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Life insurance is a binding agreement between an insurance policyholder and a life insurance company. It’s a way for the policyholder to ensure financial protection in case of death. 


It might sound simple and practical to get life insurance, but not everyone agrees. Especially not during times of global pandemics. In fact, the latest life insurance statistics reveal many people require more information before they can prepare a financial plan to set a life insurance policy for themselves.

Here are the nuts and bolts:

The policyholder needs to pay the life insurance company premiums for an agreed period of time. Upon death, the insurance company pays a sum of money to a beneficiary (designated by the policyholder) in the form of income. This data contributes to the term life insurance payout statistics

The sum can be a payout to the beneficiary as a lump or regular installments (annuity). The policy may also cover expenses for burial and funeral.

Which brings up several questions:

How many people have life insurance in the US? How are consumers usually purchasing their life insurance, and what are the most common obstacles they face? 

At The High Court, we decided to answer these questions by digging deep into the latest life insurance fun facts and more.

Remarkable Life Insurance Facts (Editor’s Picks)

  • 55% of Americans owned life insurance in 2020.
  • In 2018, there were 773 life insurance companies in the US.
  • Only one in three Gen Xers had a primary financial advisor in 2018.
  • Two in five Millennials say they would their partner/spouse to buy more life insurance.
  • Life insurance premiums written in the United States amounted to $629 billion in 2019.
  • Life insurance accounted for 25% of direct premiums written in 2018.
  • In 2018, there were 340,800 life insurance employees in the US, life insurance statistics reveal.

Life Insurance Stats 2018

1. 45% of consumers will find more info on life insurance online.

(Source: Insurance Information Institute)

While nearly half of consumers will go online to find more info on life insurance, most will complete the purchase with an agent or financial advisor. This stat is from the 2018 Insurance Barometer Study survey conducted by LIMRA and the Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education (LIFE).

Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, as many as 32% of Gen Xers will research and complete the purchase entirely online. They are the generation most likely to complete the purchase online.

2. Life insurance accounted for 25% of direct premiums written in 2018.

(Source: Insurance Information Institute)

Recent life insurance industry trends show annuities are the largest life product line from direct premiums written. They accounted for 48% of direct premiums written by life insurers in 2018.


Accident and health insurance accounted for 27% of direct premiums written. They are not the same as traditional health insurance, which includes reimbursement for certain medical expenses.

Last but not least:

Life insurance accounted for 25% of direct premiums written. 

3. In 2018, there were 773 life insurance companies in the US.

(Source: Statista)

In contrast with insurance fraud numbers, the number of life insurance companies in the US has actually been decreasing since 2001. In 2018, there were fewer than 800 life insurance companies.

As a result, the life insurance rates of the number of insurance policies has fallen, too. In 2015, approximately 27.5 million policies were purchased.

life insurance statistics

4. In 2018, there were 340,800 life insurance employees in the US.

(Source: Statista)

Insurance statistics on job and employees show the number of employees in life insurance companies has also fallen. While in 1990 there were about 522,600 employees, the number had plummeted to 348,300 in 2017. In 2018, the figure stood at 340,800.

5. Only one in three Gen Xers had a primary financial advisor in 2018.

(Source: Insurance Barometer Study 2018)

Half of all respondents reported that they want a primary financial advisor. Those are the facts about life insurance. According to the 2018 Insurance Barometer Study, 37% of respondents reported having a financial advisor, while 14% said they were looking for one. Over 40% of Boomers already had a primary financial advisor. 

On the other hand, only one in three Gen Xers and Millennials had a primary financial advisor. Half of Gen Xers and Millennials reported that they do want one, though.

6. Two in five Millennials said they wished their partner/spouse would buy more life insurance.

(Source: Insurance Barometer Study 2018)

Life insurance ownership by age varies. So does the consumer’s attitude about it. About one in five respondents who had life insurance said that they didn’t have enough. At the same time, about one in five without insurance also said they didn’t have enough.

Life insurance averages show two in five Millennials wish their partner/spouse would buy more life insurance. Millennials are the most likely to be uncertain about coverage amounts, product types, and qualifying for coverage. They need life insurance education and more information.

7. 59% of respondents owned life insurance like individual or group coverage.

(Source: Insurance Barometer Study 2018)

In regards to protection against loss, most respondents owned life insurance. Three in five had individual or group coverage as per the work life insurance facts.

What’s more:

90% believed the family member who earns the most needs to own life insurance. 35% of all households would face a devastating financial impact in the first month if a primary wage earner died.

Life Insurance Statistics 2019

8. In 2019, life insurance premiums written in the United States amounted to $629 billion.

(Source: Statista)

According to US insurance industry statistics, in 2019, life insurance premiums written in the United States amounted to $629 billion. Non-life insurance premiums were valued at $1.8 trillion.

The same year, Chinese non-life insurance premiums reached $288 billion. Japan and China followed with insurance premiums valued at $341 and $329 billion, respectively.


Insurance industry statistics show Berkshire Hathaway was the largest global insurer in terms of revenue in 2019. Berkshire Hathaway is owned by Warren Buffett and headquartered in Nebraska. The second-largest insurer was Ping An Insurance, based in Shenzhen.

Both insurers have been growing over the past decade in terms of revenue. However, Ping An Insurance has been growing more rapidly. This may result in Ping An catching up with Berkshire Hathaway someday. We’ll be keeping an eye on the insurance claim statistics and life insurance claim statistics to find out, that’s for sure!

9. In 2019, Germany’s insurance industry wrote 3.88% of the world’s life and non-life premiums.

(Source: Statista)

The life insurance data on the market share of leading life and non-life direct premium writing countries globally shows that Germany’s insurance industry wrote just shy of 4% of the world’s life and non-life premiums. 

10. New York Life Insurance revenues amounted to about $44.12 billion in 2019.

(Source: Statista)

According to recent life insurance industry statistics, New York Life Insurance was on the top of the list of leading global mutual life and health insurance companies in terms of revenue in 2019

In terms of assets and market capitalization, though, Metlife is the largest US life insurance


11. In 2019, independent agents accounted for 53% of the sales channels for life insurance.

(Source: Insurance Information Institute)

The industry used to sell life insurance primarily via career life agents who represented a single insurance company and via independent agents representing several insurers.

As per the term life insurance facts, however, insurers started marketing annuities and term life insurance via professional groups, workplaces, banks, and financial advisors in the 1980s. Stockbrokers also sell a small portion of fixed annuities and a large portion of variable annuities. 

Today, life insurance is sold directly by mail, phone, and online. Independent insurance agents held half of the individual life insurance market in 2019.

Life Insurance Statistics and Life Insurance Facts 2020

12. UnitedHealth Group has a market capitalization amounting to $277.1 billion.

(Source: Statista, Ibis)

In 2020, the leading life insurance company globally by market capitalization was the US-based UnitedHealth Group, with a whopping $277.1 billion.

As per life insurance facts and statistics, other leading life insurance companies in 2020 were Ping An Insurance Group (China), with market capitalization amounting to $187.2 billion; AIA Group (Hong Kong), with $111.8 billion; and China Life Insurance (China), with $60.3 billion.

But that’s not all:

The life insurance market size, measured by revenue, of the Life Insurance & Annuities industry in 2020 was $723.3 billion. However, the industry’s market size was expected to decline by an impressive 16.4% in 2020.

13. Life insurance statistics for 2020 show 55% of Americans owned life insurance.

(Source: Statista, Statista)

This percentage is down from 63% in 2011 as per the latest life insurance trends. Some of the reasons why people don’t buy life insurance are cost and lack of necessity.

Here’s the scoop:

[bctt tweet=”In a 2019 survey, 52% of respondents reported not purchasing life insurance because it was too expensive.” via=”no”]

14. 46% reported confusion around policy specifics was the biggest obstacle to purchasing it.

(Source: IBM)

According to insurance statistics, 46% of respondents stated confusion around policy specifics was the biggest obstacle to purchasing it. Additionally, 35% reported cost as the obstacle to buying life insurance.


23% reported paperwork and doctor’s appointments as obstacles. Another 28% highlighted a lack of time.

Altogether, 50% of respondents said they didn’t have a life policy. 39% had term life, and 13% had annuities.

15. 70% of respondents said they’d be likely or very likely to buy life insurance if they better-understood the offerings and benefits, insurance industry facts confirm.

(Source: IBM)

Seven in ten survey respondents said they’d be likely or very likely to buy life insurance if they were better aware of what it entailed. Additionally, 67% would be more likely to consider it if the process were faster or easier.

16. The number of respondents who prefer in-person sales dropped from 64% in 2011 to 41% in 2020. 

(Source: Insurance Barometer Study 2020)

The purchase preferences of the respondents have changed dramatically over the last decade. Previously, most of the respondents preferred life insurance sales in person. In contrast, the 2020 analysis indicates that more respondents prefer other distribution methods, such as phone, mail, and online.

[bctt tweet=”The proportion of consumers who prefer online sales grew from 17% in 2011 to 29% in 2020.” via=”no”]

17. For 46% of respondents, price is the most critical feature for purchasing insurance. 

(Source: ReMark, NerdWallet)

26% of respondents are looking for an easy purchase process, and 7% are mostly concerned with the speed of the acceptance process. For Gen Zers, a hassle-free process is just as important as price, with speed of completion valued most by this generation.

Based on data provided by Quotacy, the average life insurance cost is about $26 per month for a 20-year term life policy, which is the average amount of life insurance. Rates can vary among applicants, policy types, and insurers.

18. 76% of respondents expressed contentment with life insurance products. 

(Source: ReMark)

When asked for the reason, 58% reported that their insurance offered good value for money, 53% said the price was reasonable, and 52% underlined the fact that the product meets their needs.

19. 52% of respondents reported that their products represented poor value for money. 

(Source: ReMark)

Meanwhile, among those who are not satisfied with their existing products, 52% reported that their products represented poor value for money, 46% said the cover was too expensive, and 33% felt that it didn’t meet their needs. On the other hand, 24% addressed poor customer service.

Wrap Up

From the latest who buys life insurance statistics, we can see that the number of people is decreasing. The way people purchase life insurance has changed recently, too, due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

In general, the life insurance industry is growing, but the number of employees has declined. This is because there are more sales channels than there used to be. 

Finally, life insurance statistics reveal consumers value the easiness of the process of getting life insurance almost as much as they value affordability. So, as with any kind of insurance, including pet insurance, they require more information and education before they come up with a decision.


Q: What percentage of people buy life insurance?

Statista reports that 55% of Americans owned life insurance in 2020. As per the 2020 LIMRA Insurance Barometer Study, 54% of adult consumers have life insurance.

Q: How common is life insurance?

About 60% of Americans were covered by life insurance in 2018. This percentage is down from 63% in 2011.

Q: What is the most common life insurance amount?

Professionals suggest the amount of life insurance coverage should be 10-15 times your current income. However, it depends on your financial circumstances.

Q: What percentage of life insurance policies pay out?

Some sources suggest that the average life insurance payout of term policies that result in a death claim (including murder) is less than 2%. However, future life insurance statistics may show different results. 


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