Did you know that your lifestyle can affect how much you pay for insurance?

Your smoking and alcohol use, your BMI, and your hobbies can all increase the premium you pay for financial protection if they are deemed to increase the likelihood of the insurer having to pay a claim on your life insurance policy.

The following types of insurance will often take your lifestyle into consideration when calculating a premium:

These all require you to disclose information on your health and the potential health effects of your lifestyle choices may affect your ability to purchase financial protection, as well as the premium you pay.

Impact of Lifestyle Choices on Insurance Premiums

Insurance and Lifestyle

You may wish to purchase a financial protection product to protect yourself or your loved ones if your circumstances change. Financial protection offers a benefit should you fall ill and be unable to work, or to protect your dependents should you die.

Life insurance is a specific form of financial protection that pays a lump sum to your dependents should you die during the term of the policy.

The premium you pay depends on several factors, most notably the amount of cover you require, your age when purchasing life insurance, and your health and lifestyle.

There is little you can do about your age or your family medical history, but lifestyle factors may be affected by maintaining a healthier lifestyle and many insurers will offer support to their customers to support your physical and mental health.

Lifestyle choices that can affect your life insurance premium.

The key lifestyle choices that affect how insurers perceive your risk to them include:

The key lifestyle factor affecting your life insurance is smoking or vaping. Insurers consider both in the same way, even if you are vaping to give up smoking.

Smoking or vaping will considerably increase your premium for life insurance or financial protection and may mean that you are even declined for cover by insurers.

If you can remain smoke or vape free for 12 months, you may be considered for a reduction in your premium.

Your life insurer will ask you about your alcohol use when you are purchasing life insurance or financial protection.

If your alcohol use is considered within healthy guidelines, or ‘low risk’, then you will be accepted for life insurance at normal terms. If your alcohol use is considered higher than ‘low risk’, then you may face a higher premium, exclusions in life insurance cover, or you may be declined for life insurance or financial protection.

Recovering from alcohol addiction may also affect you in applying for life insurance. If you have abstained from alcohol for over 5 years, your risk to an insurer may be less. This can vary between insurers though.

Your weight and height will probably be included in any medical questions asked by your insurer when purchasing life insurance or financial protection.

Although BMI alone is not always the most reliable indicator of health, a very high BMI alone or a high BMI combined with any indicators of disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure may mean that you will face a higher premium for life insurance or for financial protection.

If your hobbies are perceived by an insurer to be high risk or increase the likelihood of a claim, you may face higher premiums or exclusions in cover when purchasing life insurance or financial protection.

Hobbies such as aviation, climbing, diving, or equestrian sports are just some examples of hobbies on which insurers will require further information to accept your application for life insurance or income protection.

You will be likely to be asked about your involvement in your hobbies, how often you participate, and whether you compete at any level as part of your application.

Managing your health

You may have pre-existing medical conditions when applying for life insurance or financial protection and these may have nothing to do with your lifestyle. However, managing your condition and taking medical advice, as well as managing the other lifestyle factors outlined will help you when it comes to applying for life insurance or financial protection.

When you have a pre-existing medical condition, you will need to disclose this to your insurer in a medical questionnaire. You may also be asked for a report from your GP.

If you are ignoring medical advice or exacerbating your medical condition by following an unhealthy lifestyle e.g. poorly controlled diabetes, then this may be reflected in a higher premium or other underwriting decision by your insurer.

Insurance and Medicals

When purchasing life insurance or another form of financial protection such as mortgage protection, specified illness cover, or income protection, you may be asked to disclose some information on your health and lifestyle.

This would be more likely as you get older and when you are purchasing a policy that offers higher levels of cover. But you will be asked about pre-existing medical conditions which may include your height and weight as well as your alcohol use. You will certainly be asked about your smoking or vaping status in any case. You may also be asked about your hobbies.

Higher risk premium

If the information provided leads your insurer to consider you at a higher than standard risk of making a claim on your policy, then they may ask you to provide them with further medical information in the form of a medical questionnaire.

You may also be asked for a report from your GP on your health. Your insurer may also ask you to attend their nurse or doctor for an independent medical. This may consist of outlining your medical history and/ or undergoing a physical exam.

Insurers vary widely in their treatment of different health and lifestyle factors and the requirement to provide them with information or attend for a medical, so it is worth shopping around when purchasing any financial protection product.

Underwriting decisions

Insurers use an underwriting process whereby they look at the information provided to them in each case, such as information about lifestyle and hobbies, and use the information to determine your risk of claiming on your insurance policy.

There are a range of underwriting decisions which may apply to your case:

This is where your lifestyle is not deemed to present an increased likelihood of a claim to your insurer. Generally, your lifestyle will not lead to an increased premium.

Your lifestyle may lead to an increased risk to the insurer. You will be required to pay a higher premium for life insurance or financial protection.

This can occur when you have pre- existing health conditions or where your hobby is considered too risky to accept on normal terms. Your life insurance cover may exclude certain circumstances e.g. when you engage in your hobby.

This may be a decision where you are awaiting the results of medical tests or examinations, for Example. The insurer will require further information before offering you cover.

This is where the additional risk of a claim is too high, and an insurer will decline to offer protection. This may occur where you have, for example, been recently treated for alcohol abuse or your use of alcohol is high risk. Your hobbies may also lead to you being declined for life insurance e.g. competitive martial arts or boxing.

Can I still save money on life insurance?

Yes, of course. Firstly, while there is little you can do if you have a pre- existing or chronic health condition, you can manage your condition and you can certainly adopt a healthier lifestyle.

If, for example, you give up smoking or vaping or you can reapply to your life insurers, you may be able to be accepted as a nonsmoker after 12 months tobacco free.

Many life insurance providers or providers of mortgage protection, specified illness cover, or income protection offer health and lifestyle advice or support as part of their offering to customers, as well as health screening, to support you in managing your health. Your smoking or vaping, your BMI, and your alcohol use will all benefit from such support, as will your overall health.

Final word

A final word. It is never wise to mislead your insurer when asked a question about your lifestyle. 

It may be tempting but giving misleading or false information can lead to your policy being invalidated, preventing you or your loved ones from accessing the financial support for which the insurance was intended. 

You may even have your policy cancelled, which you will then have to disclose to future insurers or be subject to legal proceedings.

Speak to us today about lifestyle and financial protection.

Even if you feel that your lifestyle or hobbies may exclude  you from availing of financial protection, you may have options. 

Fill out the Compare Insurance online assessment or speak to one of our financial advisers. We have considerable knowledge and experience, and we may be able to find appropriate protection for, whatever your situation.

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