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ByMaggie Overholt Senior Insurance Editor

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

The Best Cheap Life Insurance Companies

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.

Why Trust This Review?

Since 2013, Reviews.com has helped millions of people find the best of the best when it comes to all sorts of products and services, including cheap life insurance. We’ve examined 63 companies, compared 74 quotes, and updated this review regularly in order to bring you the most current information. The author of this review does not own stock in any of the companies mentioned, or in any other life insurance providers.

The Best Cheap Life Insurance Companies: Summed Up

  Protective Life Pacific Life Principal Financial Mutual of Omaha New York Life
Our review
Best for
People under age 30 Tobacco users Extra coverage Basic coverage Flexible term lengths
Coverage starts at
$100,000 $100,000 $200,000 $100,000 $100,000
Term lengths (in years)
10, 15, 20, 25, 30 10, 15, 20, 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 2018 U.S. Life Insurance Study score
4/5 3/5 3/5 4/5 4/5
Get a quote Get a quote Get a quote Get a quote Get a quote

The 5 Best Cheap Life Insurance Companies

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

Best Cheap Life Insurance for
People Under Age 30
Protective Life

Protective Life

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. It’s not surprising, since Protective scored “Better than most” with J.D. Power and is bested by only New York Life and Mutual of Omaha in our top picks.

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

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 Protective Life or Mutual of Omaha.

Principal Financial — Best Cheap Life Insurance for Extra Coverage

Best Cheap Life Insurance for
Extra Coverage
Principal Financial

Principal Financial

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 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 Cheap Life Insurance for
Basic Coverage
Mutual of Omaha

Mutual of Omaha

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. Having a provider with great customer service is a major plus, 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 Cheap Life Insurance for
Flexible Term Lengths
New York Life

New York Life

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.

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.”

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 insurance guarantees a death benefit payout no matter what. With a term policy — especially a short-term policy — the “risk” a company assumes is 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 preexisting 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.

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.

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