Does a Healthy Lifestyle Really Decrease the Cost of Life Insurance?

Written by Marty Agather
Written by Marty Agather

Marty Agather is the Vice President of Client Experience for He started his insurance career by filling multiple roles over a 10-year span in a mid-sized independent agency in Chicago, Illinois. Marty also writes for various insurance magazines and blogs and co-hosts a weekly podcast at

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There are numerous positive benefits related to living a healthy lifestyle that should provide a good incentive to stay on a program of regular exercise and healthy eating.

The potential for a longer life and the opportunity to lower your risk profile when it comes to issues like heart disease and diabetes, for example, demonstrates that there are rewards attached to committing to following a healthy lifestyle.

Maintaining a healthy weight, looking after your heart and your body, and being mindful of the impact of many lifestyle choices offers certain tangible rewards in a good number of cases and there could be a financial reward for your diligent approach to a healthy lifestyle.

A better health profile can result in potentially lower medical costs if you are taking steps to look after your body and there is also the chance that you might enjoy lower rates when it comes to arranging life insurance cover.

Here is a look at whether it is the case that a healthy lifestyle could reduce the cost of your life insurance and what factors insurers might be looking at when setting their rates.

There is also some guidance on what key steps you can take to improve your health profile.


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Living a longer life

The bottom line when it comes to all life insurance companies setting the rate they are going to charge you for life cover is that they will be able to charge you a lower monthly price if the answers to a series of lifestyle questions suggest that you are likely to live a reasonably long life.

All insurers will ask you a series of highly relevant medical and lifestyle questions that are aimed at helping them decide how risky you are to insure and how much to charge for insurance protection based on the answers you give them.

All insurers use an underwriting process that helps them to decide whether to accept your application for life cover in the first place and what sort of risk you represent.

Although each insurance company will have their own set of underwriting rules the basic concepts remain the same, Namely, if you can successfully demonstrate that you take regular exercise and enjoy a healthy diet with good lifestyle choices this makes you a less risky applicant.

Your past and present health history definitely influence how much you will pay for life insurance cover and getting healthier by taking steps to take greater control or improve your health profile will help to reduce the cost of life insurance.

Armed with the knowledge that insurers are prepared to change their opinion about you if you demonstrate that positive changes are made to your lifestyle and will charge less when you reduce your risk, should provide you with an incentive to make the required adjustments.

A classic example of this would be when it comes to heart disease and high blood pressure. These issues are commonly attributed to obesity and smoking, so if you manage to lose weight and give up smoking for at least 12 months before applying for life cover, there is every chance that the rate you are quoted will be lower than before you made those important changes.

Smoking and drinking

Smoking tobacco and drinking too much alcohol are big factors in putting your health at greater risk.

The best thing you can do for your heart is to quit smoking without any further delay. The act of smoking cigarettes has a detrimental impact on your cholesterol, amongst a number of things that are clearly bad for your health profile, and smoking cigarettes can reduce your good cholesterol while encouraging your bad cholesterol to stick to the inside of your arteries.

Smoking is a major factor when insurance underwriters decide to increase your life insurance premiums.

Another key question when you are applying for life insurance is about how many units of alcohol you consume each week and your answer will determine how much of an insurance risk you are considered to be and how much potential damage you might be doing to your health.

There is a certain amount of conflicting information available relating to what sort of alcohol intake you can safely enjoy on a regular basis.

There are a number of medical problems that can arise through excessive drinking or consuming too much alcohol on a regular basis. Drinking in moderation is tolerated by most insurance companies who would probably not raise their premium if you have an acceptable alcohol intake.

However, a regular or excessively high alcohol intake can lead to an increased risk of heart disease, such as cardiomyopathy, for example. This is just one medical danger that you face if you have too much alcohol in your daily and weekly lifestyle routine.

Although certain aspects of drinking habits might be subject to contention what isn’t really in doubt amongst medical experts is the fact that binge drinking is bad news for your health.

Binge drinking raises your prospect of suffering from irregular heart rhythms known as arrhythmias. Add in the fact that alcohol often contains a substantial amount of calories which can have an impact on your body weight and you can soon see why insurers adjust their rates upward when an applicant appears to be drinking more than a tolerable level of drink.

You are what you eat

Obvious risks to your health such as smoking and drinking are easy to pinpoint when it comes to identifying some major changes you can make to improve your health profile, but what you put on your plate and in your mouth also has a major influence too.

You will find a plethora of different diets and eating trends that gain popularity and come under the media spotlight and that can make it confusing to know what to eat to ensure that you enjoy a balanced and healthy diet.

If you simply take a look at the basics of what a healthy diet should consist of you can use that as the template and then add ingredients that qualify based on your personal preferences.

There is no coincidence in the fact that the advice issued by various government bodies and leading medical authorities tends to center around the same basic essentials. A Mediterranean-style that contains plenty of fruit and vegetables together with a reasonable amount of whole grains and pulses often gets mentioned as a good way of enjoying a healthy and balanced diet.

If you can restrict the amount of fat, sugar, and salt that you are consuming and try to limit the amount of processed meats, butter, and items that are high in saturated fat, you will be making a positive contribution toward improving your health profile.

Try to incorporate plenty of healthy fresh ingredients, lean meat, oily fish, as well as using vegetable oils in your cooking, and you will be boosting your chances of enjoying good cholesterol.


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Finding a good diet

There are always going to be trends and certain diets that have a spell in the limelight but with so much information at your disposal and so many options to consider it can prove to be a real challenge finding the specific diet that is particularly right for you and your body.

You should be able to build a healthy diet around the basic principles of what is normally recommended in terms of the amount of fruit and vegetables, plus other key ingredients that you need to consume regularly, and then adjust it to incorporate items that appeal to your tastes.

If you know that you should be trying to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables in your diet you can choose your favorites to fulfill that criterion.

A public health document called The Eatwell Guide is a good example of the sort of information you can make use of to help you achieve the aim of eating a healthy and well-balanced diet.

Limiting your consumption of processed foods and aiming to drink between six and eight glasses of water each day will all help you to stay healthy. You can also take the view that eating certain foods that are shown to have a positive influence on specific organs such as the heart, liver, and brain will further enhance your chances of not just enjoying a balanced and healthy diet but also help to lower your risk of health problems now and in the future.

Certain foods are capable of delivering known benefits to specific organs as well as being healthy foods in general.

For example, an oily fish such as salmon or mackerel is rich in omega 3 fatty acids and is considered good for your brain by helping to combat cognitive decline. Avocados have soared in popularity since it was highlighted how they can improve your heart by lowering bad cholesterol levels, and if you want to look after your kidneys, apples, blueberries, and strawberries are just some of the foods highlighted by bodies like the National Kidney Foundation as being considered good for your kidneys.

Here are some resources to help you find out which foods might be good for each of your vital organs.

Regular exercise

Another key component in helping you achieve a healthy lifestyle and profile is regular meaningful exercise.

The benefits of regular physical activity are well documented and some of the headline benefits include taking greater control of your weight, reducing the prospect of suffering from type 2 diabetes, lower the odds of suffering from cardiovascular disease, and numerous other positives to consider.

It is perfectly feasible that you may not be able to be as physically active as you might want to be if you have certain problems are just out of shape but that should not be a barrier to making positive changes.

It's good advice to always start modestly with your exercise regime and build up your levels of activity and intensity over a period of time as your physical capacity and fitness levels improve and strengthen.

Exercise and physical activity are considered beneficial to almost everyone irrespective of any health and physical impairments that might restrict you. Following a regular exercise program that is appropriate to your current limitations and abilities can help you maintain a healthy body weight, lower your risk of suffering from a variety of diseases, together with making a positive contribution toward improved cognitive function and potentially giving you a stronger chance of living a long and healthy life.

Getting the financial reward for your efforts

The bottom line is that you want to know that the underwriters working to calculate the cost of life insurance are prepared to adjust their view of the level of health risk you face if you improve your health and make noticeable lifestyle changes like quitting smoking.

A good way of analyzing that question is to look at the impact on healthcare costs incurred by companies who offer their employees wellness programs.

In this case study, two companies who deployed Fitbit corporate wellness programs were able to achieve a reduction of over $2 million in employer cost savings by delivering healthier outcomes for the program participants.

The results showed that employees who signed up to the fitness program enjoyed savings of over 20% against annual healthcare and insurance costs compared to those employees who did not take part.

Smoking is one of the key lifestyle components that increases the cost of life insurance as it significantly increases your chance of health problems and dying earlier. What difference does it actually make to your annual insurance costs if you manage to quit the habit?

Getting yourself on a smoking cessation program is going to help demonstrate that you are taking a step in the right direction. In terms of how soon the life insurance will reward you with lower costs as a non-smoker, it is likely you will need to shop around as they all seem to have a different timescale on what period of time counts before you are classed as a non-smoker.

You might have to wait for a period of up to three years before you can get a preferred plus rating (standard example from one insurer), which not only involves being a non-smoker but requires you to demonstrate lifestyle changes such as lowering your weight if it’s too high, and reducing your blood pressure, which should come with those changes to your lifestyle anyway.

To answer the original question, it has been positively demonstrated that following a healthy lifestyle through a series of key aspects such as watching your diet, reducing alcohol intake, avoiding smoking, and taking regular exercise, will all help to ensure you pay the lowest possible amount for your life cover.

The prospect of paying a lower amount each month for life insurance as a reward for your commitment to pursuing should be an incentive to keep your body and mind in good order, but knowing that you are taking a positive step in preserving your longevity should also be all the motivation you need.

Think about the answers you give to an insurance company when asking their questions and what they say about your current health and lifestyle, then consider what you can do to make the underwriter view you as a lower risk of dying earlier than predicted.

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