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Convertible Term Life Insurance

Researcher & Writer
April 08, 2020

So you have decided that you want a level term life insurance policy, what next? As you may know, term life is "pure insurance" in that it is a policy that only lasts for a set period of time. Upon the end of the policy term you either have to renew (if your insurer allows it), find yourself a completely different policy, or simply go without.

In the following article we will discuss convertible life insurance basics, as well as touch on some more advanced strategies. We will also compare a convertible life insurance policy vs renewable life insurance. Finally, we will also provide pros and cons of choosing to convert your policy.

What is convertible term life insurance?

If life insurance is convertible then the policy can be changed to permanent insurance. As a life insurance rider within your policy, having the conversion option in place enables you to convert your ordinary level term life policy into a permanent life insurance option during the coverage. If you want to know the differences between term and whole life insurance, check out our article

Furthermore, you won’t have to provide evidence of your insurability which means that your initial health rate class given to you will still be used. This will make your policy cheaper than having to get a brand new policy.

As long as you convert all or a portion of the policy's face amount before the expiration date it will become a permanent life insurance policy; it is also important to note that most companies will have age restrictions.

For example, although there are companies that break from the mold, the average company seems to require that the policy's conversion option be exercised somewhere around 65 to 75 years of age.

Even if you have developed a serious illness since you had the policy, if life insurance is convertible, the policy can be converted to permanent coverage guaranteed, no questions asked.

The company would convert all or a portion of your face amount into permanent coverage, typically into one of the company's universal life insurance policies or cash value whole life insurance. The company would convert the policy based on your original health class rating, with an adjustment in premium based on your current age and the particular policy you are converting to.

What does my term life policy convert into?

Often, this is something we forget but it is very important because it will decide the policy you have until death. Essentially, the coverage will remain exactly the same so if you had a $300,000 term life policy, it will become a $300,000 permanent policy.

If you wanted to increase the amount of coverage you receive, you insurability will need to be proven, which means a medical examination or medical questions at the very least.

On the flip side, you might want to decrease your coverage if you have paid off your mortgage, reduced your debts, or if your children have grown up and moved out of the family home. If this is the case, you can choose to convert only a portion of your death benefit, and either keep the remaining term life insurance or let it lapse.

Who needs convertible term life insurance?

As we all know, different policies are aimed at different audiences so who does this rider and policy suit?

First and foremost, it will be perfect if you are still young and don’t have the financial backing just yet for a permanent insurance policy. For a set time period, you can pay lower premiums before then making the switch at the right time.

And by the time you option the conversion rider, you might have more money available to afford that permanent policy.

If you have been worried about the cost of permanent insurance, this is a great way to get cheap life insurance today and still have the peace of mind that you have a back up option if things don't go as planned.

Furthermore, it is also a really good idea for those who are unsure what their finances might look like in a few years’ time. For example, you might not know whether your debts will still exist, whether you will have paid for your house just yet, or whether you have any children. Rather than buying a permanent insurance policy you can dip your toes into the market with a term life option.

Then, you have flexibility no matter what happens in the future. If you still have debts, you can convert it into a permanent option; if your debts have reduced significantly, you can convert but reduce the coverage and enjoy cheaper premiums; if you have paid everything off and have money saved for final expenses, you may choose to just let the policy lapse. With this flexibility, you can make the right decision for yourself however many years down the line it may be.

What is renewable term life insurance?

If a convertible policy doesn’t quite sound right for your needs, there is another option - annual renewable term life insurance policy.

If your policy is renewable, you will have an opportunity to renew your coverage once your current policy comes to an end.

Once again, you won’t have to prove your insurability so any health problems you have experienced since the policy inception will not be taken into account by the insurance carrier.

Convertible vs. renewable term life insurance

Let’s not beat around the bush, this question is nearly impossible for us to answer because we would have to give a different answer to every single person reading this guide to the best convertible affordable life insurance. However, there are some clear advantages and disadvantages to both.

While the convertible term life insurance policy allows you to have the best of both worlds and convert to a permanent option whenever required, the renewable option means that you can take things more slowly.

On the other hand, the convertible rider can be somewhat more expensive because you are locking into a 10 year or 30 year term life insurance policy and the renewable option will have your premiums increase each year.

Often, annual renewable term is only for someone who intends to keep the coverage for 1-3 years. After that, you might want to run quotes and see what different life insurance rates are on the different term lengths.

Before you make any decisions, you will need to consider your own situation and what would make each option worthwhile or worthless.

For example:

  • How much money can you currently spend on insurance?
  • What debts do you currently have?
  • Will these debts still exist many years from now?
  • Are you likely to need a permanent policy in the future?
  • Do you have a health condition that will get worse with time?
  • Do you want to protect yourself from health conditions?
  • How much will your premiums increase by with a renewable term life insurance policy?

Once you can answer all of these questions and more, you should be pointed in a certain direction rather than choosing one yourself and hoping for the best.

How do I convert my term policy to permanent?

The good news is that if you have made the decision that you want to convert all or a portion of your policy it is not difficult to accomplish your goal.

Here are 5 easy steps to turn the convertible term life insurance into either whole life or universal life insurance.

Step 1 would be to find a seasoned life insurance professional that can walk you through the entire process.

Step 2 would be to discuss what your options are. You may even want to talk over what your needs are and how that fits into your financial goals.

Step 3 would be to have your seasoned professional work up a life insurance illustration for you.

Step 4 would be to submit the necessary paperwork to the life insurance company

Step 5 would be to wait until the life insurance company issues your new permanent life insurance policy.


All things considered, both renewable and convertible term life insurance policies can be useful to the right people. Rather than choosing a traditional term life policy and watching as it expires, the conversion rider provides an option for what happens after, whether it renews year-by-year or converts into a permanent option. If you’re currently looking for insurance, take your time, don’t rush into any decisions, and find the right policy for yourself!

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