When you buy life insurance, your health plays a big part in determining the premium. For example, if you have type 2 diabetes you’re probably going to have to pay a higher premium than someone your age who doesn’t.
Most people aren’t surprised by this, even if it’s the first time they’ve shopped for life insurance. But what does surprise them is when the results of the paramedical exam indicate a health issue that until now had gone undetected, or when a seemingly minor condition turns out to be the reason your premium is higher than what you expected.
The reason these less severe health issues give underwriters pause is that they can lead to more severe issues in the years to come.
Here are 5 of the most common unexpected health issues that can raise your premium. You might not be able to do much about them if they apply to you, but at least you’ll know what to expect. And if you know about these issues beforehand, you might be able to work with your doctor to get the condition under control before applying for life insurance.
5 health conditions that can increase your premium
Naturally if your cholesterol is above normal, you can expect a higher premium. But it works the other way, too: if your cholesterol falls too low the insurer might raise your premium, because there might be a connection between it and other serious health issues like depression or cancer.
Elevated liver enzymes
If your blood test indicates elevated liver enzymes, the insurer will look more closely to find out the cause. It may be something benign like over-the-counter painkillers or the statins you’re taking to lower your cholesterol, in which case you can provide an Attending Physician Statement. But more serious things like hepatitis and celiac disease also raise liver enzymes.
Some mild heartburn now and then may not be a big deal, but the more serious version, acid reflux disease (aka gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD or GORD), can lead to health complications later in life. Similarly, inflammatory conditions like colitis and Crohn’s disease can trigger a higher premium; Crohn’s, for example, can increase the risk of osteoporosis, liver disease, and colon cancer.
People who are depressed often say it’s annoying to be told to "cheer up," because it’s a serious medical condition. Well guess what? Insurers agree, and they know that it can lead to other serious complications. Depending on the severity of the depression and your treatment history, you may face higher premiums or have to shop for a policy from another insurer entirely.
Lots of people snore, but if you suffer from sleep apnea, your breathing stops and starts repeatedly while you sleep. Left untreated, sleep apnea may lead to other health issues like heart disease or high blood pressure. The good news is, if you seek treatment for sleep apnea then most insurers will take that into consideration.
*Keep in mind that these conditions aren’t insurance deal breakers, because every company uses a different set of underwriting tables. You might still be able to find a great deal if you work with a broker who knows which insurers are more lenient in your situation. But to avoid frustration later on, remember to disclose everything up front—even the "small" things.
And don’t get too stressed out if your (free) paramedical exam reveals a surprise or two. If nothing else, now you can seek medical treatment immediately instead of waiting to be surprised later.
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