Choosing and maintaining a life insurance policy is an important part of financial planning, especially if you have loved ones depending on you for income.

But because different insurance companies will ask different questions and emphasize different things for pricing purposes, the quotes you get on life insurance policies can cover a huge range. That means comparison shopping is the only way to be sure you’re getting a good deal on your life insurance. But hitting a series of insurance company websites one by one to compare life insurance quotes can take hours and may not get you accurate results. For one thing, the quotes you receive may not be based on the same coverage levels, making one policy look more or less expensive than it truly is.

That’s where insurance comparison sites can be a huge help in your quest for affordable life insurance quotes. Insurance comparison sites let you instantly compare quotes from multiple insurance companies. The best ones provide accurate and personalized rates, discounts, and coverage options all on one site.

In order to provide an accurate list of options, these comparison sites ask you for basic information such as your age, occupation, smoking history, and other health conditions. Such details allow the site to provide a realistic list of different rates, options, and insurers so that you can easily compare life insurance quotes.

Sadly, however, not all sites that claim to provide life insurance quotes are the real thing….

How Life Quote Comparison Sites Work

There are two types of life insurance comparison websites: quote comparison sites and lead generation sites. Life insurance quotes comparison websites present users with rates based on information submitted during the shopping experience. You can then decide which quote to pursue, and the data you entered is transferred to the agent or company website, greatly shortening the purchasing process. These sites do not sell your information to insurance companies or agencies.

Unlike true quote comparison sites, lead generation sites simply sell your information to their advertising partners—typically insurance companies. These sites are not built to provide you with personalized quotes and are not much help when trying to compare life insurance rates. Avoid these sites unless you’re eager to receive tons of cold calls from insurance robocallers and desperate agents.

Insurance comparison websites can be further broken down into sites that provide real-time insurance quotes versus those that provide estimated ones. The benefit of the former is that you get a more reliable quote; if you follow up on an estimated quote, you could discover that your real rate will be entirely different—potentially resulting in higher premiums.

Life Insurance Comparison Sites with Real Quotes

The following comparison websites offer real-time, accurate insurance quotes.

Insurify

Insurify is a free insurance comparison engine that provides real-time, accurate quotes from top insurance companies in the U.S. The site offers a wide variety of companies to choose from and an easy-to-use interface, and can effectively service consumers in all segments of the market. To date, it has delivered over 4 million insurance quotes from top providers such as The General, MetLife, and Liberty Mutual.

Insurify has been featured on Forbes, Wall Street Journal, and CNET, and is considered one of the best life insurance comparison sites.

How it works: Insurify asks shoppers to answer a series of questions that it uses to produce real-time, accurate quotes.

The site asked simple questions about my age, smoking history, and general health status, and then let me choose a coverage amount (between $5,000 and $3,000,000; I chose $500,000) and term length (between 10 to 30 years; I chose 20 years).

The questions were easy to answer and the process was straightforward—I was able to submit my information and get personalized quotes in under five minutes.

Results: Insurify produced 18 quotes, ranging from $18 per month to $66 per month, all based on the same coverage parameters (which is an excellent example of how widely rates can differ across companies). Some of the quotes included the note “no medical required,” making it easy to choose a policy that lets me skip the medical exam. Clicking on the button to the right of each quote brought up a pop-up window with options to apply for the policy online or call an agent from that insurer.

The site also included ads for certain insurance companies and clicking the “check rate” button for the ad connected me directly to the insurance provider’s website. It’s easy to tell the ads from the quotes; the ads all say “ad” next to the company name and the button says “check rates” rather than “view deal.” Buttons at the top of the quotes page listed the currently selected term and coverage amounts; clicking on one of those buttons let me change the parameters and produced a new basket of quotes immediately.

Policygenius

Policygenius is another online life insurance comparison tool that generates real-time quotes from multiple insurance providers. In addition to life insurance, Policygenius provides quotes for home, health, and disability insurance (among others), as well as blog posts with information on these various types of insurance. The site also has an Insurance Checkup tool that asks basic questions and recommends which types of insurance users should have.

How it works: Policygenius’ shopping process asked me for similar information as other life insurance comparison websites, mostly health-related—the site also asked if my driver’s license had been suspended or revoked in the last few years. Entering the information was fairly straightforward. The site preselected a coverage amount of $500,000 and a term of 20 years, but let me alter those selections if I chose.

Results: Policygenius produced 11 quotes for term life coverage, one quote for a term life policy with the return of premium feature (meaning I’d get all my premium payments reimbursed if I outlived the policy), and one estimated whole life policy quote. The quotes for term life insurance ranged from $17.11 per month to $27.13 per month; the policy with return of premium coverage was $88.12 per month, and the whole life insurance quote was an estimated $136 per month. The quotes came from a mix of insurance companies both big and small.

Sliders on the side of the page let me change the period of time and coverage amounts to get a new set of quotes almost instantly. I could select policies to compare and get more information about the companies and policies, including which riders were available on the policies I’d selected. However, clicking on the Apply link next to a quote required me to provide my email address and phone number before I could proceed, instead of sending me right to the insurance company’s website to complete the application process. The fine print under the form informed me that providing my contact information gave Policygenius permission to call me for marketing purposes.

Life Insurance Comparison Sites with Estimated Quotes

Unlike Insurify and Policygenius, some comparison sites only provide estimated quotes, based on aggregate information from your local division of insurance. Rates from these websites are based on what other consumers in your zip code with similar histories are paying for insurance, rather than real-time quotes from insurance companies.

The following site falls into the estimated quotes category.

NerdWallet

Nerdwallet is a well-known personal finance website that offers free comparison tools for car, health, and life insurance quotes. The site also has reviews of different insurance providers and numerous tips for picking the best policy.

How it works: The main Nerdwallet site directed me to another site called Quotacy to get my quotes. During the quoting process, Quotacy asked just a few questions: my age, zip code, gender, and whether or not I smoked. It then gave me sliders to choose the coverage amount and term, presetting them to $500,000 and 20 years, respectively. Next, the site dove into my medical history with questions about what medication I take and whether any close family members had serious illnesses.

Results: Quotacy returned 11 quotes ranging from $17.11 per month to $27.13 per month, all for standard term life policies. I could also adjust the sliders for coverage amount and term on the right side of the page and get a new set of quotes.

Most of the quotes were from well-known insurance companies. Each quote included some information about the company, a company rating, and a summary of Quotacy’s review of that company (accessed by clicking on the “Ratings & Info” link). Clicking the Choose button gave me a chance to review my previous answers, and then the site asked me to sign up for a Quotacy account in order to proceed or sign in with my Google or Facebook credentials.

Lead Generation Sites

Unlike quote comparison sites, lead generation sites are paid when they send customers’ personal information to external agencies.

These sites often attract your interest with competitive rates, but then transfer you to a different site to continue shopping and complete your transaction, often at a far less attractive price. This is because lead generation sites are paid to sell your information to an agency, not to present you with the best rates on life insurance.

You can sometimes get life insurance quotes on lead generation sites, but you should expect them to be far less reliable than quotes from true comparison sites. Using lead generation sites most likely means that you’ll need to go to the various life insurance websites to find real rate information, which rather defeats the purpose of using a quote-generating site at all.

InsuranceQuotes

InsuranceQuotes is a free, online comparison tool that offers quoting processes for auto, life, health, homeowners, and other types of insurance. The site also has articles on insurance-related subjects and provides information on insurance products by state, including average rates.

How it works: During the quoting process, I was asked for the usual information, although InsuranceQuotes also threw in a question asking if I had any dangerous hobbies such as rock climbing or skydiving. Clicking the Get Quotes button required me to consent to a somewhat unnerving declaration that I would be called by up to eight insurance or partner companies, potentially including robocalls.

Results: After answering the required questions I ended up on a results page informing me that I did not match any participating agents, but that the site would keep trying to pair me up with someone. The page included a few links to life insurance company websites, with links to “Get Your Quote.” Oddly, one of the links connected me to yet another lead generation site: FirstQuoteLife.

Insure.com

Insure.com is a free, online insurance quote comparison tool that has quotes for life, auto, health, and homeowners insurance. There are also financial strength ratings for insurance companies, an insurance glossary, and informational articles.

How it works: The quoting tool asked for my gender, height, weight and birth date, then wanted to know which type of life insurance policy I was looking for (term, whole, final expense, etc). It also asked some health history questions, including how much I exercise. Finally, it requested my contact information, informing me that I might be called or texted at the number I provided by various insurance agents.

Results: The quoting tool sent me to a page with a banner at the top stating that I’d soon be receiving calls from “representatives from top companies.” It then had a list of eight different quote comparison sites with links to get quotes. In short, all Insure.com did was give my phone number to insurance agents and then send me off to other sites to perhaps get some actual quotes.

NetQuote

NetQuote is a free, online insurance comparison tool that provides leads to insurance agents.

In addition to life insurance, Netquote also offers quotes for health, home, renters, business, and auto insurance. The site has a few tools and calculators for various insurance-related tasks.

How it works: Once I entered my zip code the site launched its quoting process, which was completely identical to that of InsuranceQuotes—leading me to suspect that the two sites belong to the same company.

NetQuote even asked me to agree to the same fine print agreement as InsuranceQuotes, which allowed eight or more insurance companies to contact me with offers and information.

Results: I was delivered to a results page that also looked identical to that of InsuranceQuotes, with the same message that I did not match any participating agents.

QuoteWizard

QuoteWizard is another insurance lead generation site that sells leads to insurance agents. In addition to life insurance, they also offer quotes for home, renters, health, and auto insurance. The site also has a blog with articles about various insurance-related topics.

How it works: The life insurance quoting tool asked me for just one piece of information: my zip code. While it was indeed a speedy quoting process, I wondered what good it could do me with so little information on which to base rates.

Results: QuoteWizard dropped me on a page with links to seven different websites, all of which were lead generation sites rather than actual insurance providers. Needless to say, using QuoteWizard is a waste of time.

SmartFinancial

SmartFinancial’s home page says it can get you rates from top-rated companies in less than 3 minutes. The quote processing tool provides quotes for life, auto, home, and health insurance, among others.

How it works: The quoting process did indeed move very quickly with the help of drop-down menus. After asking the usual questions, the tool asked for my email address while claiming “no spam, ever.”

But before I clicked to view my quotes I noticed the fine print asking me to agree to allow “marketing partners to contact you for marketing/telemarketing purposes at the number and address provided above….” So much for no spam.

Results: After a short wait, the quoting tool produced three life insurance companies with buttons allowing me to “Check Price.” Clicking one of these links redirected me to the start of the life insurance company’s own quoting process. The page also offered me the option to speak with a licensed insurance agent.

ValuePenguin

Like Nerdwallet, ValuePenguin is a personal finance site dedicated to helping consumers make informed decisions about their credit cards, banking, investments, and insurance. The site offers quoting tools, in-depth financial product reviews, and analyses of industry trends.

How it works: ValuePenguin’s quoting tool asked me for my state of residence, gender, age, and smoking status. It then directed me to an informational page listing average term insurance rates by age, along with other basic information about life insurance. I also had the option to fill in a second quoting tool which asked for just my zip code.

Results: Once I typed in the requested zip code I was immediately taken to a page with links to one life insurance company (Progressive), one insurance agency, and three quote-generating sites. None of the results had actual quotes, just links to “check rates” on the various sites.

Conclusion: Compare quotes today! 

Every time you have a major life change—getting married, having kids, buying a home, getting a new job, and so on—it’s a good idea to reassess your life insurance policy needs. Since term policies generally last for years, you don’t get the periodic reminder at renewal time to reconsider your needs that you’ll get with other types of insurance. That’s why it’s important to periodically revisit your policy and ask yourself if you need to make changes…or just look around to see if a better deal or type of policy is available elsewhere.

When you’ve worked out just how much life insurance coverage you need, a life insurance comparison site can be helpful in finding the best price for the right policy. However, you’d be advised to stick to reputable comparison sites that give you real quotes rather than lead generation sites that will throw you on the mercy of cold-calling life insurance agents.

You may find that a few minutes spent on a site like Insurify could save you hundreds of dollars a year in your life insurance premium, and give you the peace of mind that you and your loved ones are covered. Good luck!

Wendy Connick is the founder and owner of Connick Financial Solutions, a provider of tax and bookkeeping services and a QuickBooks Online Certified ProAdvisor. A long-time freelance writer, she specializes in business and finance articles on subjects including taxes, investing, and retirement.Wendy is an Enrolled Agent (EA), the only federally licensed tax practitioners who specialize in taxation and have unlimited rights to represent taxpayers before the IRS. She is a member of the National Association of Enrolled Agents and a certified volunteer for VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance), an IRS-sponsored program to provide free tax help for low-income individuals and families.