Life Insurance Tables
and Health Ratings
When it comes to applying for life insurance, nearly all candidates consider themselves “healthy”, and I’m sure many of them are, but I thought it would be helpful to highlight the life insurance tables and health rating system used with life insurance underwriters to help set expectations.
There are four basic categories used for life insurance underwriting, and in descending order they are: Preferred Plus, Preferred, Standard Plus, and Standard. Then there are a number of variances from these rankings such as Non-Smoker vs Smoker, and Table 1, 2, 3, 4 etc.
Only about 5% of applicants receive the Preferred Plus rating. You don’t necessarily have to be a 22 year old triathlete to get this rating, and in fact you can get this rating at a much older age, but your actual health rating is going to be based on an overall picture that the insurance company can capture for their underwriting team. They’re going to do a physical exam, checking your blood pressure, weight, height, and take blood and urine samples. They’re also going to ask questions about family history of things like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, etc. and if your parents died at a younger age because of it. Another thing they take into consideration is medication. Depending on what it is, and why you’re taking it may lower your health ratings. If questions arise, they may request medical records from your doctors to understand your condition further, and ask you to provide more detail. Getting the Preferred Plus rating means that your blood pressure is normal, blood and urine samples are normal, weight is healthy, your parents haven’t died of a hereditary disease, you don’t take any medications, you exercise regularly, don’t drink a lot, don’t smoke, haven’t had a DUI, have a clean record, you visit the doctor regularly, have no health concerns, etc. So in other words, only about 5% of the people who apply look this perfect, and it’s completely normal and healthy to get a lower health rating such as Standard or Table 2.
We're not underwriters, but what we typically see is that if you have a minor health concern, they may drop you a level. Then if you take medication to address another health concern, then they drop you another level. If you are overweight, then they drop you down again. And if your blood work looks a little off, they drop you again. With the high death rate of opioids in the united states, you can imagine an underwriter taking that into consideration. When you're applying, we're going to help you fill out your application so that your medical history is clear and understood by the underwriter so that they don't assume the worst and drop you to the lowest health rating.
The things they look for that may lower your rates down from the cheapest possible rates don’t mean that you’re not healthy or you're not getting a good deal, it simply means that from an underwriting perspective you are healthy enough to insure and based on your overall picture fall into a particular underwriting category.
Some people have a specific amount of coverage they want, while others have a limited budget they need to meet. If your rates come back higher than expected, having some coverage is still so much better than not having any at all, and we can always adjust either the length of the policy, or the death benefit amount to meet your budget needs. As independent agents, we also have the ability to shop your approval to other carriers to see if they're willing to give you better rates, so we will do the best we can to save you money.
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