Category Archives: Personal Finance

How Your Lifestyle Can Affect Your Life Insurance Classification

When you purchase a life insurance policy, your provider will assign you a certain rate classification. These classifications are essentially estimations of your risk level based on several different health factors. Your classification will determine, among other things, whether or not you’ll have to pay more for your insurance due to factors like being overweight, smoking or chewing tobacco, unhealthy drinking habits, a dangerous job, risky hobbies, or a serious medical condition.

Your classification can make a huge impact on the amount of premium you have to pay each month, leaving many wondering if there is anything they can do to change their classification after signing up for a policy. Fortunately the answer, in many cases, is yes. If you think that you are considerably healthier now than when you took out your policy, it is indeed possible to ask your health insurance provider for a reevaluation under certain circumstances. Let’s have a look at some of the factors that may or may not affect your life insurance classification.

Health Conditions

First, the bad news. There are certain medical conditions that you simply can’t do anything about. For instance, if you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, or a chronic heart condition, you most likely won’t be eligible for an improved classification as these conditions are unlikely to go away or improve significantly enough to warrant a reevaluation.


It doesn’t matter if you’re an occasional cigar smoker, or a pack-a-day cigarette smoker, insurance companies don’t really see a difference between the two, and tobacco use can seriously affect your rates. Smokers often pay up to 200% more per month than non-smokers, so quitting smoking is one of the most effective things you can do to significantly improve your premiums—not to mention your health.

If it’s been a year or two since you quit smoking, you can ask for a reevaluation. Your insurance company will most likely want to do a health exam to check for nicotine, and they might request information about lung function/overall health from your last physical examination. But if everything checks out and you qualify as a non-smoker, you could potentially move up to a better classification (and a better monthly rate).

Bad Habits

Smoking isn’t the only bad habit that can earn you a poor rate classification. Drug use and excessive drinking will also have an effect on your life insurance risk assessment, and it might even get you denied coverage altogether. But if you decide to cut back, or quit outright, you might be eligible for a reevaluation after some time has passed.

Weight Loss

Build is a very common factor in determining insurance classifications and most insurance companies use a height/weight chart to determine if/how your particular build will impact your overall risk. Because being overweight comes with some potentially serious health consequences, it can also cause a significant increase in your insurance premiums. But, if you make some changes to your lifestyle that cause you to lose weight and keep it off for at least one year, you could be looking at a slimmer you, and a slimmer monthly premium.

Risky Business

High risk jobs and dangerous hobbies can also seriously impact your life insurance rate classification. If you’re an electrician, a coal miner, or someone who gets a thrill from jumping out of airplanes or swimming with great white sharks, you can probably count on a lower classification and a higher monthly premium. However, if you switch professions, or decide to trade in your parachute for a more grounded hobby (have you considered collecting stamps?) your insurance provider might be willing to revisit your risk class.

As you can see, there are a lot of things you can do to improve your rate classification even after your insurance policy is in place, so you shouldn’t let your initial classification deter you from purchasing a plan that could potentially be a crucial safety net for your family. In most cases, changing your classification just requires a bit of diligence and patience. Your insurance provider will be more than happy to work with you if you’ve managed to improve your health, but they need to be sure that your lifestyle changes are more than just a passing phase. So if you’re trying to make a change regarding any of the scenarios listed above, stick with it for a year or two and before you know it, both you and your wallet will be in much better shape.


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4th of July Deaths and the Dangers of one of America’s Favorite Holidays

As the 4th of July holiday approaches, we think of sunshine, barbecues and, of course, our nation’s independence. But, unfortunately, for many people the 4th is a reminder of how tragedy can strike at any moment. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, an average of 200 people visit the emergency room every day with fireworks-related injuries in the month around the 4th of July holiday and, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the 4th is the deadliest day for drivers, with traffic deaths numbering well above any other day of the year, including New Year’s Eve.

Every year, we hear reports of deaths related to the holiday, and sometimes they are downright grizzly. In 2011 a father of two was decapitated by a firework he was attempting to set off in front of his home in Fargo, North Dakota. A witness described the incident to a local newspaper: “All we saw was a cloud of smoke, a bang. When I walked up to his body, it was nothing but his shoulders down.”

In that same year, a 19-year-old newlywed Oklahoma man was hit in the neck and killed by exploding fireworks in front of his family who had gathered at his home for a backyard 4th of July barbecue.

In 2013, an 8-year-old Oklahoma boy fell from a 4th of July parade float and died from severe head trauma after being pulled underneath the trailer’s wheels. The float was being driven by the boy’s own father.

Freak accidents like these can happen in an instant and without warning. One small slip, or someone else’s poor judgment could end your life and change the lives of those around you forever. Even those who take strict safety precautions aren’t immune to deadly mishaps. You can never be sure whether a “harmless” firework might be defective or otherwise unsafe. And, even if you’re observing all the traffic laws while you make your way down to the family get together, it doesn’t mean everyone else is.

This isn’t to say we should all cancel our festivities. The 4th of July is a cause for celebration, a time when families get together to share a drink and a meal with loved ones and celebrate the birth of this nation we all love. But as we gather around our grills and pull out our folding chairs for the fireworks show, we should be aware of the dangers, and take steps to protect ourselves and our families, including make sure that they are covered in the event of your passing.

From staying away from large scale fireworks, to supervising your kids with something as seemingly innocuous as sparklers—which have been known to cause fires and serious injuries—there are simple things you can do to lower your chances of accidents. And for those freak occurrences that you just can’t predict, things like fire insurance and life insurance can go a long way toward protecting your family should the unthinkable happen to you. No one expects the worst on the 4th of July, but it’s always better to be prepared, just in case.


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