Does my family’s health history impact my life insurance rates? Yes, it’s possible. Life insurance companies do consider your immediate family’s health history when you apply for life insurance. Geneticists have determined that many disorders occur more frequently in some families than others.
If anyone in your immediate family (mother, father, brother, or sister) has been diagnosed with any serious conditions such as coronary heart disease, cancer, or diabetes the insurance underwriters would take a closer look at it. These inherited conditions may cause the life insurance company to increase your premiums because there is a risk that you could also be diagnosed with these medical conditions.
Disorders with a Significant Familial Involvement
The insurance company takes into consideration how many family members were affected with the condition and their age when it was diagnosed.
If only one of your relatives was affected, it may have very little, if any, impact on your life insurance policy premiums.
If any of these conditions were diagnosed late in life (after age 60 or 65), most life insurance underwriters might completely disregard them and it would have no impact on your premiums.
Another instance in which a diagnosed hereditary condition would not affect your life insurance is if the condition is gender-related. For example, if there is a history of ovarian cancer in your family, but you are male, underwriters would not consider this an issue, and it wouldn’t affect your life insurance premium.
While calculating mortality sounds grim and it may seem unnecessary to raise your life insurance premiums because of your family, this is the world of insurance.
If your father had heart disease, there may be a higher mortality risk associated with you. You may consider this point to be unfair, but like any business, companies need to price their products appropriately in order to survive. They would lose money quickly if they gave a person with no family history of cancer the same premium as someone whose sibling was diagnosed with cancer.
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What if I am adopted?
If you are adopted and are unsure of your family history, inform your life insurance company on your application that you are adopted. Your carrier will underwrite your life insurance policy based on your health history alone.
What if I omit my family health issues?
Do not attempt to falsify (or purposely omit) medical issues from your application in hopes of getting cheaper life insurance premiums. The insurance companies have access to your MIB (Medical Information Bureau) reports.
In your medical records from your health providers, it is very likely the missing information from your life insurance application would turn up, including your family medical history.
When the insurance company discovers the information, the company will raise your risk class which means your life insurance premium will be increased as well. In an extreme case, the company may decide to decline your application altogether if it’s revealed that it has many missing disclosures.
If you do get away with lying on your application and it’s approved, keep in mind that the life insurance company also investigates death benefit claims. If the company discovers that you lied to get your policy, the insurance company can reduce or even completely deny any payout to your beneficiaries.
The best thing to do when applying for life insurance is to be honest as our agents can help you select the best company for your family medical history. Not all life insurance companies evaluate family history in the same way. Some are more lenient than others.
What about DNA testing?
At-home DNA testing kits are all the rage. Learning where your ancestors are from is extremely interesting. Some of these tests also allow you to learn if you’re predisposed to any medical issues.
For example, 23andMe covers more than 10 different disease risks, including your likelihood of developing:
- Breast cancer
- Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease
- Celiac disease
- Age-related macular degeneration
- Parkinson’s disease
If you plan on getting genetic testing done, we recommend that you buy life insurance first. Many life insurance companies have added a question to their applications asking if you have had any genetic testing done. If you have, they can request to see the results. Adverse health results may cause the cost of your life insurance policy to be higher.
Does family history vary by insurance company?
Yes, life insurance companies do evaluate family history differently. Evaluating an applicant to determine if coverage can be approved is a process called underwriting. Not all insurance companies follow the same set of underwriting guidelines.
For example, some insurance companies may only underwrite by taking your parents’ health history into consideration and your siblings’ medical issues won’t impact your premiums. Or some may be more lenient with a history of cancer or diabetes than another.
Applicant: 45 year old woman applying for $500,000 of coverage with a 30-year term
- Mother died of cervical cancer at age 56
- Build from exam 5’6”, 180 lbs
- Blood pressure 145/90
- Cholesterol 281 and cholesterol/HDL ratio 5.5
- Resting EKG is normal
- Normal gynecological screening
The majority of insurance companies would be most comfortable offering this applicant a Standard Plus rating. These monthly life insurance rates would range from $99 to $125 depending on the company. However, after shopping her case to multiple insurers, one was more lenient with a family history of cancer and was willing to offer Preferred. This applicant was then able to obtain a $500,000 30-year term life insurance policy for $71.59 per month.
*This case study is for illustrative purposes only. Each individual is unique. Your final life insurance rate may be higher or lower than this example.
Finding the Best Life Insurance with Family Health Issues
As a life insurance broker, we have access to over 25 of the nation’s top-rated life insurance companies. Your team at Quotacy will advocate on your behalf to the different life insurance companies to help you get the best price possible.
Run as many life insurance quotes online as you want—without even giving away any contact information. After you find a plan you like and submit your online life insurance application, your Quotacy agent will review it before sending it into the insurance company. Based on the information you provide, if there is an insurance company that will treat your application more favorably than the insurer you originally chose, your agent will share some options with you.
About the writer
Natasha Cornelius, CLU
Senior Editor and Licensed Life Insurance Expert
Natasha Cornelius, CLU, is a writer, editor, and life insurance researcher for Quotacy.com where her goal is to make life insurance more transparent and easier to understand. She has been in the life insurance industry since 2010 and has been writing about life insurance since 2014. Natasha earned her Chartered Life Underwriter designation in 2022. She is also co-host of Quotacy’s YouTube series. Connect with her on LinkedIn.