Life Insurance Statistics

Better understand life insurance with key statistics and learn more about policies that might work for you.

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Susan Meyer

Senior Editorial Manager

  • Licensed Insurance Agent — Property and Casualty

Susan is a licensed insurance agent and has worked as a writer and editor for over 10 years across a number of industries. She has worked at The Zebr…

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Renata Balasco

Senior Content Strategist

  • Licensed Insurance Agent — Property and Casualty

Renata joined The Zebra in 2020 as a Customer Experience Agent. Since 2021, she has worked as licensed insurance professional and content strategist.…

Key statistics + insights

  • Roughly 60% of Americans have some sort of life insurance policy. (Insurance Information Institute)
  • 33% of Americans believe they are underinsured. (Insurance Information Institute)
  • 50% of people said they’d be more likely to buy life insurance if it didn’t require a medical exam. (Best Life Rates)
  • There are approximately 267 million life insurance policies in the United States. (Statistica)
  • 44% of Americans view life insurance as income replacement for their families should anything happen to them. (PolicyGenius)
  • Roughly 40% of Americans will leave behind a financial burden to a loved one in the event of their death. (SpendMeNot)
  • Over half of Americans think the cost of a term life insurance policy is 3 times greater than its actual cost. (TrueBlue Insurance)

US life insurance statistics

The following statistics were taken from reports conducted by the Insurance Information Institute, Best Life Rates, and Statistica. 

  • MetLife Inc. leads with 13% of the insurance company market and writes more life/annuity insurance than any other company in the U.S. 
  • In 2019, annuities were the largest life product line as measured by direct premiums written. This accounts for 48% of direct premiums written by life insurers.
  • 30% of Americans who have life insurance are only insured through a group.
  • 20% of Americans with life insurance believe they do not have enough coverage.
  • 83% of Americans would consider life insurance as a purchase if it was easier to understand.
  • 51% of Americans would purchase life insurance from a person.
  • 52% of Americans think life insurance is too expensive.

Millennial life insurance statistics

These statistics and more can be found at the Life Insurance Marketing and Research Association, New York Life Insurance, and Legal & General.

  • Only 10% of millennials report that they have life insurance coverage they need.
  • 44% of millennials are not financially ready to deal with the unexpected death of the family breadwinner. 
  • Half of the millennials overestimate the cost of coverage. 
  • 52% of millennials own life insurance, even though 80% recognize they need it.
  • 9 in 10 overestimated the cost of a life insurance policy for a 30-year-old.
  • 36% of millennials with joint mortgages without life insurance reported that in the event of their death, their partner couldn’t afford mortgage payments with their income alone.

World life insurance statistics

For more details on the following statistics, view the full reports at the Swiss Re Institute, Market, Statistica, GlobalData, Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, and Legal & General. 

  • In 2012, life insurance represented 61.1% of the insurance industry in Malaysia, making it the largest segment in the Malaysian insurance industry.
  • In 2015, The Philippine life insurance was monitored by five leading companies that accounted for 62.2% of the total premium income.
  • In 2019, global life insurance premiums grew 2.2%, faster than the 1.5% rise in 2009 to 2018.
  • In 2019, life premiums in South Africa amounted to over 37.7 billion U.S. dollars.
  • In 2020, the Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) of India issued around 21.9 million new individual policies.
  • In 2021 in Australia, the market size of the Life Insurance industry is $32.2 billion dollars. 
  • An estimated 3.7 million millennials in the UK have life insurance that isn’t an employee benefit.

Should you buy whole life insurance?

Whole life insurance is the most common type of life insurance policy. Whole life insurance has a number of benefits, including the ability to build cash value over time. However, as monthly premiums can run substantially higher than the average term life policy, whole life insurance may not be right for everyone. Read on to find out more about the perk

Recommended for:
  • Those in a higher tax bracket

  • Those who need insurance for more than 15 years

  • Those aged 35 years or older

  • Those looking for long-term investments

Not recommended for:
  • Those who are young and have lower incomes

  • Those who need a policy for less than 10 years

  • Those looking for high return investments

Whole life insurance statistics

Whole life insurance is important to consider when looking for a new life insurance policy. The following statistics shed some light on the value and interest in whole life across multiple generations and years. For more data, consider the reports from Policy Genius and Statistica. 

  • The cost for a life insurance policy policy that accrues cash value and has a guaranteed death benefit is on average 8 times higher than a term life policy with similar coverage.
  • Whole life policies will cost more than other life insurance policies at about $3,000 to $5,000 or more annually depending on the age and health of the insured.
  • 70% of whole life insurance policies are bought by millennials and the boomer generation.
  • 46% of millennials who purchased permanent products purchased a whole life policy, followed by a universal life policy (25%).
  • In 2017, whole life was the most common type of permanent life insurance purchased. 

What is term life insurance?

Term life insurance is a type of temporary, short-term life insurance that pays a death benefit to your beneficiaries should you pass away while the policy is in effect. A death benefit is a monetary sum that can provide a safety net to your family and loved ones in the form of some financial security upon your passing.

The most common term life insurance policy duration is 10 years. If the insured lives beyond the specified period in which the policy is active, the policy simply expires and the insured would need to renew or enroll in another life insurance policy.

Term life insurance payout statistics

Term life is another option to consider when purchasing a life insurance policy. Here are some statistics to remember before moving forward. To follow up on this data, find the full reports at Penn State University and Consumer Reports. 

  • 99% of all term policies never pay out a claim. This is due to most people letting their policies lapse.
  • If you buy a $250,000, 20-year term policy, and inflation is about 4% a year, your policy will lose 56% of its value over the next 20 years. 
  • In 2015, the average life insurance policy in the U.S. carried a face value of $160,000. 
  • The average unclaimed life insurance benefit is $2,000, but other payouts can yield $300,000.
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Life insurance claims statistics 

The following statistics were taken from reports by The Insurance Information Institute, Statistica, and Policy Genius.

  • Accident and health insurance accounted for 27% of direct premiums written.
  • In 2019, insurance claims and benefits totaled $762.1 billion.
  • The largest payout in 2019 was $339.6 billion, for surrender benefits and withdrawals from life insurance contracts.
  • 52% of Americans think life insurance is too expensive.
  • Life direct premiums are valued at almost $547 billion in the United States. 
  • Life insurance coverage should be at least 10-12 times the insured person’s annual income.
  • 40% of Americans who are insured with life insurance wish they’d bought coverage sooner.

Life insurance fraud statistics

For more data, review the full reports at the Insurance Information Institute, RGA Claims and Management.

  • 10% of all claims paid by property and casualty (P&C) insurers are fraudulent.
  • Approximately 1-3% of claims are investigated for fraud or misrepresentation or denied.
  • Fraud costs the life insurance industry $10-20 billion each year.
  • Roughly 20% of life insurance claims are rescinded. 

Life insurance agent statistics

The following statistics are taken from major data sources, such as Statistica, Insurance Information Institute, the 2020 Insurance Barometer study, Zippia, and Best Life Rates. 

  • In 2018, there were 1.2 million insurance brokers, agents, and employees in the United States.
  • From 2010 to 2019 independent insurance agents’ share of the individual life insurance market lifted from 48% to 54%.
  • 27% of respondents said they rely on the first life insurance company that appears on their search result to purchase their policy.
  • 26% of people use Facebook, 11% use Instagram, and 9% use Twitter to verify the validity of an insurer, website, financial advisor, or life insurance agent before doing business with them. 
  • In 2018, over half (51%) of all life insurance policies were written by independent agents.
  • The average employee age for life insurance agents is 44 years. 
  • 44.9% of life insurance agents are women and 50.3% are men.
  • 71% of life insurance agents identify as White, while 14.8% identify as Hispanic or Latino and only 7.9% identify as Black or African American.

What do you need to know about life insurance?

Most causes of death are covered by life insurance, including natural causes, accidents, and illness. There may be stipulations around suicide, however, and life insurance may consider it exempt from coverage within the first number of years of having the policy. 

Another factor to consider — aside from how much insurance you need — is what type of life insurance is best for you and your family members. There are three kinds of life insurance policies to choose from: term life, whole life, and universal life. 

Lastly, it’s time to consider if life insurance is a good purchase for you right now. Life insurance could be a smart long-term investment for those who are:

  • The sole financial provider in a household
  • Parents, including stay-at-home partners, divorced or single parents, and parents of a special-needs child
  • Homeowners with a mortgage
  • Business owners
  • High net-worth individuals
  • Those paying off debt
  • Those concerned about funeral costs
  • Those looking to provide an inheritance

Frequently Asked Questions: Life insurance

According to Business Insider, the average cost of a life insurance policy ranges from $40 to $55 per month.

The three types of life insurance are term life, whole life, and universal life insurance. 

According to Investopedia, if you are the sole breadwinner for your family, you may want to consider taking out a life insurance policy. The value of the policy and your investment depends on the length of coverage you need. 

There is no single best policy for any one individual. Depending on your stage in life, your financial stability, and your dependence on other income sources, term, whole, or universal might be better options for you. Most people don't look for life insurance until they're 30 or married.