What our life insurance expert says
If you want to leave a little something behind after you’re gone, an over-50 policy is perfect. You’re guaranteed to be accepted if you’re between 50 and 80, with no medical questions asked, and you’ll be covered until the day you die. Now that’s peace of mind.
Life insurance expert
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Will I need to have a medical to get over 50 life insurance?
No, you’ll never be asked to have a medical, or even answer any questions about your health when you buy an over 50 plan. As long as you’re within the age range, you’ll be offered cover.
Do I still get a pay-out if I die at the start of my over 50s life cover policy?
No, not usually. This is because most policies have a waiting period, also known as a qualification period or moratorium. These usually last one to two years. If you pass away during this period, you won’t get a pay-out.
Some policies will offer a return of premium where you’ll get back some, or all, of what you’ve paid into your policy if you die during the waiting period. But this isn’t included as standard, so check with your insurer if it’s something you’re interested in.
If you pass away any time after the waiting period, however, you’ll be eligible for your full pay-out.
Can I take out standard life insurance if I’m over 50?
Yes, you should be able to take out standard life insurance up until about 65.
But it’s often pricey and normally only covers you for a short period. If you outlive this period, which may be as little as 10 years, you won’t get a pay-out when you die, and you won’t be able to get back what you’ve paid in.
Over 50 policies may be better option as they’ll cover you until the day you die. Take out a policy at 50, and as long as you pay your premiums, you’ll get a pay-out whether you live to 55 or 105.
Standard life policies also ask for your full medical history. They may even require you to have a medical. if you’re not in the best of health, this could see you paying much higher premiums than you would for an over 50s policy. Or being rejected outright.
See our guide on how your medical history affects your life insurance premiums for more information.
However, if you’re in your early 50s, are fit, healthy and have no pre-existing medical conditions, you can often get a fairly good deal on standard life insurance. You won’t be covered for as long as you would with an over 50s policy, but the pay-out your loved ones would receive is likely to be higher.
For a full look at how life insurance premiums are calculated, try our guide.
Can I get cover if I’m over 60, 70, or 80?
You’ll be able to get an over 50 plan up until you’re 80. You won’t need to have a medical or answer any questions about your health. As with any policy, over 60 life insurance is likely to be more costly than over 50 life insurance, and over 70 policies are usually pricier again. After 80, you should still be able to get cover, you may just be asked a few questions about your health.
Do I have to keep paying until I die?
One of the many advantages of over 50s life cover is that, after a certain number of years, most policies will allow you to stop paying in premiums. When this happens, you'll still be covered, and you'll still get a pay-out when you die, you just won't need to pay anything else towards your policy.
The age at which you can stop paying differs from insurer to insurer, so it’s worth checking before taking out a policy exactly when this could be for you.
Are there any disadvantages to over 50 life insurance?
There are a few drawbacks to over 50s life cover. The main one is that it’s possible to pay more in premiums than you get back in your pay-out. Say you pay £20 a month for 20 years, that’s £4,800 in premiums. If your pay-out is less than that, you’re technically losing out.
However, the upside is that if you passed away during that 20-year period, you’d get more back than you paid in. Plus, depending on your views, the peace of mind you’d have during that time might make it worth it.
Another drawback is that the pay-out for an over 50s life insurance policy is typically lower than with standard life cover. You can choose how big you want your pay-out to be, but most policies will only go up to around £20,000. Ordinary life insurance can exceed £350,000. Bear in mind, though, that getting that level of cover after age 50 would not come cheap.
Most people take out over 50s cover simply to leave something behind after they’re gone, or to help with funeral costs. As many over-50s will have cleared their mortgage, and have fewer dependents than younger policy holders, £20,000 is often enough to meet their needs. If this isn’t the case for you, talk to your insurer and see what your options are.
When might my over 50s life insurance policy not pay out?
In most cases, your policy will pay out. But in certain circumstances your cover could be voided, for example if you miss a payment.
However, even if you do miss a payment, you'll usually be given a grace period in which to pay it and keep your cover. Miss this, though, and you'll lose your cover, along with any money you’ve already paid in premiums.
There are a few other exclusions that can void your policy too, which typically include death by:
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- A reckless act, or gross negligence on your part
So it's worth checking with your insurer what exclusions they have in place.
Is over 50 life insurance the same as an over 50 funeral plan?
No, a funeral plan is a policy taken out specifically to cover the cost of your funeral. The pay-out cannot be used for anything else.
The main benefit of a funeral plan is that it’s guaranteed to cover the cost of your agreed funeral, even if inflation means it costs more than it would have at the start of your policy.
The pay-out from your over 50 policy can still be used to cover the costs of your funeral, it’s just not guaranteed to meet the cost in the same way a funeral plan is.
The average cost of a funeral in the UK is around £4,000, before flowers and catering. If your pay-out exceeds this, you need not worry. But if you want to ensure you can have the send-off you want, and you have money to spare, you could take out a dedicated funeral plan alongside your over 50 life insurance.
Who does my pay-out go to?
Your pay-out will normally go to your chosen beneficiaries. You’ll be asked to name these when you take out a policy, so it’s a good idea to think about who you want them to be before signing up.
Is my over 50 life cover pay-out taxable?
This depends on the value of your estate.
Your estate is the sum total of everything you leave behind after you die. If this exceeds £325,000, you’ll pay £40% on it. If it’s under £325,000, you pay no tax.Writing your life insurance in trust allows you to avoid tax, even if your estate exceeds £325,000. It can also help speed up the pay-out process, ensuring your loved ones get the money you leave them as soon as possible.
Can I get my pay-out before I die?
No, your benefit amount will usually only be paid out after you die. But there are other options available.
Critical illness cover allows you to access your pay out if you’re diagnosed with a serious illness or are severely injured. It can then be used to cover any costs you incur, support you while you’re unwell, or even support your family if you’re unable to work.
Income protection insurance works in a similar way, paying out up to 70% of your salary if you’re unable to work due to illness or disability.
Health insurance is another option and will cover the cost of any private treatment you may need. Depending on your policy, this could be everything from tests to diagnose what’s wrong with you, to treatments that are unavailable on the NHS.
Some policies will also pay out if you’re diagnosed with a terminal illness. If you’re given a life expectancy of fewer than 12 months, you may be able to access your pay-out before you die. Check with your insurer to see whether they offer a terminal illness pay-out option.
Can I use my pay-out to cover my mortgage?
Yes, your over 50 life insurance pay out can be used to cover your mortgage after you’re gone.
However, over 50 policies tend to come with smaller pay outs than standard life insurance, so the amount your loved ones receive may not be enough to pay off your mortgage.Mortgage life insurance is specifically designed to clear your mortgage after you die. As the amount you owe goes down, so does your pay out, and consequently, so do your premiums. This is often a better option if you want to ensure your mortgage is taken care of after you pass away. You could even take out a mortgage policy and an over 50s one simultaneously, for real peace of mind.
Will inflation affect my over 50 life cover pay-out?
Over 50 life insurance covers you for a long time. By the time your lump sum is paid, it may not be worth as much as it was when you took out your policy. £4,000 of cover today may buy you a lot less in 30 years.
One way of countering this is with a rising term policy. Here, your pay-out rises as the years go on, meaning that it’ll keep its value. The downside is that your premiums will also rise over time.
If you want your pay-out to cover a specific thing or pay off a specific amount, rising term policies can be a good idea. However, they don’t come as standard, so ask your insurer if they provide them if this is something you’re interested in.
If you don’t want your premiums to rise and are happy to get the same pay-out in 30 years that you’d get today, then a standard level term life insurance policy is probably your best bet. You could even take out a little more cover than you need to account for inflation over the years.
What are the different types of life insurance?
is individual cover that pays out when the policyholder dies.
Joint life insurance
covers two people on a single policy, paying out if either of you die during the policy term
Mortgage life insurance
pays out an amount that decreases over time, usually in line with your mortgage
Level term life insurance
Policies that pay-out the same amount no matter when you die
Critical illness cover
pays out a lump sum if you're diagnosed with an illness covered by your policy
Income protection insurance
covers your bills if you're injured or ill and are unable to work. Short term policies and longer ones available
covers the cost of private medical care, helping you avoid NHS waiting lists to get the cover you need, quickly
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