If you have high cholesterol, you might be concerned life insurance companies will decline your application. It’s true some insurance companies have strict standards regarding cholesterol levels, but many companies will approve you.
Cholesterol levels and their related health risks are not a one-size-fits-all problem. Each individual is different, and life insurance companies take this fact into consideration when reviewing all applications.
Keep reading to find out your chances of being approved, learn how to prepare for your application, and determine which life insurance companies are most likely to cover you.
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What Is High Cholesterol?
High cholesterol is a frequently occurring condition in both men and women. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, close to 29 million adults in America have high cholesterol (total levels higher than 240 mg/dL).
High cholesterol levels are undetectable without testing because there are no symptoms, but can lead to some of the major causes of death among Americans, including heart disease and stroke.
Cholesterol is a fat-like substance, known as a lipid, which the body produces and uses on a regular basis. Cholesterol is also present in the foods you consume.
When you have too much cholesterol in your bloodstream, it builds up inside arteries, which makes it difficult for blood to flow. As blood flow decreases, blood clots or inflammation can develop in the arteries which carry blood from the heart to the rest of the body, resulting in a heart attack or a stroke.
Some people are genetically predisposed to high cholesterol. Many people start to see an increase in cholesterol levels after age 20, with continued risk for high levels the older they get.
For most, however, lifestyle factors are the main cause of high cholesterol levels. These lifestyle factors include:
- Eating a diet high in saturated fat or trans fat
- Not getting enough physical activity
- Being overweight or obese
Since cholesterol levels can often be controlled by making healthy lifestyle changes, making those changes before you apply for a life insurance policy will increase your chances of obtaining cheaper coverage.
Assessing Cholesterol Levels for Life Insurance
A simple blood test is used to analyze how much “bad” and “good” cholesterol you have.
The “bad” cholesterol, which can build up in your arteries, is called LDL. LDL cholesterol usually results from eating a lot of fatty foods and cuts of meat, and not exercising enough.
The “good” cholesterol, which helps remove the LDL cholesterol from your body, is called HDL. In general, people with higher levels of HDL have less risk of hypertension, heart attack, or stroke.
Most insurance companies don’t look exclusively at your individual LDL or HDL levels, though. They look at your cholesterol ratio.
Underwriters want to see if you have enough HDL to outweigh the LDL in your blood. So, just having a low LDL level isn’t enough to pass a cholesterol test.
To make sure your cholesterol test results are the most accurate, find out if you should take any precautions before the test.
Fasting (not eating or drinking for a certain number of hours) is usually recommended prior to your blood test, as it provides a more accurate reading of your LDL level.
Understanding the results of a cholesterol test can be confusing because of the different numbers and relationships between those numbers. Make sure to discuss any questions you have with your doctor.
How Insurance Carriers View High Cholesterol
Some life insurance companies take the viewpoint that high cholesterol is a minor health condition which can be reversed and controlled with lifestyle changes and the guidance of a physician.
Other companies take the stance that an individual with high cholesterol is already well on their way to increased risk for major health conditions.
The insurance health rating and monthly premiums you are quoted will depend on the guidelines followed by the underwriters from the company you have applied to.
Still, most insurance companies will require you to disclose the following information on your application:
- Previous cholesterol tests performed by your doctor
- Complications you may have had as a result of high cholesterol
- Medications you are on for treating high cholesterol
- Lifestyle changes you have made to improve your cholesterol levels
- Notable family history in regard to high cholesterol or cardiovascular disease
Since cholesterol levels are affected by a variety of factors, life insurance underwriters will also evaluate you based on the following criteria:
- How old you were when you had your last cholesterol screening
- Your current age
- Your current weight
- How often you exercise/your level of physical activity
Don’t be scared to provide truthful information about your medical history and lifestyle.
Being upfront will ensure you receive the most accurate life insurance rating and lowest possible premium.
What Kind of Rating Can You Expect?
Although every company assigns ratings differently, most people with high cholesterol receive a health classification rating of Standard or Standard Plus.
The Standard classification is associated with average health, and life insurance premiums are considered the base amount.
The Standard Plus classification is slightly better than the Standard classification and is associated with even better health, so insurance premiums will be somewhat less.
If you are taking medication to control your cholesterol, or have proof you are on a doctor-monitored diet or fitness plan, you are likely to receive a better rating than if you are not taking any precautionary measures.
Individuals with high cholesterol who smoke will receive a Smoker classification, at best, which results in higher premiums than a non-smoker.
How to Get the Best Life Insurance with High Cholesterol
Having high cholesterol is such a common issue in America today that most life insurance companies do not decline many applicants based on cholesterol levels alone.
Many companies will approve someone even if their cholesterol levels aren’t ideal, but simply adjust premiums accordingly.
To find an insurance company who won’t charge you a higher premium because of your cholesterol, you need to shop around–but an independent insurance agent can do the leg work for you.
Experienced agents work with several different companies and can help you find an affordable life insurance policy that’s right for you.