For most people, term life insurance doesn’t cost too much. For other people, it’s a different story. Here’s the good news: You can lower your life insurance premium by making some lifestyle changes. When you’re done, you can either renegotiate your rate or buy a policy from a more reasonable carrier.
1. Lose Weight
Obesity has serious health consequences, and insurance companies know it. The associated problems with your blood work — high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and more — can dramatically increase your premiums. One of the best things you can do, for both yourself and your insurance premium, is to re-evaluate your eating and exercise habits and lose some weight. However, being overweight or having high cholesterol doesn’t mean that you’re doomed to high insurance premiums. Even diabetics sometimes get standard rates sometimes as long as they’re taking medication.
According to schools that train nutrition educators, losing weight isn’t as simple as eating fewer calories and getting some exercise. For example, if you have metabolic syndrome or diabetes, you’ll have to cut carbohydrates in addition to cutting calories. Work with a dietitian to find the right nutritional balance for you. Talk to your doctor about getting some exercise. Start with some small goals, and work from there. Don’t wait until you have a serious health problem to apply for life insurance. Your waistline and your wallet will thank you.
2. Quit Smoking
If you’re still smoking cigarettes, make this year the year that you stop forever. A 40-year-old smoker’s life insurance premium is three times as expensive as a 40-year-old non-smoker’s premium. Cancer survivors can get better rates than people who currently smoke.
Smoking increases your risk for heart attack, stroke, lung cancer, and lung disease — need we go on? You know that you need to quit, so do it already. Most life insurance companies will give you a lower rate after you’ve stopped smoking for a year.
3. Improve Your Credit
If you have a low credit score, you might pay more for life insurance. A few insurers don’t check your credit report, but many of them do. If you have bad credit, work with a broker who can submit your life insurance application to multiple companies. If you’re already insured and you’ve made big improvements to your credit score, look around for a better rate.
4. Drive Safely
You’re not applying for car insurance, but your driving record still matters to life insurance companies. If you have a history of moving violations — that’s the official term for speeding and reckless driving — or if you have a history of DUI’s, you’re going to pay more for life insurance. Most insurance applications ask whether you’ve had a moving violation in the past three years or a DUI in the past five to 10 years.
5. Change Your Hobbies
Are you an avid skydiver? Do you race cars? Are you a pilot in your spare time? If so, you’re going to pay more for life insurance. Think about it: If you’re buying life insurance, you’re buying it because someone somewhere is counting on you. Weigh your enjoyment of your hobby against what losing you would mean to your loved ones. If your hobby is so central to your identity that you can’t live without it, you can find a broker who specializes in helping customers with extreme hobbies.
6. Getting Better Rates
If you have health problems, extreme hobbies, or any of these issues, it’s best to go through a broker when you purchase life insurance. A broker will know which companies are willing to work with people in your situation. Brokers also understand that the life insurance company’s first offer is just that — an offer. You’re not obligated to accept the offer, and you can negotiate a counter-offer.
If you already have insurance, and you’ve made some of these lifestyle changes, call your insurer to ask them to lower your premium. You might have to go through some medical testing, but the savings will be worth your time. If your current insurer won’t negotiate with you, look into buying a policy from someone else. It’s easy to get a new term life policy, but beware of financial penalties if you try to get out of a whole or universal life policy.