Many times as we take an application for life insurance from our clients we ask some personal health questions that will help an insurance company determine, well let’s just say it, if you are a risk they want to take.
Life insurance rates are determined by a number of factors, the obvious being your age and gender, but also your occupation, risky recreational activities (sky diving, flying), your lifestyle (tobacco use, alcohol and drug consumption), the amount of insurance you are applying for and the overall condition of your health and your immediate family members. Not all life policies are equal and your premium will be determined by the insurance company using these factors and your life expectancy.
Recently the vice president and chief underwriters for New York Life & MetLife were asked to list the top 10 costliest health conditions that will impact a life insurance policy for a 40-year old man. Here they are:
- High Blood Pressure. Failing to control a high blood pressure damages not only coronary arteries, but also kidneys and peripheral arteries. A person who has controlled and managed their high blood pressure well may qualify for a preferred policy depending on the carrier.
- Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes can wreak havoc on coronary arteries, renal system, and cause blindness. Control and management are key to determining whether or not the company wants to assume this risk.
- Sleep Apnea. This disorder is potentially life-threatening as your breathing repeatedly pauses during sleep. The result can also mean daytime sleepiness that effect your driving habits. Severe apnea has been associated with high blood pressure and coronary artery disease. The good news is if you are controlling the condition you can get a favorable underwriting decision.
- Heart disease. A diagnosis of heart disease will always throw up a flag to insurance company. Let’s face, a heart attack can be massive, sudden, and deadly. Taken under consideration is family history; immediate family members – father, mother, brother, sister who may have also developed the disease.
- Asthma. A common chronic respiratory condition poses a concern to insurance carriers regarding how well the applicant controls and manages his situation. A preferred underwriting classification is not out of the question especially if it is well controlled and managed.
- Cancer. Just as each cancer is individual, an insurance company will look at each situation during the underwriting process. Depending on the type of cancer, some carriers are going to classify the applicant as preferred and some that are uninsurable and some that will be in the middle.
- Obesity. Obesity contributes to the other nine health hazards in this list. Insurance companies will calculate an applicant’s body mass index (BMI) when deciding upon a risk classification. People who are underweight or who have anorexia nervosa will also be underwritten for concerns.
- Organ Transplants. Transplant cases are looked upon individually with kidney transplants being one of the more common cases an insurance company will write depending on the recovery and how well the applicant is doing after transplantation. More difficult to underwrite are liver and heart transplants.
- Depression. Depending on the degree, severity, and what you are doing to manage the depression, the insurance company may favorably underwrite you. Depression that becomes severe can lead to suicide. Typically refused by life insurance companies are those that are HIV-positive, Alzheimer’s patients, recently rehabbed drug/alcohol patients, those in nursing facilities and those facing a major surgery.
- High Cholesterol. High cholesterol can lead to the development of coronary artery disease. Many life insurance companies look at elevated cholesterol as they do high blood pressure. If you are managing your cholesterol with diet, exercise, and/or medication may give you a preferred rating.
Our former agency president, George Weimer said “it’s always better to buy life insurance when you are young and healthy. Not only are the premiums cheaper but you are guaranteeing your insurability for your future.” What is hard for we insurance agents is to convince the young couple/individual how crucial it is to secure your future with life insurance and do so before any of these conditions start to creep up on you. Doctors are seeing many of these conditions that were once thought to be an over 40-something disease/disorder occurring in younger people. The good news is if you do have one of these conditions, depending on your diagnosis and how well you control and manage your disease, the insurance company may still provide an offer of insurance.