What you buy is one thing. Whether you can buy at all is another. Usually you can buy. If you were turned down for life insurance in the past as a health or occupational risk, you may well find that you can now get a policy. Many top companies have been easing their rules and going in heavily for what the trade calls substandard business. You pay an extra premium, and sometimes it's high. But often it will be just a couple of pounds more per £1,000 of protection.
Even a man who has had cancer can get a life insurance policy so long as he has had no recurrence of the disease in five years or more. The added premium he'll have to pay is about £15 per thousand a year. Thus, a man of 50 will pay about £50 per thousand instead of £35. If more than 10 years have passed since the cancer illness, the cost of coverage will be fairly close to normal with nearly all types of cancer.
You can get insurance today even if you have a bad case of high blood pressure, partly because of new drug therapy. A person 35 years old with a severe case will pay about double the standard premium of £18 per thousand; at age 50, the normal £35 premium jumps to £85. But the younger man gets close to the standard premium when his case is moderate and under control, and the 50-year-old pays only £40.
The 50-year-old has to pay £8 to £16 extra per thousand if he has diabetes; £2.50 to £5 if he has a duodenal ulcer.
A coronary poses the hardest case for insurance. The extra premium during the first year of recovery can be triple the standard rate. But this drops to less than double at five years, and gets substantially lower as more time passes, depending on age.
Occupational risks still get slapped with extra life insurance premiums at times. But this usually won't affect the deskbound executive. Even a construction executive who visits mines or inspects high steel no longer has to pay added charges. However, if you travel fairly regularly to remote, unstable, or unsettled countries, you may be billed £2.50 to £7.50 extra per thousand.
If you fly a plane, the extra fee is based on age, experience, and hours in the air. The range is £2.50 for a Sunday pilot, and on up to £10 per thousand. If you scuba dive, you pay £5 extra if your maximum dive is 75 ft., and £7.50 for 100 ft. Most sports, though, mean nothing in the way of added insurance cost.
Pay special attention to the individual variable-annuity contract. This idea will be big in the 2005-80 period, and may be worth a look. It's a long-range retirement planning idea, and already is available in enough variety to let you do some sensible shopping around.
After long delay, some big names in life insurance Aetna
Life & Casualty, Travelers, Lincoln, State Mutual, Paul Revere, Connecticut General, and British General, among others - are now selling directly or through subsidiaries. Prudential, Connecticut Mutual, Massachusetts Mutual, and New England Mutual are part of a sizable list of top companies that are in this business now or will move in soon.
But... see: Hedging Bets For Your Retirement