We talk a lot on here about how age is not a barrier to getting affordable life insurance. We also review what to do if you’ve been declined for life insurance. What we have not discussed is how to get re-rated as a senior.
Whether you were rated too high, declined, or are just looking to lower your premiums, you have options. In our professional opinion, it’s simply a matter of taking the proper measure to improve your health, and knowledge.
In life insurance, knowledge is everything and can save you hundreds of dollars a year.
Buying a policy when you’re young and healthy is inexpensive. The longer you wait to protect you and your family, you could be facing an increase in premiums. For many seniors who need to renew their life insurance policies or are looking to buy a policy for the first time, the fear of decline and high rating due to your age and health is real.
Knowing when to re-evaluate your life insurance policy rating can be tricky. A good rule of thumb: if your health has improved since you bought your policy, ask to be re-rated.
Not all carriers will re-rate you. In some instances, you may be better off cancelling your policy and buying a new one. Be sure to speak to an independent life insurance agent before re-evaluating your life insurance policy.
Here are a few instances in which you may want to request a re-rate:
- You have lost weight and kept it off. Being overweight is a huge risk factor for serious health problems, including heart attacks and strokes. Slight weight gain will not increase you premiums or warrant a re-rating. However, the more weight you gain the greater your risk will be.
If you were rated as “standard” or “substandard” due to your weight, but have taken proactive measures to manage your weight, you should request a re-rating.
- You’ve followed a doctor-prescribed regimen to lower your blood pressure. Like obesity, high blood pressure is a red flag for many risks. Chronic high blood pressure, especially, can earn you a low rating. When asking for a re-rating, list any and all medications you’re taking to manage your blood pressure.
- You have quit smoking. Smokers have a difficult time getting rated and often pay large premiums. The easiest way to get affordable life insurance as a smoker is to quit smoking. If you have quit – and have been smoke-free for at least 2 years – you may qualify for a re-rating. You can even potentially qualify as a non-smoker! Medical records detailing a marked improvement in your health due to being smoke-free should be reported to your agent or carrier.
- You have quit drinking and are attending AA meetings. Like smoking, alcohol abuse is also a red flag, health-wise. Alcohol abuse can lead to liver problems, high blood pressure and strokes. If your alcohol consumption was the reason for your low rating and high premium, but you have since stopped drinking, you might be eligible to request a re-evaluation.
- You have had a medical condition that has improved. If you find yourself saddled with high premiums because of weight-related conditions – such as diabetes – or past heart, lung, arthritis, stroke or other conditions, you are most likely taking the proper measures to get healthy again. Your doctor will prescribe a treatment regimen for these conditions, and, occasionally, seniors may find themselves fully on the mend.
Underwriters look at the severity of your medical condition, causes, and what steps you’ve taken to improve your health. Please note that this will take time; in many instances, improving your health also means going at least a year without a recurrence of your medical condition.
- You’re taking your medication. This seems obvious, but you should always take any medications your doctor recommends. Managing your symptoms and taking your doctor-prescribed regimen seriously is a fast-track to earning a better rating.
- You’ve changed your hobbies or lifestyle choices. Health changes aren’t the only reasons underwriters rate you as high risk. Some hobbies and lifestyle choices will also increase your risk such as skydiving, scuba diving, piloting or racing. Underwriters also look at your driving record. Be sure to give an agent a call if you have had past risk infractions, such as a DUI. DUIs may mean you have to wait longer for a re-rating (about five years).
Ceasing these hobbies, or earning certain safety certifications, can help communicate to underwriters that you are taking measures to limit your risk. If you’re unsure of how a carrier will view your hobby, give us a call.
What Happens During a Re-Rating?
When you’re applying for a re-rating, you will have to undergo a medical exam. Be sure to get all of your medical records from your physician, and to communicate to your agent how your health has changed. He or she will then help you prepare to re-present your case to your life insurance carrier. Essentially, you will be going through the entire underwriting process again.
Your overall picture of health – along with your age and lifestyle choices – is what underwriters are looking at when deciding how much you should pay for your life insurance policy.
Not all underwriters view risk the same way.
If you are sticking with the same carrier, a re-rating will be very similar to the application process. Your agent will be able to help you communicate your unique situation.
Because each company views risk differently, not all situations will warrant a re-evaluation of your coverage prices. Most carriers won’t reconsider your rating unless you’ve had an active policy with them for at least two years. If you don’t qualify for a reconsideration, but believe you should be paying lower premiums, give us a call! We’re happy to walk you through your options!