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Can cycling lower the cost of life insurance premiums?

Regular exercise is great for overall health — but what does it mean for your life insurance policy? The health benefits of cycling might get you a better life insurance classification and lower premium costs.

Nupur Gambhir

Nupur Gambhir

Published December 26, 2019

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Insurers set premiums based on the health classification of an individual. The benefits of moderate cycling, such as the reduced risk of diabetes, heart disease, and obesity, can help cyclists get a high health classification and lower premium rates

  • If you have previously been diagnosed with a medical condition but exercise in moderation as a form of treatment, the underwriter will take this and other lifestyle changes into account when deciding what life insurance health classification you receive

  • While cycling can have a positive impact on health that reduces the cost of your life insurance premiums, there are other variables that also impact what health classification you receive, such as your family history and any medications you take

When you purchase a life insurance policy, you have to go through an application process, during which the insurer evaluates how risky it will be to insure you. One component of the life insurance application process is the medical exam, which determines how healthy you are. The better your health, the less you will have to pay for your life insurance policy.

Whether you’re mountain biking on the trails or saddled up in a spin class, cycling can have a positive impact on your health. An added perk? Those health benefits can also lead to affordable life insurance premiums.

IN THIS ARTICLE

How does cycling affect the cost of life insurance premiums?

To purchase life insurance, you will need to take a medical exam and disclose details about your life to the underwriter. While life insurance companies won’t offer you lower life insurance rates for healthy habits alone, the side effects of regular exercise such as cycling can have an impact on what type of rating you receive.

Here’s how health affects the health classification you receive:

Based on a 20-year, $500K insurance policy in California for a 30-year-old, male nonsmoker.

HEALTH CLASSIFICATIONLOWEST PREMIUM
Preferred Plus$19.89
Preferred$25.93
Standard Plus$31.62
Standard$37.31

Life insurance classifications

There is no guarantee that cycling will lead to a preferred plus classification, especially because underwriters cross-examine multiple facets of your life to decide your health classification. However, similarly to eating a healthy diet, the byproduct of cycling regularly could increase the chances that you receive a higher life insurance health classification and low life insurance premium rates.

Cardiovascular health

During the medical exam, you will need to disclose any previous medical conditions to the medical physician. Any prior heart conditions will impact the health classification you receive. If you had a heart attack, the underwriter may look at the following information to determine the severity and risk of your condition, and thus your health classification.

  • Date of heart attack
  • Cause of heart attack
  • Follow-up reports
  • Stents
  • EKG results
  • Echocardiogram results

How does cycling impact your cardiovascular health? Research has shown that even just biking to work can lower instances of hypertension, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and other influencers of cardiovascular disease. People who cycle have 15% fewer heart attacks than those who don’t, and moderate aerobic exercise leads to lower cardiovascular risk overall. As we explained, insurers won’t take your exercise habits into account when assigning you a health classification, but taking steps to improve and maintain your heart health will pay off in the long run.

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Diabetes

The underwriter evaluates any underlying diseases that might make you a risky life insurance candidate, including diabetes.

Cyclists may see lower premium rates when they are applying for life insurance, as aerobic exercise can also be beneficial in diabetes prevention. Even low-intensity cycling can have a positive impact on insulin and blood glucose, leading to lower instances of diabetes.

However, a diabetes diagnosis doesn’t automatically earn you a lower health classification. The underwriter will weigh the severity of your condition as well as what you are doing to treat it. Because physical exercise can help manage glucose levels and the symptoms of diabetes, demonstrating that you cycle to manage diabetes symptoms during your medical exam can help you attain lower premium rates.

Weight

Insurers see weight as an important measure of health during the medical exam — the medical physician will use it to determine if your body mass index is in a healthy range and if your weight poses any health risks.

The sample rates below show how body mass index can affect life insurance rates:

$250,000/10-year policy for 30-year-old 5’10” male

CLASSIFICATIONWEIGHT (POUNDS)PREMIUM (MONTHLY/ANNUAL)
Standard Plus Non-Tobacco224$16.35/$189
Preferred Non-Tobacco210$13.54/$156.50
Preferred Plus Non-Tobacco200$10.51/$121.50

$250,000/10-year policy for 30-year-old 5’6” female

CLASSIFICATIONWEIGHT (POUNDS)PREMIUM (MONTHLY/ANNUAL)
Standard Plus Non Tobacco195$15.05/$174
Preferred Non Tobacco185$11.59/$134
Preferred Plus Non Tobacco175$10.29/$119

A study conducted by the American Journal of Preventative Medicine determined that individuals in neighborhoods where people biked had lower body mass indexes than those who lived in neighborhoods that weren’t bike-friendly. When combined with diet, regular cycling can minimize the risk of obesity and increase the chances of receiving a healthy life insurance classification.

Blood pressure

High blood pressure on a life insurance exam indicates to the underwriter that you are in poor health; unhealthy blood pressure levels can lead to a heart attack or a stroke, making you a risky candidate to insure and lowering your health classification.

Because cycling, like all aerobic exercise, has a positive effect on blood pressure, individuals may be able to control their blood pressure and receive a healthy classification with a regular cycling routine.

If you already have high blood pressure, you’re not completely out of luck. Making healthy lifestyle changes and incorporating a regular cycling routine can help manage the condition. During the medical exam, you will have the opportunity to talk through any steps you are taking to treat your high blood pressure, which will be considered when the underwriter is making a life insurance classification.

The medical examiner may ask you the following questions to measure how you are managing your blood pressure:

  • What does your diet look like?
  • How much caffeine do you consume?
  • Do you smoke?
  • Do you drink?
  • Do you exercise?
  • How do you manage stress?

Mental health

Depending on the insurer, underwriters may look at your mental health history to create a determination of your risk as a life insurance applicant. Mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder or depression can lower the health classification you receive and increase how much you pay for premium payments, but, just as with any physical condition, the underwriter will evaluate the severity of the disease and how you are treating it.

Cycling for just 30 minutes a day can have a positive impact on mental health and reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety, leading to a healthier mental health report card for underwriters.

Cyclists with mental illness can still receive competitive life insurance rates by demonstrating to the underwriter that they are seeking treatment and regularly exercising.

What other factors influence your health classification?

Healthy habits such as cycling are beneficial to your health — and your life insurance premiums — but unfortunately, they are not the only determining factor when you receive a life insurance health classification. While the health benefits of cycling may help you receive a higher health classification, the underwriter takes multiple factors into account when determining your life insurance classification, some of them outside of your control.

To get a holistic understanding of your health, the underwriter evaluates the following factors:

  • Physical makeup — Your age, gender, and body mass index, which is determined by your gender and height-to-weight ratio
  • Lifestyle — Do you skydive for fun? Does your job put you at risk? This affects your life insurance classification
  • Family history — Your family’s medical history can indicate the likelihood of developing certain illnesses
  • Medical history — Previous surgeries or hospitalizations are reviewed by an underwriter to understand the scope of your health
  • Prescriptions — The underwriter evaluates medications you took in the past to paint a complete picture of your medical history
  • Medical diagnoses — If you’ve been diagnosed with an illness or medical condition, this will play a role in determining your life insurance classification. If you’ve recovered or are treating the condition, you could get a more competitive rate.

About the author

Insurance Expert

Nupur Gambhir

Insurance Expert

Nupur Gambhir is an insurance editor at Policygenius in New York City. Previously, she has worked in marketing and business development for travel and tech. She has a B.A. in Economics from Ohio State University.

Policygenius’ editorial content is not written by an insurance agent. It’s intended for informational purposes and should not be considered legal or financial advice. Consult a professional to learn what financial products are right for you.

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