Compare quotes instantly.

See Rates

What Is Decreasing Term Life Insurance?

Advertiser Disclaimer

Certain links on this page will refer you to products we might recommend. This creates no additional cost to you, and helps provide us an income so we can continue to bring valuable information to your fingertips. For more information on how we're paid, click our link below.
Full Disclosure

Decreasing term insurance is a type of policy where your death benefit decreases monthly or annually (or at some predetermined rate) over the life of the policy, while your premiums remain fixed.

While many Americans are familiar with traditional term and whole life insurance policies, they may not be knowledgeable about other options such as decreasing term life insurance.

These types of life insurance can be customized to fit more specific financial needs.

For example, some families might want to buy a large death benefit for their early years, but believe they will need less coverage in the future.

In this article, we will give you all the information you’ll need to decide if decreasing term life insurance is right for you.

What Should You Know About Decreasing Term Life Insurance?

Decreasing term life insurance may be best for individuals needing a term life policy with decreasing death benefit amounts.

Decreasing term insurance could be useful in covering the balance of a mortgage, personal, or business loan.

Decreasing term can be purchased for 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, or 30 years, and when the contract expires, the death benefit will have reached zero.

Decreasing term life insurance rates are generally cheap and affordable, and many of the top life insurance companies offer it as an option.

Alternatively, companies also offer increasing term life insurance, which works the same way by increasing coverage over time. While not as affordable, increasing term life insurance may be an option for families expecting escalating needs.

Why Is Decreasing Term Mortgage Life Insurance Still Sold?

Because decreasing term policies are oftentimes used for those who want to cover the decreasing balance of a mortgage, these policies may also be referred to as mortgage life insurance.

Mortgage life insurance is not to be confused with PMI, or Private Mortgage Insurance, which is offered through your mortgage lender.

This is an important distinction to understand because of who gets paid the benefit, how much, and how the premiums change.

Here’s a breakdown:

Coverage AmountCostRecipient
TraditionalLevelFixed RateBeneficiaries
DecreasingDecreasesFixed RateBeneficiaries
PMIMortgage BalanceCost Per ThousandLender

In the case of mortgage insurance, your payment is determined as a percentage of the loan amount (cost per thousand), and can usually be removed or refinanced away when you have 20% equity in your home.

But the big thing to note is the death benefit is paid directly to the bank and your family has no say.

Why Consider a Decreasing Term?

You should buy decreasing term life insurance in the following circumstances:

  • Mortgage-only Payoff: . You want to make sure your mortgage will be paid off and you have other resources that will provide for your family’s living costs.
  • Decreasing Need: You expect your need for life insurance to decrease over the years. For example, if your children are graduating from college or you plan on downgrading your lifestyle and minimizing expenses.
  • Loan Coverage: You are purchasing life insurance to cover business or personal loans that you will be paying off in the short term.

Is Decreasing Term Life Insurance A Viable Option?

It can be, though most families opt for a level term policy.

But if you know you could benefit from a decreasing term life policy, there are some factors to consider prior to making a purchase:

  • Length of Coverage: How long will the term coverage last before it either expires or converts into some other life insurance policy? Keep in mind that shorter term contracts have cheaper rates!
  • Type of Policy: Make sure that your life insurance isn’t just an “accident only” policy and that it will pay out regardless of the type of death that is incurred.
  • Type of Death Benefit: Will your death benefit be paid out immediately, or is it a graded death benefit? Graded death benefits are typically used for those who have major health issues, because your beneficiary can only obtain a return of premiums paid (aka “a refund”) if you die within the first 1 or 2 years after issuance.
  • Conversion Option: Does your policy have the option to convert over to whole life insurance at some point in the future? A term life insurance conversion into whole life is a common option companies offer for added flexibility.

Where Might You Find Decreasing Term Products?

There are several areas in particular where you are more likely to see decreasing term life insurance coverage.


Mortgage redemption riders are a type of decreasing term life policy. 

The benefit amount of the coverage is designed to pay off the unpaid balance of an individual’s mortgage loan if the insured passes away prior to the loan being paid off.

Here, the amount of the insurance coverage will decrease as the amount of the unpaid balance is reduced over time.


Credit life insurance may also use a decreasing term as its primary form of coverage. This type of insurance can protect a person’s dependents in a way where they won’t be saddled with debt if the borrower dies prior to paying off the balance.

In some cases, the purchase of credit life insurance may even be required by a lender before obtaining a loan or credit approval.

Although with credit life insurance the death benefit proceeds do not go to your loved ones, credit life will help in reducing your debts and interest expenses, which can still help in avoiding financial hardship for your survivors.

Is Decreasing Term Insurance The Best Option For You?

While all situations are different, many people have the need to protect their loved ones through life insurance.

In some instances, the financial obligations that you are protecting for may lessen over time.

If that is the case, then a term life insurance policy where the benefits decrease could be a good solution for you.

It is one of the simplest forms of protection you can purchase—oftentimes without even having an agent involved in the transaction.


Jason Fisher

Jason Fisher is the founder and CEO of, LLC. and a multi-state licensed life insurance agent who has helped over a million Americans seek out affordable coverage, compare quotes, or get their family and businesses covered.