Conventional thinking still looks at cholesterol numbers and ratios to determine your mortality chance from heart disease, while others, like those in the Paleo Diet movement, are calling this a myth. Whether you buy into the idea that high cholesterol contributes to heart disease (the nation’s number one killer) or not, one thing’s for sure – high cholesterol will increase your life insurance rates.
It may even get you denied if left untreated or is too high. In this post, I will cover all that you need to know about what life insurance companies are looking for if you have high cholesterol, and what rates you can expect. If you have been denied or rated too high for life insurance, or are beginning to shop for which plan you want to apply for, this article is for you.
What Is High Cholesterol?
According to Mayo Clinic, cholesterol (or its technical name: hypercholesterolemia) is the waxy substance that’s found in your blood lipids. Cholesterol is an important part of building and repairing new cells. However, having too much can increase your likelihood of a heart attack or stroke by limiting the blood flow through the arteries because of plaque buildup.
High cholesterol is attributed to unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as poor diet and too little exercise, and others such as your genetics. Not all cholesterols are created equal: there is the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) “good” cholesterol.
Healthy Cholesterol Numbers
Keep in mind that cholesterol levels will vary by age, gender, and weight.
- Total cholesterol levels less than 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) are typically considered healthy for adults. Readings between 200-239 are semi-high and those over 240 are high.
- LDL levels less than 100 mg/dl are typically considered healthy. 100-129 are acceptable, and anything over 130 is considered high.
- HDL levels should be higher (this is the good cholesterol). A reading below 40 is really low. A reading over 60 is ideal.
How Do Life Insurance Companies Determine My Rates
Now that you know a little about what conventional medicine considers healthy cholesterol levels, let’s find out how the insurance companies view things. Before determining your actual rates, they will need to determine your rate class, which is the level that the insurance company uses to classify your risk and calculate your premium. If high cholesterol is your only health issue and you don’t have any other pre-existing medical conditions, there are two figures that are of interest to the insurance company:
- Total cholesterol
- The ratio between the total cholesterol and HDL
Since every insurance company on the market has different guidelines and regulation regarding individuals with high cholesterol, I have prepared a table with most of the companies and the table ratings for which you may qualify. There are many other variables, such as age and gender, that companies also take into consideration, so use this table as an estimate instead of a concrete decision from someone official like an underwriter.
Let’s look at this example: Banner Life will get you a preferred best rate if your ratio is 4.5 or under, and your total cholesterol is under 300, whether you are on a treatment or not, while Foresters will not give you the preferred best rate if there is a history of prescription medication use.
You just learned the greatest lesson in finding the best life insurance rate: apply only with a company who will view your specific health situation in the most favorable light. With less than 5% of the population actually qualifying for the preferred rates, choosing the best company for your high cholesterol is more important than ever.
Underwriting Guidelines for Cholesterol
The best companies are highlighted in yellow. Click image to enlarge.
What the Underwriter Will Ask
- How old were you when first diagnosed with high cholesterol?
- What were the original cholesterol readings at that time?
- What were your most recent cholesterol readings, and when were they taken?
- Are you currently taking medication? If yes, what?
- Has your treatment changed within the last 12 months?
The underwriting process is a thorough look at your family history, income, overall health, and even your driving history. If you buy a traditional life insurance policy that requires an exam, you can expect the nurse to come over to your home or place of business to check your height and weight and take blood and urine samples.
The insurance company will do the usual preliminary checks with motor vehicle reports (MVR) and prescription databases to check your medication history. Once the results are back from everything, they will classify your risk and determine the rates.
How Do Life Insurance Companies Find out About My Cholesterol Levels?
Since high cholesterol doesn’t have any symptoms, the only way for the insurance company to detect your ratios and total cholesterol level is through a blood test. If you have already been diagnosed with high cholesterol, a simple prescription database search or look at your medical records will reveal your condition. It goes without saying: don’t omit anything that has to do with high cholesterol or any other health issue.
What Rate Class Can I Expect If I Have High Cholesterol
As mentioned before (look at the above chart), all companies will classify you differently based upon your cholesterol levels (among other criteria). However, this is a general guideline we see with the top insurance companies:
- Preferred Plus – Total cholesterol under 300, and the ratio between the total cholesterol and HDL under 4.5
- Preferred – Total cholesterol under 300 and the ratio between the total cholesterol and HDL under 6
- Standard – Total cholesterol under 300 and the ratio between the total cholesterol and HDL under 7
- Sub-Standard (table-rating) – Total cholesterol over 300 and the ratio between the total cholesterol and HDL under 8
Keep in mind this is provided that high cholesterol is the only health issue you have. Any others (such as diabetes or being overweight) will increase the rates even more or get your application declined. Some companies have different ratios for individuals over the age of 60 years.
Life Insurance with High Cholesterol Sample Monthly Rates
40-year-old male nonsmoker on a 20-year term
40-year-old female nonsmoker on a 20-year term
50-year-old male nonsmoker on a 20-year term
50-year-old female nonsmoker on a 20-year term
*All rates quoted on this page are for a super-preferred healthy individual who does not use tobacco. Monthly rates are updated as of Feb 2018 and are subject to underwriting approval.*
Having high cholesterol levels will not necessarily increase your rates or disqualify you from having a policy. However, if you choose the wrong company for your high cholesterol situation, you will pay more. A few companies will get you preferred best rates if your cholesterol levels are under 300, while others would do the same only if you are not on medication.
In other words, to be eligible for the best rates, you must not be on any type of treatment. You can run the quotes on this page and choose the regular health class.