When Does Term Life Insurance End?

Term life insurance provides temporary coverage for a specific length of time, usually between 10 and 30 years. Unlike a permanent life insurance policy, which offers lifetime protection, term life insurance coverage typically ends if you outlive the term. The only exception is when your term policy is renewable or convertible, which allows you to continue your coverage without purchasing another policy provided you meet your conversion policy’s deadlines for conversion or renewal.

Policy Type What Happens When It Expires?
Term life insurance The policy simply expires, and no action needs to be taken by the policyholder. If the policyholder had a return-of-premium policy, a check would be sent for the amount paid into the policy throughout its term.
Convertible term life insurance The policy can be switched to a permanent life policy without requiring a medical exam, provided the policy is converted before the policy’s stated deadline.
Renewable term life insurance The policy is renewed on an annual basis after the initial term expires. Premiums increase with age to account for the increased risk to the insurance carrier.
Permanent life insurance The coverage is valid under most circumstances until death as long as the premiums are paid. Permanent policies also have a tax-deferred cash value account.

Those who will need further coverage after the term policy expires may want to start evaluating other options six months to one year before the policy expires. If you have a conversion policy, make sure you are aware of when you have to convert it if that’s something you are interested in doing. For the relatively young who are in good health, purchasing a new term policy might be the most inexpensive life insurance option. However, keep in mind that a medical exam will likely be part of the underwriting process for any new term policy, and if there are new health issues since the first policy, the rate will likely increase.

While final expense insurance usually has low coverage limits and premiums tend to be very expensive, it can be a good choice for older adults whose primary goal is to prevent their beneficiaries from facing financial challenges associated with their death. It may also be suitable for people with pre-existing health conditions or those who have been denied standard life insurance in the past.

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