What's Really Raising Your Life Insurance Costs

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Consumers may not give the matter too much thought, but rates on life insurance vary widely, and the cost for most policies can rise rapidly based on a wide variety of factors -- some of them avoidable.

Their formulas are complicated, but insurance companies cite key demographic factors and personal health and lifestyle habits that can affect policy costs:

Smoking. According to data from InsuranceQuotes.com, smokers pay on average a whopping 235% more than non-smokers for the same life insurance policy. Over the course of a full year, smokers pay $1,462 more than non-smokers for insurance. Put another way, the average 45-year-old non-smoking female pays $45 per month for insurance, while a 45-year-old woman who smokes pays $167. Quitting cigarettes is a no-brainer for many reasons, but saving on life insurance (and health insurance) should be on the list.

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Age. Age is a big factor in buying life insurance. According to InsuranceQuote.com, 35-year-olds pay 27% more than 25-year-olds for the same coverage. That gap widens as consumers age, with 45-year-olds paying more than twice as much as 35-year-olds (in fact, 120% more).

Men pay more than women. Men pay 38% more for the same life insurance as women, and at the same age. Insurers view men as a higher risk. (Men don't live as long as women, necessitating earlier insurance payouts, and generally have higher health risks than women.)

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