Although it’s not an eventuality that any person wants to prepare for, life insurance is an essential investment in your future financial wellness, as it provides financial protection in the event of critical illness, impairment, loss of income because of serious illness or disability, and death – a fate that nobody can predict.
However, as with all investments, the details can become confusing, so knowing which factors affect the cost of premiums and cover is crucial.
According to George Kolbe, Head of Life Insurance Marketing at Momentum, life insurance companies consider various factors to determine an applicant’s mortality risk, including age, gender, health status, and lifestyle habits. He says Body Mass Index (BMI) is one of the most significant factors that could affect your life insurance premiums, which is closely tied to your overall health and risk of suffering from certain medical conditions.
“BMI indicates an individual’s risk of disease. As BMI increases, so does the risk for some diseases. Some common conditions related to being overweight or obese include premature death, cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, some cancers, and diabetes.”
For George, South Africans should especially pay close attention to their BMI, considering the high obesity rates in the country. The Global Obesity Observatory of 2016 revealed that 26% of South African adults are obese, and 23% are overweight. More concerning, a BMC Public Health study showed that 60% of South African women, between the ages of 15 and 49, were overweight in 2017.
He says it is essential for those in the market for life insurance to be aware of these factors, as they can impact the cost and type of cover insurance companies offer to individuals. For example, individuals with pre-existing health conditions may be required to pay higher premiums or be excluded from certain types of cover entirely.
“In addition to the impact on premiums, a higher BMI may subject an individual to rigorous underwriting conditions when applying for life insurance. This may include additional medical exams or tests to assess one’s overall health and risk of mortality,” says George.
However, he says it is important to note that BMI is only one of many factors that life insurance companies consider when assessing risk. Other factors, such as family medical history, smoking status, and occupation, can also impact an individual’s premium and cover – emphasising the importance of making healthy lifestyle choices.
“This is illustrated by Momentum’s industry-first new LifeReturns® discount mechanism, which features a digital screening innovation that facilitates enhanced and streamlined underwriting while delivering more discounts to more clients for less effort. The groundbreaking technology uses a combination of biometric screening and data input from an individual to gather information on their body composition (BMI), blood pressure reading, applicable medical aid membership and physical fitness level. The individual insurance risk factors will determine the LifeReturns® discount that an applicant qualifies for, which can be up to 35% off their life insurance premium. They will know their results within a few minutes, as their LifeReturns® discount is shown on their mobile device immediately following the in-app screening. LifeReturns® also allows people to conveniently complete their reassessment screenings once a year from the comfort of their home.” George says.
“You can make informed decisions about your life insurance cover and protect your loved ones against the financial consequences of suffering events such as an unexpected death, impairment, or loss of income due to serious illness or disability, with the right advice. An accredited financial adviser can ensure you get the best possible cover at a price that suits you,” George concludes.