If you're looking to purchase life insurance, you've probably noticed that rates are more expensive overall for men than they are for women. But why exactly is this?
What We'll Cover
- The Factors That Make Life Insurance More Expensive for Men
- Men Have a Shorter Life Expectancy
- Men Generally Have Riskier Hobbies
- Men Are More Likely to Have Dangerous Jobs
- Men Have a Greater Societal Risk
- Men Have More Health Risks
- How Can Men Lower Their Life Insurance Rates?
- How Insurance Companies Calculate Risk
- The Bottom Line
Men are generally more high-risk policyholders than women, so this increased risk is compensated for with higher monthly premiums. Determining factors include:
- Shorter life expectancy
- Riskier hobbies
- More likely to have dangerous jobs
- Greater societal and health risks
Keep reading to learn more about why life insurance is more expensive for men and detailed explanations of these factors.
The Factors That Make Life Insurance More Expensive for Men
You're probably wondering why these risk factors affect premium pricing so much. Here's a breakdown of the factors that matter:
Men Have a Shorter Life Expectancy
According to Statista, as of 2020, men's life expectancy in the United States is 76 years. This is compared to women's life expectancy of 81 years. Part of this is because men experience premature death in their teen, young adult, and middle years at a higher rate than women, among other factors that lead them to lead riskier lives.
Because men do have shorter average life expectancies, it's more likely that insurance companies will have to pay a claim for them as policyholders. To reconcile this, they charge men higher premiums.
Men Generally Have Riskier Hobbies
Although both men and women can have thrill-seeking tendencies, men are statistically more likely to participate in hobbies and activities like:
- Car racing
- Football and other high-contact sports
- Rock climbing
All of these and similar activities have a relatively high risk for injury or death. Because men participate in them more often, insurers take the possibility that their policyholders may partake into account when determining rates.
Even some seemingly-innocent activities can increase a man's risk of premature death. These include:
- Lawn care
- Performing DIY home repairs
- Car repairs and maintenance
Men Are More Likely to Have Dangerous Jobs
There are certain occupations and industries that are more likely than most to result in personal injury or death, and most of these industries are predominantly male. Men are more likely to be employed in the following high-risk occupations and industries:
Men Have a Greater Societal Risk
Men, and especially younger men, are more inclined to take part in high-risk lifestyles. They have a greater chance of getting involved in criminal activity, and due to this, are more likely to face extended prison sentences. The stress and risk involved in both of these are significant contributors to men's shorter life expectancies.
Men are also more likely to drink alcohol in excess, and are twice as likely to die of cirrhosis and liver disease as women. Similarly, the National Institute on Drug Abuse claims males use illegal drugs at a higher rate and are more likely to overdose on these drugs than females.
Men Have More Health Risks
In general, men take their health less seriously than women. They eat a lot more foods containing high amounts of fat, cholesterol, and salt than women, including a lot more meat. Additionally, men tend to develop heart disease (the leading cause of death in the United States) at an earlier age. According to the Center for Disease Control, heart disease is responsible for up to 25% of male deaths annually!
How Can Men Lower Their Life Insurance Rates?
While there's nothing you can do about the inherent risk that comes with being a man, you can lower your rates as much as possible by using a great price-comparison service that will show you quotes from multiple providers. Click on the button below to compare life insurance rates using BestInsurer's price comparison feature.
Another way to save on life insurance is by making healthy life choices and staying in shape. If you drink or smoke, consider cutting back or stopping altogether. If you're overweight or obese, losing some weight can also help to lower your rates.
If you have a high-risk occupation, you might also want to think about starting a new, less risky career or retiring. Your job affects your premium, and insurers may be less willing to cover someone with a high-risk profession.
How Insurance Companies Calculate Risk
In order to determine the total cost of your life insurance policy (or if you'll even be able to get a policy!), the insurance company will have to determine your risk. According to life insurance provider Bestow, your risk is defined as:
"the likelihood that an insured event (in this case, death) should occur throughout the duration of the policy term."
The higher the risk you pose to the insurer, the more money you'll have to pay each month in premiums.
The formula a company uses to determine your risk and whether or not they'll be able to offer you an insurance policy is called "underwriting." After the underwriting process is complete, the insurer will assign you a "risk class." Common risk classes include the following:
- Extremely high risk
- High risk
- Good risk
- Elite risk
If you're found to be high risk, you'll likely still be able to take out a life insurance policy with the company. If the company determines that you're extremely high risk, however, you'll likely have to take out a policy with a company that specializes in extremely high-risk coverage. Below, we'll discuss the factors that insurers consider during the underwriting process.
Factors Considered in Underwriting
Physical, mental, and recreational factors determine how much of a risk you pose to the insurance companies. Once the insurer has a basic picture of who you are and how you spend your time, they'll be able to properly assess whether or not they can cover you.
Insurers Consider the Basics First
The first set of factors that insurers will look at is your basic physical profile. These factors include:
- Your gender
- Your age
- Your weight
- Your height
As mentioned, men are generally considered to be a higher risk than women. And, as you may expect, older people have a higher risk in this category than younger people. While insurance companies will consider your height and weight to determine your BMI, you shouldn't worry too much about this. Obesity will matter, but a few extra pounds likely will not.
Next, They Consider Your Lifestyle
When looking at your lifestyle choices, insurers will consider:
- Whether you drink or smoke
- How you handle your finances
- If you participate in high-risk hobbies
- If you frequently travel to countries that are considered dangerous
While a hard credit inquiry will not be made, insurers will consider whether or not you've filed for bankruptcy and other ways you've used and handled credit in the past. This soft credit inquiry will not affect your credit score.
Finally, Insurance Companies Look at Your Background
Your background matters when insurance companies are determining your risk. If you have any pre-existing medical conditions or have a family history of certain diseases, your risk will be higher. Similarly, any stronger prescriptions you take will also increase your risk.
Another factor that can make a big difference is if you have a recent criminal history, especially an existing DUI or DWI. Recent brushes with the law can make it harder for you to get approved for a policy, and some crimes may even render you ineligible.
The Bottom Line
While it is true that men's life insurance premiums are typically higher than women's, it's not for no reason. Several factors go into this decision. While you can't do anything about your gender, there are steps you can take to minimize the risk you pose to insurance companies.
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