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Friday, February 27, 2009

How Your Life Insurance Premiums Are Calculated

By Tom Martens

Life insurance can be complicated to understand, especially when it comes to how the premiums are calculated. It?s not as simple as other insurance policy purchases. First, your life insurance cost is based on your health at the time of purchase and a risk assessment that is conducted by the insurance provider. If you are unhealthy and/or engage in risky behaviors, expect to pay higher costs for your life insurance than someone who is healthy and doesn?t put themselves at risk. That is why a physical examination is required before the provider issues a life insurance policy.

Once the physical is done, the company will review not only the results of the exam, but also your family medical history, your driving history, and possibly other medical reports and a credit report as well.

Life insurance companies usually ask you to fill out a questionnaire about your lifestyle and health issues that do not come up during a physical. However tempting it may be to try to sway the results, be honest as you answer the questionnaire and as you fill out your medical history. Any dishonesty anywhere in your application will give the company grounds to cancel your policy in the future?perhaps after you are gone and cannot do anything to contest it.

After reviewing all these reports, the company assigns you a score that reflects your risk. That is why the premium you wind up paying may not be even close to the quote the agent gave you when you applied for coverage. If the insurer determines that you are a higher risk level than was originally assumed, your premiums will be higher than your quote.

Life insurance companies tell us that there are ways to lower risk. In general, take good care of your health. Stick to a healthy weight. Eat well-balanced meals. Get out and exercise on a regular basis. If you are a smoker, quit. Drive safely, and don't get tickets. Auto insurance claims may also raise your life insurance premiums, not just your car insurance premiums. In general, enjoy your life, but avoid unnecessary risks

The insurance company also considers factors outside your control, like gender and age, in computing your premiums. That is why it is so important for you to do everything possible to improve your health and lower your risk. It's a good idea to do your research, ask several rounds of questions, and get several quotes before choosing your life insurance policy.

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