Below is a summary only of life insurance. This information is general in nature and does not take into account any individual’s financial situation, objective or needs. Further information about the general nature of this article appears in the disclaimer at the end of this article.
No matter what age you are, it feels good to know your family and their financial future are protected. There are plenty of reasons to consider life insurance cover when you’re 60 years or older. We’re here to lend a hand, so you can find the right coverage for this stage of your life.
When you reach the 60-year mark, life insurance can be a back-up plan worth thinking about, even if you’ve managed to build a solid nest egg. The right cover can help protect your loved ones if you’re diagnosed with a terminal illness (where you have less than 24 to 12 months to live depending on the insurer), are unable to work temporarily or permanently or pass away.
Understanding Coverage Options for Seniors
There are a few things to consider when you take out life insurance in your senior years.
Types of cover
You may have found yourself wondering ‘what does life insurance cover?’ And it’s a good question! There are different types of life insurance that seniors can choose from. You’ll need to understand how each works and complements one another to protect you as you look towards retirement.
Term life insurance (death cover) —provides a lump sum payment to your family if you pass away or (where covered by the policy terms) you’re diagnosed with a terminal illness (where you have less than 12 to 24 months to live depending on the insurer), or pass away, giving you confidence that they’ll go some way to manage any debts and ongoing living costs after you’re gone.
Critical illness or trauma insurance — this provides you with a lump sum if you’re diagnosed with a defined critical illness, like cancer or a stroke, so you’ve got financial support to help cover medical costs, rehabilitation, and your everyday living expenses. You need to meet the severity threshold of the illness set out in the PDS (for example not all heart attacks, strokes or cancers qualify for payment – it will depend on the severity criteria which are set out in the PDS).
Total and permanent disability (TPD) insurance — pays you a lump sum if you find yourself with a total and permanent disablement and can’t work anymore as a result.
Income protection insurance — pays up to 70% of your regular income monthly, beyond your waiting period if you’re sick or injured and need extended time off work to recover. The Waiting Period is an agreed amount of time you'll need to be working in a reduced capacity or off work after suffering an illness or injury before you start receiving benefit payments.
Evaluating Your Coverage Needs as a Senior
When you’re evaluating your coverage needs, think about:
- Protecting your savings — As you work towards retirement, you’ve hopefully built-up savings to fund your retirement lifestyle. But imagine if you unexpectedly became too ill or injured to work. You might need to dip into your retirement savings early, meaning your money may need to stretch further than you had planned — and that’s without considering extra medical expenses you might incur. The right life insurance product, such as income protection, total and permanent disability, or critical illness cover, may protect the money and lifestyle you’ve worked hard for as long as you continue to pay the premiums.
- Outstanding debts — Are you paying off the last of your mortgage or any other loans? Having life insurance (death cover) can go towards meeting your debts if you pass away and your loved ones won’t need to worry about inheriting them.
- People who depend on you — Are you financially supporting a partner, children, or any other loved ones? Life insurance products such as life insurance (death cover), income protection and TPD can help support their ongoing living costs if you pass away or are unable to work by helping to pay for daily expenses, education, and medical bills.
- Healthcare costs — Suffering a serious illness is difficult enough without the added financial burden. Critical illness insurance can provide financial relief for you and your family during an especially challenging time.
- Covering extra costs — Life insurance (death cover) can help pay for additional costs incurred by your family when you pass away like funeral expenses, settling your estate, financial planning and legal fees.
- Leaving an inheritance — Life insurance can provide your loved ones with a financial bolster if you pass away, so you’ve got peace of mind that they’re taken care.
Typical cover expiry age
Life insurance usually has a maximum entry age and an expiration age. These vary, depending on the insurance type and the insurer you go with. The table below gives an idea of what may be available, but you’ll need to check the product disclosure statement (PDS) to confirm.
Maximum entry age (varies between insurers)
Cover expiry age (lower ages apply for some insurers)
Term life insurance
Between 54 and 75
Total and permanent disability (TPD) insurance
Between 59 and 75
Critical illness or trauma insurance
As of February 2023
Factors to Consider When Choosing Life Insurance when you are over 60
Life insurance over 60
At 60, it’s not uncommon to have a few notes in your medical history. It’s important to note that insurers generally won’t cover you for pre-existing medical conditions. In some cases, you may be offered cover with special conditions (partial cover) or pay higher life insurance premiums (premium loading). Sometimes insurers may not provide cover depending on your medical history and conditions.
You may still be working or may be working towards your retirement. This is an exciting time of your life! When it comes to your insurance, you’ll need to keep your work status and retirement plans in mind. For example, if you’re planning on retiring in a few months, life insurance (death cover) will probably be higher on your list of priorities than income protection, as you won’t be earning an income for too much longer.
Life insurance over 65
At 65, you’re hopefully hanging up your boots and entering a well-earned retirement. You may not need income protection if you’re no longer working. In fact, depending on your policy, any income protection you have may expire at 65.
When it comes to life insurance for over 65-year-olds, there’s often an increase in life insurance costs. It’s a good time to revisit your level of cover and make any adjustments you consider appropriate for your situation— for example, if you’ve paid off your mortgage or increased your savings, you might be in a position to reduce your cover amount.
Life insurance over 70
At 70, some types of life insurance, like TPD and critical illness cover, will generally expire. Again, it’s a good time to review your life insurance and you may want to consider whether your cover aligns with your debt and personal assets. If you’re looking at taking out life insurance in your 70s, make sure you read the policy’s product disclosure statement (PDS) carefully, so you know exactly what you’re covered for and any conditions that apply at this age. The cut-off ages for taking out income protection and critical illness cover are usually around 60 and 59 respectively. Life and TPD insurance have more flexible cut-off entry ages, but this is something to keep in mind. It may also be helpful to note that as you get older, TPD tests can become tougher (requiring a more significant and severe level of disablement in order to be covered by the TPD policy at certain older ages – you should refer to the PDS before making any decision).
Comparing Quotes from Different Insurers
When you’re looking for seniors’ life insurance products, it’s important to shop around to get a policy that ticks the boxes for your personal circumstances as well as your budget. That’s where Lifebroker can help — we’ve teamed up with some of Australia’s leading life insurers to give you access to quick and easy side-by-side comparisons, so you can choose your cover with confidence. And if you’re the kind of person who likes to talk things through, you can give our team of insurance experts a call on 13 54 33 Mon-Fri from 9.00am-5:30pm (AEST) to clear up any questions or tailor a policy that’s unique to your needs.