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Everything You Need to Know About Insurance for Seniors

Our experts help you find the affordable insurance coverage you deserve.

While we cannot prevent the unexpected, we can protect ourselves and our loved ones by making smart insurance decisions. In this guide, learn about the wide range of insurance options available, from medical and dental to life and long-term disability. Get familiar with crucial details on insurance eligibility, cost savings, and types of coverage. Let's get started!

Additional Resources for Different Types of Insurance

Want to learn more about the different types of insurance for seniors? Our resources provide everything you need to know, from dental insurance to travel insurance and everything in between.


Best Insurance Plans

Whether you're looking for the best dental, vision, or Medigap plan, we've got you covered. Our team has reviewed the top insurance providers across various categories to help you find the best plans.


Our Latest Medigap Reviews

Millions of older adults enroll in Medigap plans to fill in the gaps that Original Medicare doesn't cover. We've reviewed top providers to help you find the right plan for your needs and budget.


As we age, there are several types of insurance to consider, from long-term care and life to dental and vision insurance. We'll take a look at each type of insurance and what it entails below!

Medigap Insurance

With Original Medicare (Part A and Part B), you may be left with out-of-pocket costs that can wreak havoc on your wallet. One solution is enrolling in a Medigap plan through a private insurance company such as Aetna, Cigna, or Humana.

Medigap, also known as Medicare Supplement Insurance, helps fill in the gaps with Medicare’s coverage. For adults who became eligible for Medicare after January 1, 2020, there are eight Medigap plans that offer varying levels of coverage. This gap coverage helps lower your expenses for copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles. Keep in mind: Not all insurance companies sell Medigap in your state, and premiums can vary significantly by provider. Your personalized Medigap premium may be based on your age, gender, marital status, where you live, and if you smoke.

Take advantage of these two resources for Medigap insurance guidance:

  1. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
  2. State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIP)

Wondering when the right time to purchase Medigap insurance is? Open enrollment begins the month you turn 65. During this time, you can buy any Medigap policy sold in your state with “no questions asked.” This means it's federally mandated that Medigap providers cannot deny you insurance, even if you have preexisting or current health conditions.1

From the pros: Medigap is not the same as Medicare Advantage. A Medigap policy supplements your Medicare Part A and Part B coverage, while with a Medicare Advantage plan, you receive Medicare benefits, including medical, dental, vision, and hearing care.

Let's face it. Medicare can be complicated and confusing. If you have questions or want to learn more about Medicare, watch our “Introduction to Medicare” video below.

Medicare Advantage

You may bundle your internet and phone service, but did you know you can bundle your health coverage, too? Medicare Advantage plans bundle a range of health and wellness care for comprehensive coverage.

If you sign up for a Medicare Advantage (also known as Medicare Part C) plan, it provides your Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance) coverage. Medicare Advantage plans may offer additional coverage, such as Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D), vision, hearing, dental, or health and wellness programs.

Pro Tip: Having a hard time deciding between a Medigap or Medicare Advantage plan? Visit our Medigap vs. Medicare Advantage guide for a side-by-side comparison.

Medicare Advantage plans typically require enrollees to use in-network providers and may require a referral to see a specialist. Before locking in a plan, it's important to verify whether your current physicians are in network. Private insurance companies sell Medicare Advantage plans, so premiums can vary greatly based on the company and how the policies are rated. Be sure to obtain at least three quotes to review and compare.

Did you know you might qualify for free health insurance? Watch the video with our Editor-in-Chief, Jeff Hoyt, below for more information!

Dental Insurance

Many different types of insurance may offer dental coverage. You can also purchase private dental insurance, a great way to protect your teeth and an excellent safeguard against paying 100 percent out-of-pocket. There are also free and low-cost dental care options for older adults, but coverage and access may be limited.

Dental Coverage Explained

Insurance type Dental coverage
Medicaid Each state has the flexibility to decide what dental benefits are offered to Medicaid enrollees. Most states provide emergency dental services; however, less than half of the states currently provide comprehensive dental care.2
Medicare Medicare doesn’t cover most dental care or dental procedures such as cleanings, fillings, tooth extractions, or dentures. Medicare Part A will pay for certain dental services that you receive in a hospital.
Medicare Advantage Most popular Medicare Advantage plans cover dental care, but there may be network and referral restrictions.
Medigap Medigap policies generally don’t cover dental care.
Private dental insurance Dental plan coverage and cost are typically based on three tiers: preventative, basic restorative, and major.

Vision Insurance

According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), in the years after you turn 60, a number of eye diseases may develop that can change your vision permanently. The earlier these problems are detected and treated, the more likely you can retain good vision.3

Vision insurance can be customized based on your personal eye care needs and budget. From affordable plans designed to supplement your Medicare benefits to premium vision insurance with extended coverage, you'll have a wide range of providers, policy types, and price points to explore.

Avoid surprise costs and denied claims by asking the insurance provider about these potential budget busters:

  • Is there an enrollment fee?
  • Are there waiting periods for major services?
  • Are in-network providers required?
  • Is the policy stand-alone, or is bundling (such as with a dental plan) necessary?
  • What are the copays and deductibles?

Life Insurance

Losing sleep worrying about what will happen to your loved ones when you're gone? You're certainly not alone. Many older adults are weighed down by the fear of their spouse, partner, or children being left with outstanding mortgage, car, and credit card payments in addition to medical expenses. Life insurance provides peace of mind that our loved ones will not be financially overextended.

Your monthly life insurance premiums are based on the type of policy purchased. As with long-term care insurance, purchasing life insurance when you're in good health affords you lower premiums and a lower risk of denial.

Several other factors may affect your coverage and cost, including:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Overall health
  • Preexisting conditions such as diabetes or high cholesterol
  • Smoking status

Before purchasing a life insurance policy, it's essential that you understand the differences between term life and whole life insurance. No matter what type of policy you opt for, always pay your insurance policy premiums on time; if you let your policy lapse, you lose all coverage.

Term Life Insurance

  • Covers you for a set amount of time (such as 10, 20, or 30 years)
  • Premiums may be more affordable than whole life insurance
  • No savings option; the only value of term life is the guaranteed death benefit
  • Some term life policies can be converted to whole life insurance
  • Once the term has ended, there may be an option to renew (in a new age bracket)
  • Not all term life insurance offers guaranteed renewal; you may be denied coverage

Pro Tip: With older adults living longer, it's more important than ever to confirm your whole life insurance policy's “age expiration.” For example, New York Life's whole life insurance is only payable to age 95, while United of Omaha is payable to age 100.4

Whole Life Insurance

  • Provides coverage for your entire life
  • Fixed premiums
  • Some whole life insurance policies pay dividends
  • Builds cash value on a tax-deferred basis
  • Ability to borrow against your policy’s cash value

Long-Term Care Insurance

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, over half of people who turned 65 between 2015 and 2019 will need long-term care (LTC) services at some point in their lives.5 The harsh reality is that LTC comes at a hefty price. According to Genworth's Cost of Care Survey, the 2020 national median cost of long-term care in an assisted living facility is $51,600 annually. A private room in a nursing home is $105,850 annually.

LTC is for people who need daily living assistance and/or skilled medical care for chronic illnesses such as memory loss. The main types of long-term care facilities are assisted living centers and nursing homes. LTC is also integrated with residency in select retirement communities.

You can purchase long-term care insurance through a private insurance carrier such as Mutual of Omaha or The Hartford. Many of the services covered by LTC insurance plans are not covered by private medical insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid. For example, Medicare doesn't cover LTC (also called custodial care) if that’s the only care you need.

To learn more about LTC insurance, watch the video below. Our editor-in-chief, Jeff Hoyt, explains everything you need to know.

Auto Insurance

When shopping for auto insurance for seniors, it's essential to explore all of your options. Many older adults make a costly mistake by staying with the same auto insurance company for decades. Shopping around provides mature drivers the opportunity to find the best policy that meets their needs at a competitive rate.

Pro Tip: Auto insurance laws vary. Before you lock in a policy, confirm the minimum insurance coverage required.

Potential auto insurance discounts include:

  • New retiree discount
  • U.S. military veteran discount
  • Defensive driver course discount
  • Low milage per year discount
  • Multivehicle policy discount
  • Bundling homeowners and auto insurance discount

Burial Insurance

As older adults plan for potential end-of-life expenses, some opt for burial insurance to lessen the financial burden on surviving family members. Burial insurance, also referred to as final expense insurance, is typically offered to adults aged 50 to 85. This insurance helps pay for funeral costs and outstanding debts upon your death.

Depending on the type of burial, the costs can be sizable. According to the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), the 2019 national median cost of a funeral with viewing, burial, and vault was $9,135, while viewing and cremation was $5,150.6

Social Security provides a death benefit; however, it is extremely minimal. The Lump Sum Death Payment (LSDP) through the Social Security Administration issues a surviving spouse or child with a special lump-sum death payment of $255 if they meet certain requirements.7

It's important to note that older adults can fall victim to burial insurance scams. Take time to verify the burial insurance carrier is a licensed agent.

Did You Know: The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides veterans with benefits that include burial aid.

You can rest easy knowing your loved ones will not be taken advantage of during their time of grief; the Federal Trade Commission's Funeral Rule requires funeral providers to give accurate, itemized pricing and various other disclosures about funeral goods and services to consumers.8

If you're concerned about debts left behind after you or a loved one pass, watch the video below.

Travel Insurance

Ready to make the most of retirement or older adulthood? Traveling with a partner, friends, or group is a fantastic way to explore different destinations, cultures, and cuisines. While it's not necessary, travel insurance ensures you're protected on (and before) your trip.

Did You Know: If you have a Medigap plan, you may be covered for foreign travel emergency health care. Check for coverage via Medicare's 24/7 chat option or by phone at 800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227). TTY users can call 877-486-2048.

Travel insurance may cover:

  • Trip cancellation
  • Medical treatment for preexisting or unexpected health problems
  • Medical evacuation to return home
  • Lost or stolen luggage

RV Insurance

Adventure is out there! Whether you live in a retirement community or are aging in place with a snazzy recreational vehicle parked in your driveway, RV insurance is a must have.

As you research insurance options, check out AARP RV insurance through The Hartford.

Written By

Jeff Hoyt

Editor in Chief

Since graduating from Harvard with an honors degree in Statistics, Jeff has been creating content in print, online, and on television. Much of his work has been dedicated to informing seniors on how to live better lives. As Editor-in-Chief of the personal… Learn More About Jeff Hoyt

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