What Is a Term Conversion Rider in Life Insurance?

A term conversion rider in life insurance is a feature that gives you the option to convert a term life policy into a permanent life policy without new medical underwriting. Some term life policies automatically include a conversion option. Others require you to pay extra for this life insurance rider, and some policies may not offer it at all.

Term life insurance covers you for only a specific period of time, usually between 10 and 30 years. If you outlive the policy’s term, your coverage expires. Permanent life policies like whole life insurance often provide lifelong coverage, extending to a maximum age such as 100 or 121. But these types of policies are usually far more expensive than term life insurance because in addition to permanent insurance, they have a savings component called cash value.

A term conversion rider lets you lock in the ability to buy permanent coverage in the future, while allowing you to pay lower term life premium rates. You may want to secure the option to obtain permanent life insurance in case your health or financial obligations change. Or perhaps you can only afford term insurance now, but you’re hoping you’ll make more money and will be able to buy permanent life insurance later.

How much does it cost to convert a term policy?

Usually there’s no fee for converting your term policy to a permanent one, but you can expect your premiums to increase significantly. Since a term conversion rider doesn’t require new underwriting or a life insurance medical exam, your health status won’t affect your premiums. Your age will be a factor in how much you pay, though.

You may have a limited window for converting your policy. For example, some policies require you to exercise your conversion option before you turn 65, at least 18 months before the end of the policy, or in the first five or 10 years of your policy’s term. With other policies, the conversion provision remains in force until the policy expires.

Many insurers allow for a partial conversion, which leaves you with two separate policies: your remaining term policy (with a lower life insurance face value) and your new permanent policy.

Be aware that when you convert, you typically can’t choose from all the permanent policies an insurer may offer. You’ll probably have only one conversion option, and it may not be the right policy for you. It’s a good idea to check out other permanent life insurance options on the marketplace, especially if you’re in good health.

A term conversion rider can give you additional flexibility in case you need to purchase permanent coverage in the future. If you’re interested in a policy that includes this rider, consult with a life insurance agent or broker.

More about life insurance riders