Top Factors That Affect Your Life Insurance Premiums [Video]

More than 22 million Canadians have some sort of life insurance policy. Yet, despite its popularity, many of us don't realize how many factors—some within our control—affect the premium we pay. There's way more to it than just your age, overall health and whether or not you smoke.

In fact, we've identified at least 11 factors (with the help of a reader of as this was originally a top 10 list) that when combined go into determining the premium you’ll pay.

1. Your age

All things being equal, the younger you are the lower your rate will be which is why insurance experts often recommend buying a policy when you're young. However, you're never too old to buy life insurance as there are many affordable options available that will ensure you and your family have the coverage you need.

2. Your health history

If you have a history of health issues, it could result in higher rates.

3. Your current health

You will generally have to go through a medical exam to look for things like high blood pressure or other health concerns that might be a sign of future problems. People who are currently in good health will typically see lower rates.

On this episode of #AskAnneMarie, insurance expert Anne Marie explains why you need life insurance and what could affect your premium. Watch the video below and learn more from our #AskAnneMarie episodes! Your insurance questions answered.

4. Your weight

If you are overweight or obese based on a height-to-weight ratio scale, you may pay more for your life insurance coverage as there is a greater chance for future health problems.

5. Your occupation

If you happen to be a race car driver, insurance companies have good reason to see your job as a bit risky. Certain dangerous occupations may result in an increase in rates or even denial of coverage because they carry such a heavy risk of accidental death.

6. Smoking

Smokers pay more for life insurance simply because of the many health risks inherent in the habit. If you quit smoking, you can qualify for lower rates within a year—just one of the good reasons to quit.

7. Drinking

Heavy alcohol consumption can also take a toll on your health. That is why insurance companies may ask about your drinking habits. Those who frequently drink are likely to pay more for their insurance rates.

8. Your hobbies

High-risk recreational activities, like skydiving, hang gliding, rock climbing, and scuba diving may increase your adrenaline, but it could also increase your life insurance rates. However, each insurer is different; where one life insurer may consider your hobby high risk, another may not.

9. Your family history

Those with a family history of serious illnesses such as heart disease and cancer, may find they pay more for life insurance.

10. Your gender

Women live longer than men as a general rule, which means they will pay generally lower rates for life insurance.

11. The policy choices you make

The longer the term of the policy and the larger the amount of the death benefit the more you will pay for it. Simply put, this is because the risk that you will die during the policy term is higher for a Term 30 policy (a policy that covers you for 30 years) than a policy that covers you for 10 years (a Term 10 policy.) In addition, the more the death benefit (i.e. the amount that will be paid out to your beneficiaries), the more you will be charged for coverage. Long term policies are more expensive than short term policies, and whole, or permanent life insurance is generally more expensive than term life insurance.

Compare life insurance quotes today

How much impact each of these factors has on your life insurance rates depends on how the insurance company rates each factor and also on the combined effect of multiple factors. Each insurance policy is rated on a case-by-case basis, and no two life insurers will be the same. It’s for this reason that it’s prudent that you compare life insurance quotes and shop around.