How to Shop for Life Insurance

Christian Worstell
In this article...
  • Learn how to shop for life insurance, including the steps to take when you're ready to purchase. Find out how to decide the type of life insurance you need.

Shopping for life insurance is a critical financial decision, requiring a thorough understanding of various types of policies, coverage options and factors affecting both the cost and value of the coverage. 

This comprehensive guide is designed to help you navigate the process of selecting the right life insurance policy for you, whether it's term life insurance, permanent life insurance or other options. We will cover the essentials of insurance policies, factors influencing life insurance quotes, the importance of a medical exam, how to evaluate life insurance companies and much more.

Understanding Life Insurance Types

When you start to shop for life insurance, it's essential to know the two main types: term life insurance and permanent life insurance, which includes whole life and universal life insurance.

  • Term Life Insurance
    This type of policy provides coverage for a specific period, usually ranging from 5 to 30 years. It pays a death benefit only if the insured passes away within the term of the policy.
    Term life insurance is often chosen for its lower initial cost compared to permanent life insurance.

  • Permanent Life Insurance
    This type of life insurance covers you for your entire life. It typically includes a cash value component that grows over time.
    Permanent life insurance is further divided into two types: whole life, which offers steady growth and fixed premiums, and universal life, which provides more flexibility in terms of premium payments and death benefits.

Determining Your Life Insurance Needs

Determining the right amount of life insurance involves several factors. Consider your current income, debts, future financial obligations and the financial impact of your death on your dependents. 

A common rule is to seek coverage equal to 10-15 times your annual income, but this varies based on individual circumstances. It's advisable to consult with a financial advisor to help assess your specific situation, but you can use a life insurance calculator to estimate your needs. 

The Cost Factor in Life Insurance

The cost of life insurance is influenced by several factors, including age, health status, the type of policy, coverage amount and term length (for term life insurance).

Many life insurance policies require a medical exam to assess your health status. The results can significantly impact your premiums and coverage options as younger, healthier individuals typically receive lower premiums. Additionally, lifestyle choices and medical history play a crucial role in determining your premium costs.

When seeking life insurance quotes, it's crucial to compare different policies and insurers. Quotes can vary based on the coverage amount, policy type, and the insurance company selling the policy. 

Evaluating Life Insurance Companies

Choosing the right life insurance company is as important as selecting the right policy. Factors to consider include the company's financial stability, customer service record, policy offerings, and overall reputation. 

Check ratings from independent agencies like A.M. Best or Standard & Poor’s for an objective assessment of the insurer's ability to pay claims.

Buying Life Insurance: Key Considerations

When buying life insurance, there are several important aspects to consider:

  • Coverage Amount
    Decide how much coverage you need based on your financial situation and future obligations.

  • Policy Type
    Choose between term and permanent life insurance based on your long-term financial goals and the needs of your dependents.

  • Insurance Company
    Select a reputable insurance company with a strong financial background and good customer service record. Research and read reviews to gauge their reliability.

  • Medical History
    Be honest and thorough when providing your medical history, as it will affect your policy terms and costs.

  • Social Security Benefits
    Understand how life insurance integrates with other benefits, like Social Security and Medicare, to ensure comprehensive coverage.

Practical Tips for Shopping for Life Insurance

In conclusion, the most important tips to remember when shopping for life insurance include:

  • Educate Yourself
    Understand the basics of different life insurance policies and terms.

  • Assess Your Needs
    Carefully evaluate your financial situation and coverage needs.

  • Compare Quotes
    Get quotes from multiple life insurance companies to find the best rates and coverage options.

  • Read the Fine Print
    Understand the terms and conditions of the policy, including exclusions and benefits.

  • Consider Financial Stability
    Choose a financially stable insurance company to ensure long-term security.

  • Review Regularly
    Regularly review and update your life insurance policy to reflect any changes in your life circumstances.

By understanding the different types of life insurance, calculating your needs, evaluating insurance companies and considering all relevant factors, you can make an informed decision that secures your financial future and provides peace of mind. Remember, life insurance is an investment in the wellbeing of your loved ones, and choosing the right policy is a crucial step in protecting their future.

Christian Worstell
About the Author

Christian Worstell is a senior Medicare and health insurance writer with He is also a licensed health insurance agent. Christian is well-known in the insurance industry for the thousands of educational articles he’s written, helping Americans better understand their health insurance and Medicare coverage.

Christian’s work as a Medicare expert has appeared in several top-tier and trade news outlets including Forbes, MarketWatch, WebMD and Yahoo! Finance.

While at HelpAdvisor, Christian has written hundreds of articles that teach Medicare beneficiaries the best practices for navigating Medicare. His articles are read by thousands of older Americans each month. By better understanding their health care coverage, readers may hopefully learn how to limit their out-of-pocket Medicare spending and access quality medical care.

Christian’s passion for his role stems from his desire to make a difference in the senior community. He strongly believes that the more beneficiaries know about their Medicare coverage, the better their overall health and wellness is as a result.

A current resident of Raleigh, Christian is a graduate of Shippensburg University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. You can find Christian’s most recent articles in our blog.

If you’re a member of the media looking to connect with Christian, please don’t hesitate to email our public relations team at

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