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Life Insurance for Seniors Over 70 in Canada: An In-Depth Guide for Older Adults Seeking Coverage

Life Insurance for Seniors Over 70 in Canada: An In-Depth Guide for Older Adults Seeking Coverage
Life Insurance for Seniors Over 70 in Canada: An In-Depth Guide for Older Adults Seeking Coverage

Turning 70 can be a significant milestone. As you enter your eighth decade, priorities tend to shift from career achievement and family growth to enjoying retirement and managing health changes. However, aging Canadians still have financial obligations to consider even as life slows down. This is where life insurance remains relevant well beyond your 70th birthday.

Purchasing life insurance in your 70s may seem unnecessary on the surface. However, there are compelling reasons why maintaining or acquiring coverage can be invaluable at this stage of life. A life insurance policy offers financial safety for both you and your loved ones later in life.

This comprehensive guide takes an in-depth look at the world of life insurance, specifically for Canadians aged 70 and over. We will examine:

  • The benefits of maintaining or purchasing coverage after 70
  • Policy options available to older adults
  • What factors determine premium costs
  • Strategies for finding affordable coverage
  • Evaluating if you need insurance in your senior years
  • The process of acquiring a policy after 70
  • Additional considerations and best practices

Arm yourself with information to make the soundest decision for your financial future. While risks increase with age, life insurance for seniors over 70 can still be attained with proper planning.

Why Consider Life Insurance for Seniors Over 70?

The first question many aging Canadians have is, why bother with life insurance after 70 years old? It is a fair query. Once you reach your golden years, priorities tend to move from building your career and assets to enjoying retirement. Your children are likely grown, and you may have downsized your home and possessions.

With retirement income and savings available, it can understandably seem life insurance in Canada is no longer necessary. However, while needs evolve in your 70s, there are still several sound reasons to strongly consider maintaining or acquiring coverage:

Outstanding Debts and Expenses

Very few Canadians reach age 70 entirely free of financial obligations. While mortgages eventually get paid off, plenty of seniors carry debt well into retirement. Surveys in 2019 show that 73.2 % Canadians have some form of debt to manage (Source). The most common include:

  • Mortgages – Many seniors renew or refinance later in life.
  • Lines of credit and loans – Used to finance major purchases or consolidate debt.
  • Credit card balances – Day-to-day usage can accumulate balances.
  • Car loans – Vehicles may be financed for retirees.
  • Personal debts – Owed to friends and family members.

When you pass away, these debts do not automatically disappear. Instead, they become obligations possibly passed on to a surviving spouse or estate. Life insurance provides funds earmarked to cover remaining financial commitments, preventing loved ones from inheriting the burden.

In addition to debts, final expenses like funeral costs and taxes must be considered. The average funeral in Canada ranges from $5,000 to $10,000 (Source). Cremations are cheaper but still cost $2,000 to $5,000 on average (Source). With the limited retirement income typical for most Canadians, these obligations can severely impact budgets for seniors. The tax-free payout from a life insurance policy helps cover substantial final costs when necessary.

Dependents Relying on Your Income

Entering your 70s does not necessarily make you financially independent. Plenty of older Canadians still provide some level of support to family members. If you have a spouse, partner, or dependent child still relying in part on your income, life insurance is critical. It offers a valuable income replacement source in the event of your passing.

Money from a life insurance policy helps survivors maintain their standard of living. The tax-free death benefit allows dependents to cover recurring living expenses like:

  • Housing costs – Mortgage/rent, taxes, utilities
  • Transportation – Car payments and insurance
  • Food and necessities
  • Out-of-pocket healthcare expenses
  • Debt payments

Without the financial support you provide, dependent family members may struggle to get by. Life insurance stands in the gap to provide income replacement funds.

Estate Planning and Inheritances

Even in retirement, prudent financial planning includes properly transferring your assets and wealth to the next generation. This is where life insurance powerfully supplements estate planning for seniors. Life insurance benefits are not subject to income taxes, allowing you to pass on more of your estate directly to beneficiaries.

Life insurance helps in several estate planning aspects:

  • Estate taxes – The tax-free payout helps cover hefty estate taxes so more assets go to your beneficiaries. Estate taxes range from 20% to over 50% in Canada depending on province and size of the estate.
  • Equal distribution – Life insurance lets you allocate specific amounts to each beneficiary, preventing disputes over unequal splits.
  • Inheritances – The lump-sum payout can fund the inheritances you wish to provide for family and friends.
  • Charitable gifts – You can name a favorite charity as a beneficiary to leave them with a donation.

In your senior years, take advantage of life insurance to efficiently transfer your wealth and assets per your wishes.

Peace of Mind in Advanced Age

Even beyond the practical financial protections, life insurance can provide general peace of mind as you navigate advanced age. Knowing your passing will not overly burden the family with expenses or debts allows you to focus on enjoying your remaining years. If you have a dependent family, you gain comfort knowing you have secured their financial future in your absence.

Many Canadians wish to leave an inheritance or gift behind as a final act of financial support for loved ones. Acquiring life insurance helps make this possible. In your senior years, the reassurance and satisfaction life insurance provides is an intangible benefit beyond just the death benefit alone.

What Are The Policy Options for Life Insurance For Seniors Over 70?

Policy Options for Life Insurance For Seniors Over 70
Policy Options for Life Insurance For Seniors Over 70

Once you decide to explore life insurance after 70, the next step is determining what types of policies are available at your age. The good news is Canadians over 70 still have multiple options for coverage. However, health risks and limitations on policy lengths do impact what is accessible. Let’s explore the key policy types seniors can consider:

Term Life Insurance For Seniors Over 70

Term life insurance provides affordable coverage for a set period of time, or “term.” It pays a lump-sum death benefit to beneficiaries only if you pass away during the term. Given the temporary coverage, term life premiums are substantially lower compared to permanent options. However, the policy does not build cash value.

For seniors, 10 or 15-year terms are the general maximum lengths available. Once over 70, most insurers will not issue policies for terms longer than 15 years due to higher mortality risk. Still, 10 to 15-year terms do allow older Canadians to put temporary coverage in place for final expenses and debt obligations.

Average 10-Year Term Policy Costs for Healthy Canadians Over 70:

Gender75-Year Term Policy
Male$148 monthly premium
Female$110 monthly premium

Term life insurance enables seniors to affordably secure temporary coverage well into their 70s and 80s if health permits.

Permanent Life Insurance For Seniors Over 70

Unlike term insurance, permanent life insurance is intended to provide lifelong coverage without an expiration date. Premiums and guaranteed death benefits with permanent policies generally remain the same over your lifetime. However, permanent policies do cost significantly more than term life.

The main types of permanent life insurance available include:

Whole Life – With whole life insurance, premiums stay level and death benefits remain the same throughout your lifetime. It also builds cash value that you can borrow against if needed. Whole life is the most traditional form of permanent life insurance.

Average whole life policy costs for seniors:

  • Age 70: $300 to $500 per month
  • Age 75: $400 to $600 per month

Universal Life – Universal life also offers permanent, lifelong coverage. However, with this type of policy, you have more flexibility to adjust premium payments up or down over time. It builds cash value that you can tap if necessary.

Guaranteed Life – For older seniors who may not qualify medically for other policies, guaranteed life insurance guarantees approval. No medical exam is required, but death benefits are smaller, typically ranging from $5,000 to $25,000. Premiums are also higher with guaranteed life.

Average guaranteed life policy costs:

  • $25,000 benefit: $100 monthly
  • $15,000 benefit: $75 monthly

For Canadians over 70 who are still in good health, permanent policies allow you to secure lifelong coverage. The costs are higher but provide long-term safety. Guaranteed life insurance is also an option for those unable to qualify for other policies.

Hybrid Policies For Seniors Over 70

Some insurance providers now offer hybrid policies that blend elements of term and permanent life insurance. These plans allow seniors to enjoy permanent coverage with premiums that do not rise continually over time. Two options to consider are:

Term to 100 – Provides permanent coverage with level premiums until age 100, after which premiums increase.

Guaranteed Universal Life – Offers lifetime coverage at guaranteed rates with lower premiums by lacking cash value build-up.

Hybrid policies provide permanent coverage with some rate control. They give seniors an affordable middle-ground option between term and permanent insurance. However, availability depends on the insurer.

What Factors Determine The Cost of Life Insurance for Seniors Over 70?

What Factors Determine The Cost of Life Insurance for Seniors Over 70?
life buzz quote in canada new 8 1
What Factors Determine The Cost of Life Insurance for Seniors Over 70?

Once you narrow down the policy options accessible over 70, the next step is assessing what influences the premium costs. Life insurance rates become risk-based in your senior years due to age and health changes. Multiple individual factors affect what you will pay:


Age is the most basic driver of insurance rates as you grow older. The average life expectancy in Canada is 82 years. Once into your 70s, every year you age reduces your projected lifespan and increases premium costs. The older you are when applying, the higher your rates will be all else being equal. Waiting to get coverage only becomes more expensive over time.


Gender is another standard rating factor for life insurance at all ages. In Canada, average life expectancy is 79 for men and 83 for women (Source). Because women statistically outlive men, they also generally receive lower premium costs for comparable policies. However, gender gaps are closing as men improve longevity through healthier lifestyles.

Health Status

Your overall health becomes increasingly pivotal for life insurance costs as a senior. Life insurers will inquire about your medical history and require a paramedic exam in most cases. Any health conditions or risk factors you have such as chronic illnesses, diseases, smoking, or obesity will result in higher premiums. For underwritten policies, poor health can also lead to declined applications. Maintaining wellness helps control premium costs.

Family Health History

Not only will your personal health be assessed, but also your family health history. If close family members have passed away at younger ages due to illness, insurers will see you as a higher risk. They view family history as an indicator of your longevity potential. Adverse family health can mean paying higher life insurance rates.

Read more: Family Life Insurance


Your lifestyle factors also matter when assessing risk. Do you smoke or use tobacco products? This can significantly increase your premiums along with health risks. What is your alcohol consumption like? Heavy drinking is a risk factor. Obesity, lack of exercise, high-risk hobbies like scuba diving, and other lifestyle choices also impact your rates.

Policy Type

The actual life insurance policy type you select impacts costs as well. As already discussed, permanent insurance is more expensive than term life as you pay for lifelong coverage. But also within types, policies with extra features or benefits involve higher premiums than basic options. All riders such as accidental death or critical illness boost your costs.

Coverage Amount

Lastly, the dollar amount of coverage you purchase certainly affects your premiums. The higher the death benefit, the more risk the insurer takes on. As such, larger death benefits equate to higher premiums. Buy only what you need rather than over-insuring.

Take time to understand how each of these factors applies to you and impacts the specific rates you will pay. In your senior years, being a lower risk buyer is key to affordable premiums.

What are the Pros and Cons of Life Insurance for Seniors Over 70?

Purchasing life insurance in your 70s can provide valuable benefits but also has some potential drawbacks to consider.

Pros of Life Insurance for Seniors over 70

Provides death benefit funds: The primary advantage is the tax-free death benefit left to beneficiaries to cover final costs, debts, and living expenses.

Allows inheritances: Life insurance enables leaving an inheritance for family and charities.

Covers debts: Debts like a mortgage, loan, or medical bills won’t be passed on to the family.

Income replacement: Dependents can maintain their standard of living with the death benefit if they provide income.

Estate planning: Life insurance helps efficiently transfer wealth while minimizing taxes.

Peace of mind: Coverage can provide comfort, knowing loved ones will be taken care of when you pass.

Cons of Life Insurance for Seniors Over 70

Higher premium costs: Premiums rise significantly for seniors based on age and health risk factors.

Pre-existing condition limits: Most policies limit or exclude death benefits for some time periods if you pass away due to a pre-existing illness.

Health requirements: Seniors must still undergo medical exams and health screens for underwritten policies. Those with severe health issues may be declined.

Not always necessary: If financially secure, insurance may be an unnecessary added expense in retirement.

Ongoing premium payments: Insurance requires an ongoing expense in retirement years when preferring to minimize costs.

Risk of lapses: Failing to pay premiums due to financial limitations or cognitive decline risks losing coverage.

Overall, the value depends on your specific situation and need for coverage later in life. Discuss the pros and cons with a licensed advisor.

What Are Strategies for Finding Affordable Life Insurance for Seniors Over 70?

What Are Strategies for Finding Affordable Life Insurance for Seniors Over 70?
What Are Strategies for Finding Affordable Life Insurance for Seniors Over 70?

Even with higher risk in your senior years, there are still techniques for keeping life insurance affordable beyond your 70s:

Shop Around Extensively

One of the best ways seniors can save is getting quotes from at least 5 to 10 insurers for comparison. Rates for the same coverage can vary significantly across providers. Take time to gather multiple quotes.

Adjust Your Term Lengths

If considering term insurance, customize the term length to your needs and to secure lower rates. A 10-year term will cost less than a 15-year. Reduce the length to what adequately covers your obligations.

Limit Your Coverage Amount

Carefully evaluate how much coverage you realistically need. Do not over-insure. Buy just enough to cover debts, final costs, and any dependents. Extra unused benefits only mean extra premiums.

Keep Health Risks Under Control

Do everything in your power to maintain wellness and manage conditions. Get health issues under control to avoid being rated as high-risk. Stop smoking, lose weight, and be physically active.

Improve Your Family History

While you cannot change your family health history, improving your personal health may offset it. For example, if your parents died young of heart disease, keeping your heart healthy can counter that risk.

Consider No-Exam Policies

Guaranteed life insurance requires no medical exam. While more expensive, forgoing the health check may make sense if you have pre-existing conditions. Shop around for best guaranteed issue rates.

Read more: Life Insurance with Pre-Existing Conditions in Canada

Work With an Advisor or Broker

Consulting an independent broker or advisor gives you guidance plus access to policies across life insurance companies in Canada. An experienced agent can uncover savings tailored to you.

Take an active approach to managing costs. What you pay for coverage beyond your 70s remains heavily within your control.

Evaluating Whether You Still Need Life Insurance for Seniors Over 70

Not all seniors necessarily need active life insurance coverage. Your personal financial situation and obligations should steer your decision:

Examine Your Debts

Do you have any debts a surviving spouse or family member could inherit? Mortgages, personal loans, and co-signed liabilities should be covered to prevent transfer.

Review any Dependents

Do you still financially support a partner, spouse, or dependent child in some capacity? Their needs must be considered should you pass.

Weigh Final Expenses

At a minimum, will your assets cover a funeral, estate taxes, probate fees, and other costs? Life insurance can prevent loved ones from bearing these.

Consider Estate Planning

Are there inheritances, estate taxes, or charitable gifts to fund? Life insurance can make these possible.

Assess Peace of Mind

Even if financially secure, would coverage reassure you and provide peace of mind later in life? If so, insurance can be of great mental value.

Take an honest assessment of obligations. If any depend on you, insurance merits consideration.

How Can Canadians Get Life Insurance for Seniors Over 70?

If electing to apply for life insurance into your 70s, follow this step-by-step process:

1. Calculate Coverage Needs – Carefully determine how much coverage you require based on debts, dependents, final costs and any other obligations you have. Do not over-buy.

2. Research Policy Options – Learn about the types of insurance available to you, given your age and health. Consider term, permanent, and guaranteed policies.

3. Get Multiple Quotes – To find affordable rates, get quotes from at least 5 insurers. Compare costs on similar policies.

4. Select a Policy and Insurer – Choose a policy with ideal coverage, length, and premium cost from a reputable insurer.

5. Complete the Application – For underwritten policies, you will need to provide a medical history and possibly take a health exam.

6. Review the Offer Carefully – Once approved, closely review the offer before accepting. Make sure you understand the policy terms and conditions.

7. Pay Your First Premium – To enact coverage you must pay your first premium. Follow the payment process particular to your insurer.

8. Designate Your Beneficiaries – Be sure to name specific beneficiaries for your policy death benefit proceeds. Keep this updated as needed.

9. Maintain Good Health – Going forward make healthy choices to control premium costs. This also ensures you get full benefits from the coverage.

Consulting a licensed advisor can provide guidance for any first-time senior buyer. An expert assists you in navigating the process.

What Should Canadians Know When Purchasing Life Insurance for Seniors Over 70?

Beyond the major steps covered above, be aware of these additional factors as you navigate shopping for and owning life insurance later in life:

Know Your Policy Grace Period

If you are ever unable to pay premiums on time, you typically have a grace period of 30 to 60 days to catch up before coverage lapses. Understand this window to avoid losing benefits.

Be Wary of Premium Increases Down the Road

While term policies lock in set premiums, permanent policies could see increased rates later depending on performance. Understand if this risk exists within the policy you choose.

Remember to Update Beneficiaries

It is essential to update beneficiaries after major life events like death of a spouse or child, divorces, or new grandchildren. Keep beneficiaries current.

Consider Long-Term Care Riders

Some policies allow attaching long-term care riders for extra benefits if you eventually need daily assistance. However, they add cost.

Know Your Conversion Options

With term insurance, you may be able to convert to permanent insurance without medical requirements before the term expires.

Understand Pre-Existing Condition Clauses

Most policies will not pay benefits right away for deaths due to pre-existing medical conditions. Be aware of exclusion periods that may apply.

Always consult your policy documents or advisor for assistance as needed. Do not let a lack of understanding lead to lost benefits.

Are You Ready to Explore Your Life Insurance Options After 70?

Reaching your 70s opens up additional planning around retirement, health changes, and financial protections. As we have covered in detail, life insurance remains a relevant discussion well into your older age thanks to benefits like:

  • Covering debts, taxes, and final costs
  • Protecting dependents and spouses
  • Funding estate planning and inheritances
  • Providing peace of mind later in life

Today, more carriers provide policies for life insurance for seniors over 70. Options like term, permanent, and guaranteed life insurance offer flexible solutions. While the health impacts costs, you maintain control over many factors influencing premiums through healthy choices and smart shopping.

Hopefully, this guide has equipped you to make an informed decision about maintaining or acquiring life insurance in your senior years. Being educated and proactive is key to securing coverage that sustains your financial stability while also benefiting loved ones long into the future. Consult an advisor if you need additional guidance.

For more support, be sure to explore Life Buzz, the top resource for life insurance insights for Canadians over 70. Access tools, news, and research to empower your choices. You can take control of your later-in-life insurance needs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Life Insurance for Seniors Over 70

How soon can life insurance for seniors over 70 in Canada be dropped after purchasing?

Most policies have a contestability period, usually 2 years, before you can request to surrender coverage and be refunded premiums paid.

How is the application process for life insurance for seniors over 70 in Canada completed?

You'll need to provide medical history, possibly take an exam, answer health questions, review offer details, pay first premium, and name beneficiaries.

Do most life insurance for seniors over 70 in Canada policies have a waiting period before paying full death benefits?

Yes, many have a clause excluding death benefits from pre-existing conditions for 1-2 years. Accidental deaths would be covered immediately.

What medical tests may be required to qualify for life insurance for seniors over 70 in Canada?

Potential tests include blood/urine samples, heart health tests, cognition exams, and assessments of daily living activities.

How long does life insurance for seniors over 70 in Canada medical exam appointment take?

A paramedic exam for fully underwritten policies takes 30-60 minutes. You'll answer health history questions and undergo a physical assessment.

Can you apply again if declined for life insurance for seniors over 70 in Canada?

Yes, you may re-apply after 6 months to a year if you are able to improve your health or offer new medical records. Insurers re-evaluate risks over time.

What questions will be asked on life insurance for seniors over 70 in Canada application?

Expect questions about medical history, family history, lifestyle factors, medications, financial information, and beneficiary details.

Can I adjust my life insurance for seniors over 70 in Canada with a death benefit after purchasing?

The death benefit can potentially be increased or decreased after the issue. However, this often requires updated underwriting.

How do I determine the right amount of life insurance for seniors over 70 in Canada coverage to buy?

Add up any debts, final expenses, and income replacement needs. Also, it is a factor in potential estate taxes and inheritance wishes.

What percentage of income should life insurance for seniors over 70 in Canada replace?

Aim to replace 60-80% of your income for dependents through the death benefit. Factor in any pensions or other assets available.

Is accidental death covered right away by life insurance for seniors over 70 in Canada?

Yes, accidental death coverage starts immediately at the policy issue. Pre-existing illness exclusions only apply to death by natural causes.

Can final expenses be pre-arranged using life insurance for seniors over 70 in Canada?

Yes, you can assign a policy to a funeral home. They receive funds at the time of death to carry out pre-planned arrangements.

How is the death benefit from life insurance for seniors over 70 in Canada paid out?

Beneficiaries can elect to receive the full lump-sum payout or installments over time. Installments may affect taxes owed.

Who should be named beneficiary for life insurance for seniors over 70 in Canada?

Consider primary beneficiaries like your spouse or child. Also, name contingent beneficiaries in case your primary beneficiary passes before you.

What happens if life insurance for seniors over 70 in Canada lapses due to nonpayment?

The insurer will terminate the policy if premiums go unpaid during the grace period, ending all coverage.

Can life insurance for seniors over 70 in Canada be converted from term to permanent insurance?

Possibly if the policy has a conversion provision. This allows switching to permanent insurance without new underwriting.

How often should beneficiaries in Canada be reviewed for life insurance for seniors over 70?

Review any time there is a major family change like a birth/death, marriage/divorce, or new dependents. Keep updated.

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Written by Ben Nguyen

Ben Nguyen is an award-winning insurance expert and industry veteran with over 20 years of experience. He is the chairman and director of IDC Insurance Direct Canada Inc., one of Canada's leading online insurance brokerages.

Ben is renowned for his extensive knowledge of life, health, disability, and travel insurance products. He is the prolific author of over 1,000 educational articles published on LifeBuzz, BestInsuranceOnline, and InsuranceDirectCanada. His articles provide Canadians with advice on making smart insurance decisions.

With a Bachelor's degree in Actuarial Science and a Fellow of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries (FCIA) designation, Ben is frequently interviewed by media as an insurance industry spokesperson.

He has received numerous honors including the Insurance Council of Canada’s Pivotal Leadership Award, the Canadian Insurance Hall of Fame induction, and the President’s Medal from the Canadian Institute of Actuaries.

Ben continues to shape the vision and strategy of IDC Insurance Direct as chairman. He is dedicated to advancing the insurance industry through his insightful leadership.

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