Ultimate Guide to Buying Life Insurance in 2023

May 25, 2023

Understanding the Basics of Life Insurance

Life insurance is essentially a contract between an individual and an insurance company. The individual agrees to make regular payments, called premiums, and in return, the insurer promises to pay a certain amount, known as the death benefit, to the policyholder's beneficiaries upon the policyholder's death. Here, we'll delve into the various types of life insurance and how premiums are calculated.

Types of Life Insurance

Term Life Insurance

Term life insurance provides coverage for a specific term, such as 10, 20, or 30 years. It is the simplest and typically the most affordable type of life insurance. If the policyholder dies within the term, the insurer will pay out the death benefit to the designated beneficiaries. If the policyholder outlives the term, the policy simply expires with no cash value. Some term life policies offer the option to renew or convert the policy into a permanent one at the end of the term.

Whole Life Insurance

Whole life insurance provides lifetime coverage and features an investment component, which is known as the policy's cash value. The cash value of a whole life policy grows over time on a tax-deferred basis, meaning you won't pay taxes on the growth as long as the money stays in the policy. The policyholder can borrow against the cash value or surrender the policy for the cash. However, the death benefit will decrease if you don't repay policy loans.

Universal Life Insurance

Universal life insurance is another type of permanent life insurance with a cash value component. However, it offers more flexibility than whole life insurance. Policyholders can adjust their premium payments and death benefits within certain limits. They can also make withdrawals or loans from the policy's cash value.

Final Expense Insurance

Also known as burial insurance or funeral insurance, final expense insurance is a type of permanent life insurance with a small death benefit, typically ranging from $5,000 to $25,000. It's designed to cover end-of-life expenses, such as funeral costs, rather than to replace income or pay off large debts.

Determining Premiums

Premiums for life insurance policies are determined based on several factors:

  • Age: The younger you are, the lower your premiums generally will be.
  • Gender: Women tend to live longer than men, so they often pay lower premiums.
  • Health: Insurance companies usually require a medical exam to assess your health status. Pre-existing conditions like heart disease or cancer can lead to higher premiums.
  • Lifestyle: Your habits can affect your premiums. Smokers, for example, will pay more than non-smokers. Dangerous hobbies like skydiving could also increase your premiums.
  • Occupation: If your job is high-risk, you may face higher premiums.

The calculation of premiums involves actuarial science, which uses statistics and financial theory to estimate future risks and costs. The goal is to ensure that the premiums collected will be sufficient to cover the death benefits that the insurance company will have to pay out, along with administrative costs and profits.

Understanding the basics of life insurance involves knowing the different types of life insurance and how premiums are determined. This knowledge will help you make an informed decision when shopping for a policy.

Current Life Insurance Market Trends

The life insurance industry has been undergoing significant transformations in recent years, driven by advancements in technology, changing consumer behaviors, and the impact of global events such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Understanding these trends is crucial for life insurance shoppers in 2023, as they directly influence policy offerings, pricing, and the buying experience.

Personalization of Insurance Products

In line with the broader trend towards personalization in various industries, life insurance providers are increasingly tailoring their products to individual customer needs. This shift is facilitated by advanced data analytics, which allows insurers to better understand each customer's risk profile and lifestyle. For life insurance shoppers, this means they can often customize their policies in terms of coverage, riders, and duration to better align with their financial goals and circumstances.

Utilization of Wearable Technology

As wearable technology becomes more prevalent, insurance companies have started to incorporate data from these devices into their risk assessment processes. Some insurers offer premium discounts or rewards to policyholders who share data from their fitness trackers or smartwatches that indicate healthy behaviors. While this trend can offer cost savings for health-conscious consumers, it also raises privacy considerations that buyers should be aware of.

Accelerated Underwriting

Traditionally, the underwriting process in life insurance involved a lengthy waiting period and often required a detailed medical examination. However, insurers are increasingly adopting accelerated underwriting techniques, leveraging big data, AI, and machine learning to speed up this process. This means prospective policyholders can get coverage faster and, in some cases, avoid the need for a medical exam.

Greater Digital Engagement

Insurers have significantly increased their online and digital services, providing customers with more options for purchasing policies, making premium payments, updating policy details, and filing claims. This shift towards digital engagement provides consumers with greater convenience and flexibility in managing their policies.

Shifts in Product Demand

The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the awareness of mortality risks, leading to increased demand for life insurance products, particularly among younger demographics. Insurance providers have responded by offering more affordable and flexible products to attract these new customers.

Sustainability and Social Responsibility

Like many industries, the insurance sector is experiencing a growing emphasis on sustainability and social responsibility. Some insurers are starting to offer 'green' or 'ethical' policies that invest part of the premiums in sustainable businesses or contribute to social causes. While still a niche market, this trend caters to customers who want their financial decisions to align with their values.

The life insurance industry is evolving rapidly, and these changes offer both new opportunities and challenges for consumers. Life insurance shoppers in 2023 need to stay abreast of these trends to ensure they choose a policy that not only provides financial protection but also aligns with their personal needs, lifestyle, and values.

The Impact of Technology on Life Insurance

Technology has deeply permeated the life insurance industry, profoundly altering the way policies are purchased, managed, and underwritten. This section provides an in-depth exploration of how technologies like Data Analytics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), online platforms, and mobile applications are reshaping the life insurance landscape in 2023.

Data Analytics

Data Analytics has revolutionized the way insurers assess risk and determine policy premiums. By analyzing a vast array of data points, from medical records to lifestyle habits and even social media activity, insurers can gain a more precise understanding of an individual's risk profile. 

This granular risk assessment allows for more personalized premiums, which can be beneficial for policyholders with lower risk profiles.

Moreover, predictive analytics enables insurers to anticipate future trends, better manage risk, and improve their product offerings. For example, by analyzing demographic and socio-economic data, insurers can identify segments with growing demand for life insurance and tailor their products accordingly.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)

AI and ML have emerged as powerful tools in the life insurance industry. They expedite and streamline various processes, from customer service to underwriting and claims processing.

AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants are now common features on insurance websites and apps, providing instant customer service and even helping with policy selection and purchase.

In underwriting, ML algorithms analyze complex datasets to assess an applicant's risk level more accurately and swiftly than traditional methods. Some insurers are even using AI for predictive underwriting, which forecasts an individual's future health risks based on their current lifestyle and health status


AI and ML also automate and expedite the claims process, reducing the time and paperwork typically involved in a claim. AI can analyze claim documents and cross-reference them with the policy conditions, making the claim decision faster and more accurate.

Online Platforms and Mobile Applications

The proliferation of online platforms and mobile applications has made buying and managing life insurance more convenient and accessible. Customers can now purchase policies, pay premiums, update their details, and file claims anytime, anywhere, with just a few clicks.

Online comparison platforms have also made it easier for customers to shop around and compare different policies based on their coverage, premiums, and customer reviews. This increased transparency and competition often result in more favorable terms for the customers.

Furthermore, some insurers offer mobile apps that sync with wearable devices, allowing policyholders to track their health metrics, set fitness goals, and earn rewards or premium discounts for healthy behaviors.

Technology is transforming the life insurance industry, delivering significant benefits to consumers. However, it also raises new considerations, particularly around data privacy and security. As a life insurance shopper in 2023, staying informed about these technological trends will help you navigate the market and find the policy that best meets your needs.

Regulation Changes Impacting Life Insurance

Regulation and legislation play significant roles in shaping the life insurance industry. It's essential for policyholders to stay updated on these changes to understand their rights, obligations, and how their policies may be affected. 

As of 2023, the following regulatory changes have significantly impacted the life insurance landscape in the United States:

Principle-Based Reserving (PBR)

Adopted by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) in 2012, the principle-based reserving (PBR) approach has been gradually implemented across states and has become the standard for life insurers. PBR requires insurance companies to set aside reserves based on their unique risk profile, taking into account their specific products, operations, and experiences. This contrasts with the previous one-size-fits-all formulaic approach.

As of 2023, all states have adopted PBR. This shift is expected to lead to more efficiently priced products for consumers and enhanced solvency protection.

The NAIC's Best Interest Standard

The NAIC adopted amendments to its Suitability in Annuity Transactions Model Regulation in 2020, effectively establishing a best interest standard for annuity sales. While it's primarily targeted at annuity products, some states have applied this standard more broadly to life insurance sales as well.

Under the best interest standard, insurance agents and brokers are required to act in the best interest of the consumer, considering their financial situation, needs, and objectives, rather than prioritizing commission potential. This rule offers better protection for consumers against misrepresentation and unsuitable product recommendations.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021

Signed into law in December 2020, the Consolidated Appropriations Act made several changes to life insurance regulations. Most notably, it updated the section 7702 of the Internal Revenue Code, which defines the tax benefits of life insurance contracts.

The Act lowered the minimum interest rates used in calculating the cash value accumulation test and the guideline premium test, effectively allowing higher premium payments for the same death benefit. This change is expected to benefit policyholders of permanent life insurance products, particularly in the low-interest-rate environment.

State-Level Regulations

Various states have implemented or proposed changes to life insurance regulations. For instance, some states have issued guidelines on accelerated underwriting practices, focusing on the fair use of data and algorithmic decision-making. Other states have enacted laws to protect policyholders against 'surprise billing' in health-related insurance matters, which may indirectly affect life insurance tied to health issues.

While the aforementioned regulatory changes offer a general overview, it's crucial to consult with a professional or conduct thorough research to understand the specific regulations in your state and how they might impact your life insurance buying decision. It's also worth noting that regulatory environments can vary significantly for global audiences, necessitating a comprehensive understanding of the local legal and regulatory landscape when purchasing life insurance.

Shopping for Life Insurance

Finding the right life insurance policy can feel overwhelming, but with a solid strategy, it doesn't have to be. Here's a comprehensive guide on how to shop for life insurance effectively in 2023.

Where to Look

There are several places to start your search for life insurance:

  1. Insurance Brokers or Agents: Brokers represent multiple insurance companies and can provide you with a variety of options. Agents typically represent a single insurance company.
  2. Direct from Insurance Companies: You can reach out to insurance companies directly through their websites or contact centers.
  3. Online Insurance Marketplaces: These platforms allow you to compare policies from various insurers at once. They are user-friendly and often provide online assistance.
  4. Financial Advisors: If you already have a financial advisor, they can provide personalized advice based on your financial situation and goals.

What to Look for in a Policy

When shopping for life insurance, consider the following:

  1. Type of Insurance: Decide between term life, whole life, universal life, or final expense insurance based on your needs.
  2. Coverage Amount: Your coverage should be sufficient to cover your family's financial needs in your absence.
  3. Policy Terms and Conditions: Be sure to understand the policy's features, such as whether a term policy is renewable or convertible.
  4. Policy Riders: These are add-ons to the standard policy that provide additional benefits, such as a waiver of premium rider or an accidental death benefit rider.
  5. Company Reputation: Research the insurer's financial strength ratings, customer service reviews, and claim settlement ratio.

Comparing Rates

When comparing rates from different insurers, make sure you're comparing similar policies - same type, same duration (for term life), and same coverage amount. Online comparison platforms can be useful here. Don't just go for the cheapest policy; consider the company's reputation and the policy's features and benefits.

Understanding the Fine Print

Reading and understanding the fine print of the policy document is crucial. It will include details such as:

  1. Inclusions: What the policy covers.
  2. Exclusions: Specific circumstances under which the policy won't pay out.
  3. Grace Period: How long you have to pay the premium after the due date without the policy lapsing.
  4. Surrender Charges: The cost of withdrawing cash from a permanent policy in the early years.
  5. Loan Provisions: The conditions under which you can borrow against a permanent policy's cash value.
  6. Free-Look Period: The time (usually 10-30 days) during which you can return the policy for a full refund if you change your mind.

Buying Life Insurance

Once you've shopped around and decided on a life insurance policy that suits your needs, the next step is to go through the purchasing process. Here's a step-by-step guide on what to expect when buying life insurance.

Step 1: Application Process

The application process starts with filling out an application form. This form usually requests information about your:

  1. Personal details: Age, gender, and contact information.
  2. Health history: Past and current health conditions, medications, surgeries, etc.
  3. Lifestyle habits: Smoking, alcohol consumption, exercise habits, and any high-risk hobbies or occupations.
  4. Family health history: Health conditions of your immediate family members.
  5. Financial information: Income, assets, and liabilities to determine your coverage needs and ability to pay premiums.

You'll also select your coverage amount, term length (if applicable), and any additional riders you want to add to your policy.

Step 2: Medical Examination

Once the application is submitted, most traditional life insurance companies require a medical examination as part of the underwriting process. This examination typically includes:

  1. Physical measurements: Height, weight, blood pressure, and pulse rate.
  2. Lab tests: Blood and urine samples to check for various health conditions and drug use.
  3. Medical history review: A more in-depth discussion about your medical history with the examiner.

However, some insurers offer no-exam policies where this step isn't required, although these may come with higher premiums due to the higher risk to the insurer.

Step 3: Underwriting Process

The underwriting process involves the insurer assessing your risk profile based on the information you provided and the results of your medical exam. This process determines whether the insurer will offer you a policy and at what premium rate.

Underwriting can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks, depending on the insurer and the complexity of your health history. Accelerated underwriting programs leveraging AI and big data may offer instant decisions for some applicants.

Step 4: Policy Issuance and Payment

After underwriting, the insurer will issue a policy offer. This will include the coverage details and premium amount. You have the right to accept the offer, negotiate the terms, or reject it and apply elsewhere.

Once you accept the offer, you'll need to sign the policy contract and pay your first premium to put the coverage in force.

Step 5: Post-Purchase

After your policy is in force, you'll receive a policy document detailing the terms and conditions of your coverage. Review this document carefully and store it safely.

Make sure to pay your premiums on time to keep your policy active. You should also periodically review your coverage and update it if necessary due to life changes, such as marriage, having a child, buying a house, or a significant income increase.

Claiming Life Insurance

Claiming a life insurance benefit is a crucial step that beneficiaries must undertake in the unfortunate event of the policyholder's death. Here's a detailed guide on the claims process and best practices to ensure it goes smoothly.

Step 1: Reporting the Death

The first step in the claims process is to report the death to the insurance company. This is usually done by the policy's beneficiaries or the executor of the deceased's estate. The claimant will need to provide basic information about the deceased and the circumstances of death.

Step 2: Submitting a Claim

After reporting the death, the claimant needs to submit a formal claim. This typically involves filling out a claim form provided by the insurer. The form will ask for details about the policy, the deceased, and the beneficiary.

Along with the claim form, the claimant will need to submit a certified copy of the death certificate. This document serves as official proof of death and includes important details like the cause and place of death.

Step 3: Claim Processing

Once the claim form and death certificate are received, the insurance company will review the claim. They may ask for additional information if necessary. If the policy is valid and the claim is in order, the insurer will approve the claim and proceed to payout.

The time it takes for an insurer to process a claim can vary. Some claims can be processed within a few days, while others may take a few weeks.

Step 4: Payout

After the claim is approved, the insurance company will pay out the death benefit. The payout method depends on the policy's terms and the beneficiary's preference. It could be a lump-sum payment, annuity payments, or a retained asset account.

Reasons for Denial of a Claim

Although most life insurance claims are paid out, there are scenarios where a claim may be denied:

  1. Misrepresentation: If the insurer finds that the policyholder lied or omitted important information on the application, the claim can be denied.
  2. Policy Exclusion: If the cause of death is excluded in the policy (e.g., suicide within the policy's contestability period or death due to a risky hobby not disclosed), the claim can be denied.
  3. Lapsed Policy: If the policyholder stopped paying premiums and the policy lapsed before they died, the claim can be denied.

Best Practices for Claiming Life Insurance

To ensure the claim process goes smoothly, here are some best practices:

  1. Keep the Policy Document Safe: Make sure the policy document is stored in a safe place where the beneficiaries can access it.
  2. Communicate: Policyholders should inform their beneficiaries about the policy, including the insurer's name and the policy number.
  3. Be Thorough and Honest: When filling out the claim form, provide all requested information accurately. Any errors can delay the process.
  4. Seek Professional Help if Necessary: If the process seems overwhelming, consider seeking help from a trusted advisor or attorney.

Tips and Warnings

Being savvy about life insurance can save you money and protect you from potential pitfalls. Here are some important tips and warnings to keep in mind.

Tips on Saving on Premiums

  1. Buy Early: Age is a significant factor in determining life insurance premiums. The earlier you buy, the lower your premiums will be.
  2. Lead a Healthy Lifestyle: Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can result in lower premiums. This includes not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, and managing chronic conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes.
  3. Choose Term Life If Suitable: If your financial needs are time-specific, such as until your children are financially independent, consider term life insurance. It's cheaper than whole life insurance.
  4. Shop Around: Compare policies from different providers to ensure you're getting the best rate for the coverage you need.
  5. Consider Annual Payments: If you can afford it, consider paying premiums annually rather than monthly. Insurers often provide a discount for annual payments.

Warnings About Common Scams

  1. Be Wary of Low-Priced Schemes: If a policy seems too good to be true, it probably is. Be cautious of policies that offer high coverage at suspiciously low premiums.
  2. Avoid Unsolicited Offers: Be skeptical of unsolicited insurance offers, particularly those via email or phone. They can often be scams or high-pressure sales tactics.
  3. Check the Insurer's Reputation: Before buying a policy, research the insurance company. Check their license, financial strength ratings, customer reviews, and complaint records.

Importance of Regularly Reviewing and Updating Your Policy

Life insurance needs can change over time due to changes in income, financial obligations, family size, and health. Therefore, it's crucial to review your policy regularly and update it if necessary. Here are a few instances when you should review your policy:

  1. Major Life Events: Getting married, having a child, buying a house, getting divorced, or losing a spouse should prompt a policy review.
  2. Significant Financial Changes: If your income significantly increases or decreases, or if you take on a large debt like a mortgage, it may be time to review your coverage.
  3. Health Changes: If your health improves significantly (you quit smoking or lose a lot of weight), you might qualify for lower premiums. Conversely, if your health deteriorates, you may want to increase your coverage.
  4. Policy Anniversary: Review your policy every year on its anniversary. Check if the coverage is still adequate and if you can afford the premiums.

Life insurance is a powerful financial tool when used correctly. By being vigilant, regularly reviewing your needs, and staying informed about potential scams, you can ensure that your policy serves its intended purpose and offers the best value for your money.

Special Circumstances

There are certain circumstances that can make buying life insurance more challenging. Here's a look at some of these special circumstances and advice on how to navigate them.

Chronic Illness

If you have a chronic illness like diabetes or heart disease, it can be more difficult to secure life insurance, but it's not impossible. 

Here are a few tips:

  1. Full Disclosure: Be upfront about your condition in your application. Honesty is crucial in the underwriting process.
  2. Show Control: Show that your condition is under control with regular check-ups, a healthy lifestyle, and adherence to prescribed medications. This can convince insurers you are a lower risk.
  3. Consider Guaranteed Issue or Simplified Issue Policies: These policies often don't require a medical exam, but they come with higher premiums and lower coverage amounts.


If you smoke, you'll likely pay more for life insurance due to the associated health risks. However, there are ways to manage this:

  1. Quit Smoking: The best way to reduce premiums is to quit smoking. Some insurers will reclassify you as a non-smoker if you've been tobacco-free for a certain period, usually 1-2 years.
  2. Shop Around: Premium rates for smokers can vary widely between insurers. Be sure to compare rates from different companies.

Over Age 50

Buying life insurance over age 50 can be more expensive, but there are strategies to find affordable coverage:

  1. Term Life Insurance: If you only need coverage for a certain period, consider term life insurance. It's typically more affordable than permanent life insurance.
  2. Final Expense Insurance: If your main concern is covering funeral costs, consider final expense insurance. These are small, affordable policies designed to cover end-of-life expenses.
  3. Consider No-Exam Policies: If you're in good health but want to avoid a medical exam, consider no-exam policies. However, they might be costlier than traditional policies.

High-Risk Occupations or Hobbies

If you have a high-risk job (like a construction worker or pilot) or participate in high-risk hobbies (like skydiving or motor racing), you might face higher premiums or even denials. Here's what you can do:

  1. Specialized Insurers: Some insurers specialize in high-risk coverage. They might offer better rates than general insurers.
  2. Group Life Insurance: Consider taking advantage of any group life insurance provided by your employer or professional associations. They often don't require individual risk assessments.
  3. Safety Measures: Demonstrate that you take safety precautions in your high-risk activities. This could potentially lower your risk profile.

Each insurance company has its own underwriting criteria, so it's important to shop around and find the company that will view your special circumstance most favorably. Working with an experienced insurance broker can be very beneficial in these situations.

COVID-19 Impact

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about significant changes in the life insurance industry. While it's hard to predict the long-term impacts, here are some observable trends and their implications for life insurance shoppers in 2023.

Changes in Demand

The pandemic has heightened awareness of mortality risks, leading to increased demand for life insurance. Many people who previously put off buying life insurance are now seeking coverage. If you're one of them, you might find more competition, but also potentially more product options as insurers respond to this increased demand.

Changes in Underwriting

The underwriting process, where insurers evaluate an applicant's risk, has been adapted due to social distancing norms. Insurers have expanded their use of 'accelerated underwriting', which involves using data and algorithms instead of traditional medical exams to assess risk. If you're comfortable with this approach, you might find the application process quicker and more convenient.

However, insurers are also being more cautious about who they cover. If you have recently traveled to high-risk areas or have been diagnosed with or exposed to COVID-19, you might face delays in your application process or even temporary postponement of coverage.

Changes in Policy Terms and Premiums

While most life insurance policies cover pandemics, some insurers may have revised their policy terms or added specific exclusions for pandemic-related deaths, especially for new policies. Make sure to read the fine print and ask your insurer about any pandemic-related exclusions.

There might also be changes in premium costs. On the one hand, the heightened risk associated with the pandemic and increased demand for life insurance might drive up premiums. On the other hand, a competitive insurance market might keep premiums relatively stable. It's crucial to shop around and compare quotes.

Changes in Digital Experience

The pandemic has accelerated the shift towards digitalization in the life insurance industry. From virtual meetings with agents to digital applications to online policy management, the life insurance buying and owning experience has become more digital. This makes it more convenient for you to shop for and manage your policy from the comfort of your home.

The Importance of Financial Planning

Finally, the economic instability caused by the pandemic has underscored the importance of financial planning, of which life insurance is a crucial part. If your finances have been impacted by the pandemic, consider seeking professional advice to plan your insurance needs effectively.

Remember, the situation is evolving, and the insurance industry is adapting. It's crucial to stay informed about the changes and understand their implications for your life insurance buying decision.


Choosing the right life insurance policy is a crucial decision that protects your loved ones and secures their financial future. In this ever-evolving landscape of life insurance, with changing market trends, technology impact, regulatory changes, and the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, making an informed decision can feel daunting.

We’ve aimed to provide you with comprehensive, up-to-date information and advice to navigate through these complexities and confidently make this important decision.

However, understanding the intricacies of life insurance is just the first step. The next step is to find the right policy at the right price. This is where Policy Saver Insurance comes in. As a trusted provider in the industry, we offer a convenient platform where you can compare life insurance quotes, save money, and find the best plans tailored to your needs.

With a dedicated team of experienced agents ready to provide personal guidance, we ensure that you get the coverage you need without overspending. Whether you prefer to have a live conversation over the phone or the convenience of reaching out through an online sign-up form, our team is here to guide you every step of the way.

Purchasing life insurance is not just a transaction, it's a commitment to the well-being of your loved ones. Make sure your decision is well-informed, well-considered, and well-supported. And remember, Policy Saver Insurance is here to help turn this decision into a seamless and empowering experience.

Don't wait for tomorrow to protect your loved ones' futures. Reach out today, because when it comes to life insurance, every moment matters.