Staying physically active improves your overall health profile and can lead to cheaper life insurance rates, but running alone won’t impact your premiums.
Updated April 22, 2021|5 min read
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Life insurance rates are calculated based on several factors: age, gender, policy type (term vs. whole), health, and hobbies. Together, these factors illustrate your risk of mortality to the insurance company. Health – including any chronic conditions, prescriptions, and even family medical history – plays a major role in determining cost, so it would make sense that runners, yogis, and swimmers might pay less for life insurance, right?
But it’s not that simple. Although regular aerobic exercise, like running, may lower your risk of death from cardiovascular disease, it won’t directly influence how much you pay for life insurance.
Learn what changes you can make to help lower your life insurance cost, and what anunderwriter looks at when determining your rates.
Running can improve your health but doesn’t guarantee a better life insurance rate
Maintaining a balanced lifestyle, improving your height-to-weight ratio, and avoiding tobacco can help you get a better classification
Insurance companies take your medical history, family history, and lifestyle into consideration
In general, five different classifications determine the cost of life insurance policies:
Though running is indeed linked to improved physical health, according to the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, there’s no way to guarantee that a runner will receive a Preferred Plus health classification and get the most competitive monthly life insurance premiums. Since underwriters look at several different factors to create a health snapshot for each customer, family history, lifestyle choices, BMI, etc, can land you in the Preferred or Standard Plus classification instead.
The better the health classification, the more affordable your monthly premium will be. Take a look at these sample rates of the lowest premiums for a 20-year, $500K insurance policy for a 30-year-old, male nonsmoker.
|HEALTH CLASSIFICATION||LOWEST PREMIUM|
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When life insurance underwriters are creating your profile, they check if you or anyone in your family have a history of illnesses or chronic diseases, including high cholesterol, heart issues, and diabetes. Each insurance company has its own underwriting guidelines to evaluate various health conditions. By comparing quotes from multiple insurers, you can find the best prices for your specific profile.
Running is linked to increased heart health and lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and weight, all of which can potentially lower your life insurance rates.
When life insurance companies determine your health classification, they look at all aspects of your medical history, including cholesterol. They assess your cholesterol by looking at your total blood cholesterol level and the ratio of “good” HDL cholesterol and “bad” LDL cholesterol.
It’s a two-fold process because you might have a low number for total blood cholesterol but your ratio of HDL to LDL cholesterol could still be higher than it should be, which increases your risk for heart disease.
Running can increase your HDL and lower your LDL cholesterol levels, helping to improve your overall numbers and boost your health.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), lower BMI is equated with better health. Underwriters consider that when they assess your health background. If you are overweight for your height category, your health classification and rates might be impacted. Each insurance company has its own height/weight table that they reference, much like a BMI chart, to get a better picture of your health.
While being at a healthy weight is always recommended, you shouldn’t try and do something rash, like crash dieting. Underwriters pay attention to how long it’s been if you’ve recently lost weight, for example. Maintaining a balanced diet and exercise routine is a good way to improve your health classification, which is where running comes into play. Since running provides an efficient calorie burn, you could lose weight and improve your health if you are consistent with it.
Diabetes – type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes – is associated with health complications that increase your mortality risk. Underwriters look at several different factors if you have diabetes to assess your risk: age of diagnosis, type of diabetes, severity, complications, and treatment/control.
Regularly running and exercising falls into the treatment/control category. Since your muscles use more glucose when you are running, you might be able to lower your blood sugar numbers and maintain a healthy number if you are living with diabetes.
When underwriters assess your physical condition, they review your heart health history and any current medications. If you’ve had a heart attack, they will look at the date, cause, any follow-up reports, stents, EKG results, and echocardiogram results.
Running regularly may lower your risk of heart attack and strengthen your heart. In fact, running for just a few minutes daily can significantly lower your risk of death from cardiovascular disease compared to non-runners.
As part of your health assessment, underwriters will look at your blood pressure reading from your medical exam. They look at three readings of your diastolic/systolic blood pressure and average them to get one final reading. For example, if your reading is 120/80, 110/70, and 100/60, they will average those numbers and record 110/70.
They will also reference your historical blood pressure from your medical records and some insurance companies will factor in any blood pressure medication you’re taking as well. If you have high blood pressure, that can place you in a less-favorable health class and increase your monthly life insurance premiums.
Running can play a role in improving your health report card because it has been shown to lower blood pressure. Regular exercise strengthens your heart so it can pump more blood without exerting itself as much. The less effort required to pump, the less focus on your arteries, which helps keep your blood pressure down.
While running can make you healthier and potentially place you in a better health classification, there are other factors outside of your control that can influence your insurance classification.
After you take your medical exam, underwriters will review various factors to determine your risk profile which reflects the projected life expectancy of the customer, in other words, how likely you are to die while your insurance policy term is still active.
Those factors include:
Physical makeup - Your age, gender, height, and weight will all be analyzed as part of the underwriting process.
Family history - Your father, mother, and siblings’ medical histories can be used to predict your risk.
Medications - Underwriters will look at your current and previous prescriptions to fill in any gaps in your medical records and get a better idea of your health history.
Procedures and surgeries - All of your hospitalizations, procedures, and surgeries will be carefully reviewed during the underwriting process.
Illnesses and conditions - Past and present illnesses and conditions will also be factored into your health snapshot.
If running is your exercise of choice, it can help improve your overall health and indirectly influence how much you pay for life insurance. But the life insurance underwriting process includes an extensive review of your entire health profile, including any chronic illnesses, medical conditions, and family health history. Even if you have a clean bill of health, certain hobbies, such as skydiving, your age, and the type of policy you choose will affect your premiums.
We recommend comparing rates from different insurance companies to get the best price for your unique circumstance.
Running can help improve various aspects of your health, which can indirectly lead to lower life insurance rates. But underwriters look at several factors to determine your risk of mortality.
Your age, gender, hobbies, health, and the type of policy you need (permanent vs. term) affect your premium costs.
Usually, yes, life insurance companies require a physical medical exam to gather more information about your health. Some insurers offer no-medical exam life insurance, with restrictions on who is eligible to apply.
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