If you’re like most people, you don’t think about life insurance until you need it. For example, you may be starting a family and want to provide financial security for your spouse and children.

While rates vary based on age, health, sex and other factors, there are several types of life insurance available to fit a budget and needs. Here’s what to know about finding cheap life insurance.

What is the least expensive form of life insurance?

Term life insurance is typically the least expensive form of life insurance. That’s because you’re paying only for life insurance coverage.

With other policy types such as whole life insurance, some of your premium goes toward cash value, fees and charges.

Universal life insurance tends to be less expensive than whole life, but more expensive than term life.

What factors can get me cheap life insurance?

Life insurance rates typically use factors such as:

Age. Generally the younger you are, the cheaper life insurance can be. That’s why it’s good to buy life insurance as soon as you can. Life insurance rates will go up with each passing birthday.

Sex. Since women statistically live longer than men, women get better rates on policies that use sex as a factor.

Current health conditions. Chronic health issues will affect cost, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity. Multiple medical issues or a serious issue such as cancer that’s being treated could result in an application denial. This is another good reason to buy life insurance as soon as you need it.

Family medical history. A family health history can affect your own life expectancy. So a family history of problems such as cancer or heart disease can affect rates. Life insurance companies typically only want to know about parents and siblings. Cousins and grandparents don’t count.

Nicotine use (cigarettes, chewing tobacco, patches and other forms). Nicotine use, and not just smoking, generally means higher rates. Life insurers vary in how they view occasional cigar smoking at celebrations. For example, an insurer might offer you a good rate -- but not the best rate -- if you smoke up to four celebratory cigars a year.

Substance abuse. Treatment for, or a history of, drug or alcohol abuse will often mean a denial.

Driving history. Life insurance companies will often look at your motor vehicle report for DUIs, license suspensions and moving violations such as speeding tickets. A DUI could result in a policy denial.

Credit. Life insurers often use credit in a formula for setting rates because they have correlated credit to mortality.

High-risk occupations. Dangerous occupations such as airline pilots, bridge builders and jockeys can mean higher rates.

Dangerous hobbies. Car racing, scuba diving, sky diving and bungee jumping can mean higher rates or an application denial.


How to find cheap life insurance

Buy life insurance as soon as possible. The younger and healthier you are, the lower your life insurance rates will be. Rates will go up every year you wait, so locking in a policy now can save you money.

Calculate your needs. Knowing the right coverage and how much life insurance you need is important before you compare life insurance quotes. If you can’t afford the size of the policy you need, buy what you can afford now so your family has a financial safety net. A little safety net is better than none.

Choose only the riders you need. Life insurance riders can add extra coverage features but they typically also add to the cost.

Compare prices. The only way to zero in on the best life insurance quotes is by comparing prices from several different insurers. Life insurance quotes are free, and a small investment in time getting quotes can really pay off.