We dedicate this post to James Gandolfini (Tony Soprano in HBO hit The Sopranos) who passed away from a heart attack at age 51 in Rome.

His acting work opened up opportunities for other writers and actors to create their own masterpieces from Mad Men to Walter White in Breaking Bad.

Gandolfini also left a trust to his son, which was funded through his own life insurance policy.

Why 51 Year Olds Need Life Insurance

James Gandolfini

You need life insurance if someone would financially suffer when you pass away.

That’s it. Whether that person is a spouse, a child, or anybody else, life insurance is a way to take care of someone after you die.

If you don’t have anyone depending on you, you may not need it. Just make sure that you won’t be leaving anybody on the hook for any debts and final expenses.

Best Life Insurance Policies for 51 Year Olds

The best policy type for you will depend on what you are trying to cover. Is the remainder of your working years? Is it to provide for a spouse? Is it to pay off any final expenses?

The three main categories you can choose from are permanent, term, and burial. Each serves a different purpose. Permanent life insurance covers all your bases. It lasts for life and can be extremely versatile.

Term life insurance covers a specific reason, like a mortgage, minor child, or working years. Burial insurance ensures that your family has enough money to send you off in accordance with your wishes.

Permanent Life Insurance for 51 Year Olds

Permanent life insurance had broader coverage than term insurance. It not only lasts for your entire life, but it also has other components to it that can add a living value.

The cash value accumulation builds up as you pay the premiums. You can borrow this money if you ever find yourself in need of a loan. Interest rates are typically lower than most bank loans too. Just make sure to pay back the money because the insurance company is holding your death benefits as collateral.

Most people buy life insurance to cover end of life expenses. It also contributes to estate planning. You can pay off any debts you leave behind to. Your estate can go to your heirs and not your creditors.

Term Life Insurance for 51 Year Olds

Term life insurance is best used to cover a specific, time-limited purpose. It is more of a fail-safe than permanent life insurance.

You may outlive your term policy. Because the insurance company does not have to pay out of every term policy it offers, it can afford to offer term policies at significantly reduced rates.

Burial Life Insurance for 51 Year Olds

Burial life insurance is an affordable alternative to permanent life insurance. It is a smaller policy, meant only to cover final expenses.

Whereas most life insurance policies start at $50,000, burial insurance starts at $5,000 and caps at $15,000. The coverage lasts for your whole life.

The benefits are relatively small when compared with most term or other permanent policies. Which means that burial insurance is surprisingly affordable, even at 51.

How Much is Life Insurance for a 51-Year-Old?

Sticker shock can happen. Especially if you took out a term policy in your 20s or 30s and are now looking at update rates for your age.

Life insurance gets more expensive every year. Most companies’ rates increase around 8% for each year older someone gets. That, on top of the health concerns that start becoming increasingly common for people in their 50s, can spike the rates of an insurance policy.

Life Insurance Rates for 51 Year Old Males

The following table shows monthly rates for a 51-year-old man who doesn’t smoke and is in relatively good health.

Policy Type $50,000 $100,000 $250,000 $500,000 $1,000,000
10-Year $17 $19 $37 $67 $116
20-Year $22 $31 $60 $110 $208
30-Year $48 $56 $108 $208 $400
Whole Life $48 $56 $108 $208 $400

The rates in the table above reflect a preferred health class. Your rates could be even lower if you are in great health.

The table below is also for a 51-year-old man who doesn’t smoke. This time we ran someone at regular ratings. This is a man in average health for age 51.

Policy Type $50,000 $100,000 $250,000 $500,000 $1,000,000
10-Year $22 $28 $51 $95 $194
20-Year $32 $44 $93 $173 $330
30-Year $48 $76 $152 $296 $571
Whole Life $48 $56 $108 $208 $400

Life Insurance Rates for 51 Year Old Females

Rates for women are almost always lower than men’s rates. The charts below show rates for a 51-year-old woman who is in good health and does use tobacco products.

Policy Type $50,000 $100,000 $250,000 $500,000 $1,000,000
10-Year $14 $17 $29 $51 $92
20-Year $17 $23 $45 $81 $150
30-Year $38 $43 $79 $147 $271
Whole Life $48 $56 $108 $208 $400

A woman in average health may quality for rates in the table below. Keep in mind that there are about a dozen variables that factor into your health class. Your rates may vary from the ones listed here.

Policy Type $50,000 $100,000 $250,000 $500,000 $1,000,000
10-Year $17 $23 $43 $77 $140
20-Year $24 $33 $68 $127 $238
30-Year $38 $58 $119 $231 $445
Whole Life $48 $56 $108 $208 $400

How Much Does Whole Life Insurance Cost?

Out of all the types of permanent life insurance, whole life insurance is the most simple. You don’t have the complexities that come along with other types of permanent policies.

Whole life policies last for life. There is fine print which says the policy matures at age 121, but for most people, that doesn’t present a problem.

There is a cash value accumulation portion built into whole life insurance policies. This part of the policy builds up over time as you pay your premiums. It’s main function is the ability to become a loan. Borrowing against your cash value accumulation has lower interest rates than nearly anything you will find at a bank.

You can use it for any reason, from a family vacation to surprise medical expenses. The insurance company holds your death benefit as collateral, and deducts any remaining amount left to repay from your death benefit.

If you want a permanent policy to pass something along to your heirs, support a spouse, or cover any final expenses, then whole life insurance is the most straightforward.

Below are monthly sample rates for what 51-year-old non-smoker in relatively good health (preferred) might pay for whole life insurance.

$50,000 $100,000 $250,000 $500,000 $1,000,000
Men $122 $232 $569 $1,120 $2,234
Women $110 $205 $503 $989 $1,971

The following table shows sample rates for the same non-smoker who is in average (regular) health.

$50,000 $100,000 $250,000 $500,000 $1,000,000
Men $122 $235 $578 $1,137 $2,267
Women $110 $212 $519 $1,020 $2,034

You will notice that the rates for the $50,000 benefit are the same as someone in preferred health. At lower benefit amounts, some companies don’t make big distinctions between health classes.

What is the Longest Term Policy You Can Get?

Traditional term policies typically do not run beyond 30 years. You may be able to find a non-traditional policy that runs longer. However, at 51, it’s important to consider what your lifespan is likely to be.

Only people oddly comfortable with their own mortality don’t feel some unease contemplating how long they will probably live. But if you are looking for an extra long term policy, it is wise to reexamine your reasons for such a long policy. Would a permanent policy serve the same purpose?

Tips on Getting the Best Life Insurance Rates for 51 Year Olds

Like any major purchase, you get the best deals by looking at several options. Comparing the quotes you get from dozens of companies gives you the best resources to pick the company best for you.

Instead of calling all those companies yourself and trying to decipher which of their products compares best to the other products you’ve looked at, call an independent agent. Independent agents work with dozens of companies. That means they can find the company with the best underwriting guidelines for your situation.

While life insurance companies offer similar products, the way they classify people varies widely. A person carrying a little extra weight might be table one with Company A and a standard rating with Company B. That could mean a 25% difference in premiums each month.

It isn’t just limited to BMI. Every possible health issue counts. Companies will look at your driving records differently. A family history of thyroid cancer might make one company nervous while another couldn’t care less.

An independent agent can point you toward the right company for you.

Being open about your health can help too. Unless you tell your agent about your high blood pressure (as an example), they won’t know to steer you away from companies who charge more for that.

Best Life Insurance Companies for a 51-Year-Old

The best company for your will depend on your health as well as what you are looking for. That being said, we have three favorites that serve most families extremely well.

We picked our favorite three for 51-year-olds based on their financial strength, customer service reputation, and affordability.

Company A.M. Best Rating Customer Satisfaction
Protective Life AA- 4.1 / 5
Lincoln Financial A+ 4.0 / 5
Sagicor A- 4.2 / 5

Protective Life Insurance for 51 Year Olds

Protective is one of the most competitive insurance companies on the market. Their rates are some of the lowest you can find. However, they shine in rates for healthier people. If you are in preferred or preferred-plus health, Protective is a fantastic affordable option for you.

With a A+ rating from AM Best, we expect them to be around for decades to come.

Lincoln Financial Life Insurance for 51 Year Olds

Another A+ rated company. Lincoln offers excellent rates and service for families looking for higher benefit amounts. They stand out most in the $500,000+ benefit brackets. Their pricing is a little more stable across health classes too.

Sagicor Life Insurance for 51 Year Olds

We like Sagicor for two reasons: they are extremely competitive on lower benefit amounts, and they offer some of the lowest rates for average people.

You don’t need to bike to work every day and run marathons to qualify for great rates with Sagicor. With an AM Best rating of A-, their financial outlook is also promising.

Other Options to Consider

You can still get non-medical policies at age 51. But that only lasts for a couple more years.

No exam policies cost slightly more than traditional policies. The insurance company is taking on extra risk by not examining your health as thoroughly as they like. However, these policies are much more convenient.

You still have to answer all the medical questions on the application, but you won’t have to take time out of your day to take the medical exam. Nor, if you are like some people, will you have to spend a couple weeks preparing to ace the life insurance medical exam.

Life Insurance for 51 Year Olds – Takeaways

Every family’s needs are different. First, look at why you are getting life insurance. Then pick the best type of life insurance policy to meet those needs.

You can learn more about your policy options by speaking with one of our independent insurance agents who will be able to explain your options, and how each of them play out.

Selecting a broker who can search for the best life insurance rates and policies from a number of life insurance providers is essential to make sure you get the best coverage for you and your family.

We work with some of the best life insurance companies on the market to find our clients the best coverage possible for their specific situation.

Give us a call today to speak with an agent, or use our online quote engine to get quick and easy life insurance quotes and compare rates.

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About Jeff Root

is the owner of rootfin.com. He's an independent life insurance agent who has helped 1,000's of consumers purchase life insurance online and over the phone.

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