Life Insurance & Cholesterol

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In the past, there were two things that did not go together well in this industry – high cholesterol and affordable life insurance over age 50. In fact, high cholesterol was at one time among the brightest red flags leading for not getting approved for life insurance.

Times have changed.

Doctors now have a clearer understanding of cholesterol, and life insurance companies have adjusted their approval processes accordingly.

We will talk a little more about that later. The important takeaway here is that elevated cholesterol levels do not automatically disqualify you from affordable life insurance coverage, even when applying for life insurance over 50 years of age. So, let’s just get to the point…

Is it possible for you to get life insurance with high cholesterol? Yes, it is!

What should my cholesterol levels be?

As we mentioned above, we now know more about cholesterol. And doctors have shown, as you are probably aware, that not all cholesterol is bad. High levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is the cholesterol that worries physicians and underwriters, while high-density lipoprotein (HDL) is considered “good cholesterol.”

Although no two insurance companies will use the same guidelines, the following should give you a general idea of what life insurance companies would like to see in your cholesterol test results:

  • Total cholesterol under 200 mg/dl
  • LDL cholesterol under 100 mg/dl
  • HDL cholesterol over 40 mg/dl
  • Cholesterol ratio under 3.5
  • Triglycerides under 150 mg/dl

Assuming your health is otherwise great, and you have your cholesterol under control, you stand a very good chance of qualifying for very affordable life rates for life insurance.

But one of the most important factors for an underwriter is your cholesterol ratio. In fact, some insurance companies could very well approve you for very affordable rates even if your total cholesterol exceeds doctors’ recommendations – so long as your cholesterol ratio is good and your health is otherwise great.

What kinds of questions will I be asked about my cholesterol?

Insurance companies are going to take your high cholesterol very seriously when reviewing your application. That means your application is NOT going to get the rubber-stamp “DENIED” treatment simply because you have this condition. It also means that, as we mentioned above, if you are taking your high cholesterol seriously by engaging in effective treatment, insurance companies are much more likely to approve your application.

A few of the points the insurance company will consider are:

  • How old were you when you were diagnosed with high cholesterol?
  • How old are you now?
  • What is your blood pressure? Do you have hypertension?
  • What is your height?
  • How much do you weigh?
  • Are you diabetic?
  • Is there a history of heart disease, coronary artery disease, or stroke in your family?
  • What kind of treatment are you receiving for your high cholesterol?
  • Are you taking prescription medications for your high cholesterol?
  • Do you use tobacco?
  • Other than high cholesterol, how is your overall health?
  • Have you had any major surgeries or hospitalizations?

Each of these questions is important in assessing risk. However, none of them on their own will necessarily result in having your life insurance application rejected.

Will my family history prevent me from qualifying?

Unfortunately, there really isn’t anything you can do about your family medical history. But the fact is that genetics is a pretty reliable indicator of the kinds of health problems you may experience in life. So, it only makes sense that underwriters will take an interest here when evaluating your life insurance application.

Issues like heart disease, coronary artery disease, and stroke are closely associated with high cholesterol. If these conditions are present in your family history, it may very well affect the rate that you will qualify for with an insurance company.

Each insurance company views family history differently so it’s important to work with an independent agent that can help you determine which insurance companies will look at your application most favorably.

If you have not yet been diagnosed with high cholesterol, yet your family history suggests it is a real possibility, you may want to give some thought to a “no-medical exam” life insurance policy.

These no exam policies may cost a little more, but, as their names suggest, they do not require you to get a medical exam that could result in a high cholesterol diagnosis.

That is something you will need to think about and discuss with a qualified life insurance specialist. A good rule of thumb though is that if you haven’t had any labs done in the last two years or so you may want to consider the no exam option.

Perhaps your cholesterol is elevated and you don’t know it. If your cholesterol comes back high from the results of the lab work you may find that you will either not be approved for coverage or that you were approved but at a higher rate than you had anticipated.

If your parents were relatively healthy and lived full lives (75 years of age or older), this could work in your favor. Many insurance companies provide credits that could help to lower your premiums. And having a healthy family history is one such possible credit. Of course, the underwriter will look at other medical conditions in your history, too, such as cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, and more.

Will cholesterol medication cause my life insurance application to be rejected?

No, it will not.

A lot of people seem to believe that being on medication for their cholesterol will prevent them from qualifying for life insurance or will increase the rates they have to pay dramatically. And so they are hesitant to even apply. But that isn’t how it works. Proactively managing your cholesterol levels is a good thing – not only in the eyes of underwriters but obviously for your own health, too.

Don’t let your prescription medication discourage you from applying. If the medication is working to lower your cholesterol, you become less of a risk to underwriters. That is because, as we said earlier, lower cholesterol also means a lower chance of cardiac arrest, stroke, and many other major health conditions.

This critical thing from the insurance companies point of view is whether you are taking the necessary steps to keep your cholesterol under control. Making sure that you see your doctor on a regular basis and that you are taking steps to improve your overall health through various lifestyle choices are some of the things the insurance company is going to be most concerned about.

Know that it is actually quite possible to achieve the very best rates an insurance company offers even if you take prescription medications to control your cholesterol.

How will tobacco use affect my life insurance application?

We are all adults here, and we all know that smoking is simply a bad thing for your health. So, underwriters will naturally count tobacco use as a negative. And for people with high cholesterol, tobacco complicates the issue as smoking can lower your HDL – “good” – cholesterol levels.

In short, tobacco use will most likely have a negative impact on your application or limit the options of plans for which you might qualify.

On the other hand, having not used tobacco in the last 5 years might qualify you for a credit. Most underwriters will require 10 years of you being tobacco-free to earn such a credit. And having never smoked is obviously the best-case scenario, a definite plus.

What if I live a healthy lifestyle even though I have high cholesterol?

As you may already know, being overweight or living a sedentary lifestyle can lead to a host of serious health problems. In fact, carrying around too much additional weight often decreases your good HDL cholesterol while increasing your triglycerides.

Keeping your weight in check and getting annual physical examinations that show you are otherwise healthy will always make an underwriter happy, assuming you are keeping your cholesterol under control with medication. In fact, this may qualify you for a credit with some life insurance companies, possibly resulting in lower premiums.

Some final thoughts on high cholesterol life insurance

We have covered a lot of information here. And regardless of your condition, keep in mind that no two insurance companies are the same. The points we have discussed are general guidelines. While one insurance company may approve for high rates or even decline your application another company might approve you at very affordable rates.

There is no way to know for certain what you should expect without first consulting with a qualified independent life insurance agent that can help you determine which company will look at your application for coverage most favorably.

Taking the next step toward life insurance

If you have been diagnosed with high cholesterol, the best thing to do at this point is know where you currently stand in terms of your condition. Are you effectively managing your cholesterol levels?

So long as you are managing your high cholesterol, it is important to remember that this condition will not automatically disqualify you from being approved for an affordable life insurance policy.

At this point, there isn’t any reason that you shouldn’t begin shopping for the right plan. At an independent life insurance agency (like ours), there are independent agents who have partnered with several of top-rated insurance companies. This makes rate comparison as simple and as painless a process as possible for applicants.

We work one-on-one with applicants to help them decide on the right amount of coverage for their needs, to find the best policies at the best values, and to help them navigate the application process effortlessly.