The healthier you are, the less you're going to pay for life insurance. Your life insurance provider will have you undergo a medical exam so that they can ascertain your health, and the level of risk that they are covering, and then they'll set your premiums accordingly.
Your insurer will grade your health on a scale. Different insurers may have different terms for their ratings, but it typically looks something like this:
- Standard. Standard actually applies to people who may have a number of serious medical issues, or a risky lifestyle. At this level you're going to be paying higher rates than anyone else, all other concerns being equal.
- Standard-plus. Standard-plus refers to life insurance buyers who may have one or two serious medical concerns, but can still claim to be in generally good health. Here you'll pay less than standard, but less than preferred.
- Preferred. Lower rates than standard-plus, but higher than preferred-plus, a preferred customer is someone who is generally in good health, but may be dealing with one or two "red flag" problems, like high cholesterol. Preferred also covers people who may be in perfect health, but who live risky lifestyles. Athletes involved in certain contact sports may fall into this category, as they're going to be in better-than-average health, but they face greater-than-average risk on the job.
- Preferred-plus. You're going to get the best rates at preferred-plus. This means you're in good health, you don't take a lot of physical risks in your daily life, and you don't have a family history of heart failure or cancer. It's great if you can land a preferred-plus policy, but don't hold your breath. This is for the most low-risk buyers.
Other factors that weigh into your insurance rates are:
- Smoker/Non-smoker status
Smoking and age are self-explanatory. Past 60, you can expect to pay more for life insurance than you were paying 30 years ago. And of course, with all the research we have available to us, a smoker knows the risks they're taking at this point. Gender may be a little surprising, but there's actually a difference in life expectancy of about five or six years, with men expected to live to around 76 and women 81.
Rates vary from insurer to insurer, but health, age, gender and smoking are always going to be the big factors.