The Cost of Being Overweight
It is a simple fact that many Americans are overweight. According to the American Obesity Association, approximately 127 million adults in the U.S. are overweight, 60 million are obese, and 9 million are severely obese.
The issue has arguably become a primary focus of both lawmakers and the national media. Schools are removing soft drink vending machines, the FDA is requiring stricter nutritional labeling, and television networks are incorporating the cause into new types of programming, as demonstrated in NBC's sensational hit, "The Biggest Loser."
The life insurance industry is also concerned about the country's growing waistline, as the longevity and health impacts of extra weight affect the cost of insuring consumers. Wishing for all consumers to have long and healthy lives, life insurance carriers are rewarding weight loss through lower policy premiums. Fortunately, a significant amount of the overweight population is on the threshold of earning those lower premiums and saving hundreds of dollars -- if they simply make minor lifestyle adjustments.
When determining life insurance policy costs, carriers use a simple formula: "The more a person weighs, the more they pay." Specifically, the formula begins with an individual's proportion of body weight to their height (known also as their "physical build"). It's no secret that the more a person weighs in relation to their height, the greater their risk for long-term health complications and a shortened lifespan.
To understand the real word costs of extra pounds to an individual term life insurance consumer, the premiums explain the difference with a stark contrast. Using InsWeb's online Term Life insurance quote form, we used a profile of typical term life insurance consumer to demonstrate.
Gender: Male Age: 40 Height: 5'11" Weight: 170 (According to the American Heart Association, his ideal weight is 170 pounds.) Smoking: No Existing Health Conditions: None Notes: Looking to secure protection for his wife and two children, our sample profile is shopping for a $500,000 term life policy with a 20 year term length.
By gaining those "middle-age" 30 pounds, his monthly premium nearly doubles, costing him an extra $230 in a year. Shockingly, at 230 pounds -- the size of many American men -- he's paying nearly three times the amount that his healthy self should be otherwise paying for term life insurance!
40 year old male (5'11), $500,000 policy with 20 year term length*
To be considered for preferred life insurance rates, it is important to keep your height to weight ratio at or near the ideal range for your body type. If you already have a term life insurance policy, and you have recently lost weight and kept it off, be sure to notify your carrier. If your carrier fails to reward you with lower rates, it may be time for you to shop around for a policy that will. Carriers use different health ratios to determine rates, therefore, shopping around may uncover potential savings and better coverage. At any time, you may request a medical examination to expedite the process. Your rates are locked in for the term of the policy, so the carrier cannot penalize you for any gained weight. If in fact, the medical examination determines that your health has improved, you should pursue lower rates.
Obesity is a serious problem for Americans, with causes that range from genetic predisposition and metabolism, to modern cultural and social pressures. Regardless of the cause, the fact still remains that too many Americans are overweight. Fortunately, many have the ability to overcome the challenge through simple dietary adjustments and lifestyles changes. Others require the direction of medical and nutritional experts for more serious health issues. At the finish line of a person's weight loss goal, term life insurance carriers may reward you with substantially lower premiums.
* Quotes based on a composite of participating carriers, which have at least an A rating by A.M. Best. Rates effective as of 7/12/06