16 Signs It's Time to Cancel Your Life Insurance Right Now

Canceling your life insurance could be the smartest financial move you make.
Updated May 15, 2024
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Life insurance is one of the most important investments a person can make, especially when they're young and healthy (costs then are quite low in most cases).

But as you get older, you may be unsure if you still need a life insurance policy. If you're living on a fixed income and looking for ways to stop wasting money, you may want to trim back on it. The question is, should you?

Here are 16 times when it might make the most sense to stop paying for life insurance.

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You don’t have dependents

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Life insurance helps to meet the needs of your dependents after your death.

When you have minor children living at home, having life insurance allows you to remain confident they can continue living in the same manner as you provide them now, even if you die.

If you don’t have dependents, it might be time to lower your financial stress and terminate the policy.

You have no unsecured debt

Monkey Business/Adobe loving senior couple sitting on sofa at home relaxing with hot drink

Another reason to maintain life insurance is that your loved ones can use it to help pay off the debt you’ve accumulated over time.

If you don’t have a balance on your credit cards or other unsecured debts you’re worried your family would have to pay, then canceling life insurance may be okay.

You have enough in the bank

Kzenon/Adobe senior couple happily playing piggy-back

Some people don’t need to maintain a life insurance policy because they have plenty of money in the bank to meet their long-term needs and to cover their loved ones' needs after their debt.

Whether you’ve struck it rich or you’ve worked hard to build a nest egg you’re confident in, life insurance may no longer be necessary.

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You don’t have heirs

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Many people leave behind life insurance to meet the continued needs of their family members for years to come after their debt. but what if you don’t have heirs?

If you don’t have children, a spouse, or even a distant nephew that you want to care for, then you don’t need to have life insurance. The courts will liquidate your assets to pay any debts you owe.

Your income stream is enough to cover your long-term needs

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If your income is enough to cover your retirement and beyond, perhaps with investments, pensions, and savings, you may not need life insurance.

If these income streams will continue to meet your spouse’s needs in the event you pass away, you can second guess life insurance costs.

You have a valuable home

deagreez/Adobe family sitting around festal served table

If you’ve worked to pay off your home and it’s worth enough to meet your desired goals of leaving funds behind to your heirs, you may not need life insurance for support.

Of course, they may have to sell the home to be able to use the funds to meet any financial obligations first. But not everyone needs to have a lot of assets in the bank when they die.

It just doesn’t fit in your budget

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If you’re making decisions like paying for the mortgage or health insurance or covering the cost of life insurance, you may want to stop this payment.

It's a last resort, but because it's not one of the primary factors in covering your expenses, it could help you save some money. Once you’ve cut back everywhere else first, then consider canceling your life insurance.

You don’t want to leave anything behind

Rido/Adobe senior couple discussing investment

They say you can’t take it with you, and that’s very true about the proceeds from your life insurance policy. That money always goes to someone that you’ve named on the policy.

What if you don’t want to leave anything behind, though? If there’s no one you wish to support — even if you do have heirs — you don’t need to have life insurance.

You have a small estate

RFBSIP/Adobe senior woman with her career

There are times when your estate may be small, meaning you don’t have a lot of investments or valuable resources tucked away. In this case, you may not need to have a sizable life insurance policy to cover the taxes on those investments.

If you have a large estate, your heirs may be able to use the proceeds from life insurance to help cover those taxes.

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Your term life insurance policy is set to expire

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Many people only have a term life insurance policy that's in place for 10 to 20 years. If your policy is about to expire and you no longer need life insurance, it may be okay to let it go.

This is especially true if renewing your policy is very expensive or you have assets tucked away that are enough to meet your needs.

You're newly single and not interested

N Lawrenson/peopleimages.com/Adobe senior man smiling while pressing arms on kitchen table

What if you’ve divorced and don’t have dependents? What if you have dependents but they’re adults who don’t need money from you?

You don’t have to maintain your life insurance. For many, starting over later in life means assessing all financial goals and tools and this should be one consideration.

Your kids don’t need your money

Viacheslav Yakobchuk/Adobe happy couple in funny sunglasses blowing bubbles

They may like it, but do they actually need the proceeds from your policy? If you don’t believe they do, and perhaps you’ve chatted with them about this, you may consider stopping life insurance payments.

Just remember that what you put into this policy could be lost, dependent on the type of life insurance you have.

There’s a plan in place for your final needs

rawpixel.com/Adobe senior couple in kitchen laughing with man cutting things to cook and women holding glass of champagne

One time that most people shouldn’t cancel life insurance is when they have yet to plan for final costs such as burial, last medical bills, and other debts that may occur when you die.

You don’t want to leave these financial burdens to your heirs. However, if you’ve paid for all of your end-of-life expected costs already or have money put aside for it, your dependents won't need your life insurance proceeds to cover it.

You qualify for cash back

Ingo Bartussek/Adobe senior couple reading

Some permanent life insurance policies will have a cash value if you cancel during your lifetime.

If that’s the case, and you need those funds and have met all of the other financial obligations for your death, canceling your life insurance policy may make sense. You’ll receive far less than what would be left to your heirs, though.

Other investments are a better move

goodluz/Adobe relaxed fun senior couple wearing glasses

For some people, especially those who are old and have solid financial plans in place, the money put into life insurance could be used in an alternative investment method to help you build wealth for use during your lifetime more efficiently.

If you could use those funds for other investments that can benefit you during your lifetime, then you should speak to your financial advisor about cutting out life insurance.

No one would be financially burdened by your death

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What happens when you die? If no one will be financially burdened by your death, you don’t need life insurance. The state can reclaim real estate and other assets to pay debts.

Those debts don’t pass on to heirs, though they won’t receive a significant amount of money from you if your estate goes through probate. The key here is that if no one needs your money, there's no reason to leave anything behind.

Bottom line

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While cutting expenses may be a good thing, don’t cut costs so much that your future financial security is at risk, nor the peace of mind of knowing your loved ones are cared for.

There are only a few circumstances where it makes sense to stop paying for insurance. Usually, it doesn’t, but if you’re in one of those circumstances, trim your expenses by letting that payment go and finding another way to get ahead financially.

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Author Details

Sandy Baker Sandy Baker is a has over 17 years of experience in the financial sector. Her experience includes website content, blogs, and social media. She’s worked with companies such as Realtor.com, Bankrate, TransUnion, Equifax, and Consumer Affairs.

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