How your lifestyle and being healthy affects life insurance premiums

Choosing to live a healthy lifestyle could reduce your insurance premiums.

Amy Smith
Amy Smith
Updated 25 May 2020  | 4 min read

Key points

  • Lifestyle choices can make life insurance expensive or hard to find
  • Insurers look at factors like alcohol intake, smoking, weight, health conditions, hobbies and driving convictions when calculating life insurance premiums
  • Choosing a healthier lifestyle can reduce the cost of your life insurance premiums
  • You should always be honest when applying for insurance or you could forfeit your cover

How does lifestyle affect insurance premiums?

Life insurance premiums are calculated based on your risk of dying, because the insurer only has to pay out then - so the more likely you are to die, the more expensive your premiums will be.

Life insurance providers look at your risk profile when considering whether to offer cover and how much to charge. Some risk factors are unchangeable, such as your age and certain medical conditions.

Other risk factors are down entirely or partially to choices you make, such as smoking, or enjoying a risky hobby like rock climbing.

Some insurers will also take your weight into account, regardless of whether it’s due to a medical condition or not.

Making lifestyle choices that protect your health can bring down the cost of life insurance premiums. Changing your lifestyle may even mean you can buy life insurance from a provider that’s refused you cover before.

Factors that affect premiums

Insurers look at risk factors including your:

Job

If you work as a firefighter or a miner, you’re taking more risks than someone who works in an office.

Hobbies

Dangerous hobbies such as scuba diving, rock climbing or motor racing will impact your life insurance premiums

Smoking habits

According to Cancer Research UK, smoking causes around seven in 10 cases of lung cancer in the UK, which is the most common cause of cancer death

Alcohol consumption

Excessive drinking puts you at higher risk of health problems - there is no “safe” drinking level , but the NHS says that regularly having more than 14 units a week can damage your health.

Driving

If you’re convicted of a driving offence or given penalty points on your licence, this indicates that you take unnecessary risks as a driver.

Health

Key health indicators such as weight, activity levels, blood pressure and cholesterol are taken into account when considering your risk.

What else influences the cost of life insurance?

There are factors you can’t change. Things like your age, pre-existing medical conditions and family medical history. Certain conditions such as cancer, stroke, heart disease and diabetes can be hereditary, meaning you’re more likely to develop the condition if a close relative had it.

These unchangeable factors combine with your lifestyle-based risk factors to give a full picture of your likelihood of dying during the life insurance cover period.

It’s important to be honest on your life insurance forms. Leaving out key information could leave you with insurance that either doesn’t pay out or pays out much less in the event of your death.

Changes you can make to try and lower premiums

Reducing the cost of life insurance premiums is just one more reason why making healthy choices is a good idea. If you can, choosing to lose weight, stop smoking, drink less and take more exercise could make you feel better and live longer, as well as saving you money on life insurance.

Even small changes can have a real impact on the cost of your life insurance. If changing lots of habits at once seems too much, just pick one area where you want to improve your health and focus on that. Don’t forget to tell your insurer about the change and ask if your premiums will reduce as a result.

What else should I consider?

Your death isn’t the only event that could cause financial hardship for your loved ones - a critical illness that leaves you unable to earn a living can also be devastating. Critical illness cover provides support if you’re diagnosed with one of a set list of conditions.

Critical illness cover is usually sold along with life insurance, so think about whether you want to bolt on this type of cover when you buy a life insurance policy.

Compare life insurance quotes

Compare life insurance