Can being an anti-vaxxer raise your life insurance rates?

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Can being an anti-vaxxer raise your life insurance rates?

Term life insurance is pretty simple. You buy it for a certain period of time, usually 30 years. If you pass away during that period, it pays out. If the insurer thinks your risk of dying during that time is high, you'll pay more, and vice versa.

One way insurers determine your life expectancy is with a medical exam. They'll weigh you and collect your blood and urine — similar to getting a physical. But does it check to see if you've been vaccinated or not?

Vaccinations & life insurance

A life insurer will probably never ask you whether you vaccinate, especially if you are otherwise healthy, said Colin No, a case manager for Policygenius. It would only become an issue if not vaccinating caused an illness you'd have to manage going forward, said Warren Robbins, senior sales associate for Policygenius. (Side note: You should follow your doctor's guidance when it comes to vaccines. They keep millions of people from getting terrible and often deadly diseases.)

Life insurance companies calculate your mortality risk — how likely you are to die while the policy is in force — based on your current health and how it projects into the future, No said.

People who don't vaccinate can still grade out as healthy on medical exams.

If you're in good health, insurers ask about actions that will affect it going forward, not the absence of actions. They'll usually ask those type of questions if you have a chronic condition like sleep apnea: Are you going to the doctor? Are you using your continuous positive airway pressure machine?

How medical underwriting works

During underwriting, life insurers will ask you to take a medical exam, during which a medical technician will take basic measurements like height, weight and blood pressure. You'll take a blood test to reveal your risk for conditions like heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Carriers will also ask for a urine test to check for drug use.

If any red flags come out of the exam, the underwriter will ask for an attending physician statement, a summary of your medical history from your doctor's point of view. This is likely the only way an insurer will find out about your vaccination history. Even in that case, not vaccinating alone wouldn't be enough to raise your rates unless it led to a chronic health condition. Many people don't vaccinate against the flu or chicken pox, Robbins said, but insurers won't raise prices if you catch either of those diseases.

"As long as the illness they're not vaccinating against has doesn't have any long-lasting effects on their health, then you should be fine," Robbins said.

Image: Hytallo Souza