The Best Cheap Life Insurance Companies

We only looked at term life insurance.

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.

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 at least 40 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.”

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.”

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.”

Policy riders bolster your insurance. These add-ons can cover family members, 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.”

Affordable pricing

Our final step was a head-to-head quote comparison between frontrunners. We aimed for a holistic sample set, collecting estimates for both sexes, a variety of ages, and different health levels. New York Life was the only company in our search that didn’t offer quotes online — you’ll have to call an agent directly to see how its prices stack up.

TIAA Life came out on top, with consistently low premiums across the board, while State Farm 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 non-smoker would pay.

Premium prices vary by company, so compare quotes before buying

TIAA Life
State Farm
Transamerica
Female, Age 25, Excellent Health
$10.22
$11.92
$10.66
Male, Age 25, Excellent Health
$11.32
$13.22
$13.59
Female, Age 30, Fair Health
$11.82
$16.27
$12.30
Male, Age 30, Fair Health
$11.32
$18.27
$13.85
Female, Age 40, Good Health
$13.03
$19.84
$17.72
Male, Age 40, Good Health
$14.46
$23.32
$20.12
A Note on Pricing and Services

Keep in mind that these are only sample prices meant for general comparison. Premiums are highly individual, so you’ll have to get personalized quotes to see how our top picks stack up for you.

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 State Farm 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.

The 4 Best Cheap Life Insurance Companies


Consistently Low Premiums
TIAA Life
TIAA Life
TIAA term life is easy to love, with simple sign-up, generous coverage, and reliably low premiums all around.
Pros
Low premiums across the board
Outstanding conversion policy
Easy sign-up
Cons
Fewer rider options
Inflexible term lengths

Why we chose it

Low premiums across the board

TIAA owned our quote showdown, consistently offering the lowest monthly prices for men and women alike. Premiums as low as $10 per month make it affordable for just about anyone to get term coverage and protect their loved ones financially. Remember: Quotes are personal, so you’ll have to check in with more than one company to find your best price. That said, TIAA is likely to be a competitive option.

Outstanding conversion policy

TIAA’s term-to-permanent conversion policy is unparallelled. At any time during your original term, you may convert to any of its permanent policies. Other providers restrict either the timeframe for conversion (like New York Life) or the permanent policies you can convert to (like Transamerica). TIAA policyholders can rest assured that, should they need to continue coverage, their options won’t be limited.

Easy sign-up

We love TIAA’s Life Wizard tool, which walks you through life insurance shopping from beginning to end. It helps you choose the right type of policy, determine a fitting death benefit, view sample quotes, and apply for coverage — all in one place and with just a few simple questions.

Most of our other picks offer online quotes, too, but we find TIAA’s system to be the most comprehensive and streamlined. Quote tools from State Farm and Transamerica skip the step of helping you choose the right policy and death benefit.

Points to consider

Fewer rider options

TIAA’s policies are a bit less customizable than those of our other top picks. It’s missing a few key riders we look for, like disability income, accidental death, and long-term care. These can be a huge help if the insured falls ill or gets injured during their policy. If your term coverage will be with you late in life (or if you think you may end up converting to permanent insurance), we suggest starting with a company that offers a wider selection.

Inflexible term lengths

TIAA term insurance comes in 10-, 15-, 20-, or 30-year packages. While these options are fairly standard, they don’t leave you with a ton of wiggle room. Some customers may prefer a more tailored term: say, exactly 18 years of coverage until your child moves out of the house. For more options to customize your term length, we recommend New York Life. It lets you select terms in single-year increments, up to 20 years.


Best Customer Service
State Farm
State Farm
Choose from one of four unique term life policies, all backed by industry-leading customer service.
Pros
Excellent customer service
Flexible extension options
Variety of term life plans
Cons
Pricier coverage
Limited term lengths

Why we chose it

Excellent customer service

2017 marks State Farm’s fourth year as J.D. Power’s top-rated life insurance company. This survey of more than 6,000 customers measures satisfaction with policy options, customer service, price, and billing — and State Farm earned top marks in every category.

Although State Farm was slightly pricier than our other finalists, a few extra dollars every month may be worth it if you put high stock in customer service. State Farm is more likely than our other finalists to make the insurance process painless from beginning to end.

Flexible extension options

State Farm comes in a close second to TIAA for conversion options. Most term customers can convert to permanent insurance at any point before age 75 without taking a second medical exam. This is exceptionally lenient compared to companies like New York Life, which only lets you convert within the first 10 years of your term. Note that conversion varies by state, so be sure to talk to an agent about the rules where you live.

Not ready to spring for a permanent policy? State Farm also lets customers renew their term policy annually through age 95. Of course, premiums will go up if you do so — but not nearly as much as they would if you bought a whole new policy and took another medical exam.

Variety of term life plans

State Farm offers four different term life plans meant to fit a variety of financial and coverage needs. Most people will likely choose its Select Term Life Insurance: a standard, affordable policy that lasts for 10, 20, or 30 years. If your needs are a little more specialized, though, we recommend checking out State Farm’s alternative term options:

  • Mortgage Term Life Insurance covers you for 15 or 30 years, with premiums that shrink over time as your mortgage does.
  • Return of Premium Insurance is a little more expensive, but it has one big perk: Premiums that you’ve paid get returned to you if you outlive the term.
  • Instant Answer Term Insurance is a quick, no-medical-exam option for up to $50,000 of coverage.

Points to consider

Pricier coverage

A quick disclaimer: By “pricier” coverage, we’re generally talking about a few dollars per month. Still, State Farm’s prices did tend to be slightly higher than our other contenders’ in almost every category. The difference was most obvious for our 40-year-old sample profiles, who were quoted around $6 to $10 more per month with State Farm than with our cheapest option, TIAA.

Our suggestion? Snag a quote from State Farm when you’re comparing options. The online process is quick and easy, and since quotes are individual, there’s always a chance that State Farm could be your best bet.

Limited term lengths

State Farm’s basic term policy, “Select Term,” only comes in 10-, 20-, or 30-year packages. That’s pretty limited compared to other companies; even TIAA offers five-year increments, allowing you to choose a policy length that better fits your needs. If you’re looking for even more customization, check out New York Life. There, you can choose any coverage period between 10 and 20 years.


Best Range of Policy Sizes
Transamerica
Transamerica
Tailor your term life policy with flexible death benefits and a wide array of add-on coverage.
Pros
Flexible death benefits
Plenty of policy riders
Helpful customer resources
Cons
No short term option
Relatively tobacco intolerant

Why we chose it

Flexible death benefits

With Transamerica term life, you can choose a death benefit between $25,000 and $2 million. That’s a wide enough range to cover most people’s needs, whether they’re small (say, funeral expenses alone) or extremely large (a single parent financing multiple college tuitions).

While our other top picks carry policies on the larger end, none offer a small, affordable option like Transamerica. Most set the bar for entry at $100,000. State Farm, the closest competitor, starts at $50,000. As such, Transamerica is the best bet for customers with limited death benefit needs.

Plenty of policy riders

Transamerica offers most of the supplemental coverage options we looked for, a selection on par with New York Life and State Farm and a step above TIAA. Options include financial coverage for accidental death, disability, critical illness, and long-term care, among others. If life throws you an expensive curveball, there’s likely a Transamerica life insurance rider that can help pick up the slack.

Helpful customer resources

Life insurance is complex, and we appreciate that Transamerica helps shoppers navigate the landscape. First off, its FAQ lives right on the life insurance web page — making it easy to find answers to common questions like “How does term life insurance work?” or “What does term life insurance cover?” Other companies (like New York Life) make you go on a goose chase to find these answers.

We also loved Transamerica’s Financial Glossary. This list covers not only life insurance, but a broad range of need-to-know financial terms. If it’s your first time around the insurance block, this list is a helpful go-to.

Points to consider

No short term option

Transamerica only sells term insurance for 15-, 20-, 25-, or 30-year periods. All of our other top picks offer a shorter, 10-year policy. Keep in mind that the shorter your term is, the less you’ll ultimately pay for your insurance. If your needs are truly limited to less than 15 years, then one of our other top picks may save you a chunk of change.

Relatively tobacco intolerant

Transamerica quoted some of the highest premiums when we answered “yes” to current tobacco use — especially for older customers. Profiles 40 years of age and up that checked yes for smoking were charged up to $13 more per month with Transamerica than with other contenders. That’s a difference of over $100 per year. Those looking for a more tobacco-tolerant life insurance policy may have better luck with one of our other picks.


Most Flexible Term Lengths
New York Life
New York Life
Customizable terms guarantee that you don’t pay for too much (or too little) coverage.
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 (not offered by TIAA), and the long-term care rider, which helps cover treatments and medical bills should you develop a terminal illness during your policy (not offered by State Farm or TIAA).

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. While this is a bit less flexible than State Farm’s policy, which lets you renew anytime before age 95, it still offers 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

New York Life is also our only pick that doesn’t provide term life 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. For a more lenient policy, try State Farm (which lets you convert through age 75) or TIAA (which allows you to convert at any point during the original term).

Guide to Buying Affordable 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 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.”

Know your risk factors

Cheap Life Insurance FAQ

How much does life insurance cost?

Life insurance prices are totally dependent on your personal “risk factors.” Companies slot the data you give them — like age, health, family history, and occupation — into a complex algorithm. This determines (as grim as it sounds) the likelihood that you’ll pass away during your policy and they’ll have to pay up. The more likely, the more expensive your coverage.

Term insurance is always cheaper than permanent insurance because permanent guarantees a death benefit payout no matter what. With a term policy — especially a short-term policy — the “risk” a company assumes is much, much smaller.

Where can I get cheap life insurance without an exam?

Taking a medical exam almost always gets you cheaper life insurance than no-exam. Why? When providers have incomplete health information, they can’t accurately determine the risk of insuring you — and they charge extra to make up for it.

That said, if you’re worried about being denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition, there are no-exam options available. State Farm is one of the best companies that offers no-exam term life. Its Instant Answer term policies provide up to $50,000 of coverage.

What is the cheapest life insurance for seniors?

Most seniors are best off with a Guaranteed Universal Life policy. This type of permanent coverage isn’t as cheap as term, but it’s much less expensive than traditional whole life (and it still guarantees a death benefit payout). Check out our review of the best life insurance for seniors for more information.

How much life insurance do I need?

Small-size policies are always cheapest. However, it’s important not to skimp on coverage just to save a few bucks per month. There’s no sense shelling out premiums for 10 to 30 years if the death benefit wouldn’t ultimately support your loved ones.

We recommend using an online life insurance calculator to determine an accurate death benefit need; the Life Wizard tool from TIAA is one of our favorites.

The Best Cheap Life Insurance Companies: Summed Up

TIAA Life
State Farm
Transamerica
New York Life
Our review
Our review
Our review
Our review
Best for
Consistently low premiums
Customer service
Range of policy sizes
Flexible term lengths
A.M. Best¹
A++
A++
A+
A++
S&P Global²
AA+
AA
AA-
AA+
Moody’s³
Aa1
Aa1
A1
Aaa
J.D. Power⁴
N/A
5/5
3/5
3/5
Term lengths (in years)
10, 15, 20, 30
10, 20, 30
15, 20, 25, 30
10-20
Coverage starts at
$100,000
$50,000
$25,000
$100,000
Explanation of Scores

¹ A.M. Best Financial Strength Rating
² S&P Global Financial Strength Rating
³ Moody’s Financial Strength Rating
⁴ J.D. Power Overall Customer Satisfaction Score

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.