Your Life Insurance Rate & You: Poor Health Habits
Updated: Jun 14, 2022
What are you digging so deep in your pocket for? If you’re looking for a lighter, you might need to dig for some extra change, too…
… You’ll need help to meet your higher life insurance rate if you’re planning on lighting up a cigarette.
Health details and everyday habits that may seem small or insignificant can have a massive effect on your life insurance rate. You may have heard something about the underwriting process. The purpose of the underwriting process is to determine how risky a person will be to insure. And the riskier someone is to insure, the higher their rate is likely to be. That risk is calculated by how soon an insurer estimates an applicant will need the full payout of their life insurance policy.
Some factors that influence risk (like age and gender) are out of your control. But did you know that your habits can also send your life insurance rate up?
Here are 3 poor health habits that an underwriter will definitely uncover and will definitely affect your life insurance rate:
1. Smoking If you smoke cigarettes, expect a higher life insurance rate. Period. Even products like nicotine patches, gum, or lozenges can earn a life insurance applicant's “smoker” status (depending on the provider). At this point, are there really any lingering questions about how cigarettes affect your overall health and projected longevity? Cigarettes contain thousands of chemicals and at least 70 known carcinogens.
A bit of good news? The longer it’s been since you quit smoking, the better things might look for you from an underwriting standpoint. For instance, some underwriters are only required to look back into your history as far as 12 months, so if you have quit cigarettes for a year, you may end up with a better classification – and a better classification potentially means a better life insurance rate.
2. Being Too Overweight An underwriter will also assess your height-to-weight ratio. Your unique ratio will classify you according to a certain rate. Being overweight or obese increases health risks like stroke, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, and high blood pressure, among others. So the more overweight you are, the riskier you are to insure. And what does that mean? You guessed it: your chances of a higher rate are significantly increased.
3. Drinking A LOT of Alcohol Did reading about this poor health habit throw you off? After all, a few drinks isn’t that bad, right? Well, “a few drinks,” no, but drinking in excess can start to have adverse effects on your overall health. Excessive or “binge” drinking would be 5+ alcoholic drinks for men and 4+ alcoholic drinks for women on the same occasion or within a couple of hours of each other on at least 1 day in the past month. Chronic excessive drinking brings these common health risks: liver disease, pancreatitis, cancer, brain damage, and more.
How will an underwriter know if you’re drinking to excess? They’ll give you a questionnaire, you’ll be subject to a medical exam, and they’ll see your driving record. So If there is any evidence of drinking excessively and getting behind the wheel of a car, consider your life insurance rates raised.
Kicking these 3 habits can have a great effect on your personal health and on your life insurance rate!
With a little effort, time, and preparation, you can put yourself in a better position for a potentially more affordable rate. But don’t wait to get started! Remember: when you apply for life insurance, you may not get full credit for changes to these 3 poor health habits made in the 12 months prior to your application.
Every insurer’s rates are going to be a little bit different, and that’s why you have an advantage by working with me. We’ll shop around for the policy and rate that’s tailored to your unique needs.
So if you’ve been waiting for a sign to stop smoking, quit eating too much junk food, or cut back on drinking, consider this it!