When you bought your life insurance policy, you needed the coverage right away. But you were a smoker then, or you'd put on some extra pounds, and the premiums are high. Now you've kicked your bad habits and are back in fighting shape. Is it possible to lower your insurance premiums?
The answer is a firm, yes. Keeping up with your car maintenance can earn you a lower car insurance rate, and the same is true of your body. Keeping fit and reducing risky behaviors can lower your life insurance premiums.
Many insurance companies will let you retake the medical exam after having the policy for a year. It's called a reconsideration or re-rating. You provide updated medical records, and the company will re-evaluate your policy.
There's no guarantee you'll get a lower rate, but there's nothing to lose and a lot of savings to gain. With improved health, life insurance can be easier on your wallet. Follow these tips for a chance to save money for years to come.
Any life insurance company frowns on nicotine. If you don't smoke, it makes a big difference in your premiums. One study showed that after quitting for two years, smokers' insurance rates dropped dramatically.
The average smokers' rates were
On a 20-year, $500,000 term life insurance policy. After two years of not smoking, rates dropped to $670 and $543. It can take up to five years of no smoking to have the same qualities as nonsmokers.
Be honest about bad habits like smoking, as insurers can detect tobacco in urine or blood samples or by delving into your medical history.
Being overweight can increase your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Being obese can lead to the same conditions and put you in a higher-risk category for cancer, osteoarthritis, and kidney disease. That's why life insurance companies will quote you a higher rate if you're carrying some extra pounds when you apply.
What is the threshold for a healthy weight vs. the overweight and obese categories? That's usually measured by the body mass index (BMI), which is simply the ratio of your height to your weight.
Between 18.5 and 24.9.
BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight
A BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese.
You can calculate your body mass index here.
Making lifestyle changes by adopting a healthier diet and exercising more can look good on your medical records and lead to weight loss. It might help other conditions that are red flags to insurance companies, like type 2 diabetes. Just provide your insurance company with an updated medical exam to show off your weight loss and maybe get a lower premium, too.
If you have a chronic disease, sometimes there's nothing you can do about it. But other health conditions are affected by lifestyle choices. For instance, having a high ratio of bad (LDL) cholesterol compared to good (HDL) cholesterol is a warning sign that you might get heart disease or have a heart attack or stroke. That prompts underwriters to charge you a higher rate. But you can lower your cholesterol by eating healthier foods, exercising, and taking medicines prescribed by your doctor. Then you might be rewarded with a lower life insurance premium, too.
Sometimes, getting a medical condition under control is as simple as taking your medicine regularly. If you have high blood pressure or depression, you can show your life insurance company that you've managed the condition well by faithfully taking your prescriptions.
Does being in remission from cancer affect your life insurance rate? The answer is complicated and depends on the insurance carrier. It also depends on the type of cancer. For instance, skin cancer may not affect your rates much either way.
Insurance companies will consider these factors to decide whether cancer will affect your insurance rates:
What stage is your cancer, and what grade is it?
When did you complete your treatment?
Have you had relapses?
What medications are you taking?
If you have a long-term health condition like cancer, it's best to consult with an online broker like PolicyScout. You can compare options from multiple life insurance carriers with the ease of online shopping.
Nobody's going to give you a hard time about tipping back the occasional cocktail or having a cold beer. But if you had problems drinking too much alcohol or a history of DUI or DWI (driving while intoxicated), it may have hiked your rates.
If there was a DUI on your record when you applied for life insurance, you're probably paying a higher premium. That's because the risk of a driver with one or more DUIs getting into a fatal crash is 40% higher than a driver without one. Insurance companies consider life expectancy when they decide on your rate, so you'll get dinged for that.
But people change, and insurance companies realize that. If you've undergone treatment for substance abuse or drink less than you used to, let your insurance company know. Insurers handle these issues on a case-by-case basis so that the outcome may vary.
Call your insurance company and tell them about the positive changes you've made to your health. They can help you decide whether it's worth going through the reconsideration process.
If they think it is, you'll need another medical exam. In some cases, your insurance provider will cover the cost of the exam. If you're re-applying because you quit smoking, you may need to provide a urine sample.
Your insurer will review the exam and then go over your medical records, looking at what prescriptions you take and evaluating any questionnaires they've asked you to fill out.
You want to show your insurance company that your health is as sunny-side-up as possible. The medical exam is the key to doing so. Here are some tips for getting the best exam results:
Drink lots of water to clear your system of extra sugar and toxins.
Limit salt intake as high levels of sodium can raise blood pressure.
Eat a heart-healthy diet with
Limit alcohol to keep your blood pressure low.
Exercise to boost good (HDL) cholesterol and reduce bad (LDL) cholesterol.
Avoid antihistamines or other medications that can raise blood pressure.
Limit sugar and high-cholesterol foods like red meat.
Sleep well, which can lower blood pressure.
Make sure you know whether to fast before the blood test.
It's a common concern that if you get another medical exam, the insurance company might find a new medical problem. In that case, can the company raise your rates if you're asking for a rate reconsideration?
The answer is no — companies are fair on this point and may decline to lower your rate, but they won't raise it.
There is a risk that if you didn't disclose a pre-existing condition on your first application, they realize that they could cancel your policy after the second exam. If your insurer feels you weren't honest about a medical issue when you first applied, that's called a material misrepresentation — in other words, a lie.
Reconsideration and reapplication are two different things:
Asking for reconsideration means that the big picture has gotten better for you. Your health has improved in a long-term, measurable way, and you'd like your insurer to consider a better rate. There aren't any downsides to this as long as you were honest in your original application. You might have to jump through a few hoops, but if it saves you money, it's worth it.
Re-applying means filling out an application for a new policy. You might do this because of a significant change in your health or other circumstances in the hopes of getting a better rate. This can be risky because fitness isn't the only thing companies consider. Age is another main factor, and if you're much older than when you first applied, you risk getting a higher rate.
If you decide to re-apply, don't let your existing policy lapse. Wait and see if you get a better quote on the new policy first. Of course, make sure your application is accepted and a new policy is being offered.
Life insurance is a complicated business. Many factors come into play when a company decides what your rate and coverage will be. Rates vary widely among companies, so it pays to shop around.
You can let PolicyScout do the hard work for you by comparing several insurance companies at a time. You can filter for different types of policies, pricing, and more. If you want to talk to someone, our representatives are a phone call away — contact us.