When you have high cholesterol or are taking cholesterol medication, getting life insurance can be a slightly challenging process. You are probably trying to obtain the highest level of death benefit for the lowest premiums available from a financially stable insurance company. We offer many company reviews for your reference, such as Banner Life Insurance Review, to help you make the best decision on your life insurance purchase.
A high cholesterol level can scare away some insurance carriers, but others take a more relaxed approach to this condition.
Generally cholesterol underwriting (deciding if they will offer you an insurance policy) with insurance companies is combined with other medical issues like being overweight, blood pressure control, level of exercise, triglyceride levels, family history, being a smoker, etc.
The good news for those with elevated cholesterol levels is that just being treated for high cholesterol or hypertension doesn’t preclude many insurers from giving out Preferred, Preferred Plus, and Standard Plus rates.
How Your Cholesterol Number Affects Your Life Insurance
Your exact cholesterol number is important to insurance companies. Most of the time, the higher your cholesterol level, the fewer offers for coverage you will get. However, not all of them view the numbers the same way.
As a matter of fact, one of the most important things you can do if you have elevated cholesterol levels is to talk to an independent licensed insurance agent who knows which companies have easier underwriting for those taking medication or who have hypertension. They can shop for you to find the best life insurance rates for your specific medical condition.
Since life insurance is something you pay for every year, you want to find the highest death benefit at the lowest rates in order to save money year after year.
Many companies will consider you to be a high risk for life insurance and will not want to give you their best rates.
For some companies, a cholesterol level that is slightly high will keep you from getting some of their better life insurance policies that have preferred (lower) premiums.
For other companies, a slight elevation in cholesterol levels won’t affect which policies you are offered. You can still be eligible for the premium policies which can cost far less.
Both of your cholesterol numbers, the HDL and the LDL, are taken into consideration. If your HDL, often called good cholesterol, is high, your cholesterol ratio will be more favorable and you can expect better offers.
Companies such as Prudential have gotten more aggressive with their underwriting regarding high cholesterol. They no longer just look at high total cholesterol for preferred underwriting. They instead focus on HDL levels, and the resulting ratios from looking at both of those numbers in comparison.
Even better is that individuals with cholesterol/HDL levels up to and including 5.0, even if you’re on some some sort of cholesterol lowering medication can qualify for their Preferred Best underwriting. If levels are up to 6.0 you still may qualify for Preferred rates.
Companies like Mutual of Omaha will prefer maximum cholesterol levels of 300 and ratios of 4.5 for their best rates for individuals between the ages of 18 and 55, and a ratio of 5.0 for anyone over 55.
They also would prefer that blood pressure is better than 130 over 80, and that could be either with or without treatment with medications, as long as it is controlled.
Cholesterol Medications and the Insurance Underwriters
If you have high cholesterol or are taking cholesterol medication, you may have to answer a number of additional questions on your insurance applications. Whether you take medication to control your cholesterol will influence the company’s decision about your life insurance. The type of medication you take, the dosage and how long you have been taking it will also be considerations.
There are an enormous amount of different cholesterol medications to treat cholesterol and hypertension. As you are aware, any time you take prescription drugs for medical conditions, you need to be aware of side effects from those medications. This is true especially if you have multiple medical conditions.
If you take medication for your cholesterol, this won’t necessarily keep you from some of the best policies. If your medication is keeping your blood pressure well regulated, you can expect more insurance offers and better rates.
Though some people who have high cholesterol or are taking cholesterol medication will have fewer policies to choose from only the best companies that rate life insurance for high cholesterol, this isn’t the case for everyone with this condition. Many insurance companies will make you a competitive offer even if you have a slightly high cholesterol level.
Options to Consider if Your Life Insurance Rates are Too High
If your agent shops for you and because of your cholesterol levels you still get rated up and have to pay a surcharge for your life insurance, here are a few things to consider:
- Consider your budget first. The life insurance policy you can’t afford is NOT the policy you want to buy – no matter what the insurance agent advises. As a matter of fact, a good insurance agent will need to know about what your budget is for a monthly payment.
- Instead of considering a permanent life insurance policy, you may want to think about getting an inexpensive term insurance policy that generally costs less than permanent life insurance. Especially if you are young, you could apply for a term life insurance policy now, then begin to work on lowering your cholesterol numbers and then apply for a more expensive (but longer benefit period) permanent policy once you improve your health condition.
- Even though you wanted a certain death benefit, you may just have to lower the amount of death benefit than what you were originally applying for.
- Use this as a motivator to begin to exercise, quit smoking, eat more fiber and less trans fats and saturated fats and less starch and sugars (not trying to give medical advice-just to encourage good healthy habits).
- Lastly, if you are flat out declined from any company to issue you a life insurance policy, consider looking at Guaranteed Issue life insurance policies. Even though these plans are expensive, and may have waiting periods for full benefits, they might just meet the death benefit needs you are looking for.
Reducing your Cholesterol and reduce your life insurance premiums
While this section is (again) not trying to give medical advice, here are some ways to try and improve your personal health by reducing your Triglycerides and levels of LDL. Some of these habits may also help lower blood pressure. Getting affordable life insurance with high blood pressure is another common problem for those who have the condition and are looking for reasonable rates.
Obviously those in the pharmaceutical world promote taking medicine as a primary means of reducing your cholesterol, but there are some that say taking cholesterol medications might possibly hurt your overall health by limiting the ability of the LDL’s to transport nutrients to your body.
So here are some common sense, non-pharmaceutical ways to possibly reduce your cholesterol levels, and thus be able to apply for preferred rates from life insurance companies.
- Exercise more – even small regular amounts of exercise have proven to be effective. Life insurance companies also ask on their applications about regular exercise.
- Eat less sugars and starches (and eat more eggs)!
- Eat more soluble fiber from oats, fruits and vegetables and the like, which has shown effective at lowering cholesterol
- Quit smoking – don’t need to say much about this.
- Eat less trans fats and saturated fats: The FDA no longer recognizes trans fats as safe foods. Even though they are harder to find, they are still lurking around in some prepackaged foods – always read the labels and skip foods that contain “partially hydrogenated.”
There are lots of specific foods that are very effective at reducing cholesterol – most of which are delicious. Keep in mind that if you have a medical condition like high cholesterol levels, it may take some effort to get those levels down to a level that fits the Preferred Rate underwriting guidelines from most life insurance companies.
Don’t give up because it will save you money in the long run, and you will feel better about it as well. Not only will you save money on life insurance premiums, if you can stop taking cholesterol medications, you will save money on your prescription drug co-payments.
Dietary vs Blood Cholesterol
Lastly, now for some good news. Most of my life I was told to be careful and not eat too many eggs or too much bacon, and it was mostly due to the perceived negative effects of dietary cholesterol.
Apparently dietary cholesterol was a very misunderstood issue until a few years ago, and then as one doctor told a friend of mine recently, “I can throw everything out the window that I have told my patients the last 30 years about eating eggs.”
If you want to read the good news about eating almost all the eggs and bacon you want, here it is: a scientific advisory panel for Dietary Guidelines last year basically said: “Cholesterol is not considered a nutrient of concern for over consumption.” So don’t worry about it in the food you eat.
This is talking about Dietary Cholesterol, not about the cholesterol in your blood, which is very important and you should be aware of and concerned about blood cholesterol, because that is the cholesterol that life insurance companies and your doctor now care about.
Understand that some cholesterol is critical for our health, and the cell membranes and other structures need it to function, as well as the body uses it in making hormones and in digestion. You can think of cholesterol like a type of concrete used to give our cells support and strength. One little known fact about cholesterol is that the average person has about a half of pound of cholesterol in their body.
Because this kind of information about cholesterol is still relatively new, the life insurance industry may change some of the numbers they are looking at in their future underwriting. So we could be seeing some big changes to people’s life insurance rates in the future.