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If you're in your 20s and have someone financially dependent on you, you may want to consider getting life insurance. Should you pass away, those relying on your support could face financial difficulties. Life insurance can offer a safety net, ensuring that your loved ones have the resources they need to sustain their standard of living.

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Life Events Triggering Life Insurance Need

Certain life events and transitions in your 20s can heighten the need for life insurance:

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    Starting a Family

    When you have children or plan to start a family, your financial responsibilities increase significantly. Life insurance can ensure their financial stability if something happens to you, covering costs such as child care, education and general living expenses.

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    Getting Married

    Marriage often means shared financial responsibilities and obligations. If your spouse relies on your income, life insurance can provide necessary financial support in your absence, helping to cover day-to-day living costs, future plans and shared debts.

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    Homeownership

    Buying a home is a major financial commitment that typically involves a mortgage. Life insurance can ensure that your family can stay in their home if your income was suddenly removed.

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    Accumulating Significant Debt

    If you have substantial debt, such as student loans or personal loans, life insurance can prevent this burden from falling on your loved ones. Some debts may be forgiven upon death, but others could be passed on to co-signers or even extracted from your estate.

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    Starting a Business

    If you're an entrepreneur, your sudden absence could have significant consequences for your business and any business partners. Life insurance can provide necessary funds to help keep the business running.

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    Supporting Aging Parents or Siblings

    If you financially support your aging parents or siblings, life insurance can provide the necessary funds to continue that support if you're no longer around.

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    Becoming a Single Parent

    As a single parent, you are the primary or perhaps sole provider for your children. Life insurance can provide a financial safety net for your children’s future.

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    Student Loans with a Co-signer

    If your student loans were co-signed by a parent or guardian, they could be held responsible for this debt if you passed away. Life insurance can help ensure that the burden of loan repayment doesn't fall onto your co-signers.

Each of these life events adds financial obligations that could become burdensome to others if your income was suddenly removed. Life insurance provides a financial safety net, ensuring that these financial obligations are taken care of in the event of your death.

Benefits of Getting Insured Young

There are compelling reasons to consider getting life insurance in your 20s:

Lower Premiums: Younger, healthier individuals pose less risk to insurance companies, which usually translates to lower premiums. For example, here's a comparison of monthly premium costs, along with the total policy cost over a 20-year term, for a $500,000 term life insurance policy:

Age
Average Monthly Cost
Total Cost Over Time

25

$ 28

$ 6,720

35

$ 44

$ 10,560

45

$ 106

$ 25,440

55

$ 286

$ 68,640

The table shows how premiums tend to increase significantly with age. By purchasing life insurance in your 20s, you can lock in a cheaper rate and potentially save thousands of dollars over the life of the policy.

Risk of Developing Health Conditions: As you age, the risk of developing health conditions increases, which could lead to higher premiums or even make you uninsurable. Some of the conditions that insurance companies may be concerned about include:

  1. High Blood Pressure and Heart Disease: These conditions can significantly increase your insurance premiums because of the risk of serious complications, including heart attack and stroke.
  2. Diabetes: Insurers typically view this condition as a significant risk factor. People with diabetes often face higher premiums, and those with poor control over their diabetes may be deemed uninsurable.
  3. Cancer: Having a history of cancer can increase your premiums substantially. Some insurance companies may deny coverage if you're currently undergoing treatment or if the cancer was of a particularly severe type or stage.
  4. Obesity: Obesity can lead to a variety of health problems, including heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer. Overweight individuals may face higher premiums or potentially be considered uninsurable.
  5. Mental Health Conditions: Conditions like depression and anxiety can impact your life insurance premiums, particularly if they have led to hospitalizations or suicide attempts.

Getting life insurance in your 20s can help avoid the potential for increased premiums or denial of coverage due to these and other health conditions that become more likely as you age.

Other Factors Affecting Life Insurance Rates

Aside from age, various elements determine life insurance rates. Understanding these factors can help you make an informed decision about your life insurance needs.

  • Health Status: Your overall health condition can affect your rates. Insurers may charge higher premiums for individuals with chronic illnesses or poor health habits.

  • Occupation: Some jobs are riskier than others. If you work in a hazardous field, you might face higher premiums. Examples of this include loggers, firefighters, construction workers and miners.

  • Lifestyle Choices: Activities like smoking or engaging in extreme sports can lead to increased rates. Insurance companies consider these behaviors higher risk.

  • Family Medical History: If your family has a history of certain medical conditions, insurers may see you as a higher risk, affecting your rates. These typically include heart diseases, cancer, diabetes, stroke and Alzheimer's disease.

  • Policy Type and Coverage Amount: The type of policy you choose and the amount of coverage you need will also influence the cost. More extensive coverage typically means higher premiums. Additionally, many policies offer optional riders, which are add-ons to the standard coverage that provide extra benefits or features. Including riders in your policy can further affect the cost. Examples of common riders include accidental death benefit, waiver of premium, guaranteed insurability, long-term care and child protection.

Strategies to Lower Life Insurance Costs in Your 20s

Several factors influence the cost of a life insurance policy in your 20s and may lead to high premium rates. However, there are several strategies you can employ to potentially lower these costs:

  1. Lead a Healthy Lifestyle: Regular exercise and a balanced diet can help maintain a healthy weight and lower your BMI. This can reduce your risk of health issues, such as heart disease and diabetes, and therefore lower premiums.
  2. Avoid Tobacco and Limit Alcohol: Staying away from tobacco and limiting alcohol consumption is crucial. As both these habits can significantly increase the cost of your policy, avoiding them can lead to lower premiums.
  3. Maintain a Clean Driving Record: A good driving record, free from violations or accidents, can also lead to lower life insurance costs.
  4. Minimize Risky Hobbies: If possible, avoid or limit participation in high-risk activities like extreme sports or motor racing, which can raise premiums.
  5. Regular Health Check-ups: Regular health check-ups show insurance companies that you're proactive about your health, which could lead to lower costs. If you can show stable or improving health over time, that can be a significant positive factor.
  6. Choose a Suitable Coverage Amount: Don't over-insure yourself. While it's important to ensure your loved ones will be financially secure, consider what's really necessary in terms of payout. A financial advisor can help you calculate an appropriate coverage amount based on your current situation and future obligations.
  7. Shop Around: Different insurance companies have different underwriting criteria and pricing models. It may be beneficial to compare policies from multiple companies before settling on one that offers the best coverage at the most affordable rate.

By taking these steps, you can optimize your lifestyle and choices to potentially achieve a more affordable life insurance premium in your 20s.

Why Many People in Their 20s Forego Life Insurance

Despite the compelling reasons to consider life insurance in your 20s, many young adults still choose to forgo this type of coverage. Here are some common reasons why:

  1. Perceived Invincibility: Young adults often feel invincible. The thought of mortality seems distant, making life insurance appear unnecessary. They may not fully understand the financial implications that their sudden absence could have on their loved ones or co-signers of loans.
  2. Misunderstanding of Cost: Many people in their 20s overestimate the cost of life insurance, thinking it's unaffordable. According to a study by LIMRA, more than half of Americans overestimate the cost of life insurance.
  3. Lack of Dependents: Some young adults don't have any dependents relying on their income, so they feel life insurance is unnecessary. However, this view doesn't consider future dependents or financial obligations they might acquire, such as a mortgage.
  4. Debt Prioritization: With the increasing burden of student loans, credit card debt and the cost of living, many young adults prioritize paying off debt over investing in life insurance.
  5. Lack of Awareness: Many young adults simply aren't aware of the benefits of life insurance, or they might be confused by the different types of policies and terms.
  6. Procrastination: The belief that they can always get life insurance later leads to procrastination. However, they might not fully realize the cost-saving benefits of buying life insurance at a young age or the risk of developing a health condition that could make insurance more expensive or unattainable.
  7. Employer-Provided Coverage: Some young adults rely solely on the life insurance provided by their employers, not realizing that this coverage might be insufficient for their needs and isn't portable if they change jobs.
  8. Avoidance of Medical Examinations: Traditional life insurance policies often require a medical exam as part of the underwriting process. Some people in their 20s may avoid purchasing life insurance due to discomfort with or fear of medical examinations, or simply not wanting to take the time to complete one. They may not be aware that there are "no-exam" life insurance policies available. But, such policies generally come with higher premiums due to the increased risk to the insurer.

Addressing these misconceptions and obstacles is key to helping more people in their 20s understand the importance and benefits of life insurance.

Term Length Consideration in Your 20s

Whether you should buy a short or long term policy in your 20s depends on your financial outlook and responsibilities. A long-term policy could be beneficial if you anticipate long-term obligations (like a 30-year mortgage or supporting a child through college). A short-term policy might suffice if your financial responsibilities are expected to decrease after a certain period.

Term vs. Whole Life Insurance in Your 20s

Term life insurance, which provides coverage for a specific period, is generally more affordable and sufficient for most people in their 20s. It can cover financial needs that will diminish over time, like a mortgage or children's upbringing costs.

Whole life insurance, providing lifelong coverage and a cash value component, is more expensive but might be suitable if you have a high income, substantial assets to protect, or long-term financial obligations.

How to Purchase Life Insurance

Purchasing life insurance is not just about finding a policy; it's about finding the right policy for your specific needs and situation. Here's how to go about it:

  • Determine Your Needs: Assess what you want to achieve with life insurance. Consider your financial obligations, dependents and long-term goals. This helps you decide the type and amount of coverage you need.

  • Compare Different Policies: Research various policies and companies. Look for a policy that suits your needs and budget. Comparing options ensures you get the best value.

  • Complete an Application: After choosing a policy, you'll need to fill out an application. This usually involves providing personal information and undergoing a medical exam if required.

  • Review and Finalize: Carefully review all the terms and conditions before finalizing the policy. Ensure everything aligns with your needs and expectations.

  • Make Regular Payments: After purchasing, you'll need to make regular premium payments to keep the policy active. Timely payments ensure continuous coverage.

FAQs About Life Insurance in Your 20s

About Mark Fitzpatrick


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Mark Fitzpatrick is a senior content director at MoneyGeek with over five years of experience analyzing the insurance market, conducting original research and creating content that can be personalized for every buyer. He has been quoted on insurance topics in several publications, including CNBC, NBC News and Mashable.

Mark earned a master’s degree in Economics and International Relations from Johns Hopkins University and a bachelor’s degree from Boston College. He is passionate about using his economics and insurance knowledge to bring transparency around financial topics and help others feel confident in their money moves.


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