New Year's resolutions can lower premiums
The start of a new year usually heralds a desire to live a healthier lifestyle and quit bad habits such as smoking, overeating and drinking too much. The tough part is sticking to your resolutions.
But if you can commit to the promises you’ve made to yourself all year and beyond, not only will you be happier and healthier – you just may be able to lower your life insurance premiums.
How life insurance premiums are determined
Your life insurance premiums are partially based on your level of health. The biggest considerations insurance companies look at are your blood pressure, cholesterol level and your body build. Smoking heavily for a long time, consuming too much alcohol regularly or carrying excess weight around negatively affects your health.
Basically, the healthier you are, the lower your rates may be. Unhealthy people pay higher premiums, and if you are found to be extremely unhealthy, you may not qualify for insurance coverage at all.
Give up smoking
It’s been proven that smoking shortens your life and increases your risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease and emphysema. So it’s not surprising that one’s smoking habits are reviewed very carefully when assessing insurance risk.
For your insurance company to consider you as a non-smoker, you must not have used any form of tobacco in the last 12 months. That includes cigarettes, cigarillos, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco or smoking cessation products such as Nicorette gum or a nicotine patch.
Drink less alcohol
Excessive alcohol consumption has negative short and long-term effects on your health. In the short term, drinking too much can lead to poor decision-making such as drinking and driving. Over time, alcohol abuse can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, liver disease and even cancer.
To assess whether you are someone who drinks excessively, insurance companies will do blood tests as well as look into your driving history to see if you’ve been convicted for driving under the influence in the last five years.
Weigh in lighter
Being 10 – 15 pounds over your ideal weight is not likely to affect your health or your insurance costs. But if you weigh considerably more than your ideal weight, you could fall into a higher risk bracket, which means higher premiums.
That’s because being overweight can lead to many health problems such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, cancer, and kidney disease.
If you’ve lost a considerable amount of weight and kept it off for a long period of time, you may no longer be considered “at risk”. Make sure your insurance agent knows that you’re a lighter version of yourself so your premiums can possibly be adjusted.
Tips to stick to those resolutions
It’s one thing to resolve to be healthier in the new year, but quite another to keep those resolutions. Try these tips to stay motivated:
- Write them down. Make notes about your goals and be specific: “I want to lose 10 pounds in 2017.” Include the steps you will take to meet your goals. For example, “I will make my own healthy lunches three times a week instead of eating out”. Keep your list handy and refer to it often to stay on track.
- Stay happy. Quitting smoking or eating less sugar can make one a little grumpy. Include healthy activities that keep you feeling happy such as a brisk walk to boost endorphins, or watching a funny movie with friends.
- Announce your goals to friends and family. Making others aware of your plans makes you more accountable. They’ll be watching and rooting for your success.
- Use unflattering photos. We all have them. A picture that captured that abundant muffin top. A snap taken the morning after a late party. Use these cringe-worthy memories as motivation.
- Identify your triggers and strategize ways to avoid them. The self-improvement blog “Pick the Brain” states that every bad habit has a cue in these categories: location, time, emotional state, other people, and immediately preceding action. Every time you engage in a bad habit, note these five things. Then look at ways that you can avoid your triggers. For example, if you grab a sweet snack every afternoon around three due to boredom or hunger, always have healthy snacks in your desk for when the craving hits. Or take a walk at the same time every afternoon to break routine.
- Forgive yourself when things go awry. It’s easy to give up on yourself if your plan falls off the tracks. But being self-critical undermines your chance of success. Tell yourself it’s OK, and start again.
Following through on your resolutions takes patience and determination to do what’s right for you. Along the way, you’ll be rewarded with a longer, healthier lifestyle and possibly lower life insurance premiums.