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Licensed Insurance Broker Ron Attias

Sara Routhier, Managing Editor and Outreach Director, has professional experience as an educator, SEO specialist, and content marketer. She has over five years of experience in the insurance industry. As a researcher, data nerd, writer, and editor she strives to curate educational, enlightening articles that provide you with the must-know facts and best-kept secrets within the overwhelming world o...

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UPDATED: Jun 24, 2022

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If you are looking for life insurance for seniors over 85, you have some options. However, don’t wait too long because, if you have reached the age of 86, you will be left with two companies that will offer life insurance.

In this post, I will go over the options seniors at 85 have when searching for life insurance. Additionally, I will explain the available policies, face amounts, and exclusions you should be aware of when purchasing coverage at 85 years old.

Related: Life insurance for elderly parents

What types of life insurance are available for individuals 85 years of age?

When you buy life insurance at 85 years old, your choices are restricted to burial and final expense policies. Final expense coverage is intended to help with the associated costs related to your death such as burial, funeral, and medical bills among others. The maximum death benefit amount you can purchase is $40,000.

However, most individuals buy $25,000 or less. These policies are called simplified issues because there is no test or exam required to apply, only a few health questions you need to answer.

Since the carrier doesn’t have access to your medical tests, they will conduct a phone interview and use other public data reports to confirm your eligibility for coverage. Most companies will run reports from the Medical Information Bureau, driving history, and prescription search.

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What does burial insurance entail?

Now that you understand that this is the only coverage you can purchase, let’s dive a little deeper to see if this is a good alternative for someone who is 85 years old. Burial insurance is permanent coverage that lasts for as long as you live and as long as premiums are paid. The premium payment remains the same throughout your life, even if your health deteriorates in the future.

Additionally, burial insurance is whole life coverage that carries a cash value portion that grows over time on a tax-deferred basis. You can obtain this cash by taking a loan or surrendering your policy.

Don’t rely on this too much, as with most whole life insurance, it takes more than a few years to build cash, and if you take a loan, you will not have enough for your beneficiaries when the time comes. Here are the three types of burial insurance:

  • Level benefit plan. It is also called immediate death benefit plan because there is no waiting period for the policy to become in force (active). Whether the insured passes away within days or years after the policy is issued, the carrier will pay 100% of the death benefit amount. This type of plan requires the applicant to be in good health without significant health issues such as stroke, cancer, and heart attack, to name a few.
  • Graded benefit plan. Life insurance isn’t intended only for the healthiest of us. A graded benefit plan doesn’t pay the full death benefit if you pass away during the first two years of buying the policy. Instead, it will only pay 40% in the first year, 75% in the second year, and 100% in the third year and beyond (varies by company). The carrier is willing to issue a policy for a trade-off: higher premiums and a two-year waiting period. This coverage is for those who have a few health issues.
  • Modified death benefit. Is also called guaranteed issue life insurance. You guessed it, there are no health questions you need to answer and your acceptance is guaranteed. This coverage is the last resort for those who can’t qualify for traditional coverage. However, it comes at a higher cost, and if you die during the first two years, not accident-related, your beneficiaries will only collect the total paid in premiums plus 10% interest. Buyer beware if an agent only gives you this option for coverage. This coverage should never be your first choice.

What is the process for applying for coverage?

After you find out the amount of needed coverage, the carrier, and the type of plan (level, graded or modified), here is what to expect. Keep in mind it differs by the insurance company you apply to. As mentioned above, you will not undergo a medical exam when applying for final expense coverage.

  1. Your broker will ask you a few health questions to determine your eligibility for the type of plan you can qualify for. They can help you with the submission of the application online or you can sign the forms and fax it over.
  2. The application is forwarded to the underwriting department for processing.
  3. The carrier will run a public data search to make sure there aren’t any red flags. Here are a few of the searches and their purposes:
    • Motor Vehicle Report (MVR) is a background screening to see if there are past convictions for DUI, reckless driving, driving violations, or even unpaid tickets.
    • Medical Information Bureau (MIB) is a database created by insurance companies that share information with each other to identify fraud or inaccuracies about medical or non-medical conditions.
    • Prescription history report. You probably thought that this sensitive information is kept private between you and your doctors. Not true when it comes to life insurance companies. In fact, when you sign the application, you allow the carrier to get information about your prescription usage. The purpose of this check is to discover underlying conditions that you didn’t disclose on the application. For instance, you said you were not diabetic, so how come you get insulin every month from the CVS on Main St? It goes without saying: make sure you are honest when applying for coverage.
  4. The carrier will conduct a phone interview with the insured (PHI). Typically, this is a 15–20-minute process in which the underwriter will go over the questions on the application and confirm the answers.
  5. Your broker should have an answer regarding your application 24 hours after the phone interview was completed, and for some carriers, even within minutes after the completion.

Whole Life Insurance for 85-Year-Olds Sample Monthly Rates

Level Benefit Whole Life Insurance Male

 AGE $10,000 $15,000 $20,000 $25,000
 85 $185.15 $273.13 $363.10 $453.08
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Level Benefit Whole Life Insurance Female

 AGE $10,000 $15,000 $20,000 $25,000
 85 $135.90 $202.25 $268.60 $334.95
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Graded Benefit Whole Life Insurance Male

 AGE $10,000 $15,000 $20,000 $25,000
 85 $237.51 $354.09 $470.67 $587.25
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Graded Benefit Whole Life Insurance Female

 AGE $10,000 $15,000 $20,000 $25,000
 85 $179.22 $266.65 $354.09 $441.53
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Guaranteed Issue Whole Life Insurance Male

 AGE $10,000 $15,000 $20,000 $25,000
 85 $315.82 $472.73 $692.70 $865.38
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Guaranteed Issue Whole Life Insurance Female

 AGE $10,000 $15,000 $20,000 $25,000
 85 $199.06 $297.59 $437.18 $545.98
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What about life insurance for seniors over 85?

Most companies do not offer life insurance at age 86. I’m aware of two companies: Aetna Life and Security National Life Insurance Company. The plans aren’t available in all states, so you may want to check with your broker. If you need life insurance, don’t delay. You will find yourself with fewer choices as you get older.

On the other hand, you may not need life insurance, after all. If you have enough money to cover your burial expenses, then you are what we call “self-insured.”

We at Effortless Insurance represent more than 50 companies, and our loyalty is to our clients and not to any insurance company.

You can use the form on the right to run the quotes yourself by entering your age and the state you reside in. The quotes will display instantly.