You work hard for your money—so before investing in something as important as term life insurance, let us offer you some helpful information regarding your life insurance application.
By Jan Pinney, CLU, ChFC
Chairman, Life Insurance Committee, The National Society of Agents for Consumer Education
Chairman, The Life Insurance Consumer Advocacy Council
Our Saving Secrets
If you qualify for an insurance company’s preferred rates, you’ll save a bundle of money for as long as you keep your policy. Here’s an example of what I mean…
A 45-year-old male can save as much as 25 percent (and even up to 30 percent) on a $250,000 term life policy. That could amount to thousands in savings over 10, 20, or even 30 years. That’s a big chunk of cash, isn’t it?
Clearly, it can be tough to qualify for the lowest rates. Before you can even be considered for a preferred rate, an insurance company will take a hard look at things like tobacco use, low cholesterol readings, a history of asthma, low blood pressure, and life-threatening illnesses. That’s to be expected.
But that’s not all they look at.
Insurance companies are also on the lookout for something that’s all too often taken for granted: a good medical exam.
Before any life insurance company will issue you a policy, it will want to know the details of your medical history. It may investigate your medical records through the Medical Information Bureau (a very common practice). More often than not, it will require that you take a medical exam.
Your medical exam is conducted absolutely free of charge. It’s done at your convenience at your choice of locations. It usually takes about 30 minutes or less to complete. Now here’s the hard fact…
If your medical exam doesn’t turn out well, you’re probably in for a higher premium. That means you could end up paying more for your term life insurance than you should.
Can you do anything to assure top-notch results? You bet you can!
The big inside secret is in the way you prepare for your exam. If you follow these seven easy steps 24 hours before your exam, you’ll be on the right track to qualify for the lowest rates in town.
- You should get plenty of sleep the night before your exam.
- You should try to avoid stress of any kind. It can cause artificially high blood pressure and pulse readings.
- You should avoid alcoholic beverages of any kind. They also can cause artificially high blood pressure and pulse readings.
- You should avoid all tobacco.
- You should avoid all forms of caffeine beverages including cola. (Same reason. Tobacco and caffeine, like alcohol, can cause artificially high blood pressure and pulse readings.)
- You should avoid all foods high in salt content. Read the labels on any frozen or packaged food before you eat them.
- You should avoid eating eggs and all other high cholesterol foods at least a day, or even two days, before your exam.
- One EXTRA point! Don’t forget to follow all the fasting requirements you were told about when you made your medical appointment.
- Drink a large glass of water one hour before your exam so your urine specimen can be easily obtained.
- Make a list of all the current medications you’re taking, including herbal remedies. Be sure you include the dosage, frequency, and the name of any prescribing physicians.
Ok, now you have some specific, easy-to-follow techniques to supercharge your chances of getting the lowest life insurance rates. But that’s not all…
Now, here are some important insider facts about life insurance that 99 percent of the American public doesn’t know:
Your Driving Record
Your driving record is often used by life insurance companies as a determination of your character. Obviously, the cleaner your driving record, the more likely you are to get preferred status. It’s possible to overcome a poor driving record with other things, like the following:
Your Family History
If your parents lived to a ripe old age (or are still living), that counts in your favor. If your brother(s) and/or sister(s) didn’t die prematurely of heart disease, cancer, stroke or diabetes, you are in luck.
Life insurance companies look for a pattern of early death in family trees. If you’ve unfortunately lost a family member due to any of these diseases, you can still jump this hurdle by having a history of regular check-ups and doctor visits, and that’s not all.
Your Exercise Program
If you work out regularly, many life insurance companies will consider you a better risk. Your insurance application will ask for this information about your exercise program. Please don’t blow this question off as not being very important. It is important. Be very specific about the nature, duration, and frequency of your exercise program, whether it’s jogging, tennis, chopping wood, or even vigorous household chores…they all count.
If you’re within the normal ranges of height/weight charts, you’ll be ok.
If you’re not, you can overcome this with some of the other things I mentioned earlier, like low blood pressure, a good driving record, low cholesterol, and so on. All together, you’ll be back in the hunt for the lowest premium.
Your Tobacco Usage
All term life insurance companies give their lowest rates to non-smokers, period. If you’re the ideal risk, you haven’t used tobacco of any kind for four years. However, just because you smoke, it’s possible you could be considered a “”preferred smoker.”” Just be specific on your application about your smoking habits.
A two-pack-a-day person will usually pay higher rates than a one-pack-a-day or 1/2-pack-a-day person. Cigar smokers and occasional smokers will pay less than regular cigarette smokers. And tobacco chewers will usually pay less than smokers.
Your Credit History
Like your driving record, your credit history is viewed as an indication of character. A good record is another step toward preferred status. If you have a poor credit record, it can be overcome by other positive factors and, occasionally, an explanation of your past financial problems. Like your medical exam, if something negative should turn up, you have the right to dispute the findings.
So there you have it! Seven easy ways to help you get the lowest term life insurance rates in town.
President, Wholesale Insurance
Chairman, Life Insurance Committee, The National Association of Agents for Consumer Education
Chairman, The Life Insurance Consumer Advocacy Council