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How Long Does Term Life Insurance Last?


Here’s an obvious statement: day-to-day living costs add up fast. That’s why life insurance is so important. It allows you to protect your loved ones when you’re gone.

Think of the impact of losing not only your income but all the other contributions you make to the family.

  • Could they cover the mortgage or monthly bills without you?
  • Do you have enough saved to pay for funeral expenses?
  • What about all the added costs of childcare and raising a family?

The idea of life insurance is to make sure your family can continue with the lifestyle they have, should you pass away unexpectedly and can no longer contribute financially.

With life insurance from Erie Family Life, your policy’s death benefit can cover these expenses and more. It’s an added layer of protection that can help your loved ones move forward without facing long-term financial hardships in the process.

What Life Insurance Options Are Available?

When it comes to life insurance, the two most common types of policies are:

  • Term life insurance: With term life insurance, you’re covered for a specific number of years and you determine how long the “term” will be. If you live beyond that time frame, your coverage expires, and no benefit is paid.
  • Permanent life insurance: Permanent life insurance offers coverage for your entire lifetime. With this type of policy, your family and beneficiaries are often protected for the duration of your life, and the policy is paid upon your death.12

Many people consider permanent life insurance as part of a long-term protection strategy. That’s because certain types of permanent life insurance accumulate cash that you can borrow against, if needed.2

There are many types of life insurance, but term life is a common choice for first-time buyers. So, let’s do a deep dive into term life and how it works.

How Long Does Term Life Insurance Last?

If you’ve decided to buy a term life insurance policy, you’re probably wondering how long your coverage should last. The answer? It depends on your unique life situation.

ERIE offers a range of options, including 5-, 10-, 15-, 20- and 30-year term life insurance.

Your local ERIE agent can help advise you on specific coverage amounts and how long you may need life insurance based on your situation. You may want to consider:

  • How old are your children? It costs an average of $310,605 to raise a child to age 18. And that doesn’t even include college costs. If you have children, a term life insurance policy can help cover these expenses if anything happens to you. When choosing how long you need term life insurance, consider the age of your children and how long they may need your support. For example, a 20-year term life insurance policy of $200,000 or more would likely protect a family with two young children until they make it off to college.
  • Do you have a mortgage? Chances are housing represents one of your biggest monthly bills. If you own your home, purchasing a life insurance policy is a great way to keep the mortgage paid when you cannot financially provide for your family. When choosing how long your term life insurance should be, consider how many years it will take before your home is completely paid off. Since most home loans are 30-year mortgages, a 30-year term life insurance policy is a great option.
  • When do you plan to retire? According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average retirement age in the U.S. is 65 for men and 63 for women. If you leave behind a spouse, the combination of Medicare and Social Security benefits—along with any retirement savings or pensions—means they’ll have a better chance of providing for themselves in your absence during retirement. But what about the years in between? Buying a term life insurance policy can help financially provide for a spouse until they reach retirement age. To determine the life insurance term length that’s right for you, figure out how long your spouse will take to retire.

How Much Life Insurance Do I Need?

Now that you’ve figured out the term length that’s right for you, you’ll need to decide how much coverage you need.

In general, the best term life insurance policy is one that lines up with the financial obligations you’ll want to cover. This could include:

  • Home mortgage: The amount it would take to pay off your house.
  • Consumer debt: Any money owed on credit cards, cars, personal loans or medical bills.
  • Student loans: The outstanding balance on your (or your children’s) education expenses.
  • Household expenses: Monthly bills, from utilities to groceries, would be difficult to pay without your income.
  • Funeral expenses: Average funeral costs currently range between $8,000 and $10,000.

Need help doing the math? Check out ERIE’s Life Insurance Calculator to estimate the right coverage amount for you.

What Happens When My Term Life Insurance Expires?

With many term life insurance policies, your coverage simply expires at the end of the term. There is no refund of your premiums, and no death benefit is paid. This is why term life insurance costs less than whole life policies.

Other term life policies guarantee you a certain rate for a certain amount of time, called a “level premium period.” Once that period ends, your coverage continues… but at higher rates that generally increase each year. In some cases, you might be eligible to purchase another term life policy using your current age and health status.

Good news: If you’re an ERIE Customer and want to continue your coverage at the end of your term, you have options. We allow you to convert your term policy to a permanent life plan, which provides coverage for your whole life – not just a few more years. And we guarantee this conversion privilege regardless of your health issues, occupation or hobbies.3

To learn more about converting a term life insurance policy, talk to your ERIE Agent.

Why Should I Buy Life Insurance Through ERIE?

At ERIE, we pride ourselves on offering affordable and flexible life insurance coverage to meet the unique needs of your family. In addition to a range of term life and whole life policies, we also provide:

  • Guaranteed Insurability Option rider4: The Guaranteed Insurability Option rider makes it possible to purchase additional insurance later, even if a condition like heart disease or cancer deems you “uninsurable” down the line.
  • Multi-policy discounts: ERIE offers multi-policy discounts depending on the state where you insure your auto and home with us.4 Ask your local ERIE agent t how much you could save when adding a life policy. Just keep in mind that life insurance policies cannot be combined with auto policies taking advantage of the ERIE Rate Lock® endorsement to get a multi-policy discount.
  • Accelerated Death Benefit: In the event of a terminal diagnosis, the Accelerated Death Benefit rider allows you to use a portion of your insurance policy’s value to pay for expenses while you’re still living – for example, clinical trials or experimental treatments not covered by your health insurance.5
  • Purchase Option Rider: Add the Long-Term Care Accelerated Death Benefit Rider to a new permanent plan at time of conversion without evidence of insurability. Without this rider, a LTC Rider may be added at time of conversion but will be subject to underwriting.6
  • Waiver of Premium Benefit: This optional rider will waive the premiums on your term or whole life policy if you become injured or disabled and cannot work, providing you the peace of mind that your life insurance coverage will remain intact.
  • ERIExpress Life®: ERIExpress Life is the easy-to-get and easy-to-afford life insurance that gives you the protection you need through a simple application process, no physical medical exam and a faster approval time.7 Your life insurance coverage can be effective the same day as your application, and an Accelerated Death Benefit rider is automatically included.

Find the Right Balance

You shouldn’t have to choose between your budget and your family’s security. With just-right coverage and flexible life insurance options, we can help you build a policy that’s affordable now and adaptable later. Contact us today to get a life insurance quote started today. 

ERIE® insurance products and services are provided by one or more of the following insurers: Erie Insurance Exchange, Erie Insurance Company, Erie Insurance Property & Casualty Company, Flagship City Insurance Company and Erie Family Life Insurance Company (home offices: Erie, Pennsylvania) or Erie Insurance Company of New York (home office: Rochester, New York).  The companies within the Erie Insurance Group are not licensed to operate in all states. Refer to the company licensure and states of operation information.

The insurance products and rates, if applicable, described in this blog are in effect as of January 2024 and may be changed at any time. 

Insurance products are subject to terms, conditions and exclusions not described in this blog. The policy contains the specific details of the coverages, terms, conditions and exclusions. 

The insurance products and services described in this blog are not offered in all states.  ERIE life insurance and annuity products are not available in New York.  ERIE Medicare supplement products are not available in the District of Columbia or New York.  ERIE long term care products are not available in the District of Columbia and New York. 

Eligibility will be determined at the time of application based upon applicable underwriting guidelines and rules in effect at that time.

Your ERIE agent can offer you practical guidance and answer questions you may have before you buy.

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