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15 things? Don’t let that number intimidate you. Life insurance companies need to get a clear portrait of who they will be insuring—and that means looking at the applicant (you) from every angle in order to determine your life insurance premiums.

A one-size-fits-all policy simply doesn’t exist—that’s why there’s an application process behind purchasing your insurance plan. Every individual will have unique coverage needs—and a different life insurance premium, too.

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Underwriters will examine your medical history and check your current health to build a portrait of your longevity, based on current life expectancy projections.

Advances in medical technology can decrease mortality rates, in other words, an increase in the number of patients diagnosed with a critical disease that live, and life insurance underwriting guides are adjusted as necessary. In conjunction with this, the life insurance rates for applicants with different medical histories and health statuses are also adjusted to reflect an overall higher life expectancy.

The following is a quick overview of general health issues that term life insurance underwriters look at in determining how much you will pay for your coverage.

#1 Blood Pressure & Hypertension

Underwriters look at how long your hypertension has existed and if it is well-controlled. If your blood pressure is well-managed and you have not suffered end-organ damage from your condition, your application may still fall within a standard risk class.

#2 Cholesterol Levels

High levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the bad cholesterol, may mean that you could be at risk for coronary artery disease or stroke. This will affect your life insurance cost.

Your LDL level (as rated by the Cleveland Clinic) is:

  • Optimal if it is less than 100,
  • Near optimal/above optimal if it is 100-129,
  • Borderline high if it is 130-159,
  • High if it is 160-189, or
  • Very high if it is 190 or above.

If you do have coronary artery disease, click here for our CAD insurance buyer’s guide.

#3 and #4 Height and Weight

The way that term life insurance underwriters look at height and weight may differ from the way that The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that we calculate our Body Mass Index (BMI). The CDC BMI chart is the one that you might see in your doctor’s office, showing you a range of weights that are considered healthy when you are a certain height.

However, an insurer will normally use a Build Chart to determine if you qualify for a standard risk class.

Here is a sample:

Infographic of life insurance underwriting height-weight build chart for Quotacy blog on what is life insurance underwriting.

Life insurance build charts tend to be more lenient than CDC BMI range recommendations. However, each insurer’s criteria for determining how much your BMI will impact your life insurance premium cost will vary—some may be closer to the CDC guidelines; while others may be more lenient.

#5 Pregnancy

While it is sometimes possible to get life insurance when you are pregnant, it is best to apply, if possible, before you are expecting.

Underwriters will look at aspects of your pregnancy—such as if you are experiencing abnormal changes during your term or have a pre-existing condition—to decide how much it will impact your risk class to determine your life insurance premium.

#6 Critical Illness

If you have had a serious illness that you have recovered from (bravo!) then your insurer will take this into account when determining your life insurance premium. But don’t be discouraged from applying—even those who have had a serious illness may be able to get life insurance.

Every insurer has a different method of determining how much a disease with a high survival rate (such as early stage breast cancer) might weigh into your risk class assignment.

#7 Well-Managed Health Issues

Some applicants who have serious medical conditions that are well-controlled (e.g.: epilepsy that is managed without incident by medication), may still become insured. Health issues that are stable and have remained so over a certain period of time are often classified differently than unstable conditions by the life insurance companies.

#8 Mental Health Issues

Life insurance companies don’t underwrite behavioral or mental health the exact same way.

For example, a 30-year-old male is diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but it’s managed well with medication, diet, exercise, and talk therapy. One insurance company may only offer him Table C and he will pay $49 per month for coverage. Meanwhile another life insurance company may offer him Standard risk class rating and he would pay $28 per month for the same coverage.

Quotacy is a life insurance brokerage company. This means that we work with multiple life insurance companies and advocate on your behalf to get you the best policy for the best price.

If you have been diagnosed with a mental or behavioral condition, having more company options increases your chances of being approved for life insurance coverage at a fair price.

Our in-house underwriters know which company to place your application with. The more truthful you can be with our agents about how you are managing your health, the better we can match you with the best life insurance companies for your medical condition.

#9 Family Medical History

Your application will require you to answer questions about your family medical history. If your family shows a history of inherited conditions, then your life insurance premium may be impacted. Some carriers, for example, do not weigh this as strongly as others in determining your risk class. Quotacy’s agents can guide you toward the best life insurance company for your family medical history.

#10 Illegal Drug Use

If you use cocaine (or another Class A-controlled substance), your life insurance application will be denied.

The presence of certain prescription medications that have a high risk of addiction (such as opioids) in your life insurance medical exam results may be inaccurately read as a reflection of substance abuse. So, make sure to tell your examiner about any medications or remedies that you are taking on the orders of your doctor (including medical marijuana, for example).

#11 Alcohol Use

An occasional drink won’t raise any alarm bells, but a history of alcoholism and diseases associated with it—such as cirrhosis of the liver and coronary heart disease—will affect your risk class and your life insurance premiums.

#12 Tobacco Use

Tobacco use will definitely impact your life insurance premium cost, but it won’t necessarily prevent you from becoming insured. Check out our advice on getting life insurance if you love to smoke. We cover cigarettes, cigars, pipes, electronic cigarettes, chewing tobacco, smoking cessation products, and marijuana in our life insurance buyer’s guide for smokers.

#13 Age

Lucky 13.

Yes, your age impacts how long you live.

The older you are when you purchase term life insurance, the more you will pay for your premiums. There are also top age limits for how you may be to get insured.

Unfortunately, many people wait to insure themselves until they have a life scare, such as a heart attack that forces them to think about death. If you are buying your first home, getting married, having a baby, or adopting a child, use this joyous occasion as an opportunity to buy life insurance. You’ll be happy you locked in your premiums at a younger age.

» Learn more: The Cost of Life Insurance by Age

#14 Gender

Fair or not, women tend to live longer than men. Life insurance companies offer lower life insurance premium rates to women in every state.

#15 High Risk Jobs and Hobbies

If you work comfortable hours in a stimulating job with colleagues you adore—then your stress levels may be very low—all good for your medical exam and overall health.

If your hobby is piloting planes to take photos of erupting volcanoes that sounds wonderfully exciting and risky.

High risk occupations (like construction work) or hobbies (like foreign travel or piloting planes) can impact your life insurance premium.

There are other factors that underwriters look at as well, such as your criminal record (incarcerated applicants will not be approved) and your driving record.

We’re happy to help you get the right term life insurance policy for your needs—one that is affordable and provides excellent coverage.

The simplest way to get the best life insurance rate is to find your term life insurance quotes online with Quotacy. Using our free comparison tool, you’ll be able to compare quotes from leading providers side-by-side and apply in less than five minutes.

Ready to get started? Get your life insurance quotes here.

» Learn more: What Are the Risk Factors that Affect Buying Life Insurance?

About the writer

Quotacy is the country’s leading broker for buying life insurance online. We are obsessed with making it easy for everyone who has loved ones who depend upon them to have life insurance.