Why can finding life insurance over 70 be tricky?

If you're over 70, you may find that the choice of life insurance is limited and more expensive because insurers see older applicants as more risky - but things are slowly changing.

As people have more financial commitments later into their lives than they used to, more find themselves needing products like life insurance to make sure their obligations are covered.

Insurers have therefore increased the range of policies available for over 70s, although it's likely that you'll need to provide more detailed information about your lifestyle and current health than a younger applicant would.

Why get life insurance?

Life insurance gives you peace of mind by providing financial security for your dependants who rely on your income.

If you have an outstanding mortgage or any other debts like a credit card balance or loan, a life insurance policy will pay them off if you die before fully repaying them.

Alternatively, you can take out a policy, which pays out a lump sum to your family when you die. This can be for an inheritance, for them to live off or even to pay for your funeral costs.

What's the difference between life insurance and life assurance?

Life insurance policies run for a limited time and only pay out if you die during the term of the policy.

Life assurance policies are usually a more expensive option. They keep running until the holder dies, when they pay out a lump sum to your chosen beneficiaries.

Life assurance

Life assurance (also known as whole life insurance) is a form of investment as well as insurance. You pay into a fund that's used to purchase a mixture of shares, cash investments and bonds.

Upon death, the policy will pay an amount that depends on how well the fund has performed and how long you've been paying into it, although many will guarantee a minimum sum they will pay out.

Life insurance

Life insurance only applies over the term of the policy and will pay out a tax-free amount if you die before it ends.

It often runs alongside another financial product like a mortgage and is used to repay it in in full if the policyholder dies.

As with any form of insurance, it won't give you your money back if you reach the end of the term without claiming.

There are two main types of life insurance:

Decreasing term life insurance is used if the costs you want to cover will fall over the course of the policy - this will usually be used for covering a repayment mortgage or loan. The amount the policy will pay out decreases with time, so it's important to make sure it will always cover the amount needed to pay off the amount owed.

Level term life insurance will pay the same amount if a claim is made at any point until the end of the policy. The extra protection it offers usually makes it more expensive than decreasing term insurance.

Check that you're eligible

Some insurers restrict who can take out a new life insurance policy with a maximum age specified and limits on certain health conditions.

You have to declare any existing medical conditions when you apply for life insurance, and policies for over 70s tend to ask for more detailed information - some will even require you to take a medical.

Some policies specify certain pre-existing conditions where they won't pay out, such as diabetes or heart conditions, so look out for those in the terms and conditions.

Your lifestyle can also affect what cover will be available and how much it costs. If you intend to live abroad or play extreme sports or other potentially dangerous activities, you'll need to make sure each policy will still cover you.

What to compare

Our comparison filters only the policies available to over 70s. We display the maximum age you can take the cover out, plus the maximum age you can hold the policy up to, including some that are unlimited.

Make sure you only include policies that will provide enough cover - don't just pick one with the lowest premiums without considering its suitability. As well as the amount it will pay out, look into what else in included, such as critical illness cover.

When you have found several that meet your requirements, get a quote from each life insurance company to find out which suitable policy has the cheapest premiums.