Most life insurance plans are medically underwritten, which means that the insurance company has an underwriter look at your medical history (as well as conducting an interview with a medical practitioner) to evaluate your overall health condition. This evaluation determines what health class an application falls under, which determines monthly premiums of a plan. In some cases an applicant will be deemed too risky and coverage will be declined (at this point a guaranteed issue life insurance plan is the applicant’s only option).
But what health conditions do life insurance companies specifically look at? More importantly, how do these conditions affect life insurance rates?
Please note that all life insurance applicants are assigned a health classification, ranging from Regular to Preferred Plus. Plans for a Regular health classification have higher premiums compared to those with a Preferred Plus health rating.
The following are multiple health conditions that life insurance companies specifically look at, as well as their effect on life insurance premiums.
High Blood Pressure
Life insurance carriers take a hard look at an applicant’s blood pressure history, since high blood pressure can lead to a wide variety of medical conditions such as strokes and cardiovascular disease, just to name a few.
They also look at whether or not high blood pressure is being treated, and if so, for how long. The more controlled the condition is, the better the chance that the life insurance carrier will insure the applicant. The worst case scenario is applying for life insurance while having untreated high blood pressure.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes can lead to multiple medical conditions such as coronary disease, blindness and renal failure.
As strange as it sounds, the younger a person is when getting type 2 diabetes, the greater the impact on health premiums. This is due to the increased likelihood that the diabetes will result in a debilitating condition further on in life.
Similar to high blood pressure, the key here is to keep the diabetes under control with supervised medical care and medication. If applying for life insurance shortly after being diagnosed with this diabetes then there may be waiting period to see if the condition stabilizes (this depends on the insurance company, however).
Heart disease will be intensely scrutinized by any life insurance company, with the primary concern being the chance of having a fatal heart attack.
There are numerous types of heart disease; as a result the underwriters will look at the applicant’s family history to gain more insight. The underwriters will also dig further to see just how severe the heart disease is. If the heart’s ability to pump blood throughout the body is significantly impaired then the application my be declined, in which case a guaranteed issue life insurance plan is the applicant’s only other option. If the situation is not that severe, then the application may be approved with a low health classification, which will result in higher premiums compared to completely healthy people.
Sleep apnea is a medical condition whereby a person’s breathing patterns change while sleeping (e.g. stop breathing for a short period of time). It can lead to a variety of medical conditions including high blood pressure and coronary artery disease. As a result underwriters take a hard look at the medical history of people suffering from this condition.
Similar to the other conditions mentioned above, a decisive factor is whether this condition is being treated and is under control. People that have this condition but are not treating it should expect to have underwriter decline their application.
One might automatically assume that if an applicant has had cancer then they cannot get medically underwritten life insurance, but this is not necessarily the case.
There are many different types of cancer, with each type differing in fatality rates and treatment success. This is taken into account by underwriters. In addition they will look at the stage of the cancer.
In addition, how cancer is looked at depends a large deal on the insurance company itself.
Asthma is a respiratory condition that is not uncommon. If an applicant is being treated for asthma and the condition is under tight control then there will be a minimal affect on the life insurance application. However, if the applicant has had to go to a medical facility (e.g. hospital) as a result of asthma attacks then they will probably be offered a life insurance plan with a poor health classification, resulting in higher premiums.
There are other health conditions that underwriters look at such as obesity, high cholesterol and a history of depression.
Generally speaking, having one of the medical conditions mentioned above does not necessarily mean that you cannot get a life insurance plan. Treatment of the condition, having the condition under control as well as how long the condition has been treated will positively affect a life insurance application.
In cases where an applicant is rejected there is also the option of getting a guaranteed issue life insurance plan, which comes with no medical questions being asked. Note, however, that guaranteed issue plans offer less coverage then medically underwritten plans.
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