Death is unpredictable, and the tragic loss of a family member can be devastating, particularly if a two-paycheck household becomes a single paycheck family. Life insurance policies can help provide for the bereaved, ensuring that they do not become financially destitute.

However, there are certain habits that can raise the cost of life insurance premiums, and even make it difficult to obtain coverage.  Insurance companies look at many factors when determining life insurance eligibility and rates, include age, health conditions and lifestyle habits. For those who want to increase the chance of obtaining coverage, or ensure they get the best premium possible, there are several steps you can take. Here are five habits we recommend quitting before applying for life insurance.

  1. Smoking:

    Back in the 1970s, the Surgeon General released a report detailing the hazards of tobacco-use. Since then, insurance companies have used this information (in addition to their own actuarial studies) to assess the high-risk of covering smokers. For instance, “cigarette smoking kills more than 480,000 Americans each year, with more than 41,000 of these deaths from exposure to secondhand smoke,” according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Also, the life of a smoker is expected to be about 10 years shorter than a non-smoker, on average.

    Quitting smoking will not only improve your health, but it will drastically reduce your insurance premiums. Insurance for a 30-year-old smoker can cost a third more than a non-smoker; premiums for a 50-year-old smoker can add up to double the cost of a regular policy.

    To be considered a non-smoker, you must be tobacco-free for 12-36 months (depending on the insurance company) before re-applying for life insurance.

  1. Drinking Alcohol:

    Alcohol is another important factor when underwriters determine coverage. When analyzing results of health tests (initiated to also determine if you’re a tobacco user), insurance companies will look for symptoms like liver damage and high blood pressure.

    Providers will also look at your driving record, and will raise premiums if they find DUIs in your history. Posing a threat to yourself and others due to alcohol use is a major red flag for companies, and heavy drinkers should seek treatment before applying for life insurance.

  1. Sedentary lifestyle:

    Obesity, high blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight—all of which are mitigated or prevented by a healthy lifestyle—are other factors that will negatively affect your rates when applying for life insurance coverage. Getting off the couch and becoming more active will increase your chances of getting a better rate. And, with the rising popularity of digital fitness trackers, it may becoming easier to showcase your healthier lifestyle to insurance companies.

  1. Cut Back on the High-Risk Thrills:

    If you constantly engage in dangerous activities—skydiving, base-jumping, scuba diving, for example—insurance providers may count that against you. Any sport that poses an unusual amount of risk will be a warning sign for insurance companies, who may choose to deny the application entirely.

    Although it may seem like an easy thing to hide in your application, most providers can look at your medical history and see if you’ve been treated for injuries relating to extreme sports. There is also a period of contestability where, if you die in a sports-related accident, a provider can deny coverage based on untruthful information on your application. It’s important to disclose all information on your life insurance application.

  1. Risky Occupation:

    Your occupation is not as easy to give up as a bad habit, but it’s something to consider when applying for life insurance. If you’re in a certain profession, you can expect to pay higher premiums (in most cases), and this is something you should be prepared for. Pilots, offshore fishing, roofers, and loggers are notoriously dangerous jobs that life insurance companies may take into account.

Get Your Free Life Insurance Quote Now

When it comes to determining life insurance coverage, there are a few items that are out of everyone’s control, including age and family history of illness. However, there are a number of areas where you can take full control to increase your chance of coverage and lower your premiums. Interested in learning what coverage you can obtain right now? Click here to start your private life insurance quote.