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Determine Your Life Insurance Health Class Rating

Researcher & Writer
May 04, 2016

Most people searching for how life insurance companies determine health ratings are doing so for a specific purpose: to determine if they can qualify for the best rate class. Now while there is no fool proof way to guarantee the top rate, you can up your chances by making sure you have options. At TermLife2Go, we review dozens of the top-rated carriers, including the best life insurance companies requiring an exam and the best no exam life insurance companies.

Life Insurance Health Rating Classifications

No two people are alike, which means that every day two people have two very different risks of dying. Let’s imagine you are a 35 year old male. You like to smoke, drink on the weekends, and you have a DWI in the past, though now you’re eligible to drive. You also like to ski and occasionally you skydive. You also have a family history of heart disease. Now let’s take your best friend. He is 38, never smoked a day in his life, rarely drinks, and has no past record or speeding tickets. He does, however, suffer from multiple sclerosis. Though you may share a taxi which crashes and kills you both tomorrow, today you are considered to have very different mortality risk levels.

Determine Your Life Insurance Health Class Rating

Insurance companies cannot determine exactly when you are going to die—no one can—but they do their best to gauge the percentage of risk. How likely is it that you will die prematurely? They assess every aspect of your life: hobbies, health, career, family life, and so on. Then, the life insurance underwriter uses this information to decide whether or not to offer you a policy.

This information does more than just determine your eligibility, though. It also determines the rate you will pay for a policy. Perhaps you and your best friend both qualify for the same life insurance policy, but a life insurance underwriter decides that one of you has a slightly higher risk than the other. The person with an increased risk of early mortality will pay a premium.

For those of you with a high health iq, life insurance rates can be lower mainly due to the fact that you most likely eat healthy and exercise.

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What are the different life insurance health ratings?

While every life insurance company is free to make their own rate categories, most will break down their pricing as follows:

  • Preferred Plus or Preferred Best Non-smoker
  • Preferred Non-smoker
  • Standard Non-smoker
  • Preferred Smoker
  • Standard Smoker
  • Substandard or Table Rated
    • Table Rated 1-16 or Table Rated A-P

In this list of health ratings, substandard is the highest (i.e. worst) least affordable type of health classification (but if you get this health rating you should be thankful you even qualify!). Prices go down with each category, ending in the cheapest, most affordable life insurance rate class: Preferred Plus.

How does a life insurance company determine which health rating category I belong in?

As you will notice, smoking is one of the biggest factors to determine your life insurance rate. Every category has a smoker and non-smoker rate, the smoker rate of course being higher. In addition to your smoking status, a life insurance company will use the information they have gathered about your life, lifestyle, habits, and medical state and history to determine which category to put you in.

In particular, you will likely qualify for a better rate if you:

  • are at a normal weight for your height
  • have never had drug or alcohol treatment
  • rarely or never engage in adventure sports such as skydiving, skiing or rock climbing
  • have normal cholesterol
  • have a good driving record
  • have normal blood pressure
  • display no serious illnesses, diseases, or ailments
  • have healthy immediate family members (a family history of heart disease is especially bad for your rates)

The tricky thing is, not all life insurance companies will come to the same conclusion. Let’s take the earlier example of two men in their mid-thirties. It is possible that one life insurance agency will decide to insure the 38 year old with type 2 diabetes and the 35 year old smoker at the same rate. At the same time, another life insurance company might decide that the diabetes patient must pay a higher premium than the smoker.

How will a life insurance company know if I smoke?

Many smokers think they can outsmart life insurance underwriters by claiming they are not smokers. We strongly urge life insurance applicants to be as truthful as possible during the application process. Failing to do so could risk the validity of the policy even after you have qualified. The last thing you want to do is pay for a life insurance policy every month only for it to render invalid when you finally do pass away because you lied on your initial life insurance application.

Now, it’s even more impossible for liars to get away with it. A quick urine test will show a life insurance company if you are lying. While not all life insurance companies require a urine analysis, and almost none require it in all situations, it’s still advisable to tell the truth. However, ultimately it is up to you.

Can I know for sure what my health rating will be before I apply?

The short answer: no. While you can do your best to take an educated guess, there are too many variables between one life insurance company and another. Ultimately, the decision is up to the life insurance underwriter and you’ll only know once you apply. Once again, the company you apply with is an essential ingredient to qualifying for the best life insurance health categories.

Some additional tips for qualifying at the best life insurance health rating

The best thing you can do when pursuing a policy is to be informed. You can check out our article on what life insurance companies test for. This article will give you a good idea of what insurance underwriters are looking for to determine what life insurance health rating to place you in.

Further, you may also benefit from reading our article that offers tips to acing your life insurance exam and our article about getting a great quote. This article was written over a few years and offers advice on how you can qualify for the best rate class.

Finally, because your rate will vary depending on your life insurance provider, it’s advisable to seek third party assistance, such as the professionals at TermLife2Go, who can place you with one of dozens of the top rated companies available.

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We are a team of life insurance experts with the simple mission of helping you find the best coverage for your unique situation. We research, review, and rank life insurance companies to make that process easier.