When people apply for life insurance they usually expect that they will be required to provide information about their overall health. This can include a questionnaire and a visit from a nurse who will collect some samples (blood and urine) for analysis at a lab. This makes sense; the insurance company’s only opportunity to screen a potential policy owner is during the application. Because of this they want to make sure that you are healthy at the time the policy is put in force. But there is an additional area that insurers will look at though and it can surprise people that they are being asked about things outside of their health. There are things that healthy people do every day that an insurance company would look at as extra risks when it comes to life insurance. These are the ‘lifestyle’ questions and here are a few things that can influence policy decisions.
The most common lifestyle question is if you smoke. There is a clear correlation between if you choose to smoke and future health concerns so obviously making this choice in your daily life will make life insurance more expensive. You will also see that the older you are the wider the gap between smoker and non-smoker rates. This is because smoking isn’t typically a habit someone starts in their mid-forties. By the time you reach these ages it is often something that you have been doing for many years and the cumulative negative health effect makes life insurance more expensive.
With the most common topic covered let’s look at a few other lifestyle related topics that can influence life insurers.
- What is your occupation? Someone who has a dangerous day-to-day job can be perfectly healthy and still be looked at as a high-risk individual. Have you ever watched an episode of ‘Deadliest Catch’? Would you give life insurance to someone that worked on an Alaskan commercial fishing boat?
- How’s your driving record? Speeding tickets, DUI’s and other moving traffic offences can result in anything from extra premium being requested to outright declining coverage. Depending on the frequency of the offences you may need to consider this.
- What type of hobbies do you have? Spelunking may be an awesomely fun thing to do on the weekends; it can also affect your insurance application. So will sky diving, scuba diving and auto racing.
It is important to remember that a life insurance company has to examine not only your health but also how you live your life to determine your risk profile. It won’t necessarily result in you not getting coverage but even healthy people can represent below average risks depending on what they do with their time.