Life Insurance After You Drop a Risky Hobby or Habit

Insurance, Life Insurance
How to Get Life Insurance to Reflect a Lifestyle Change

When you bought life insurance, perhaps you had to pay more because you engaged in a dangerous hobby you’ve since given up. Or perhaps you’ve quit smoking in the years since you purchased your policy. Now that you’ve stopped, how can you get your insurance company to lower your life insurance rates?

Here’s what you need to know about lifestyle changes and insurance.

Hazardous pastimes

Life insurance companies will charge you more if you do things that are more likely to get you killed, because it’s more likely they’ll have to pay out on your policy.

Prudential explains it this way in a note on its website: “While many activities present no unusual hazard, certain ones, such as flying a plane, scuba diving, mountain climbing and car racing need to be evaluated. In some instances, participation in a hazardous hobby means the risk we assume to cover you is higher and, therefore, your premiums may be higher.”

What happens when you stop

The good news is that you can get your premium lowered if you stop engaging in the hazardous pastime. How long you have to wait and how you go about getting the change varies a bit by company.

MassMutual, for example, will consider changing premiums if a person has stopped an activity for a required period of time — generally two years; one in some cases. Policyholders must provide evidence and a reason for stopping the activity and confirmation they don’t plan to resume it.

Prudential requires policyholders to wait a year after they stop the activity and generally won’t re-evaluate premiums before the second policy anniversary. New York Life also will reconsider premiums a year after you stop the activity. State Farm’s waiting periods tend to be a year or two.

Smoking

One activity that has a big impact on life insurance premiums is smoking. So what happens when you quit? You generally can get your rates cut, eventually.

Northwestern Mutual will reconsider your premiums if you’ve been a nonsmoker for three years, tests find no nicotine in your body and you have no smoking-related illnesses. Prudential will reconsider rates after a year without smoking, again assuming you have no smoking-related health problems. New York Life will consider people for nonsmoking rates after one year and for preferred rates after five. MassMutual has a one-year waiting period for smokers, plus a medical check.

So if you’re a smoker, this is one more potential benefit of quitting — or if you take part in a fun but risky hobby, it’s one upside to circumstances that might cause you to give that activity up.

Aubrey Cohen is a staff writer covering insurance and investing for NerdWallet. Follow him on Twitter @aubreycohen and on Google+.


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