16 ways to get better
insurance rates -- Page 2
In addition, if you use several different
agents or brokers, let them know you're shopping around. That way, "everyone
knows what they're working with and it might make them more competitive,"
Pick your insurance professional carefully
Not every agent is up to
the task, especially if you've had some health problems in the past.
you're dealing with someone who does this a lot, they can help coordinate and
shepherd you along because they are comfortable with the process," says Evans.
you anticipate problems, it's especially important to have someone who knows the
system. This can be an agent or broker who knows which companies are likely to
give you the best rates and someone who knows how to talk to underwriters to convey
the true risk -- or lack of risk -- you would pose.
worse your health is, the more this matters," says Herz.
Develop good habits
The insurance company probably won't ask how many
times a week you work out, how many grams of fat you consume or how many glasses
of water you drink. But all of those things impact the criteria they will examine.
So hit the gym, loose those extra pounds and keep yourself healthy.
things can make a difference for people, not just in getting coverage but in the
price you'll get," says Evans.
Want to drop 30 percent
from your life insurance premium? Kick the cigs.
can add up to 30 percent to the cost of your life, disability and health insurance
premiums," says Johnson.
If you take illegal drugs, you're not going to find an insurance
company that wants to take you, says Johnson.
person] has a recent history of drug use, they're not going to be able to get
insurance," he says.
If you're a recovering alcoholic,
"You're probably going to be able to get coverage, but it could be a higher
premium," says Johnson. Emphasize, with medical records to back you, how
long you've been sober. The insurance company could see a relapse as a risk to
them, so the more you can show how unlikely that is, the better for your rates.
Prepare for your exams
In some cases, the insurance company will require
either a physical or a short exam by a paraprofessional, which can include taking
your vital signs and drawing some blood.
To get the most accurate
reading, schedule it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. (Obviously,
if you have a condition that makes that tricky, talk to your doctor first.) Give
up vigorous exercise like that three-mile run 24 hours in advance. Get a good
night's sleep. And some experts recommend forgoing your morning coffee, or even
12. Follow up on the details
of your medical records
Do your records contain a recommendation for
a test that you never got? The insurance company could see that as a bad sign,
says Herz. "Have the doctor note in your records that you didn't need it
after all -- or get it done," he says. Otherwise the company is likely to
think that you could have some undiagnosed problem.
Think about your future
If you're healthy now and considering buying
term life insurance, make sure that it's renewable and convertible, says Evans.
"What that means is that you can convert to permanent coverage without a
physical. That would be worth paying extra for," he says.
Try to get coverage even if you've had health problems
with a professional you trust and have him quietly look into what kind of ratings
you would get, says Herz. Bear in mind that a number of conditions aren't the
black marks they used to be.
"A person who had open-heart
surgery used to be declined," says Herz. "Now they can get regular rates."
Ditto for folks who are using medications to control conditions
such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
seen people who have cancer, heart [problems], all sorts of things, get insurance
because they were able to get a favorable prognosis," says Evans.
If you are declined or end up with rates higher than you were
expecting, find out why. Talk with your agent and ask how to get a copy of your
records from the Medical Information Bureau, says Evans.
Don't give up
"Don't consider a [lower health ranking] or decline
in the past as indicative of future events," says Herz. It could be that
last time around your agent didn't work hard enough for you, or it could be that
today, with new drugs and treatments, your condition wouldn't pose as much of
a risk, he says.
And time does heal -- even in the insurance
business. "Sometimes, the further you get from [an event]," says Herz,
"the better off you are."
Dratch is an Atlanta-based freelance writer.