How to Get the Best Rates on Life Insurance

Life insurance is supposed to provide peace of mind. But for many, the approval process gives them nothing but nightmares.

The cost of life insurance varies depending on an applicant’s health history. According to a recent survey by, smokers, on average, pay more than three times for the same policy than non-smokers.A non-smoking 45-year-old woman pays around $45 a month for $500,000 of 20-year level term coverage, while a female smoke of the same age will pay $167 month.

Age, your overall health, and your hobbies and occupation are also taken into consideration and can drive premiums higher. But that doesn’t mean you’re stuck paying a higher cost or skip insurance all together.

“There are many ways to save,” on life insurance, says Tony Steuer, an author and insurance literacy advocate. “Each insurance company has their own pricing strategy and can be more [or less] competitive in specific tiers. Companies also have different perspectives on medical/health issues, such as some companies are more lenient on build or on other more complex medical issues”

Here are four tips experts to employ to get life insurance without breaking the bank:

Tip No.1 Shop Around

Take the time to compare plans. “Some carriers weigh the fact that you are a smoker more heavily than other carriers,” says Laura Adams, senior analyst at

There are online aggregators that will compare plans and rates, or you can use an agent to shop around for you. If you use an agent, experts recommend making sure the professional has access to multiple policies and insurers since each company has different underwriting and rating polices.

“Every company has their own secret sauce on what they quote a customer,” says Adams. As a result, she says consumers should get at least three quotes and include one from a top carrier or a company that provides coverage nationwide.

Tip No.2: Get in Shape Now

In general, healthy people pay less than for coverage.

While it’s going to vary from one insurer to the other in terms of how long you’ll have to be smoke free to qualify as a non-smoker, kicking the habit is going to be your best shot at getting a lower rate.

“An individual who might be declined or facing life insurance premiums that are higher than they anticipated might use their quest for coverage as a wakeup call to improve their health,” says Jack Dolan, a spokesman for the American Council of Life Insurers. “When they do that, they can then come back to the life insurer and show how they have improved.”

If you already have a life insurance policy and quite smoking, Adams suggests alerting the insurer and inquiring about getting reclassified for a lower premium. The one thing you don’t want to do is lie or stretch the truth on your application--even if it’s something they can’t prove such as your weekend bungee jumping escapades. “If you die before you quit smoking and they investigate your death, they can deny a payoff if they found nicotine in your blood at the time of death,” says Adams.

Tip No.3: Get in on a Group Policy

Many corporate benefit programs offer life insurance that doesn’t require a physical exam or undergo any medical tests. While the amount you can take out is often capped, it is a way to get some coverage if you are unhealthy and fear you can’t afford the premium.

Becoming a member of an association or organization can often get access to a group life insurance policy in many cases.

Tip No.4: Review Your Policy Annually

You should review your coverage annually or whenever you experience a life event like a marriage, divorce or new child, suggests Steuer. He says you also want to make sure your beneficiary designations are up to date and you want to compare your options, particularly with term life insurance, to make sure you’re paying the least possible.

What’s more, he says companies charge a fee for paying premiums by modes other than annually so check to see how much you can save by changing that.