Life insurance can be expensive and if it’s essential those high costs can leave a nasty taste in your mouth. You may wonder if it’s worth purchasing a policy at all, which could place your family in jeopardy as they won’t have the cover they need when you pass.
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However, there are a few ways you can bring those costs down and get affordable life insurance. So, don’t despair, and take a look at these top tips for cheap life insurance.
How are Life Insurance Payouts and Premiums Judged?
Insurance underwriters set your premiums and your payout based on the likelihood that you will die during the term. It sounds pretty morbid, but these are for-profit companies we’re talking about and when death is your only liability, there’s no time for gentility.
It’s something that frustrates everyone who has ever been quoted high premiums, but it’s important to see things from the perspective of the underwriter. If you’re 100 pounds over your ideal weight, your risk of heart disease, cancer, and countless other diseases increases, and you become more of a liability.
It doesn’t matter how much you convince them that you’re on a diet and will lose all of that weight eventually—as things stand right now, you’re more of a liability than someone who weighs 100 pounds less.
Of course, it’s possible to be 140 pounds and unhealthy, just as it’s possible to be 240 pounds and healthy, and this is an argument that many applicants make. But those are the exceptions. The oldest woman ever smoked until the day she died and made it halfway through her 122nd year, and everyone knows of at least one smoker that continued the habit well into their 70th and 80th year, seemingly unaffected.
However, the average smoker will die 10 years before their non-smoking counterpart and their risk of contracting a host of diseases increases exponentially for every decade that they stick with the habit. Should a life insurance company dismiss your habit just because of a 122-year-old French woman? Of course not.
These are statistics and probabilities; they focus on the most likely and the most common. By their very nature, there will always be exceptions and outliers. A life insurance company doesn’t care about any of these because as long as they focus on the events that are most likely (obese policyholders and smokers will die young; preexisting medical conditions are more likely to reoccur than if they didn’t exist at all) the premiums will exceed the payouts and they will turn a profit.
The sooner you apply for life insurance, the better your chances of getting a high payout and a low premium. Age is one of the biggest factors in determining your mortality risk. A 20-year-old has a high chance of surviving a 30-year-term, but for every additional year, those odds decline and by the time they hit 55, the odds are no longer in their favor.
Starting early doesn’t just protect your loved ones if you die before your time, it also gives you more options. This is when whole life insurance policies are at their most beneficial. These will payout regardless, even if you live to be 100. The life insurance company will still benefit, however, because many of these policies either lapse because of non-payment (a lot can happen in those 80 years) or the policyholder takes the cash value.
They’re like a life insurance policy and saving account bundled into one, but they become less viable as you age.
Make Big Changes
You probably knew this tip was going to be here, but it’s worth mentioning: If you smoke, stop; if you’re obese, lose weight. We can’t stress enough how much of a difference these things will make to your life insurance application.
If you’re a smoker and you’re obese, you’re a massive liability. Statistically speaking, you’ll be beating the odds if you make it to your 60th year, which means a 30-year term stops being a viable option when you’re just 31! If that’s not enough to scare you, then there’s nothing we can say that will.
By quitting cigarettes and dropping a few dozen pounds, you improve your chances of living a long and full life, which, in turn, means you’ll get cheaper life insurance premiums.
And these are not the only changes you should consider making. Many applicants fail to calculate just how much of a liability they become when they partake in extreme sports and activities such as base jumping, parkour, sky diving, and rock climbing. Some of these are riskier than others, but in all cases, the underwriter will compare them to the averages to determine your likelihood of dying young.
Roughly 10 skydivers will die for every 1 million that jump on a regular basis. However, more than 40 times as many will die from base jumping and you’re 30 times more likely to die from extreme mountaineering than you are from base jumping.
Some of these are less risky than you might think. For instance, you’re twice as likely to die from walking than you are from horseback riding, as the former puts you at risk of major pedestrian accidents.
You’re also more likely to die from getting out of bed aged 45 than you are from SCUBA diving. So, assess the risks, try to look at your situation from the underwriter’s perspective, and make changes where necessary without giving up all the things that you enjoy.
You can apply for life insurance as soon as you lose weight or give up risky and dangerous activities. You can reap the benefits straight away when you do this, but the same can’t be said for everything.
Smoking is a great example of this. If you quit smoking today, you will need to wait at least 12 months before that has an impact on your life insurance policy. It only makes sense when you consider the majority of short-term cessations will result in relapse.
The underwriter also wants to protect their bottom line, because you won’t start feeling the health benefits until several months have passed and before that time elapses, you’re still a high risk for many diseases and conditions.
Look for Group Life Insurance
If you can’t get life insurance by applying directly, you may be offered it through an employer. Group life insurance is offered to large groups of people and is typically provided by employers.
You probably won’t get the same extensive cover, but you will get some cover, and this is a great alternative if you’re struggling to seal the deal yourself.
Only Buy What You Need
It’s tempting to get a big payout when you’re buying life insurance as that payout can then provide a good life for your loved ones. But life insurance shouldn’t be like winning the lottery. It’s not designed to allow them to quit work and spend the rest of their lives sipping champagne on Mediterranean cruises.
The payout should cover all of their needs for several years, while also repaying any debts that you (or your loved ones) have. If you have a mortgage, it can also go towards repaying this.
Many life insurance experts recommend that you stick with the absolute basics in situations where the remaining family members can still support themselves. For instance, let’s suppose that you’re a 50-year man in relatively good health. You earn roughly the same money as your wife, but she’s 10 years younger than you and you also have a son at college and a mortgage with $50,000 left to pay.
In this case, the payout should be at least $50,000, plus the size of remaining debts. However, you don’t need to include all debts in this. Some debts, including all federal student loans, will die with you, which means your son or your wife won’t be burdened with them. For example, if you cosigned on a $20,000 federal student loan and also have $10,000 in joint credit card debt, a death benefit of $60,000 will be enough.
That way, your wife can clear the mortgage and debt in full, thus reducing monthly liabilities and putting more money in her pocket at the end of the money. If she ever faces a financial crisis, such as the loss of a job, she’ll have a fully paid house to use as collateral and can take loans and equity loans as needed.
This is the best way to provide for your family after your death without crippling your finances in the present.
And Finally, Take Your Time
The sooner you apply, the better. But that applies to years and not weeks, so don’t feel like you need to rush. If you’re not sure about the process and need a little advice, spend some more time reading through articles and guides and speaking with current policyholders.
Providing yourself with a little extra shopping time will also make it easier to compare and to find the best life insurance rates and the best payouts based on your specific budget and situation.