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How much will life insurance cost me?

That depends on your age, your health and the size of the death benefit you want. No surprise that the younger and healthier you are, the lower your premium will be.

Just as a ballpark, a healthy 40-year-old man who buys a 20-year level term policy, which has a fixed annual premium, might pay $350 a year to secure a $500,000 death benefit. A healthy 50-year-old man who buys the same policy might pay $1,000 a year. If he waits until he's 60, the policy will cost about $3,000 a year.

Premiums for cash-value policies are much higher. For example, the healthy 40-year-old man who pays $350 a year for a $500,000 term policy would pay about $3,000 a year for a $500,000 universal life policy - in part because a portion of that $3,000 is going into the investment component of the policy. That's a huge difference.