Life insurance companies reserve their best rates for young, healthy applicants without existing health conditions. But if you don’t fit in that narrow category, you still can get quotes with lower life insurance premiums. The main ways to save are by striving for a healthy lifestyle and shopping the market of policies and companies, among a few other tips you can try.
How can I lower my life insurance premiums?
When you’re applying for your life insurance policy, you can increase your chances of reaching a higher rate class — and get a lower premium using these tips:
1. Maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle.
Underwriters consider your body mass index (BMI) when crafting life insurance quotes because an unhealthy BMI and height to weight ratio are linked to serious health conditions. If your BMI is high, your risk factor goes up — and so does your monthly premium. For example, with America General, men who are 6ft get the best rates with a weight from 137lbs to 217lbs.
Your doctor can help you determine your BMI and develop a weight loss plan customized to you. Doctors typically recommend regular exercise and eating a variety of nutrition-packed foods as part of your weight loss.
If you have an existing medical condition like high blood pressure, following your doctor’s orders to get it under control can help you get lower life insurance rates.
2. Stop nicotine-based products.
Smoking and using tobacco is seen as a red flag by life insurance companies, including using e-cigarettes, chewing tobacco and other nicotine-based products.
Since part of the application process is a test to check for nicotine, companies know your habits even if you lie upfront. Smokers tend to pay double the rates as non-smokers pay, and some companies may deny your application due to the increased health risks.
You’ll see lower rates if you stop this habit for at least three to five years, rather than quitting cold turkey right before buying life insurance.
3. Choose the cheapest type of life insurance.
The cheapest policy to buy is term life, which averages $70 a month across age groups and health profiles. If you’re young and healthy, you could see rates as low as $13 a month.
However, term life includes a set end date called a term, covering you for 10 to 30 years, and you won’t get any payouts if you live past the end date.
If you need your coverage to last longer, you could buy another term life or permanent life policy to last past your current policy’s end date.
4. Skip any add-ons you don’t need.
Some add-ons, called riders in life insurance, can add a hefty price to your overall premium. For example, the return of premium rider pays back your premiums if you outlive your term life insurance. Since this rider offers a huge benefit, you could pay 30–50% more than buying the term life policy alone. Consider if the benefits of your add-on options outweigh the extra cost you’ll pay each month.
5. Review your financial needs.
You want to balance how much money your loved ones need with how much life insurance you can afford. You may want to leave behind plenty for your loved ones to live on, but a little coverage is better than none if you can’t afford more.
You could start by calculating your ideal coverage level and get quotes for that amount. Then if needed, consider lowering it to the highest coverage for the premium you can afford.
6. Consider policies with flexible coverage.
You could opt for variable or universal life since these permanent policies let you adjust your coverage amount, also called the death benefit.
You may need flexibility to raise or lower the death benefit as your kids grow, you pay off debt or other life changes happen. These permanent policies also grow cash value based on investments, letting you take out loans against the cash value to use for other needs.
7. Shop for cheap life insurers.
You may find wildly different rates among life insurance companies, even if you ask for the same coverage amount and add-ons. If you have zero health problems, you may get rewarded highly from a company with a strict approval process.
Other companies have a lenient approval process, catering to those with current health issues. With life insurance, it pays to shop around.
8. Apply sooner rather than later.
The younger and healthier you are, the lower your premium is. Policies tend to get more expensive as you age because insurance companies look at your risk for getting health conditions. Avoid high rates by buying now and lock down coverage to protect against future unknowns.
For instance, the average $250,000, 20-year term life policy costs $16 a month for a healthy, 30-year-old man. But the same policy averages $46 a month for a 50-year-old man, triple the cost of the younger man’s policy.
9. Ask for a life insurance reconsideration.
If you’ve quit smoking or your health has improved significantly, you can ask your life insurer to reassess your rate class and premium. This process is called reconsideration. To get the best possible rate with your new criteria, try to hold off for one to two years after buying your policy.
Your insurer may ask you to retake your life insurance exam so the policy can be underwritten again with your new health information. Then, if your insurer decides your risk has gone down, your premiums might go down as well.
How much can I save by improving my health?
Your life insurance premiums can lower dramatically, depending on the area you need to improve. For example, smokers can pay higher premiums as much as two to three times the premiums for nonsmokers.
Since the average term life insurance rate costs around $70 a month, that could leave you paying $140 to $210 a month if you smoke.
After quitting smoking for at least a few years, you may get moved into the nonsmoker bucket, which lowers your rates. If you’re overweight and paying higher premiums, eating right and exercising regularly can get your BMI to an acceptable level and lower the overall risks that life insurers consider.
How can I lower my blood pressure for the life insurance exam?
To help your life insurance medical test go smoothly, do what you can to keep your blood pressure and cholesterol readings down for exam day:
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine. Avoid these and any other drinks that raise your heart rate and blood pressure the day before the exam.
- Eat a variety of healthy foods. Consuming fatty food the day before or day of the test can lead to higher blood pressure or cholesterol levels.
- Rest well. A sleepless night can throw off your blood pressure readings too, so schedule a full night of sleep for several days to give yourself the best chance at healthy readings.
Watch our short video below where we breakdown what goes into the cost of your life insurance policy.
Compare rates from these life insurance companies
How to lower your current life insurance premium
Already have a policy in place? These are a few paths you can take to reduce your premium:
- Adjust your permanent policy’s premium. If you have universal life insurance, you have the flexibility to change your premium and death benefit as needed. You can also use its cash value to cover your premium payments.
- Lower your coverage amount. Most insurers let you decrease the death benefit of your policy at least once, usually after keeping the policy for three years. This option helps if you accidentally buy more coverage than you need — but your beneficiaries won’t receive as much money when you die.
- Opt to pay your premiums annually. If you can afford to pay your premiums annually — rather than monthly, quarterly or semiannually — you could save between 2% and 8% on your premium. The discount depends on your insurer.
Why is my life insurance premium so high?
To set your rate, life insurance companies assess a range of factors that can influence how much you pay. Your age, health and lifestyle habits all weigh heavily toward that rate for these reasons:
- Age — Once you hit age 50, you’ll see rates rise dramatically because insurers know you have a higher risk for getting health conditions.
- Weight — An unhealthy height to weight ratio is linked to serious health conditions like heart disease and diabetes, raising your health risks.
- Blood pressure and cholesterol — High blood pressure and unhealthy cholesterol can lead to conditions like heart disease or coronary artery disease.
- Pre-existing conditions — Current health conditions may cause complications, making insurers consider you a higher risk to cover.
- Risky job or hobbies — Dangerous activities like rock climbing, working on roofs or around machinery or chemicals involve an extra level of risk over desk jobs.
- Driving record — People with DUIs or multiple driving violations on record within the past five to seven years see higher rates.
What to watch out for after changing life insurance policies
If you change insurers or lower your coverage amount to help make monthly premiums more affordable, be mindful of scenarios that could have a negative impact, including:
- Has your health changed? You may have left yourself exposed to new conditions that surface after your original medical underwriting.
- Could your beneficiaries survive financially? If a loved one is permanently injured in an accident or suddenly becomes dependent upon you again, you’ll need to reconsider how much money is necessary to leave behind.
- Will your expenses go up in the future? Your financial stability can always change. If your savings accounts can’t support your spouse or cover other expenses after you’re gone, you might need to increase coverage once again.
Being vigilant about your health and thoughtful about your actual needs can help keep monthly life insurance premiums down. But remember that your best advocate is you, so take the time to shop around and compare life insurance companies before committing to a policy.
Questions about lowering life insurance premiums
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