When insurers calculate their premiums for life insurance and critical illness cover, they'll look at how long they expect customers to live based on their age, medical history and other factors that are likely to impact their life expectancy and chance of illness.
Premiums will often be higher for older customers and for policies that are taken out for a longer period.
Some groups of people will present a greater risk than others – and so will need to pay higher premiums for their life and critical illness cover, or the insurer may impose an exclusion on their cover.
Looking at life and critical illness cover, higher risk categories include:
- People working in high risk occupations, such as workers in the oil and gas industries (especially offshore), fishermen, people who work at great heights and those in the armed forces.
- People who take part in dangerous sports or hobbies, such as flying (except as a fare paying passenger), mountaineering, motor sports and scuba diving.
- People with a poor medical history or existing medical conditions. Also those people who have a family history of illnesses, are overweight or have high blood pressure.
- People who smoke, due to the links with some cancers and other serious diseases.
The definition of 'high risk' varies from life insurer to life insurer and not all life insurance companies offer the same sorts of cover. So it's important to check that your policy provides you with the cover you want.
And remember that it’s important to answer all of the questions asked when you apply fully and honestly, because if you don’t, it may mean that your policy may not pay out if you need to claim.