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Life insurance is an important purchase for you and your loved ones. We don’t want anything holding you back from applying. Life insurance is a very personal purchase.
Your health and lifestyle will be evaluated quite thoroughly so, understandably, you may be a bit hesitant to start the process. We get it. To help nudge you in the right direction, we’ll answer 10 life insurance questions that you might be too embarrassed to ask.
1. What happens if I lie on my life insurance application?
Don’t lie on your life insurance application. The life insurance companies have many resources to look into your financial history, criminal background, driving records, and medical records.
If it’s discovered that you misrepresented yourself, your application may be denied. In addition, the fact that you attempted to fraud the insurance company will be reported to the Medical Information Bureau making future attempts to get affordable life insurance a bit of a challenge.
If your application is approved and then later on it is discovered that you misrepresented yourself, the policy may be rescinded depending on the situation. If it’s not severe enough to be rescinded, your premiums may simply be increased to what they originally should have been. For example, if you stated you were a non-smoker and then it’s discovered that you do smoke, your premiums will increase to smoker rates versus non-smoker rates.
If your application is approved, the life insurance company has a certain period of time (typically two years) to investigate everything you stated on your application to ensure everything is accurate. If you die during this time period and it is discovered that you lied, your beneficiary’s death benefit may be reduced or rejected altogether.
2. Am I too old to buy life insurance?
However old you are, you probably are not too old to buy life insurance. You can buy a permanent life insurance policy up until age 85 and a term life insurance policy to age 80.
The real question is, are the life insurance premiums affordable at these ages? Term life insurance will always be more affordable than permanent life insurance, but the age cut-off is earlier.
A 10-year level term life insurance policy for $100,000 of coverage will cost a very healthy 80-year-old woman between $290 and $415 per month. Guaranteed universal life insurance is often the most affordable type of permanent life insurance available. A $100,000 guaranteed universal life insurance policy for a very healthy 85-year-old woman will cost approximately $1520 per month.
The 10-year term policy will last until the woman is 90 as long as she keeps paying the premiums. The guaranteed universal policy will last the woman’s entire life as long as the premiums are paid. But the premiums for the two policies are drastically different. The reason why you need life insurance at this stage in your life will help determine what type of life insurance you need, if you even need it. Talk with a Quotacy agent if you’re unsure what type of life insurance is best for you or check out our Life Insurance Buyer’s Guide.
3. Am I too overweight to buy life insurance?
Applicants would need to be extremely obese in order to not qualify for life insurance based on that factor alone. The chart below shows an example of what risk class an applicant may receive based on their height and weight. The table ratings (Table 1, Table 2, etc.) represent the additional percentage that would be added on top of a Standard risk class price. For example, if you were 4 feet 8 inches and weighed 187 pounds, you would be considered at least Table 3 based on your height/weight alone. The cost of your policy would be the Standard price plus 75%.
This build chart only takes the relationship between your height and weight into consideration. It does not include potential factors such as heart disease or diabetes. Additional medical conditions would increase your risk, therefore making premiums more expensive or potentially causing you to be uninsurable for traditional life insurance.
The life insurance premiums for an overweight or obese applicant aren’t cheap. The insurance company needs to consider the risks they take when insuring someone. Someone who is overweight is statistically more prone to developing health issues in the future. The good news is, if you buy life insurance now and lose weight in the future, you can always reapply to see if you can get lower rates. But don’t cancel your life insurance policy until the new one is 100% inforce.
See what you’d pay for life insurance
4. Should I wait until I’m healthier to buy life insurance?
It’s common for people to think “I am going to lose a few pounds and then apply for life insurance,” or “I’ll wait to apply for life insurance when I quit smoking.” The problem with this way of thinking is that while intentions are good, you may not end up losing weight or quitting smoking. Worst case, you die unexpectedly before you buy the life insurance.
What we recommend you do instead is buy a life insurance policy you can afford in the meantime to financially protect your loved ones from the unexpected. When you’ve met your goal and you feel healthier, reapply later to see how much lower your rate can be. But don’t cancel your life insurance policy until the new one is 100% inforce.
5. Can I get life insurance if I am a drug user?
If you are a current user of hard drugs, you will not be able to qualify for life insurance. If you are a recovering addict or have a history of substance abuse, how long you have been sober is one of the biggest factors in determining eligibility. Life insurance companies typically want to see at least two years of sobriety before they will consider offering coverage.
Marijuana use, however, is a different story.
While the life insurance industry as a whole isn’t welcoming marijuana with open arms, it has become much more lenient over the recent years. Some life insurance companies even offer their best risk classes to recreational marijuana users.
If you use marijuana, whether medicinally or recreationally, be sure to work with an independent life insurance broker, like Quotacy. Your Quotacy agent will match you with the insurance company that is most lenient with your particular marijuana use.
As a marijuana user, life insurance companies will offer you either smoker or non-smoker rates depending on their leniency and how often you use. The price difference between these two rate categories can be quite extreme. Your Quotacy agent will help find you the best priced policy. Run a term life insurance quote now to start the process.
6. Can I get life insurance with an arrest record?
If you are currently incarcerated, you cannot get life insurance. If you’re on probation or parole, life insurance companies will postpone your application until your time is complete. Statistically, those on probation or parole are at a higher risk of ending up in jail.
Those in jail or those with a higher risk of heading to jail won’t be approved for life insurance because there is simply too much risk associated with those applicants. If you have an active life insurance policy and then go to jail, don’t worry. Your life insurance policy does not terminate if you are arrested or imprisoned. You will need to have a plan to keep ensuring the premiums are paid, however, to keep it active.
After you have completed your probation/parole, most life insurance companies will want to see quite a few years pass before offering your coverage. However, there are some life insurance companies that are more lenient and willing to offer coverage shortly after completion.
In general, the severity of the crime, whether you were convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony, and how long ago the crime was committed will affect what risk class the life insurance companies offer you. Your Quotacy agent will work on your behalf to find the life insurance company that will treat you most favorably.
7. Do I have to pee in a cup?
Competitive life insurance companies often require a medical exam before underwriting a policy. This medical exam does include obtaining a urine sample.
Some life insurance companies do offer policies that don’t require a medical exam. There are requirements applicants need to meet before they will be considered for the no-exam route.
In general, however, most applicants will need to go through the medical exam. It’s nothing to be scared of. The medical examiner will come to your home or office, wherever it’s convenient for you. And you schedule the date and time.
Getting a medical exam gives the life insurance companies a thorough view of your overall health. It’s the best route to obtain the most competitive pricing. Without the medical exam, the insurance companies rely on your medical records to determine your mortality risk. Because they won’t have the luxury of evaluating your most up-to-date test results, the life insurance premiums for no-exam life insurance policies are higher than those of fully medically underwritten life insurance policies.
8. Do I have to name my spouse my beneficiary?
Even as a married couple, you are not required to name your spouse the beneficiary of your life insurance policy. However, in some states, your spouse legally has a right to 50% of the policy’s death benefit. These states are called community-property states.
Each community-property state has slightly different laws but, in general, if you buy a life insurance policy after you’re married with community funds then your spouse has rights to half of it. If you die and someone other than your spouse is listed as the beneficiary, he or she has a right to contest it if they did not previously waive their rights.
So, if you live in Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, or Wisconsin you may need your spouse’s written consent in order to name someone else the beneficiary. Permanent life insurance is more complex than term life insurance so be sure to discuss beneficiary designations with your life insurance agent if you live in a community-property state and want someone other than your spouse to be the beneficiary.
9. Will a life insurance policy pay out for suicide?
Most life insurance policies will pay the death benefit in the case of suicide as long as the policy has been inforce (active) a certain number of years and is still inforce at the time of death. There are suicide clauses built into most life insurance policies. The typical suicide clause states that the policy will not pay out death benefits if the cause of death is suicide within the first two years of the policy being active. Some states limit this to one year.
If the suicide occurs within this time period then the insurance companies are not obligated to pay the death benefit. The insurance companies typically will, however, refund the paid premiums to the beneficiary. If the policy was a permanent policy that had any outstanding loans against the cash value, then the insurance company would first subtract what was owed from the premiums paid and any excess would go to the beneficiary.
10, What if I can’t afford my life insurance policy anymore?
There is no penalty for canceling a term life insurance policy. If you stop paying your premiums, your policy will simply lapse after the grace period. You cannot get a refund of your paid premiums.
You can also cancel a permanent life insurance policy whenever you want. Policyowners are owed a fair share of the permanent policy’s value if they decide to cancel. However, there may be a surrender charge depending on how long the policy has been active. This surrender charge is taken out of the policy’s cash value, as is any policy loan balance, before funds are distributed to the owner.
Canceling a permanent life insurance policy has more moving parts than canceling a term life insurance policy. Read more about canceling a life insurance policy here: How Do I Cancel My Life Insurance Policy?
If you still want life insurance but can’t afford the premiums of your current one, talk to your agent. They can help you apply for a new life insurance policy that fits into your budget. Term life insurance is affordable and customizable. Buying term life insurance with a shorter term length or less coverage can help reduce the premium.
If you did not purchase your original term life insurance policy through Quotacy, try us out. As an independent broker, we work with many different top-rated life insurance companies. Before you cancel your current policy, let us try to find a similar policy that’s more affordable. It’s free and there is no obligation to buy. Life insurance is extremely important for families and we want to help you obtain affordable coverage.
Our agents have seen and heard everything. If you’re embarrassed about your situation, chances are your Quotacy agent has seen a case much stranger than yours. Don’t let nervousness hold you back from applying for life insurance.
On Quotacy, you can see term life insurance quotes instantly without even providing your personal contact information. Shop anonymously until you’re ready and comfortable in applying.
Our online life insurance process is simple and will probably take you less than ten minutes to complete. After you submit your online application, your dedicated Quotacy agent will work hard on your behalf to get you approved for the best price possible.
At no time will we ever sell your information. You can rest assured your information will stay private.
Quotacy is here to be your advocate and help guide you through the life insurance buying process.
About the writer
Natasha Cornelius, CLU
Senior Editor and Licensed Life Insurance Expert
Natasha Cornelius, CLU, is a writer, editor, and life insurance researcher for Quotacy.com where her goal is to make life insurance more transparent and easier to understand. She has been in the life insurance industry since 2010 and has been writing about life insurance since 2014. Natasha earned her Chartered Life Underwriter designation in 2022. She is also co-host of Quotacy’s YouTube series. Connect with her on LinkedIn.