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Life Insurance


General Information About How Insurance Companies Evaluate Risks

  • What type of risk are you?
  • Changing from standard to preferred risk:
  • Some factors to consider when determining risk:
  • What type of risk are you?

Whether you know it or not, you are a “risk” in the eyes of insurance companies. If you are like most people — you’re not an Olympic athlete but you don’t have serious health problems — then you are probably what is called a “standard risk.” Standard risk individuals qualify for an insurance company’s standard rates. If you are in better than average health though, you could be a “preferred risk” and qualify for lower, preferred rates.

Can you change your rating from standard to preferred and get lower rates?

Yes and no. Some things about your health you can’t change. But there are lifestyle choices you can make: quitting smoking, for example, or taking steps to lower your cholesterol or get your weight down so that you’ll become a better risk and improve your rating. Each company has its own standards but, if you demonstrate improvements for a year or two, most will consider that evidence of permanent improvement and will consider you for preferred status.

Here are some of the factors insurance companies consider when categorizing someone as a preferred risk.

But keep in mind that definitions of standard and preferred risks vary from company to company:

  • No personal history of cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes (insulin or non-insulin dependent), cancer or alcohol/drug dependency.
  • No family history of cardiovascular disease prior to age 60, including parents and siblings.
  • Not flying as a private pilot, student pilot or participating in aviation during the two years prior to applying for your policy.
  • Having an average, untreated blood pressure that doesn’t exceed 150/90 and having no history of hypertension under treatment. Some companies will allow treatment if under control for two years if your blood pressure doesn’t exceed 140/90.
  • Having a cholesterol level that doesn’t exceed 260 (250 for tobacco users).
  • Having a cholesterol / HDL ratio that doesn’t exceed 7 (6 for tobacco users).
  • The weight that doesn’t exceed the following limits (though slightly higher weights may be allowed if you don’t have a problem in any of the areas listed above):