How to Decide the Length of Your Term Life Insurance?

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  • Post last modified:December 12, 2018

For people in relatively good health, term life insurance is often the best choice of life insurance.

You will be covered for a specific number of years, with no cash value, and the premium may be so much less than those of whole life insurance.

When you are shopping for term insurance, one of the most critical aspects is to decide on the term length.

In other words, how long would you like this term life coverage to last?

Basically, term life will eventually end, and when it does, the premium will be much higher than what you are paying right now.

So, the decision on term length is not something that needs to be taken lightly. If you race past this, you are likely going to find yourself left without coverage when you most need it or may regret not having taken short-term coverage.

After the age of 70, it becomes really tough to get a term policy, so, you should plan it perfectly at a young age.

Available Term Period

Typically, term life policies often last 10, 20 or 30 years, but in some cases, it comes in increment of five years. This means that if you take a ten years term life policy, you and your family will be covered for ten years from the date of purchases as long as you keep paying the premiums.

Likewise, a 20 years term policy will cover you for 30 years. If you lose your life during this time, your beneficiaries will receive your death benefits.

Most life policies do not technically expire until you are 95 years old, regardless of your term length, but the period will lock in the policy cost for whatever term length you choose.

The premiums you pay may not increase during the term of the policy, however, after the end of the term, the cost will go up.

So, what is the ideal term length of your policy?

Well, a simple answer is that it should be about as long as you expect your loved one to depend on your financially, but there is more to that.

So, how do you decide the length of your term Life Insurance?

Here’s what you need to consider:

How old are your kids?

your term length is important for your kidOne of the main reason people take life insurance is to provide for their children when the worst occur in life. We love our kids and want to provide and protect them, even when things get worse in life.


If your partner cannot independently afford childcare or he or she cannot fulfill your plans to pay for your kid’s education when you are gone, then is it important to consider taking a term length that will last until your children are adults or are through college.

Of course, this will depend on what your plans are for in your financial contribution.

For most people, the ideal term, in this case, maybe about 10 to 20 years term length.

If you yet to have kids but are planning to, you will need a longer-term policy, say 30 years to protect against the unexpected as your family grows. If you have a child with special needs, a 30 years policy term may also be a good choice.

You children may depend on you longer than expected.

Recent research from Pew Research Center shows that the numbers of children who live with their parent nowadays are high compared to 10 years ago, even young adults who have finished college.

So, your children may live longer in your house than you expected, so a 30 years policy in most cases may be ideal.

When will you be debt free?

The primary reason people take term life insurance is to replace the income should you pass away unexpectedly.

This means paying the bills and of course maintaining their standard of living in the event of your death or disablement.

Chances are, you already have a mortgage, and the last thing you would want is to live your family with a large chunk of mortgages debt on their back. Let your mortgage and other long-term debt determine the length of term life insurance you need.

If you recently took a 20 years mortgage, consider purchasing a 20 or 15 years’ worth of life insurance, If however, you are midway on paying your large debts and you have no plans of adding them up, then you can consider a ten years insurance term at least.

How much can you afford to pay?

Perhaps the critical things to consider when choosing any life insurance are how much you can afford. If you do not pay your monthly or annual premiums, your policy may lapse. If you surrender it, the amount you get may be significantly lower than you contributed and may not get the amount when you need it.

You must pay your premiums even when money is tight in the future to get the full benefits of the policy.

So, if you know, you cannot afford a 30 years term, probably because you will be retired, or for other reason, it is a good idea to choose a shorter term.

You may also consider a short term if you are young because you will probably afford a higher policy when you are older.

Be cautious, however, if you have a major health issue or sickness, or you begin to put some weight now, your premiums may be much higher on your next term insurance policy, or you may not be able to get another life insurance.

What if you need a long-term policy?  

If you choose a shorter term and wants coverage outside the longest term option, you may consider other types of policy together.

Whole life may be your ideal option, but it is important to understand its benefits and its disadvantages and compare with term insurance.

You can also ask your insurance agent whether you can convert the policy to permanent policy. Most term policies are convertible from the same company, but this may not come at a cheaper rate particularly because permanent policies are on the higher side compared to term life.

So, how much term do you need?

Well, this depends on your vision of your family’s future. Ask a question regarding your family current and planned expenses and more importantly consider whether you can afford the policy throughout the term.

Linda Chavez

I'm a burial & senior life insurance expert, independent agent, Founder & CEO of Seniors Life Insurance Finder. I have been working in this sector since 2004 and established my own company in 2014. I have a team of seven members, and we are trying hard to share the knowledge we've gathered. We know how difficult often it is to find an affordable policy. Hence, we are doing our best to help you.