Does living healthy lower my monthly premium for life insurance?
How much you’ll pay for life insurance depends in part on your likelihood of living a long life. Insurers run your age, health and lifestyle through statistical algorithms to assess the likelihood of you filing a claim against your policy and classify you by that risk.
Life insurance classifications
Life insurance providers use slightly different names to classify levels of risk, but depending on your level of health you’ll fall into one of up to seven classifications.
Preferred or super plus
The highest possible classification that refers to excellent health — an ideal height-to-weight ratio, normal cholesterol and blood pressure without a history of serious family health conditions.
Qualifies you as in excellent health, but not as strictly as preferred or super plus. It refers to great health with average blood pressure, cholesterol levels and height to weight.
Refers to good health with a family history that’s free of serious health conditions, but with a risk factor like high weight or blood pressure.
You can end up in this classification if your family health history includes concerns, your cholesterol levels are elevated or your height-to-weight ratio is high.
In this class, you’re a smoker or smoked within the last year and would otherwise qualify for preferred rates.
This classifies you as someone who smokes regularly, which automatically puts you in a high-risk pool.
Substandard / Table Ratings
Not so much a rating as a separate classification for applicants with high-risk occupations like construction workers or firefighters, or with high-risk conditions like diabetes or cardiovascular disease.
|Rate Class / Risk Class||Pricing Result||Cost Rank|
|Preferred Best / Plus||50% of Standard||1 (Least expensive)|
|Preferred||63% of Standard||2|
|Standard Plus / Select||86% of Standard||3|
|Table 1 / A||25% over Standard||5|
|Table 2 / B||50% over Standard||6|
|Table 3 / C||75% over Standard||7|
|Table 4 / D||100% over Standard||8|
|Table 5 / E||125% over Standard||9|
|Table 6 / F||150% over Standard||10|
|Table 7 / G||175% over Standard||11|
|Table 8 / H||200% over Standard||12 (Most expensive)|
The effect of risk factors on your rates
Insurers reserve the lowest rates for young, healthy applicants. The process of quoting your rate involves weighing factors about your health, lifestyle and even occupation or hobbies to determine your risk.
Age, height and weight
A healthy height-to-weight ratio signals to an insurance company the likelihood that you eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly. This could mean you have a better chance at living a long life and therefore are less risky and cheaper to insure.
There’s a direct link between life insurance and alcohol consumption. Excessive drinking doesn’t fall in line with an insurer’s view of a healthy lifestyle. The CDC considers any amount over 15 drinks per week for men or 8 drinks per week for women heavy drinking.
Choosing a smoke-free lifestyle could lower your rates as much as two or three times that of a smoker because life insurance for smokers is rated much differently than for non-smokers. Medical statistics show that smoking puts you at a higher risk for heart disease, cancer, respiratory disease and early death. If you quit smoking, you could see lower insurance rates after only 12 months of dropping the habit.
If you have a history of health problems or suffer from a chronic condition like diabetes, high cholesterol or depression, you’ll likely see higher rates. But because your rate reflects the future risk of your insurer paying out a death benefit, if you can prove that you’re managing your health conditions by seeing your doctor regularly or taking prescriptions on time, you might lock in a lower rate.
Some careers result in higher insurance rates due to the hazards of putting your life and health at risk. For example, garbage collectors, coal miners, chemists, construction workers, overseas contractors and production plant workers often face exposure to harmful situations or toxins that can affect their health. When your health is at risk, your insurance rates will go up.
Lifestyle and hobbies
Promoting good health from an insurance perspective can mean avoiding activities and hobbies that come with a higher than average potential for death. So if your exercise plan includes rock climbing, hang gliding, scuba diving, or bungee jumping, you might see higher insurance premiums.
Family health history
It’s not just your own health that affects your rates. Because many conditions are genetic, insurance companies want to know if you’re predisposed to develop a life-threatening illness.
If your siblings, parents or even grandparents have suffered from cardiovascular disease, cancer or other health conditions, your insurance company wants to know about it.
Most traditional policies require a medical questionnaire or exam as part of the application process to help determine your medical history and overall health. Red flags like high blood sugar, immune disorders, poor organ function or illegal drugs in your system could raise your rates.
A healthy lifestyle means lower rates
Life insurance companies base your rates on the statistics around your health and how long you’re likely to live. You can improve the likelihood of lower insurance rates by maintaining your health and making choices to reduce the risk.
About Megan Shepherd
Megan Shepherd is the insurance editor at Finder and is committed to creating precise, informative content to help readers evaluate and understand their insurance coverage options. A licensed insurance agent in health, life, disability and general lines of coverage, Megan’s expertise is backed by more than four years of providing guidance in the industry. She earned her BS at the University of Texas at Dallas and enjoys tuning up her backhand on the tennis court.