There is a defined moment when many of us start to consider getting life insurance to protect family members and loved ones. It could be after a child birth or a catchy insurance commercial that tweaks your interest. When this moment strikes, the first thing most people do is get a quick online quote to understand their ballpark rates. A more detailed assessment follows afterwards. Some elements of this assessment are intuitive (age, health condition, smoking status, occupation, etc.). There are, however, some other surprising assessment criteria that underwriters also consider. Such as…
1. Driving History: Yes, your driving history matters, not only for your auto insurance premiums but also your life insurance rates. If you had a DUI accident in the recent past, you will likely experience significant higher quoted rates than somebody who has a clean driving history. Remember that smaller offenses fall off your driving record after three years (for insurance purposes).
2. Be Happy: Having a history of depression can hijack your life insurance premiums, almost doubling them. Happy people experience less health issues and stress, and thus represent lower risk for insurance companies.
3. Policy Date: The policy’s starting date can be sometimes adjusted (also called backdating), meaning that in some cases you can benefit from lower premiums (based on your younger age; if you turned 50 this week but backdate your policy to last month, for example). Obviously you will need to pay all the premiums starting from the backdated time point, but you can benefit from a lower rate going forward.
4. Dangerous jobs (e.g. stuntmen, bomb squad member) can mean higher risk for your life and thus lead to higher insurance premiums. Do you think that your job is dangerous?
5. Payment frequency: Paying for a life insurance policy on an annual basis saves insurers administrative costs, and they reward you with lower premiums than if you’d paid for your insurance monthly. In this case, though, you’d need to plan carefully because a big annual charge can create a significant hole in your household budget if you forget about the annual premium.
6. Travelling (to dangerous destinations): Some destinations are more dangerous than others and some are very dangerous (war zones, areas with known history of kidnapping, etc.) Consult an insurance broker or your agent to understand how your future plans can impact your insurance coverage. Your policy can be declined or you might be able to get a life insurance policy, but it would explicitly exclude the time you are abroad. In some cases, a simplified issue no medical life insurance policy is a solution since it does not ask travel questions. It is important to know, though, that a simplified issue policy is more expensive than a standard one and its coverage is typically limited to $50,000 – $300,000. You can test this out by getting an anonymous simplified issue no medical life insurance quote via one of numerous insurance online platforms.
7. Sports (extreme): Being involved in extreme and/or dangerous sports, especially professionally, can impact your life insurance premiums (for example: sky diving, cliff diving, scuba diving). Similarly to getting insurance while travelling to dangerous locations, you need to understand which cases are not covered by your life insurance policy.
8. Private pilot licenses: This one usually falls into a category of dangerous hobbies – licenced pilots (only private) might experience higher insurance rates. When calculating insurance premiums, an insurer will consider both the pilot’s age and experience. This information will probably not asked during the initial quoting process, but will be required during the detailed assessment later.
9. Your citizenship: If you are not a Canadian citizen or resident, you will not be able to apply for a Canadian life insurance policy.
10. Your income: Insurance companies can decline your life insurance policy if your household income falls below a particular threshold, typically $30,000. The reasoning behind this is so insurance does not stretch your budget beyond its capabilities. Note that you should still speak with a broker to create a detailed future plan for insurance protection, and brokers that are also financial planners can help you triage your upcoming financial expenses to best manage your needs. It’s a good idea to check with your insurance broker, if your income might be an issue, before submitting your application. Remember, that once you have been declined for a life insurance application, it may impact your next applications since some insurers include in their surveys, “have you ever been declined for a life insurance application?” Similarly to a pilot license, this question might be not be included in initial quote questions, but will be asked later by your insurer.
As you can see, many aspects outside of your health impact your life insurance quote and policy. You should remember that underwriting rules (application assessment) are different across insurers and thus, it is advisable to work with an insurance broker who deals with numerous life insurance companies and can share his/her expertise with you as you navigate through this complex process.