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Age, illness and life cover

25 January 2016
3 minute read

age illness life

One of the first expenses that people cut in tough times is life insurance. The rationale behind this is clear – it’s an expense that only provides for future risk, rather than giving any immediate benefits in financially difficult times. Of course, when your circumstances improve again, all the reasons for having life insurance – like providing for your children’s future or not leaving a bereft spouse with a financial burden – become relevant again, and most people try to resume their policies.

The problem is that once you have cancelled a life insurance policy, reinstating it is not just as simple as making a phone call. You will have to go through the same medical underwriting process that you did when you signed on the first time, and since aging is the greatest risk factor for a variety of illnesses, you will likely be seen as a higher risk policyholder, which will mean that your premiums will also be higher. You might also have developed an age-related or lifestyle disease in the interim, and if this is the case this will mean that your premiums will be loaded, or you could even be excluded because of that condition.

Yes, as human beings age, we start to show the strain of years and our bodies become less resilient. If you’re in your thirties, you’ll probably have started noticing that your knees crack when you get up from a chair. They didn’t used to do that! And you can’t eat and drink whatever you want, like you could when you were 21. As we age, we tire more easily, are more susceptible to illness, recover less quickly, and are more likely to feel the effects of a late night, overeating or drinking alcohol.

For all these reasons, it is better to get life cover when we are young, to make sure that we have adequate cover at a reasonable cost.

To get an understanding of what diseases you’re more likely to contract as you age, we’ve listed a few conditions that are exacerbated just by the passing years:

Heart disease Age is a risk factor for heart disease, which is caused by fatty tissue narrowing the arteries in the heart. The likelihood of developing heart disease also increases in conjunction with other risk factors, including diabetes and high blood pressure – and the risks for both of those conditions increase with age as well.

Hypertension The risk of developing hypertension or high blood pressure increases as you age. At 45, high blood pressure is more common among men, but after age 65, women are more likely to develop it. Hypertension can cause heart failure, damage to your internal organs and eyes, metabolic syndrome and trouble with memory or decision making.

Type 2 diabetes Your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, in which your body doesn’t produce or use insulin correctly, increases as you get older, especially after the age of 45. This is mostly attributed to lifestyle factors like exercising less, gaining weight and losing muscle mass as you get older.

CancerAging is the single biggest risk factor for developing cancer. At the same time, age may also affect your ability to cope with treatment and recover from cancer, so the older you are, the less positive your outcomes are likely to be.

Osteoporosis Although women are at higher risk of osteoporosis, men can develop this degenerative bone condition as well. Bone tissue becomes thinner with age, so the older you are, the more likely you are to develop it.

The bottom line But it’s not all bad news. Remember that most of these diseases are also known as “lifestyle diseases”, which means that they are directly affected by the lives we lead. Bearing this in mind, it is possible to maintain good health by exercising regularly, eating a balanced diet, reducing alcohol consumption, not smoking, getting enough sleep and reducing stress factors. These steps will help you to stay in good health, not just for the potential impact on your life insurance premiums, but to ensure that you enjoy a long and happy life, free from illness and physical ailments.

If you are concerned about money and looking for ways to cut costs, don’t make life insurance your first stop. Instead, look at tightening your budget in other areas including food, transport, clothing, entertainment and holidays, rather than putting your loved ones’ future financial security at risk.

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