What Affects Life Insurance Rates?

Your age, health, hobbies and sex affect your life insurance rates. Because rates vary widely from each life insurance company, where you choose to purchase your policy can also affect your rate. One company may offer the same policy benefits for a higher price. Learning how to compare policies and understanding how your age, health, hobbies and sex affect your life insurance rates can help you get the lowest rate possible.

  • Written by
    Lindsey Crossmier

    Lindsey Crossmier

    Financial Writer

    Lindsey Crossmier is an accomplished writer with experience working for The Florida Review and Bookstar PR. As a financial writer, she covers Medicare, life insurance and dental insurance topics for RetireGuide. Research-based data drives her work.

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  • Edited By
    Savannah Pittle
    Savannah Pittle, senior financial editor for RetireGuide

    Savannah Pittle

    Senior Financial Editor

    Savannah Pittle is a professional writer and content editor with over 16 years of professional experience across multiple industries. She has ghostwritten for entrepreneurs and industry leaders and been published in mediums such as The Huffington Post, Southern Living and Interior Appeal Magazine.

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  • Reviewed By
    Eric Estevez
    Eric Estevez, Independent Licensed Life Insurance Agent

    Eric Estevez

    Owner of HLC Insurance Broker, LLC

    Eric Estevez is a duly licensed independent insurance broker and a former financial institution auditor with more than a decade of professional experience. He has specialized in federal, state and local compliance for both large and small businesses.

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  • Published: November 18, 2022
  • Updated: November 22, 2022
  • 7 min read time
  • This page features 10 Cited Research Articles
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APA Crossmier, L. (2022, November 22). What Affects Life Insurance Rates? RetireGuide.com. Retrieved May 19, 2024, from https://www.retireguide.com/life-insurance/quotes/what-affects-life-insurance-rates/

MLA Crossmier, Lindsey. "What Affects Life Insurance Rates?" RetireGuide.com, 22 Nov 2022, https://www.retireguide.com/life-insurance/quotes/what-affects-life-insurance-rates/.

Chicago Crossmier, Lindsey. "What Affects Life Insurance Rates?" RetireGuide.com. Last modified November 22, 2022. https://www.retireguide.com/life-insurance/quotes/what-affects-life-insurance-rates/.

How Does Age Affect Your Life Insurance Rate?

According to the Farm Bureau Financial Services, your age is the most influential factor that can raise your life insurance rate. Generally speaking, the younger you are, the more affordable your premium rates will be.

Did You Know?
Expect your life insurance rates to rise by 8% to 10% each year until you turn 50. After you turn 50, rates can increase by 9% to 12% each year.

Premium rates can become costly the longer you wait to purchase. With Progressive Casualty Insurance Company, for example, a 10-year term policy with $250,000 coverage costs $12.40 monthly for a healthy 30-year-old woman. For the same policy purchased at 50 years old, the premium rate has practically tripled and costs $29.36 monthly.

Life Insurance Icons
Monthly Life Insurance Rates by Age
AgeMonthly Cost
Source: Progressive Casualty Insurance Company

*Quoted rates are for a 10-year term policy with $250,000 of coverage for a healthy woman.

How Sex Impacts Your Rate

Men typically pay higher life insurance rates because they historically do not live as long as women.

According to a study from the National Library of Medicine, the worldwide average life expectancy of a woman was nearly 75 years old, while the worldwide average life expectancy of a man was close to 71 years old. The study was conducted with World Bank data, with countries grouped by income level.

Did You Know?
The biggest gap in life expectancy was between men in low-income countries (approximately 62 years old) and women in high-income countries (approximately 83 years old).
Source: The National Library of Medicine
While RetireGuide always strives for gender inclusivity in our work, much of the financial industry’s existing data is classified by traditional gender binaries. Though we make every effort to use inclusive language in our reporting, our resources for nonbinary individuals may at times be limited to the available population data.
Be sure to ask your agent or broker how the policy affects your goals. There are many features to a life insurance policy that can be included, which may or may not make sense for your life. Those features will add to your premium, therefore, it is smart to understand your policy to that level.

How Does Health Affect Your Rate?

Healthy individuals pay less for life insurance than their unhealthy counterparts. Serious medical conditions, such as heart disease and cancer, make you a high-risk applicant — and if you’re considered high-risk, your premium rates will increase.

Insurance companies may request access to your health records before issuing you a policy. If this is the case, a HIPAA-compliant consent form will be included in your life insurance application.

Insurers also use third-party companies to check your prescription drug history and you may be required to undergo a medical exam.

Insurers will consider your height-to-weight ratio, blood pressure, cholesterol levels and other metrics that could indicate future medical issues.

And the health of your immediate family matters, too.

Your family’s history of certain diseases — such as diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular problems — can directly impact your ability to get a lower rate.

Did You Know?
Smoking regularly can sharply raise your life insurance premium rates. Smokers can pay up to three times more for life insurance than nonsmokers.

Once your medical exam results have returned, your life insurance company will place you in a rate class based on your health. Four common rate classes are Preferred Best, Preferred, Standard Plus and Standard.

Common Life Insurance Rate Classes
Preferred Best
If you’re in the Preferred Best class, you’re considered to be in exceptional health. Those in Preferred Best don’t smoke, are a healthy weight and have no serious health issues. If you are in the Preferred Best class, you will have the most affordable premium rate.
If you’re in the Preferred class, you generally have good health with a few minor issues. For example, if you’re healthy but slightly overweight or have a family history of diabetes, you may be placed in Preferred. Your premium rate will likely be higher than a Preferred Best class rate.
Standard Plus
If you’re in the Standard Plus class, you might have notable health issues that aren’t at risk of killing you. For example, you may be in cancer remission or a regular smoker. Your premium rates will be higher than both Preferred rates.
If you’re in the Standard class, you likely have below-average to high-risk health issues. Examples include those currently undergoing cancer treatment or with type 1 diabetes. If you’re in Standard class, you’ll have the highest premium rate of these four classes.

How Your Lifestyle Is Tied to Your Rate

If you regularly partake in a dangerous hobby or have a risky career, your life insurance rates will likely be higher than those of less-risky policyholders. In fact, you could be denied life insurance coverage altogether based on lifestyle factors.

Certain professions — such as mining, fishing, logging or transportation — may also cost you more since your chance of getting into a lethal accident at work is greater. Several hobbies that will likely increase your premium rates include skydiving, rock climbing and hunting.

A criminal record can jack up your rate as well — or even get your application denied. This is especially true if you’re a convicted felon. Credit checks might flag you for higher rates as well.

Your driving record is also considered. Small infractions such as speeding tickets likely won’t matter to insurers, but a DUI or other serious offense will.

Hobby Lifestyle Rate Increase Estimates
HobbyHow Much Your Rate Could Increase Per Year
Motorcycle Riding$1,000 - $1,300
Scuba Diving$2,500 - $3,200
Skydiving$2,500 - $3,200
Rock Climbing$1,500 - $2,000
Hunting$500 - $700
Hang Gliding$2,000 - $2,600

*This information was updated to reflect inflation rates in 2022.

According to the Industrial Safety & Hygiene News, the five jobs with the most fatalities in America are logging jobs, aircraft pilots, oil operators, roofers and garbage collectors. The study was based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries. If your insurer knows you have a life-threatening job, your life insurance premiums rates are likely to rise.

How Your Policy Type and Terms Impact Your Rate

The details of your policy will directly impact your premiums. Term life insurance policies, for example, will typically provide a more affordable rate than a permanent policy.

And when comparing the two main types of permanent policies — universal and whole life — the Insurance Information Institute finds that whole life insurance is commonly the most expensive type of permanent life insurance.

We also know that policies issued for larger coverage amounts over longer terms cost more than policies with smaller coverage amounts over shorter terms. For example, a 10-year term life policy will cost less than a 30-year term life policy. Likewise, a $500,000 policy will be more expensive than a $100,000 policy.

And no matter the type of policy you choose, higher death benefits result in higher rates.

Comparing Rate Costs for Different Policy Types
Type of Policy/Age Issued30 Years Old40 Years Old50 Years Old
10-Year Term$36.16$53.17$111.79
20-Year Term$52.25$82.71$179.44
30-Year Term$86.54$137.88$303.14
Universal Life$390.52$578.85$921.93
Whole Life$666.94$1,003.06$1,615

*Premium quotes are for a healthy woman purchasing a policy with $1 million in coverage.

All life insurance companies have different pricing for premium rates. One company might give you a quote for the same policy at half the price of another company’s quote.

Comparing your quotes can help guarantee that you’re getting the best price.

Last Modified: November 22, 2022

10 Cited Research Articles

  1. Freedman, D. (2022, March 28). Term vs. Permanent Life Insurance. Retrieved from https://www.usnews.com/insurance/life-insurance/term-vs-permanent
  2. Farm Bureau Financial Services. (2021, February 5). How Does Age Affect Life Insurance? Retrieved from https://www.fbfs.com/learning-center/age-factor-into-life-insurance
  3. Baum, F. & et al. (2021, January 14). New Perspective on Why Women Live Longer Than Men: An Exploration of Power, Gender, Social Determinants, and Capitals. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7829786/
  4. Industrial Safety & Hygiene News. (2020, November 5). Top 25 Most Dangerous Jobs in the United States. Retrieved from https://www.ishn.com/articles/112748-top-25-most-dangerous-jobs-in-the-united-states
  5. Williams, G. (2013, April 16). How Risky Hobbies Can Raise Your Insurance Rates. Retrieved from https://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2013/04/16/how-risky-hobbies-can-raise-your-insurance-rates
  6. AIG Direct Insurance Services. (n.d.). How Does Age Affect Life Insurance? Retrieved from https://www.aigdirect.com/about-life/planning-for-life-insurance/life-insurance-and-age
  7. Connecticut State Department of Public Health. (n.d.). Costs & Consequences of Tobacco Use. Retrieved from https://portal.ct.gov/DPH/Health-Education-Management--Surveillance/Tobacco/Costs--Consequences
  8. Pendell, C. (n.d.). Here’s What Each Life Insurance Rate Class Means. Retrieved from https://www.jrcinsurancegroup.com/heres-what-each-life-insurance-rate-class-means/
  9. Progressive. (n.d.). Types of Life Insurance Explained. Retrieved from https://www.progressive.com/answers/life-insurance-types/
  10. U.S. Inflation Calculator. (n.d.). Inflation Calculator. Retrieved from https://www.usinflationcalculator.com/