Buying a life insurance policy can be intimidating. But don't let that deter you from trying to get the best policy deal for you. Because most of us are not perfect, insurers ask many questions and get medical tests when you request coverage to determine how much of the risk you need to insure. The higher the risk, the higher the rate you will have to pay. Advertising – The article continues below this. So if you are getting life insurance for the first time or are thinking about finding a new policy with a lower premium, it is worth knowing what criteria insurers use when setting rates and what you can do to improve your opportunity to get the best price. Of course, before looking for the best deals, remember to understand how much life insurance you need and what type is best for you. You don't want to save money to save money by buying a policy that will expire before you need it or that you don't pay enough to cover the basic needs of your loved ones. What to know about the factors that affect rates Your age and gender. These two factors have the greatest impact on the insurance rate, says Ray Dinstel, the main underwriter of Genworth's life and long-term care insurance. Clearly, youth has its advantages when it comes to getting a good life insurance rate. And women usually get lower rates because they have longer life expectancies (giving the insurance company more years to collect premiums before it has to make a payment). Advertising – The article continues under Advertising – The article continues under TIP: Apply when you are young (er). But remember, you really only need life insurance if someone else depends on your income, such as a spouse or child. So, if you're single and in your twenties, don't feel like you're rushing to get a policy now just to get a good price. You can still get the insurers' preferential rates between thirty and forty. Your smoking habits. If you smoke, expect to pay a lot more for life insurance. For example, a 40-year-old cigarette smoker will pay three times the rate of a non-smoker, says Byron Udell, founder and CEO of AccuQuote, an online provider of life insurance quotes. badger, says Udell, is quitting smoking for a year or more. Some companies require that you be smoke-free for three or five years to get the best rate. High cholesterol is a strike against you. Cancer is an even bigger strike. However, insurers consider diabetes, hypertension, most digestive disorders, and asthma to be minor problems if you are getting adequate medical care for these conditions, Dinstel says. Advertising – The article continues under Advertising – The article continues under TIP: "Don't think because you have a health problem that your rates will be outrageous," says Jim Davis, vice president of underwriting at Phoenix Companies. For example, a non-insulin dependent diabetic with a great family history and good health would otherwise get the standard rate, he says. Take a physique before applying to find out if you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or any other treatable condition. Start taking medications to keep it under control. Above all, don't wait until you have a serious hassle to apply for life insurance. If you have a health condition, work with a broker who knows which companies are more likely to insure you at the best price. Since obesity and several other health conditions go hand in hand, insurers take your weight into consideration. For example, a 6 foot and 205 pound man can usually qualify for the best rate, says Udell. But a few extra pounds would push him to a higher rate. The weight ranges to qualify for the best rates vary from company to company. Advertising – The article continues under TIP: If losing a few pounds before requesting coverage is out of the question, use an online quote site, such as AccuQuote or Insure.com. The site will allow you to see the subscription criteria of different companies so you can find those with more favorable weight requirements. Overweight women should turn to companies that use unisex weight tables, which are more geared towards higher weight ranges than men. Advertising – The article continues under Your Family History. All insurers will ask if anyone in your family has been diagnosed with or died of heart disease, says Udell. Some will ask if your parents or siblings have had cancer.TIP: Again, use an online quote site or shop to find insurers with more forgiving standards. For example, let's say you had a parent who died of a heart attack at the age of 69. This wouldn't stop you from getting the best rate because some insurers ask you if you have a parent who died of heart disease before the age of 60 (as opposed to 70 years, which is the standard used by many insurers.) Advertising – The article continue under Your driving record. We're talking about life insurance, not auto insurance, right? So why is your driving record important? "If you're breaking traffic laws, you're more likely to get involved in a life-threatening situation," says Udell. And this makes you more risky to insure. Most companies want to know if you've had a moving violation in the past three years or a DUI in the past five or ten years. The wrecks will not damage your rate – unless you have been sued for a mobile violation due to the accident. Advertising – The article continues under TIP: If you have only received a speeding ticket in the past three years, you can still get a good rate. But if your guide foot has got you into trouble multiple times, you may want to wait a few years before applying (if this is an option) and turn off the accelerator pedal. Davis of the Phoenix Companies claims he recently received an application from a man who would drive a fuel truck for Halliburton in Iraq. This is exactly the type of job that screams "RISK" to insurers. Your job may force you to a high level or make it difficult to get life insurance. Advertising – The article continues under TIP: Talk to a broker who takes care of numerous couriers and knows which ones will insure people with risky jobs. So do you like flying planes, scuba diving in underwater caves or racing cars in your spare time? Don't expect to get a good life insurance rate. In fact, people who participate in dangerous sports can expect to pay a much higher rate than the more cautious of us pay. Advertising – The article continues under TIP: engage in safer sports or speak with a broker who has experience in finding insurance for people with extreme hobbies. Your travel plans. Insurers want to know if you are heading to risky parts of the world. If you are, you may have to pay a higher premium for life insurance. If you rely on this application question, you may be found out. For example, says Davis, the insurer might see in your medical records that you recently got shots for your trips abroad. Advertising – The article continues under TIP: comparison shop because the rules on foreign travel vary from company to company. Genworth, for example, is only concerned if you will be staying in a high-risk country for at least four weeks, says Dinstel. Your credit history. These days it seems like every time you apply for something your credit history comes into play. Life insurance is no exception. If you have filed for bankruptcy in the past five years, it may be a strike against you.TIP: Some companies, like Genworth, don't check your credit history. A broker or online quote service can tell you which insurers don't use this factor to set rates. Or you could take steps to improve your credit record. Advertising – The article continues below If you already have life insurance but your situation has changed since the first application (maybe your cholesterol level is normal now, you have lost a lot of weight or you have given up on a risky hobby ), look around to see if you can get a better rate. Right before applying … You will be asked to know most – if not all – of the factors listed above when you fill out a life-insurance application. Then you will have to undergo a medical examination. The experts we talked to say there are a few things you can do to improve the outcome of the exam – or at least not make your medical conditions look worse than they actually are. – Fast 24 hours before the exam. This could help lower cholesterol slightly. – Avoid alcohol and fatty and salty foods before the exam. Do not consume caffeine on the morning of the exam .– Take your medications to make sure that cholesterol, blood pressure or any other condition you may have is under control .– Do not do a heavy workout the day before. You will end up with a high level of protein, which would make you look sick. – Sleep well at night so that you are rested and relaxed when you take the exam.