Jeff is a well-known speaker and expert in life insurance and financial planning. He has been featured and quoted in Nerdwallet, Bloomberg, Forbes, U.S. News & Money, USA Today, and other leading finance websites. He is a licensed life insurance agent and has helped over 3000 people secure life insurance. He is licensed in all 50 states & DC. Jeff has spoken at top insurance conferen...

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Benjamin Carr was a licensed insurance agent in Georgia and has two years' experience in life, health, property and casualty coverage. He has worked with State Farm and other risk management firms. He is also a strategic writer and editor with a background in branding, marketing, and quality assurance. He has been in military newsrooms — literally on the frontline of journalism.

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Reviewed by Benji Carr
Former Licensed Life Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Oct 9, 2020

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According to US News, 80% of New Year’s resolutions will fail, which means if you’re still sticking to yours, there is a good chance you are in the minority.

One of the most commonly failed New Year’s resolutions? Weight loss.

In fact, according to Time, roughly 60% of gym memberships go unused. The problem with letting this particular New Year’s resolution lapse is that you may be costing yourself more money in the long run, and in an unlikely way.

You guessed it: we’re talking about your life insurance premium. If you follow our blog, you know that a variety of factors impact your life insurance premiums, and your build is probably the one that could cost you the most. Fortunately, it is also the red flag that is easiest to reverse.

In this article, we’ll discuss why build strongly influences your life insurance premium and measures you can take to lower your payment.

Body Weight: The Problem with Being Overweight

The reason why body weight impacts your life insurance premiums so drastically is because it directly correlates to increased mortality. In fact, an individual who is 20% overweight will experience a 20% increase in his or her mortality.

Shocking, right?

This is why insurers take your build so seriously. Increased mortality in adults is most commonly caused by heart disease, diabetes or digestive diseases – all of which are associated with being overweight.

You may be thinking you can go on an extreme weight loss program and drop the extra weight quickly; however, this could also have detrimental effects on your premium.

The problem? With most adults, body weight stays consistent for a number of years and any drastic changes in your weight can be indicative of disease. So, if you lose weight quickly in order to do well on your life insurance exam, you may find that the carrier postpones their decision regarding your risk until the possibility of disease is ruled out.

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What You Should Communicate To Your Life Insurance Agent

When it comes to underwriting your risk, carriers will look at a few factors, not just your weight.

Your overall health is also taken into consideration, so you should expect that your agent will ask extensive questions regarding your health – especially if you are overweight.

Any evidence you can provide from your doctor proving your cardiovascular health will be immensely helpful to earning you a better rating. This is so they can conduct a preliminary assessment of your risk and find carriers that will look favorably upon it.

In order to assess your weight, underwriters and agents will categorize you according to a chart. This chart details the average weight for men and women of a certain height, as well as the maximum amount you can weigh in order to be classified as “preferred” or “standard.”

We should note here that a female at the upper end of the weight threshold is more likely to earn a higher rating because of the difference in build. Similarly, a younger individual who falls within the higher weight range will also face higher premiums, as it is common for weight to continue to increase with age.

Your family history will also come into play when you are being underwritten for coverage. Because weight depends on a variety of factors, each case will need to be assessed separately and we recommend speaking to an independent agent first.

An independent agent is a helpful tool in cases like this because he or she will be able to assess the unique aspects of your position and can help you find the carriers to best suit your needs.

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While some of these may not apply to your personal weight situation, here are a few things underwriters and agents will want to know:

  • History of your weight loss or gain. This will include any reasons for gain or loss of pounds as well as the highest weight you’ve ever been.
  • Your family history, specifically, information concerning your immediate family. This information includes the ages of your mother, father, brother or sister. If any members of your immediate family have passed away, the questionnaire will also ask for their ages at the time of death, and the cause of death. History of cancer and cardiovascular disease will also need to be disclosed.
  • Your cholesterol.
  • Any medications you are taking, and the frequency with which you take said medicine.
  • Your blood pressure.
  • Your cholesterol, specifically your LDL – “bad cholesterol” – and HDL, or, “good cholesterol.”
  • Have you been diagnosed with any other diseases?

It is important to enter all questions as honestly as possible and to include any relevant information not detailed on the questionnaire. This way, your agent will be able to accurately estimate the risk underwriters will take on by insuring you.

Lowering Your Risk and Your Premium

The good news is that – while weight can have detrimental impacts on your life insurance premium – you can take measures to lower your weight and your risk.

Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, Omega-3 fatty acids, and whole grains – and limiting the consumption of starchy carbs, processed foods, red meats and alcohol – may be able to lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Additionally, at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise a day strengthens your heart, further reducing the risk of developing heart disease.

Before beginning any diet and exercise regimen, be sure to consult with your physician to ensure that you are being safe and healthy.

You Are More Than A Number

The important thing to remember when shopping for life insurance is that you are more than your weight, and you are more than a risk classification.

A trusted agent is your biggest asset because they see past a number on the scale and see you as an individual. Everyone’s health story is unique, and agents are in the position to communicate that individuality to underwriters, earning you the best premiums possible for your situation.