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Last updated on Jan 13, 2020

The Best Cheap Life Insurance Companies

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We’ll start by saying that the best cheap life insurance is not always the cheapest life insurance. While affordability is important, it’s equally crucial to choose a policy with strong protection. We analyzed more than 60 providers and found five that offer impressively low premiums without skimping on coverage. Their term life policies are flexible, customizable, and reliable. We recommend comparing quotes from all five to find the coverage you need at the most affordable price point. Our quote tool below is a great place to get started.

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Between the two main life insurance types (term and permanent), term is almost always the cheapest. The main reason? It’s set to expire during your lifetime — meaning your provider doesn’t expect to ever pay out on the policy. For a more in-depth comparison of the two types, see our life insurance shopping guide. If you’re ready to find the best cheap life insurance for you, take a look at our top five cheapest life insurance companies. We considered everything including term lengths, coverage, and financial strength ratings when selecting our top picks.

The 5 Best Cheap Life Insurance Companies

    The Best Cheap Life Insurance Companies: Summed Up

    Protective Life Pacific Life Principal Financial Mutual of Omaha New York Life
    Our review Our review Our review Our review Our review
    Best for
    People under age 30 Tobacco users Extra coverage Basic coverage Flexible term lengths
    Coverage starts at
    $100,000 $50,000 $200,000 $100,000 $100,000
    Term lengths (in years)
    10-30 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 1, 10, 15, 20, 30 10, 15, 20, 30 10-20
    A.M. Best financial strength rating
    A+ A+ A+ A+ A++
    S&P Global financial strength rating
    AA- AA- A+ AA- AA+
    Moody’s financial strength rating
    A1 A1 A1 A1 Aaa
    J.D. Power 2019 U.S. Life Insurance Study score
    3/5 3/5 4/5 4/5 4/5
    Get a quote Get a quote Get a quote Get a quote Get a quote

    Protective Life — Best Cheap Life Insurance for People Under Age 30


    Best for People Under Age 30
    Protective Life
    Protective Life


    Availability can vary, and our quote tool may not include all providers in your area.

    Pros

    Cheapest rates for people under age 30
    Incredible customer service and resources

    Cons

    Not ideal for smokers

    Why we chose it

    Cheapest rates for people under age 30

    For men and women under the age of 30, Protective Life had the cheapest rates of all the life insurance providers we looked at. On top of that, A.M. Best assigned the company an A+ “Superior” financial strength rating. This means that Protective is not only affordable, but also more than capable of paying out your claim.

    Incredible customer service and resources

    Of our top picks, we had the least amount of difficulty in tracking down information for Protective Life. The company’s site is easy to navigate, and the learning center is full of useful information and breakdowns on policies and planning. Any questions we had that could not be answered online were easily answered by a helpful and courteous representative.

    Points to consider

    Not ideal for smokers

    Protective Life gave us some of the highest rates when we gathered life insurance quotes for smokers. It’s generally a given that smokers pay more than nonsmokers when it comes to life insurance, but we were surprised to see Protective’s normally low rates climb so high when smoking entered the equation.

    Protective Life (Smoker)
    Protective Life (Nonsmoker)
    Female, Age 30
    $31.96
    $8.13
    Male, Age 30
    $25.19
    $8.92
    Female, Age 40
    $40.80
    $10.07
    Male, Age 40
    $52.88
    $11.22
    Female, Age 50
    $89.08
    $18.05
    Male, Age 50
    $112.12
    $21.93

    If you are a recent or current smoker and you’re looking for affordable rates, we recommend Pacific Life.

    Pacific Life — Best Cheap Life Insurance for Tobacco Users


    Best Cheap Life Insurance for Tobacco Users
    Pacific Life
    Pacific Life


    Availability can vary, and our quote tool may not include all providers in your area.

    Pros

    Ideal for smokers
    Cheapest rates for people age 40-plus
    Tons of financial calculators

    Cons

    Requires a phone call to purchase policy
    About average customer satisfaction

    Why we chose it

    Ideal for smokers

    Pacific Life gave us the lowest rates for smokers out of our top picks. We consider this to be a major plus not just for smokers but for anyone who has quit in the last couple of years. Most insurance providers raise the rates for smokers, but some people might not realize that these higher rates could still apply if you’ve quit. Even if you have been off cigarettes for five years, you might still get hit with higher rates, which is why we can’t recommend Pacific Life enough.

    Cheapest rates for people age 40-plus

    While Protective Life offered the lowest rates for our below-age-30 profiles, Pacific Life offered the cheapest rates for customers age 40-plus, filling in for a much wider share of the market. While the difference may be only a few cents in some cases, those savings add up over the years.

    Tons of financial calculators

    There are dozens of different financial calculators to play around with on Pacific Life’s site. These calculators each focus on a different aspect of your financial experience, but they can be used in concert with one another to help you during the life insurance decision-making process. For example, you could use the Savings calculators to determine your rate of return and find out how long your life insurance proceeds would last. You could also use the life expectancy calculator to help you determine what term lengths you might want to consider.

    Points to consider

    Requires a phone call to purchase policy

    In order to purchase your policy, you will need to speak with an agent over the phone. This is not an uncommon practice; however, the problem with speaking to an agent is that you run the risk of being upsold on a policy or coverage limit even after you’ve made up your mind. If transparency is important to you during the purchasing process, we recommend checking out Protective Life. We found Protective’s agents and representatives helpful and knowledgeable without trying to sell us more than we needed.

    About average customer satisfaction

    Pacific Life earns a three out of five in every category in J.D. Power’s life insurance study. While a three out of five isn’t bad by any means, it doesn’t guarantee the great customer service of a company with a higher score, like New York Life or Mutual of Omaha.

    Principal Financial — Best Cheap Life Insurance for Extra Coverage

    Best for
    Best for Extra Coverage
    Principal Financial
    Principal Financial


    Availability can vary, and our quote tool may not include all providers in your area.

    Pros

    More coverage at a cheaper price
    Option for no medical exam
    User-friendly online experience

    Cons

    A hassle over the phone
    No whole life insurance

    Why we chose it

    More coverage at a cheaper price

    If you’re looking for cheap insurance, it’s likely that you’ll want to avoid higher coverage limits, since those usually come with a higher price tag. However, we did look into coverage limits of up to $500,000 for our top picks and found that Principal Financial offered some of the cheapest premiums for those limits. Say you have a lot of outstanding debt or a mortgage and don’t want to leave your loved ones holding the bag. With Principal Financial, you can consider more coverage without breaking the bank.

    Option for no medical exam

    Serious health concerns or high-risk occupations might necessitate no-exam insurance. This type of insurance is typically pricier, but it negates the need for a medical exam. If you qualify for Principal’s no-exam route, you could be fast-tracked into the “Accelerated Underwriting” process with coverage of up to $1 million. Turnaround for this can take as little as 48 hours, making it one of the highest fast-track death benefits on the market.

    User-friendly online experience

    Principal Financial features an easy-to-access online platform ideal for updating your account and making payments. About the only things you can’t do online are get a quote, cancel your policy, or make significant changes such as beneficiaries. For those, you’ll need to pick up the phone.

    Points to consider

    A hassle over the phone

    When we called Principal Financial with questions, we felt like we were getting tossed around from department to department. It was a little frustrating to get in touch with the right person to answer our questions, and that can be discouraging if you’re just shopping around. However, your experience may vary, and it should be noted that while Principal was a hassle over the phone, the provider scored four out of five stars with J.D. Power in agent interactions and communication. We still recommend at least getting a quote from the company.

    No whole life insurance

    If you’re looking for a whole life insurance policy, you might be better off looking into New York Life. Principal Financial does not offer whole life insurance, meaning you will not be able to invest your money and build up cash value for housing costs or other retirement expenses.

    Mutual of Omaha — Best Cheap Life Insurance for Basic Coverage

    Best for
    Best for Basic Coverage
    Mutual of Omaha
    Mutual of Omaha


    Availability can vary, and our quote tool may not include all providers in your area.

    Pros

    Pay less for minimal coverage
    Great customer service
    Cheap rates for smokers

    Cons

    Limited online access
    Second-most expensive rates

    Why we chose it

    Pay less for minimal coverage

    Just as we put together life insurance quotes for the highest possible coverage limits, we also looked at the low end of the spectrum. Here, Mutual of Omaha offers some of the lowest rates for minimal coverage. If you don’t have a lot of outstanding debts, a mortgage, or any beneficiaries, then Mutual of Omaha might be a great place to start looking for a policy.

    Great customer service

    We were impressed with Mutual of Omaha’s customer service. In J.D. Power’s study, the company earned a score of four out of five and is ranked “Better than most.” Representatives were friendly and courteous as they helped us find the answers we were looking for. Furthermore, the clarity and communication received five out of five stars from J.D. Power, which is considered “among the best.” Great customer service and phenomenal communication skills are major perks, especially when you’re dealing with something as complicated and important as life insurance.

    Cheap rates for smokers

    While Pacific Life had the cheapest rates for smokers in our quotes, Mutual of Omaha comes in a close second for all profiles. Rates are personal, though, so we recommend gathering life insurance quotes from both companies before making your decision; Mutual of Omaha may offer you the best rates if you are a former or current tobacco user.

    Points to consider

    Limited online access

    We weren’t blown away by the online experience Mutual of Omaha had to offer. While the company does offer an interactive tool for determining your life insurance needs, it lacks some of the specificity we found with Pacific Life’s tools. If all you want to do is monitor your policy online, then you should be fine. However, if you want to make any major changes such as updating your address or canceling a policy, you’ll have to call the company. Luckily, we didn’t have too much trouble speaking with a representative, but it seems like a needless hassle in this day and age.

    Second-most expensive rates

    Mutual of Omaha had the second-most expensive rates for all of our nonsmoker profiles. However, don’t let that deter you from getting a quote, as rates are highly personal; your own experience may vary.

    New York Life — Best Cheap Life Insurance for Flexible Term Lengths

    Best for
    Best for Flexible Term Lengths
    New York Life
    New York Life


    Availability can vary, and our quote tool may not include all providers in your area.

    Pros

    Tailor your term
    Great coverage selection
    Unique policy renewal options

    Cons

    No long term option
    No online quote tool
    Limited conversion period

    Why we chose it

    Tailor your term

    New York Life’s Level Premium Convertible Term Insurance is truly unique in one way: It lets you choose any term length between 10 and 20 years. That means you could choose to pay for the exact time frame you need covered — say, 13 years until your mortgage is paid off — and not a day more.

    By comparison, our other top picks sell term insurance in increments of five or 10 years. If your needs fall somewhere in between, you’ll either have to skimp on coverage by a few years or pay for a little more than you need.

    Great coverage selection

    New York Life offers a full roster of policy riders, making its insurance highly customizable to your individual needs. A few standout options are the spouse insurance rider, which extends coverage to your partner for an additional fee, and the long-term care rider, which helps cover treatments and medical bills should you develop a terminal illness during your policy.

    Unique policy renewal options

    If you’re looking to extend your coverage but aren’t ready to commit to a costly whole life policy, New York Life has the answer. Its Policy Purchase Option rider guarantees term renewal at nine different points in life — every three years from age 22 to 46 — without a second health exam. This allows for plenty of wiggle room to opt for more coverage.

    Points to consider

    No long term option

    New York Life is our only top pick that doesn’t offer a longer 25- or 30-year term. So, while its term insurance is highly customizable, it’s not the best choice for long-lasting coverage. If your term insurance needs surpass the 20-year limit, we recommend starting your search with one of our other top providers instead.

    No online quote tool

    Like Principal Financial, New York Life doesn’t provide term life insurance quotes online. To get an estimate, you’ll have to call the company and walk through the application process with an agent. Of course, speaking with an agent isn’t inherently a bad thing; they gather more information than an online quote tool and can offer more personalized service. But we prefer companies that let you get the ball rolling with an online quote. That way, you can compare pricing and options before getting on the phone with a sales rep.

    Limited conversion period

    With New York Life’s Level Premium Convertible Term Insurance, you can switch to a whole life policy at any time during the first 10 years. After that window, though, you may only do so if you purchase a separate Extension of Conversion Period rider.

    How We Found The Best Cheap Life Insurance Quotes

    Availability

    We looked for companies we could recommend to anyone — which meant they had to be widely available. We required each one to write term life insurance in all 50 states with no special eligibility requirements. That cut out a few popular providers, like USAA, but guarantees that our top picks are accessible regardless of who you are or where you live.

    Financial stability

    We also made sure that all of our finalists have rock-solid financials. This is a crucial step, as strong ratings guarantee a provider’s ability to pay out on your claim if need be.

    “Always check and understand the financial strength of an insurer you’re considering purchasing from.”


    Scott Johnson
    Manager & Principal at Marindependent Insurance Services

    We set the bar high: an “Excellent” score or better from A.M. Best (which specializes in insurance ratings) as well as top marks from a second source. We accepted A’s or higher from S&P Global or Moody’s, two of the largest independent agencies.

    Flexible coverage

    Life changes often and unexpectedly, and your life insurance needs to be able to keep up. We looked for providers with a few key features that make policies ultra-adaptable.

    Guaranteed renewability is the right to renew your insurance at any point in the original term. Your premium price will still rise at renewal, but you can’t be denied coverage.

    “A ‘guaranteed renewable’ policy is very important because without it, reduced health could render you uninsurable. Nobody wants to pay a higher premium, but if you still need life insurance, expensive coverage is preferable to no coverage at all.”


    Tony Steuer
    CLU, LA, CPFFE, Author & Insurance Literacy Advocate

    Conversion options give you the ability to convert your term policy to a permanent one without having to re-apply for new coverage.

    “Convertibility is a valuable feature because of the flexibility it affords. In the event of a terminal illness, it can change a potentially worthless term policy into a permanent one where you retain the entire death benefit.”


    Dr. Steven Weisbart
    Senior VP & Chief Economist at Insurance Information Institute

    policy riders bolster your insurance. These add-ons can policy riders, increase payout for accidental death or disability, or access part of the death benefit during life for medical expenses. We chose providers with all-around strong coverage selections.

    “If the cost of a term life policy with ‘living benefits’ is close in cost to a policy without them, I’d recommend the policy with living benefits.”


    Gordon Conwell Life Insurance Consultant & Owner at AmericanTerm.com

    Customer satisfaction

    We focused on life insurance providers that are easy to work with, whether you’re shopping around or have a question about your policy. In order to know whether a company would be a joy or a hassle to interact with, we made several phone calls to gather quotes and information on policies. We also consulted J.D. Power’s life insurance study and insisted that all our top picks have at least a three out of five in overall customer satisfaction if available. That said, we chose not to exclude providers that were not large enough to be included on J.D. Power’s list but which otherwise demonstrated wide availability and strong financial standing.

    Affordable pricing

    Our final step was a head-to-head quote comparison between front-runners. We aimed for a holistic sample set, collecting estimates for both sexes and a variety of ages. New York Life was the only company in our search that was not included — it doesn’t offer quotes online, and when we reached out by phone, we never received a response.

    Pacific Life and Protective Life came out on top, with consistently low premiums across the board, while Principal Financial rang in highest for most people. Our other big takeaway? Tobacco users almost always get a big price hike — generally around two times what a nonsmoker would pay.

    Premium prices vary by company, so compare quotes before buying

    Protective Life
    Pacific Life
    Principal Financial
    Mutual of Omaha
    Female, Age 30, Healthy
    $8.13
    $8.50
    $11.00
    $10.45
    Male, Age 30, Healthy
    $8.92
    $9.26
    $13.00
    $10.88
    Female, Age 40, Healthy
    $10.07
    $10.03
    $14.00
    $13.20
    Male, Age 40, Healthy
    $11.22
    $10.71
    $16.00
    $14.49
    Female, Age 50, Healthy
    $18.05
    $17.99
    $27.00
    $22.66
    Male, Age 50, Healthy
    $21.93
    $21.89
    $34.00
    $27.74

    In our study, a “healthy” individual was a non-smoker with no preexisting conditions with a weight ratio between 130 and 150 pounds for women and 165 and 185 pounds for men.

    Smokers are consistently quoted higher rates

    Protective Life
    Pacific Life
    Principal Financial
    Mutual of Omaha
    Female, Age 30, Smoker
    $31.96
    $21.50
    $35.00
    $27.74
    Male, Age 30, Smoker
    $35.19
    $22.95
    $42.00
    $32.12
    Female, Age 40, Smoker
    $40.80
    $31.19
    $51.00
    $37.37
    Male, Age 40, Smoker
    $52.88
    $35.87
    $64.00
    $49.84
    Female, Age 50, Smoker
    $89.08
    $58.90
    $112.00
    $76.76
    Male, Age 50, Smoker
    $112.12
    $72.67
    $161.00
    $99.55

    It’s also important to remember that “lowest price” doesn’t always mean “best option.” Sometimes it’s worth paying a bit more for features that you value. For example, while Mutual of Omaha is slightly more expensive in our comparison, it’s known for having excellent customer service. Be sure to weigh both pricing and perks before making a final decision.

    Guide to Buying Cheap Life Insurance

    How to get the coverage you need at the lowest price point

    Understand underwriting

    Before any company issues you a life insurance policy, you’ll have to go through underwriting. During this evaluation stage, a specialist looks at your age, health, family history, occupation, etc. and determines the “risk” of insuring you (read: the likelihood that the company will have to pay out on your policy). The riskier you are, the higher your premiums.

    Take the medical exam

    It may be tempting to skip the physical exam and opt for same-day issue life insurance. We don’t recommend it. Medical exams are a key part of the underwriting process and help providers accurately pin down the “risk” of insuring you. As a result, coverage is almost always cheaper.

    Shop around for your best offer

    So what’s the trick to finding affordable life insurance? It’s all about comparison shopping. Every company’s underwriting process is a little different, and some may be more forgiving of certain “risk factors” than others. For this reason, we always recommend comparing life insurance quotes from a handful of companies before settling on a policy.

    “Anything can turn up in underwriting which would make one insurance company better than another or make one rate a significantly lower cost than another.”


    Gordon Conwell
    Life Insurance Consultant & Owner at AmericanTerm.com

    Know your risk factors

    Cheap Life Insurance FAQ

    Our Other Life Insurance Reviews

    New to life insurance? We’d recommend starting with these step-by-step shopping guides. They’ll help you figure out which kind of policy best fits your needs and how to take the next steps.

    We’ve also done in-depth reviews on whole life insurance, universal life insurance, and the industry in general. If you’re not convinced that a cheap term policy is right for you, check out some of the reviews below to learn about what else is available.

    About the Authors

    Maggie Overholt

    Maggie Overholt Contributor

    Maggie is a former lead insurance editor at Reviews.com. She's written more than 70 insurance articles covering homeowners, auto, life, motorcycle, travel, and more.