By Lee Sherman
You work out all the time, are a weightlifter, a swimmer, or a runner. Maybe you eat healthier than the average person. You’ll probably live longer too. Does this mean you should pay less for your life insurance?
A number of trends have led to a new category of insurance known as Fitness Based Life Insurance. Fitness itself has never been more popular. And at-home gyms and smart wearables have brought more people into the fold. As more people adopt healthier lifestyles and data about these activities is easily collected by devices such as the Google Fitbit and the Apple Watch, it has become easier to track people’s health.
The technology is also proactive and preventative, alerting you to changes in things like heart rate, blood pressure, and overall stability. As our earlier article points out, you can use your wearable connected device to set alarms that remind you when to take your medicine or when to get away from the computer and take a walk. In the case of a real emergency, your wearable can notify an emergency contact or provide an emergency medical responder (EMR) with information about your medications, conditions, and medical history.
With this information available to medical providers and insurance companies alike, the role of your insurance company becomes less like a faceless financial institution and more like an involved coach with a real motivation to seeing you live longer.
It’s long been known that people who have more active lifestyles generally live longer. What’s new is the ease with which insurance companies can quantify this activity. A 2014 study in The Journal of the American College of Cardiology found a 30% reduction in all-cause mortality for runners. While a 2000 study in Archives of Internal Medicine found that Cyclists who ride for 3 hours a week or more have a 28% lower risk of all-cause mortality than non-cyclists. And it isn’t just athletes. According to a 2012 study published by Public Health Nutrition Journal, vegans have a 63% lower risk of hypertension than non vegetarians. Other factors such as whether or not you smoke or drink may also play a role in lowering your premiums.
And the idea of Fitness Based Life Insurance is backed up by additional data from several recent studies. One company called Health IQ has even come up with a quiz which they call the first scientific method to measure health. Health IQ polled a million people to come up with their findings. A high Health IQ score correlates to a lower risk of heart disease and diabetes. While it doesn’t yet have the industry-wide support of something like a FICO score, it could get you a 41% discount on the life insurance sold by Health IQ (which is provided by well-known providers including Prudential, Mutual of Omaha, and John Hancock). And other insurance providers are following suit.
Your financial advisor can steer you to those life insurance products that provide lower premiums for healthier people, particularly seniors who might otherwise not qualify.
Lee Sherman is a contributing writer to MyPerfectFinancialAdvisor, the premier matchmaker between investors and advisors. Lee is an experienced journalist and editor with over 30 years of expertise with a significant history of writing in the personal finance and technology arenas.