Why Life Insurance is More Expensive for Men than for Women


Look on almost any life insurance premium chart, and one thing you will notice almost immediately is that life insurance is more expensive for men than for women. There are several reasons for this, and they all have to do with risk. Put simply, men are considered to be a higher risk to life insurance companies that women are. And there are more than a few reasons why that’s true.

Men have shorter life spans overall

According to the World Health Organization, men in the US have a life expectancy of 75.9 years, while for women it’s 80.5. That means that the average American woman lives of 4.6 years longer than the average American man.

This fact is not lost on the life insurance industry. Since premiums are based on life expectancy, and since that life expectancy is shorter for men than it is for women, life insurance premiums will be accordingly higher for men. Since men are expected to die several years sooner than women, it means that life insurance companies are more likely have to pay a claim. They have to cover that higher risk by charging higher premiums to men.

But why do men typically have shorter life spans than women?

More dangerous occupations

What we do for a living does have an effect on longevity. It is a fact that certain occupations are more dangerous than others, and therefore more likely to result in an early death. Men tend to hold a disproportionate number of jobs in such occupations, therefore increasing the risk to an insurance company facing the early payout of death benefits.

Some of those higher risk occupations that men are more likely to be involved in than women include (but are not limited to):

  • Police
  • Firefighters
  • Construction workers
  • Miners
  • Airline pilots
  • Furniture movers
  • Fishing
  • Logging
  • Roofing

Each of these occupations involve an above average risk of personal injury or premature death. Sometimes it is even possible for person involved in such occupations to experience stress so severe that it results in premature death, such as by stroke or heart attack. Since men are far more likely to work in these occupations than women, they face a higher level of risk related to occupation, which will translate into higher life insurance premiums.

Dangerous past-times

Just as men are more likely to work in higher risk occupations, they are also far more likely to participate in dangerous pastimes that can also result in premature death.

Examples of these include:

  • Skydiving
  • Rock climbing
  • Hang gliding
  • Deep sea diving
  • Tackle football
  • Competitive sports
  • Car racing

It’s not that women don’t participate in these activities – it’s just that it’s far more likely that men will. The fact that they participate in any of these means they are coming much closer to the likelihood of accidental death than women will.

Higher risk lifestyles

In general, men tend to live higher-risk lifestyles that women do. This is particularly true of younger males, who tend to see themselves indestructible. This high risk element plays out in different forms, spanning across everything from forms of entertainment, to hobbies, work styles, and everyday life.

Some examples of lifestyle factors that result in higher mortality rates for men include:

  • Greater likelihood of binge alcohol consumption
  • Dangerous home repairs, that involve climbing and working on ladders
  • Working on cars, which is more dangerous when done from home
  • Lawn and property maintenance, involving climbing, or use of dangerous tools
  • Greater consumption of high fat, high salt foods
  • A sense of competition at work that increases stress levels
  • A lack of friendship and community support that women typically engage in

Higher societal risk

Men also have a far greater risk exposure to both homicide and suicide than women do, raising the likelihood of an early and unexpected death. In addition, men are much more likely to be involved in criminal activity, which not only increases the likelihood of suicide or homicide, but can also cause a high stress life that results in health complications that contribute to short life spans.

As a result of criminal activity, men are also far more likely than women to face incarceration. Extended prison sentences are a common cause of early death, resulting from high stress, and the risk of cohabitating with other criminals.

All of these factors are taken into consideration by life insurance companies, who adjust premiums higher to cover for the higher risk factors that men face.