margaret Wack is a freelance writer who covers insurance, saving, investing, banking, and more. Margaret earned a bachelor's degree in classics, comparative literature, and poetry from Smith College and a master's degree from St. John's College.