How long is term life insurance? As long as you want! There are quite a few term lengths to choose from, so you won’t have a problem finding a term that covers your financial obligations. We’ll show you which terms are currently available and what to consider when choosing one.

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How Long Is Term Life Insurance?

Sheets of a yearly calendar, symbolizing the different lengths of term life insurance available

Term life insurance comes in a variety of term lengths. For example, you can get quotes for all of these term lengths right here on our website:

  • 1 year (annual renewable)
  • 5 years
  • 10 years
  • 15 years
  • 20 years
  • 25 years
  • 30 years
  • 35 years
  • 40 years

➡️ Not sure which term length is right for you? Our licensed life insurance agents are here to help! Call us at (800) 823-4852 or click the button below to get a free instant quote.

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Can You Extend a Term?

Yes, you can also usually extend your term policy beyond its initial length with an annual renewal. Most insurers offer this, and the terms will be spelled out in your policy contract. In a nutshell, this means you would have the option to renew your term coverage for one year at a time after its expiration. Already have a policy’s that ending? Click or tap here to learn about your options.

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The catch? Those term life renewals can be expensive. Life insurance is priced based on your age and health. You’ll definitely be older at the end of your term, so the price is going to go up. And if you’ve developed health problems, that will raise the price even more. Every year you renew, that price will be re-evaluated and raised. It’s something that’s nice to have available in a pinch if your circumstances change. But the high cost makes renewing for more than a year or two at most prohibitively expensive.

Another solution if you need to extend your term is to buy additional coverage. For example, let’s say you already have a $250,000 10-year policy designed to cover you until your youngest child turns 18. What happens if you have another child, or marry someone who brings stepchildren into the family? You need more coverage! There are two options we can help you look into to extend your coverage:

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  • Add a second policy. We call this “laddering” coverage – using more than one policy to cover your needs. It may be smarter and more cost-effective to buy a new policy with a different term length and different face amount that can cover your new financial obligation. It’s not uncommon for clients to have multiple policies that cover multiple needs. There’s no rule that says one policy has to cover everything. This can also help you pinpoint precise needs with different term lengths. One policy might cover your mortgage, for example, while another might cover income replacement for your loved ones. It all depends on your unique situation – which is why it’s best to call us at (800) 823-4852 so we can help you find the most affordable way to protect the people and things you love.
  • Buy a whole new policy and, once it’s in force, cancel your old one. Depending on how much coverage you need, it may be more cost-effective to buy a whole new policy with a new term length and new face amount that covers the new sum total of your financial obligations. Insurers often give price breaks the more coverage you apply for. Try it with our free term life quoter - you might be surprised how little it costs to add $100,000 of coverage to the amount you selected initially! With this strategy, we help you apply for the new policy. Once it’s in force, we give you the go-ahead to cancel your old policy. It’s important never to cancel your old policy until the new one is in place. You don’t want to risk having zero coverage in place during the application and approval process.

But before you decide on a term, we need to talk about what you’re trying to protect with your policy – as well as the pros and cons of a shorter term versus a longer term. Scroll down to learn more.

➡️ Want to talk to a real person about which term length is right for you? Our licensed life insurance agents are here to do just that! Call us at (800) 823-4852 or click the button below to get a free instant quote.

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What Is Your Term Life Insurance Policy Protecting?

It’s important to be clear on what you want to protect with your policy. Once you know what specific financial obligations you need to cover, you can estimate how long they’ll last and which term best meets those needs. Here are some of the most common protection needs:

    Happy young couple using their laptop to get a quote for term life insurance online
  • Income replacement until the kids are grown. Most of our clients buy a term life policy to protect their loved ones in case something happens to them. The policy can provide income replacement, as well as funding for things like future college tuition. If this is why you’re buying a policy, you need to decide how long you want to support your loved ones: until the youngest child turns 18? Until the youngest child is finished with college? Until the youngest child gets married? Until your spouse retires? This is something only you can decide. But once you make this decision, it’s an easy calculation to figure out how many years there will be until this milestone happens. For example, let’s say you want to support your loved ones until your youngest child graduates from college. If that child is 10 now, and you want your policy to provide full-time tuition support, you can expect them to graduate from college at age 22 or 23. That means a 15-year term would fully cover this financial obligation, with a little breathing room in case your child took a semester or a year off during college.
  • Cover the length of a mortgage. We also have clients who want to protect their home ownership with a term life policy that lasts as long as their mortgage. That way, if anything were to happen to you during that mortgage, your loved ones would get a 100% income-tax-free death benefit they could use to pay that mortgage off. Your family wouldn’t have to leave the house they love, or change schools, or go through any of the related stress that always happens with relocating.
  • Protecting a business partnership. Let’s say you have a small business, owned in partnership with a colleague. What would happen if either partner passed away? Would their family members inherit their share of the business? Are they interested in the business and capable of running it? Term life insurance can help with business planning. If each business partner insures themselves and names the other partner their beneficiary, the surviving partner could then use the death benefit to buy out the deceased partner’s share of the business. To choose a term length, you’d just need to have an honest talk with your business partner about how long you each want to stay with the business: until retirement, most likely.

➡️ Want to talk to a real person about which term length is right for you? Our licensed life insurance agents are here to do just that! Call us at (800) 823-4852 or click the button below to get a free instant quote.

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Shorter vs. Longer Terms: Pros and Cons

Okay, so you’ve figured out how long you want your term to last. What if that number doesn’t match up exactly with the list of available terms above? Should you choose a shorter or longer term?

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Benefits of a shorter term: If you choose a shorter term, you’ll probably save money in the short run. In general, shorter terms will cost less than longer terms because it represents less risk to the insurer.

Drawbacks of a shorter term: You’re running the risk of something happening to you after your term expires. For example, if you need coverage for 22 more years and you purchase a 20-year term, what happens if you die in 21 years? It’s true that most term policies let you renew on an annual basis after your term expires; however, each renewal is going to be more expensive because you’re now older and represent more a risk to insure. So you could opt for a shorter term with the intent to renew for an extra couple years, but be aware that you’ll be spending more money than if you’d bought a longer term at the beginning of your policy.

Benefits of a longer term: If you choose a longer term, you’re locking in that coverage at the lowest possible price. That’s because life insurance costs more the older you get. Since you’ll never be younger than you are right now, it’s a smart choice to secure as much coverage as you can now. If you want coverage for the rest of your mortgage – 28 years, say – but you opt for a 30-year term, you absolutely know you’re covered. That kind of peace of mind is worth it for many of our clients.

Drawbacks of a longer term: If you’re the type who doesn’t want to pay for coverage you don’t need, a longer term might not be worth it for you. In our previous example, where you have a 28-year mortgage and buy a 30-year term, you’d be paying for two extra years of coverage you don’t actually want. But you need to weigh that option against the lack of security you might have with a 25-year policy. Which would cause you more uncertainty or anxiety: paying for two extra years on a 30-year term or paying extra for three annual renewals after your 25-year term expires? Consider what might happen if you develop medical issues between now and then, too – that would also raise the price of future coverage.

In general, we recommend opting for the longest term you can afford. It avoids problems like worrying about annual renewals later in life, or the potential increase in cost if you develop a health problem in the meantime. Term life insurance provides peace of mind for the ones you’re protecting – but it’s meant to provide peace of mind for you, too! We hope this answered your question on, “How long is term life insurance?”

➡️ Want to talk to a real person about which term length is right for you? Our licensed life insurance agents are here to do just that! Call us at (800) 823-4852 or click the button below to get a free instant quote.

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