What is Considered Healthy by an Insurance Company?

Life Insurance

What is Considered Healthy by an Insurance Company?

Your health directly influences how much you will pay for life insurance because it correlates with how long you are expected to live.

Life insurers typically take several factors into consideration:

Your build. Your height/weight ratio can significantly impact both your insurability and your premiums. Underwriters use “build charts” or Body Mass Index (BMI) to determine your risk for diabetes, heart problems, and other issues associated with obesity. While applying for insurance is a great incentive to lose a few pounds, insurance companies typically look for a stable weight history of at least 12 months and may even review medical records for weight fluctuations.

Your medical conditions. Conditions like high cholesterol and blood pressure can adversely affect your premiums because these conditions are known to cause heart problems and strokes. Poor diet and stress can also take a particular toll on the cardiovascular system. For these reasons, insurers like to see that you’re taking preventive measures to keep your numbers under control.

Your smoker status. Being a smoker can more than double your premiums. Even healthy smokers are typically saddled with higher rates than the unhealthiest non-smokers. According to the CDC, smoking is the leading cause of preventable death, and contributes to 480,000 deaths per year. With the average life expectancy of a smoker in the US ten years shorter than that of a non-smoker, it’s no surprise that smokers will pay higher premiums. The good news is that smokers who quit can often reduce their premiums after several years of being smoke-free.

Your family history. Many people don’t realize that your family’s health history is a part of the underwriting puzzle. Since some medical conditions are genetic, understanding your family history helps an insurer have a better understanding of your overall health and life expectancy.

Your lifestyle. In recent years, life insurers have begun rolling wellness incentives into many life insurance policies. Some plans allow policyholders to reduce their premiums in exchange for maintaining healthy lifestyles. Conversely, if you skydive or climb mountains in your free time, the insurer has to account for the greater risk that something will go wrong – in which case, life insurance makes all the more sense!

In a nutshell. If you want to secure cost-effective rates on life insurance, you may need to do some work.

If necessary, you should be prepared to lose weight, improve your cholesterol, or quit smoking. Not only will living a healthy lifestyle save you money on your life insurance, it could save your life.

One final note. Be honest on your insurance application. Whether through a traditional medical exam, a medical records database, or even your own social media activity, underwriters are likely to learn if you have not been truthful. It’s not worth risking your insurability to save a few dollars on your premium.

1Centers for Disease Control 2019:

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