Finding your best life insurance policy

Learn how to find the right life insurance policy and how medical history, hobbies, and lifestyle choices can impact your rates.

Rebecca Shoenthal author photo


Rebecca Shoenthal

Rebecca Shoenthal

Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

Rebecca Shoenthal is a licensed life, disability, and health insurance expert and a former editor at Policygenius. Her insights about life insurance and finance have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Fox Business, The Balance, HerMoney, SBLI, and John Hancock.

Updated January 31, 2022 | 2 min read

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Life insurance is the most personal type of insurance you’ll ever purchase. Unlike car or home insurance, life insurance requires detailed information about you, such as medical records and income, to get an accurate quote.

In addition to your age and your gender, factors like if you smoke or have a pre-existing health condition, family medical history, hobbies, and even your spouse or children can impact the type of policy you need or how much you’ll pay. Due to the intimate nature of shopping for life insurance, working with a licensed broker who can compare rates across multiple insurers is the best way to buy life insurance with confidence. 

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Life insurance and health conditions

Life insurance underwriters use life expectancy to determine how risky you are to insure, so it’s no surprise that your approval and rates depend on your health. A pre-existing medical condition doesn’t mean you can’t get competitive coverage, but your life insurance buying experience can be impacted by:

Certain medical histories or conditions will prevent you from qualifying for standard term or whole life insurance. However, insurance companies evaluate each medical condition differently during underwriting, so it’s important to shop around to find the best prices for your health profile.

Life insurance and family

If you’re shopping for a life insurance policy, you’re probably trying to provide financial protection for a partner, child, or other loved one. A life insurance death benefit can help your loved ones avoid unmanageable financial debt when you’re gone. Learn more about shopping for life insurance if you are:

While being married or having children won’t directly affect your rates, a family can impact how much life insurance coverage you need, who you select as your beneficiaries, or how long you need coverage to last

Life insurance and lifestyle

Cooking, golfing, or painting won’t affect your life insurance policy. But riskier hobbies, jobs, lifestyle choices, and even certain dietary preferences might, including:

In most cases, a high-risk pastime like recreational outdoor climbing or a dangerous job isn’t enough to disqualify you from getting insured. You might just have to pay an additional flat extra fee for your policy. 

Dishonesty on the life insurance application can cost you

Even though an adventurous hobby might increase the cost of your life insurance, it’s important to be completely honest about it in a life insurance application. If your life insurance company finds out that you lied on the application, they can invalidate your coverage when you die and not pay out the death benefit to your beneficiaries.

Working with an independent agent can help you get the most competitive life insurance coverage for your needs. Policygenius agents compare multiple insurance companies on your behalf and recommend policies based on your unique health and hobbies. You can also use our free coverage calculator to make sure you're getting the right amount of life insurance.