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Tips on Getting Life Insurance for the First Time

Life insurance is a financial product that can help offer protection to your loved ones if you pass away and, in some cases, an additional vehicle to build wealth. However, navigating the many types of life insurance when buying for the first time can seem daunting. Every policy type comes with different features and benefits to suit various needs. Let’s dive deeper into how to get life insurance for the first time, including how to compare policies and tips for finding the best coverage.

How does life insurance work?

Life insurance helps to cover your beneficiaries if you pass away via a death benefit payout. Your beneficiaries can use this for various purposes, from helping to cover lifestyle expenses to helping save for future goals. You can pay regular premiums to maintain this coverage.

When should I get a life insurance policy?

It’s rarely too late to get a life insurance policy, but getting coverage earlier in your life can be beneficial. Premiums increase with age, but you can lock in your rate after purchasing the policy.

How to compare life insurance policies

Here’s how to compare life insurance policies to find the right coverage at competitive rates:

Coverage amounts 

The coverage amount, or death benefit, is the amount paid out to your beneficiaries after you pass away. The more coverage you get on any given policy, the more you’ll pay.

Policy types

Here are some common types of life insurance policies:1

  • Term life insurance: A term life insurance policy typically comes with term lengths of 10 to 30 years, meaning you can outlive your coverage. However, you can get a large death benefit for lower premiums. This may be the right policy type for you if you need a lot of coverage at a reasonable rate.

  • Whole life insurance: This type of permanent life insurance policy offers lifelong coverage and a cash value growth component that grows with each premium payment and earns tax-deferred interest. You can borrow against or withdraw from this when it’s large enough. Whole life insurance can work if you need lifelong coverage and a wealth-building component.

  • Small permanent life insurance policies: In addition to whole life insurance, several small permanent policies offer coverage for life. For example, final expense insurance helps cover funeral expenses and other similar costs. It has a small death benefit, low premiums, and cash value. Another example is guaranteed issue life insurance, which also offers a small payout to beneficiaries and allows you to skip the medical exam.


Premiums are the cost you pay to maintain your life insurance policy, and can vary by policy type and insurer. It's wise to get a policy with premiums that fit your budget without sacrificing coverage.


Riders are extra features you can add to your policy for free or at an additional cost to customize coverage. For example, a long-term care rider may let you take your death benefit early to cover medical and other expenses for qualifying long-term illnesses or injuries. Another example is an inflation rider, which raises your death benefit every year to keep pace with inflation.

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Tips on buying a life insurance policy for the first time

Follow these tips when buying life insurance for the first time:1

Determine your coverage needs

You’ll need enough coverage to help protect your loved ones without overpaying for coverage you don’t need. Evaluate your income, living costs, and potential future expenses to estimate your needed death benefit. Try to account for inflation as well.

Compare life insurance quotes

Insurers may offer different rates and terms for the same policy type and coverage amount. Therefore, shop for multiple quotes and compare each to see who offers the lowest premiums and best terms on the policy type you need.

Know what factors can affect your premiums

Several factors can impact your premiums in addition to policy type and coverage amount:2

  • Age: Premiums tend to increase with age.
  • Gender: Men statistically have a lower life expectancy than women, meaning their premiums will be higher.
  • Health history: A personal or family health history of certain diseases may lead to higher premiums.
  • Smoking status: Premiums are higher for smokers.
  • Occupation: High-risk jobs may result in higher premiums. Examples include law enforcement, construction, and airline pilots.
  • Hobbies: Having high-risk hobbies such as skydiving, car racing, and rock climbing can cause you to pay more in premiums.
  • Driving record: Some insurers will evaluate your driving record by accessing records from the Department of Motor Vehicles. The last three to five years carry the most weight when evaluating driving records, so a more recent clean record can help.

Be prepared for the application 

Applications require a lot of information about you, including personal information, a personal and family medical history, and other insurance policies. Gather the necessary documents and information to complete your application more quickly and easily. Contact the insurer if you have any questions about the documents needed.

Answer all application questions truthfully

When you pass away, the insurer will look over your answers and investigate the cause of death. They may reduce the death benefit payout or deny the claim if they determine you misstated or omitted anything intentionally. Therefore, honesty is vital when filling out a life insurance application, even if it results in higher premiums.

Consider no-exam life insurance if you want to skip the exam

Some potential policyholders may be wary of medical exams since they can be time-consuming, inconvenient, and invasive. Fortunately, no-exam policies let you skip the exam entirely. These policies tend to offer smaller death benefits and may cost more per dollar of coverage. However, with no medical exam, the application process is faster and more convenient. You might even receive the coverage you need within a day or two.

Which life insurance policy is right for me?

The best type of life insurance policy for you depends on your unique situation and coverage needs. Term life insurance’s large death benefit, low premiums, and limited policy term can suit this type of policy for parents with young kids who need temporary coverage. It can also help seniors who want to leave a legacy while saving on premiums.

Whole life insurance may work better for families who want lifelong coverage and have higher incomes and more complex financial needs. They may have the budget for the higher premiums and want to use the cash value to build more wealth. Finally, a small permanent policy like guaranteed issue life insurance can be a great option for those who want to skip the medical exam for guaranteed and low-cost coverage.

Get a life insurance quote from Aflac

Buying life insurance for the first time may seem daunting, given the diverse range of policies available. However, understanding the basic features of a life insurance policy and knowing your financial needs and budget can help you narrow down your choices. If you’re ready to protect your loved ones but aren’t sure which life insurance policy is best for you, speak with an Aflac agent to explore your options and get a quote today.

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