Health Conditions That Affect Your Life Insurance Premiums, How Being Healthy Can Reduce Your Premiums

Your life insurance premium is determined by a number of factors which may not be entirely familiar to you. The two fundamental factors that contribute substantially to the determination of this premium are based upon your lifestyle, as well as any health conditions that you may suffer from.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is of utmost importance to keep those life insurance premiums down. The more you work on maintaining a somewhat pristine lifestyle; incorporating a healthy diet and a moderate exercise regime, the better your chances of escaping the onset of any genetic illnesses, lying dormant in your DNA, waiting to be aggravated and activated.

Insurance risk statistics

It is advantageous to understand how insurance companies function (and therefore understand your premium) conceptualising the basic principal of their business model.

With the purchase of adequate cover for insurance of any kind, there are a number of risk factors that you, as the insured party, may need to be assessed for. When this assessment is underway, it’s advantageous to be as transparent as possible, as withholding information may lead to being penalized later. In addition to the questionnaires that you may need to undergo for assessment, your medical history may also be investigated to develop a risk profile upon which your premium will be determined.

To ensure that you’re adequately covered, and to get the matter finalized as quickly as possible, it would be to your benefit to be as cooperative as possible, providing all the needed details to finalize the paperwork.

Genetic Profile

Your likelihood of developing serious health conditions later on in life may be a cause for concern

when your life insurance options are being discussed. This, however, is not to say that you won’t be able to attain reasonable cover should you be genetically predisposed to certain conditions. The insurance agent whose advice you seek will, however, inevitably require adequate proof that, if you have certain health conditions affecting your risk profile, you are indeed receiving the necessary medical care and are doing all that you can to ensure that you maintain good health.

Health Conditions Increasing Your Risk Profile

Genetic Disease and Illness


Individuals that suffer from hypertension stand to have an increased risk of experiencing stroke and heart attacks. This, more often than not, is a cause of concern for insurance providers. It could, however, become more of a concern when your medical history portrays that your high blood pressure levels are not being regulated or controlled. Quintessentially, every life insurance policy will be different, as insurance providers have different sets of criteria in place that determine the kind of insurance cover you qualify for.

Diabetes: Type 2

Type 2 diabetes is said to decrease life expectancy by 10 years. If not managed accordingly, the manifestation and progression of the illness may result in further complications later on in life, namely:

  • kidney damage
  • neuropathy
  • heart disease and stroke
  • foot ulcers
  • amputations
  • blindness and others

This illness will be a cause for concern to your insurance provider, especially depending on your age. The younger you are at the onset of the disease the more increased your risk becomes to further complications, especially if the illness is not controlled.


Life insurance cover options for individuals that suffer from asthma, are more often than not, favourable. As with most illnesses or chronic conditions, the manner in which it is perceived by your assessor will depend on your management of the illness. Depending on the medical care received and the medical records of the person in question, the risk profile created for the individual is likely to differ.

Should your medical records demonstrate that you have required hospitalization on a number of occasions due to your health status this would act as a warning sign to your insurance provider. They will require you to undergo the necessary treatment and take the required medication in order to sustain levels of health and minimize risk of asthmatic attacks which could lead to further complications.

Mental and Clinical Disorders


Depression has caused quite a bit of controversy and major depression especially has been highly correlated to suicidal behaviour. When being assessed for the needed life insurance cover, there may be a number of questions to be answered on the severity of the condition as well as whether you have previously attempted to take your own life. Insurance cover options will be dependent on the severity of the case and cases where individuals are classified as high risk, or have medical records displaying a number of hospitalizations due to suicide attempts. Hence, life insurance may come at a cost or individuals may be classified as not insurable.

Sleep Apnea

This condition can result in pauses to your breathing whilst sleeping. It reportedly reduces the amount of sleep you actually get, and is said to aid the development of a number of additional illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes. The primary cause for concern for underwriters would be the individual’s propensity to have an episode in which breathing is cut off for extended periods of time whilst sleeping, which naturally increases the individual’s chances of suffering a fatality. However, as with most of the above mentioned illnesses, if you can sufficiently prove that the illness is being managed accordingly and under control, there should be no need for this illness to skyrocket your life insurance rate.

Areas of Controversy

Organ Transplants

Recipients of organs may have a hard time finding insurers that are willing to underwrite policies. These matters are usually dealt with case by case and will depend on the type of transplant or organ received. Though there is normally an expected increase in the life expectancy rate for people that receive transplants, there are cases wherein which organs are received and the body appears to react well to them, only to later reject them – resulting in a fatality. This would be why the matter is dealt with taking the utmost care, and insurers practice extra caution.


Obesity is said to have a rather negative impact on your life insurance premium, because clinically obese people are at risk to develop additional illnesses.
Their risk profile is substantially higher in comparison to individuals that suffer from high blood pressure and diabetes, as they have the likelihood to experience further complications and are candidates for strokes and heart attacks.

Insurance providers will often enquire about your Body Mass Index (BMI), once your life insurance application has been made and your rating will be determined by your life insurance premium. But obesity is not the only thing that insurers take into consideration. Anorexia Nervosa, being underweight and malnourished will subsequently affect your life insurance premium as well, in turn determining the kind of cover that you are likely to qualify for.

Terminal Illness


With the variety of cancer types and the stages of the disease differing substantially, the kind of cover that you, as a cancer patient, may qualify for varies vastly. It can only be determined from case to case and will be based upon the stage of the illness that you are in. Additional factors to be considered would include your family history of the disease as well as your own prognosis if you had a form of it.Life insurance may come at a higher premium if you are someone that struggles continually with bouts of tumours or recurring illness. Cases in which individuals are able to prove that they have been disease free for a prolonged period of time however, are deemed more favourable by insurance providers, and this may have less of an impact on the determined life insurance premium.


Another terminal illness which causes quite a bit of controversy in the insurance market is HIV. With a number of insurance providers not providing life insurance cover for individuals that suffer from the disease, there is much debate around whether it’s actually an ethical practice. The chances are great that individuals with HIV will pay increased rates for life insurance, however, the premiums are said to be substantially decreased from what they used to be. This is a sign of hope for the South African population, which has a high incident rate for this condition.

There are a number of medical conditions that may affect your life insurance premium and unfortunately we  can’t mention all of them in depth. However, when consulting with an insurance provider and your medical history is discussed, they should be able to advise you on the matter or redirect you to someone who can. If you are uncertain, be sure to seek a second or third opinion to provide you with clarity on the matter.

An additional list of health conditions that may affect your life insurance include but are not isolated to:

  • Narcolepsy
  • Heart disease
  • Obesity
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Kidney disorders
  • Physical Disability
  • Mental illness

Insights: Illness, Recovery

You may be reading this and recovering from or managing one of the above mentioned health conditions, we hope to be able to reassure you with this success story of transformation, as to how someone who had experienced ill health turned his life around. Providing you with some insights as to how you can change and improve your lifestyle.

Special Contributor

Age: 34
Height: 1.72 metres
Occupation: Financial Manager
Resides: Durban, South Africa
Marital Status: Married
Hobbies: Chess, braais with friends, formula 1.

Jonathan was previously overweight and shares his story of weight loss and the resulting transformation he experienced in his life:

“ I started out training regularly, nothing too hectic, just enough to say I was doing something in the gym. When I started I wasn’t very big, weighing in at 74kgs with a body fat percentage estimated at 15 – 17 percent. After a few months at the gym, I barely noticed a change, possibly due to the fact that I didn’t really change my eating patterns, even though I was exercising now and then.

I then injured my lower back and I’m not exactly sure how, but I couldn’t train or do much for the next two to three months. This was where it all began. During those three months I stopped exercising and just ate a lot more than I should have. I wasn’t in the highest of spirits and just kept packing on the weight. It’s as if the more weight I gained the more I ate, like a terrible cycle. After about four months I was weighing just over 100kgs! My cholesterol was classified as borderline and the doctor had warned me to do something, which I ignored.

Then one evening, I struggled to get up out of a couch and went into the bathroom, took one look in the mirror only to find that I was no longer the man I used to be; and was headed for absolute disaster, if I didn’t do something about it.

I then slowly got back into the gym, and started exercising. Luckily I met a good friend of mine in the gym who gave me some incredible advice on nutrition and diets. I made use of and incorporated these into my own life.

Once I started to control and take note of what I ate daily, I then started to see some unbelievable changes. The weight was melting off bit by bit, week by week. I don’t want it to sound like it was an easy journey, because it really wasn’t. There were days where I felt so down and just wanted to eat anything and everything (and one or two days that actually happened) but somehow I managed to stick it out and keep at it. After about 8 months I was back down to 70Kgs with a lot more muscle than I had ever had!

The place where I’m at now with regards to my weight; feels so good, so healthy and there simply are no words to explain it! I have more energy, I can actually move freely and much faster than ever before. I feel agile and strong. My cholesterol has also come down significantly which my doctor and I are very happy about. So, all in all, the lifestyle change was worth it; sometimes I look back and think that I had to go through gaining all that weight and having that back injury to end up here.”

Jonathan’s real life struggle is shared by many, but the ending isn’t always as positive, with many being affected physically and medically but also financially, spiking their life insurance premiums.

Choosing the right insurance cover often requires extensive research and, in order to get the best rate, it may be beneficial to get a few comparison quotes for life insurance, to have an overview of all your options. It is useful to know how various health conditions may impact life insurance premiums in order to make an educated, informed decision, preparing you to make the right decision. It is often said that, knowledge is power- and this is definitely a case where possessing adequate knowledge on the matter will stand you, as a potential life insurance purchaser, in good stead.

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