How High Cholesterol Affects Your Life Insurance Application


Have you avoided applying for life insurance because you have high cholesterol? It is a health condition that can affect your life insurance application. But the degree of that effect will be determined by how you handle the application process. You can get life insurance with high cholesterol, and even get a policy with affordable rates.

What is High Cholesterol

The technical name is hypercholesterolemia, but most of us simply know it as high cholesterol. It is a major risk factor for both heart disease and stroke. It is determined based on abnormal levels of your LDL cholesterol or HDL cholesterol.

Cholesterol is known as a lipid, which is a type of fat that appears in your blood. Cholesterol is necessary for the cells in your body, so your body actually manufactures. However certain lifestyle habits can cause excess levels of cholesterol, and that can lead to severe health conditions.

High levels of cholesterol in the bloodstream can cause plaque to buildup in your arteries. This is referred to as arteriosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.The plaque attaches to the walls of the blood vessels, and as it builds, it restricts blood flow away from the heart. Since the arteries carry blood away from the heart, the buildup of plaque can lead to blood clots and inflammation that can cause heart attacks and stroke. This is sometimes evidenced in advance by chest pain, known as angina.

There are two types of cholesterol, and both are measured by doctors to determine if high cholesterol is a problem. LDL cholesterol is sometimes referred to as “bad cholesterol”, while HDL is often referred to as “good cholesterol”. Cholesterol is a problem if the LDL is high, or if the HDL is low.

There are various factors that contribute to a cholesterol problem, including diet. High cholesterol can be caused by consuming too much saturated fat and trans fat. The other factors include being overweight or being inactive, as either may lower your HDL. There is also some evidence of genetics at play, in that a family history of high cholesterol is common in people who have the condition. But age is also a factor, since cholesterol levels tend to rise after the age of 20.

In order to determine high cholesterol, a blood test called a lipid panel is run that measures the fats in your blood, which includes both LDL and HDL.

By the numbers, LDL cholesterol is considered high if the reading is 190 or more. And the higher the number, the greater the risk. For HDL, a reading below 40 represents an increased risk for both coronary artery disease and stroke, while a reading above 60 indicates a reduced risk.

High cholesterol affects 42 million people in the US, with an additional 63 million who have borderline high cholesterol.

High cholesterol can be treated with a variety of medications, particularly statins, but lifestyle modifications are at least as important. Switching to a diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish and low-fat dairy foods is usually necessary. It’s also important to maintain a healthy body weight, as well as to get regular exercise. And if you’re a smoker, that habit will need to go away.

How Life Insurance Companies Consider High Cholesterol

Since the frequent result of high cholesterol is ultimately death by either heart attack or stroke, life insurance companies consider it to be important in underwriting life insurance policies.

It isn’t so much the cholesterol level that life insurance companies focus on, but rather the LDL/HDL ratio, otherwise known as the cholesterol ratio. The balance between the two numbers is more significant than the level of either.

The LDL/HDL ratio is calculated by dividing HDL into LDL. For example, if your LDL is 200, and your HDL is 40, your LDL/HDL ratio is 5 (200 divided by 40). An optimal ratio is considered to be 3.5 or less. So if your LDL is 180 and your HDL is 60, your ratio is 3, which is an excellent reading.

Applying for life insurance when you have a high LDL/HDL ratio will generally have an effect on the premiums that you will pay for your policy, though it is unlikely to result in a decline, unless the ratio is exceedingly high.

Applying for Life Insurance with High Cholesterol

If you do have high cholesterol, it’s important that you are proactive in managing the condition. Evidence that you are, will go a long way toward getting you the life insurance policy you want at the most affordable rate.

The life insurance company will look at the following criteria to evaluate your application:

  • Your age at the time of diagnosis
  • Your current age
  • Whether or not you smoke
  • Your weight
  • Your level of physical activity
  • Your blood pressure
  • If and how frequently you are getting medical attention to treat the condition
  • If you are on any medications, and if so what kinds

Well-controlled high cholesterol will result in much lower life insurance premium rates. You can help your own cause, as well as improve on both the length and quality of your life, by doing your part to control any of these risk factors.

Choosing the Right Life Insurance Company is Critical

With any kind of health-related condition, choosing the right life insurance company needs to be a primary objective. Not all life insurance companies take the same view of high cholesterol. With some companies, it may be viewed as a minor condition, particularly if it is well-controlled. But other companies may see it as a major obstacle, and charge much higher premiums.

It’s extremely important to make sure that the company that you make application to is one that takes a favorable view of a high cholesterol condition. Choose the wrong company, and you will pay far too much for the policy.

Choosing the Right Insurance Agent is Even More Important

The basic problem in finding an insurance company that takes a favorable view of applicants with high cholesterol is that you are unlikely to know who they are. And if you’re not a life insurance professional, there’s no way you could know that. After all, not many life insurance companies advertise that they love applicants with high cholesterol.

That’s why it’s so important that you work with the right life insurance agent. If you have high cholesterol, or any other type of health-related condition, we’d like to help you get the best life insurance policy for the lowest premium. We have agents who know the industry, and are eager to help you.