Study: Driving history predicts life span
I am in the process of buying life insurance. I have group life through my employer, but it's woefully insufficient coverage for my families' needs. Not that I'm not grateful. Still, typically, the amount of coverage for group life insurance is equal to one year's salary, payable to your beneficiaries at your death. Some companies may offer a fixed amount, $5,000 or $10,000, depending on your position at the organization, while larger firms may pay benefits equal to three times your salary. Plus group life insurance is not portable, meaning if you lose your job, you usually also lose your life insurance. (See "Do you need more than group life insurance?")
I'm also haunted by the ironic and tragic whispered asides that would occur after my untimely demise: "She was EDITOR of INSURANCE.COM and didn't even have her own life policy!"
Anyway, I was not surprised that the insurers providing me with quotes asked about my health. (See: "Understanding life insurance table ratings.")
Driving record impacts life insurance rates -- and mortality rates
But what's interesting is that they also asked about my driving record. Life insurers believe that multiple driving infractions in the past three to five years mean you're a risky bet.
What's surprising is that people who have more driving violations and who are involved in more collisions have shorter life spans, but not due to car accidents. That's according to the Motor Vehicle Record Mortality Study by LexisNexis and RGA Reinsurance Co.
"Individuals with high numbers of major driving violations represent the worst risks. Having just one major violation on an MVR elevates an individual’s all-cause mortality by 51 percent; while having four or more violations elevates an individual’s all-cause mortality to more than twice that of individuals without major violations," says the LexisNexis statement on the report.
There are obvious reasons to drive safely – for the sake of your family and friends, for your own safety and to avoid harming others. There are financial reasons, too. A clean driving record means lower car insurance rates, and also, as I've learned, lower life insurance premiums. Now you can add a longer life span to the list. (See: "Got a ticket? You could be paying for it for years.")
Des Toups is a writer, editor and expert on insurance, cars and personal finance. He has written extensively about all three for national publications such as MSN and major newspapers such as the Seattle Times. He has been quoted about insurance issues in The New York Times, USA Today and Kiplinger's. Follow him on Twitter @destoups.