Take care of your health now, because it’ll cost you later

We all know that staying fit and healthy requires work on your part and a lifelong commitment to exercise and eating well.  What are the costs associated with your health in dollars and cents?

One of the best indicators of your health is how a life insurance company will view your application during their underwriting process for new coverage.

  1. Smoking

Let’s start with smoking because of the obvious risk.  What does it mean in terms of cost at young ages, and as you grow older?  A 30-year-old male non-smoker in excellent health will pay about $35 per month for $1,000,000 of 20-year level term coverage, whereas a cigarette smoker with no current health issues will pay about $130 per month for the same coverage.  The good news is that some carriers will underwrite you as a “non-tobacco” user after 12 months as a non-smoker.

This same individual applying for life insurance over 50 will see the premium differential increase even more due to the effects of smoking in middle age and the negative effect this has on longevity.

Female rates, while lower due to longer life expectancy, will also see a growing spread between premiums as application ages increase.

  1. A note about smoking and marijuana.

As recreational use of marijuana becomes more mainstream and legal, we are finding that insurance companies are amending their underwriting to reflect these changes. Some carriers will even give “non-smoker” rates to occasional users.  We did a recent survey of the top low-cost insurers and found that underwriting can differ significantly.  If you use marijuana, make sure you inform your agent so that he/she can help you apply to the best company for your situation.

  1. Build

After smoking, the number one indicator of premium cost is your build. Your build is another area where companies differ on what they consider to be a “standard” or “preferred” height and weight.  Common to all carriers is that they will take the amount of weight loss within the last 12 months and add back one-half of that amount.  Therefore, if you lose unwanted pounds, the insurance company will reward you for keeping that weight off only after one full year.

  1. Blood Pressure and Cholesterol

These two issues are no less important but are usually easily remedied by medication and lifestyle changes.   Each measurement above normal has been linked to diseases of the circulatory system, heart, as well as overall health.

Changes in lifestyle may influence and lower cholesterol and blood pressure. The good news is that life insurers don’t care which way you improve your numbers and they will usually consider improvement in these issues with medical treatment or only lifestyle changes equally.

While the lifestyle choices you make can significantly influence the premium you pay, not all underwriting health conditions are under our control.  Individual health issues are best discussed with an independent life insurance agent that can help you with specific answers to your questions.

Lenny Robbins has spent his entire business career in financial services.  He was a VP of Oppenheimer & Co., Inc. prior to starting his own securities broker/dealer.  In 1991 he founded LifeNet Insurance Solutions which specializes in life insurance for seniors over 70 (https://www.lifenetinsurance.com/) and baby boomers.

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