If you have a history of high cholesterol but medications help keep your cholesterol and triglyceride levels in check, your life insurance rates shouldn't be affected at all. In fact, people with high cholesterol can still qualify for the best possible premiums.
However, if your cholesterol levels are high enough to signify a higher risk of heart disease, you may have to pay more. How much more depends on how your high cholesterol is managed.
In rare cases, a very high cholesterol ratio combined with other health complications can lead to a declined application.
How do life insurance companies assess cholesterol?
Life insurance companies take a holistic view at your health when you apply. When it comes to cholesterol, they look at two main numbers:
Your total blood cholesterol level
The ratio of your total cholesterol to your HDL cholesterol. HDL (high density lipoprotein) cholesterol is known as the “good” cholesterol because it helps remove other forms of cholesterol from the bloodstream. Both of these numbers are important for getting a full picture of your health. 
If the insurance company needs to see your whole cholesterol profile, they may also ask about:
Your LDL cholesterol, or “bad” cholesterol. LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol can build up in your arteries, causing them to harden and narrow.
Your triglycerides, another type of fat in the blood. Having high triglycerides and high LDL cholesterol can increase your risk of other health conditions such as heart attack and stroke. 
Cholesterol numbers and what they mean
under 200 mg/dL
LDL (bad) cholesterol
under 100 mg/dL
HDL (good) cholesterol
over 60 mg/dL
under 150 mg/dL
A higher ratio of total cholesterol to HDL, known as your cholesterol ratio, signifies a higher risk of heart disease.  Even if you have a low total amount of cholesterol (200mg or less), if your cholesterol ratio is high, it can affect your life insurance rates.
But most people with high cholesterol still pay competitive rates for life insurance, especially if you can successfully lower your cholesterol levels with medication.
How to calculate total cholesterol ratio
Your total cholesterol number divided by your HDL cholesterol number will give you your total-cholesterol-to-HDL ratio. Most doctors consider a ratio below 5:1 to be good, so a higher ratio might cause concern to insurance companies. 
For more information on how to read cholesterol test results and calculate your cholesterol ratio, talk to your doctor.
Why does high cholesterol affect life insurance rates?
If left untreated, a higher cholesterol ratio can lead to other health conditions like chest pain, heart attack, or even stroke. This is because cholesterol buildup can inhibit blood flow.
Insurance companies use your complete medical profile to determine your premiums. The fewer health conditions you have, and the better you manage them, the less risk you present to the insurance company, and the cheaper your rates will be.
How to buy life insurance if you have high cholesterol
It’s fairly simple to buy life insurance even if you have high cholesterol.
You’ll need to disclose your condition on your health questionnaire and list any medications as well as your recent cholesterol levels.
Next, you’ll likely take a medical exam, which is a very common part of the life insurance application process.
Some companies don’t require a medical exam for people with few health conditions, including well-managed cholesterol. This means you may answer a few additional health questions over the phone or online instead of taking the exam.
You’ll then wait for the insurer to review your application and extend a final offer, which can take up to a couple of weeks. Once underwriting is complete and you have a final rate, you can accept your offer and pay your first premium to put the policy in force.
How much does life insurance cost if you have high cholesterol?
A $500,000, 20-year life insurance policy can cost as little as $24.65 per month for a 35-year-old male non-smoker who manages his cholesterol with or without medication.
The best way to determine how much life insurance will cost for you is to speak with a licensed agent and get a personalized quote, since each person’s health profile is different.
20-year term life insurance rates for people with well-controlled high cholesterol
If your cholesterol ratio is below 5:1 (or 4.5:1, depending on the insurer), with or without treatment, you’ll likely pay the lowest rates, reserved for people with few health conditions or medications.
20-year term life insurance for people with high cholesterol
If your cholesterol ratio is above 5:1 but below 7.5:1, with or without treatment, you’ll likely pay higher rates.
Best life insurance companies for people with high cholesterol
Many life insurance companies will offer competitive rates for people who are managing high cholesterol, but these Policygenius partners offer some of the best rates.
We used industry data, pricing from Policygenius carrier partners, and third-party ratings like A.M. Best and J.D. Power to pick the best insurers on the market. Our independent recommendations will help you get life insurance coverage with confidence.
Lincoln Financial is a reputable company with multiple life insurance policy options for people with high cholesterol. You’re generally eligible for best rates if your cholesterol ratio is below 5:1, with or without medication.
Lincoln Financial also has a no-medical-exam application process for people with minor health conditions, including high cholesterol, so you may not have to take an in-person exam.
Transamerica is another A-rated company that offers competitive rates for people with high cholesterol. Like Lincoln Financial, you’re eligible for up to best rates with a cholesterol ratio under 5:1, with or without medication.
When applying with Transamerica, you’re able to fill out a health questionnaire prior to taking a medical exam. The insurer will review your application and decide if an exam is needed, so you may not have to take one if your cholesterol is well-managed.
How to lower your life insurance rates if you have high cholesterol
If you receive higher life insurance rates based on your cholesterol test results, you can ask the insurance company to reconsider how much you pay after one year of owning your policy. This usually requires taking another medical exam.
In the meantime, you can consult your doctor on ways to proactively manage your cholesterol to improve your chances of getting a lower rate in the future.
What if my application is declined?
In the rare case that your application is declined, it’s likely because you have other health complications related to your higher cholesterol.
Life insurance cholesterol guidelines can vary slightly between insurance companies, so you may be able to pay lower prices with one company over another. You can work with a licensed life insurance broker like Policygenius to compare top-rated insurers in one spot.
At Policygenius, our experts are licensed in all 50 states and can walk you through the entire life insurance buying process while offering transparent, unbiased advice.
Life insurance options if you’re denied coverage
If you’re declined due to your cholesterol and other health conditions, you can look to other forms of life insurance that usually don’t require you to take a medical exam or answer questions about your health history for approval.
Options include guaranteed issue life insurance and group life insurance.
Guaranteed issue is a type of permanent coverage that's best for people between age 45 and 85 and those who can’t qualify for a standard policy due to a serious medical condition or terminal illness. Application acceptance is near-guaranteed.
Group coverage: If you’re able to work, many employers offer group life insurance coverage. These policies generally have fewer health requirements for coverage and are offered at a low-cost or as part of a benefits package.
Every health condition will be considered by the insurance company on a case-by-case basis, so it’s still worth talking to an agent or broker to figure out what your best options are.
Other health concerns that can affect your life insurance
Certain pre-existing conditions and other health-related concerns can affect your life insurance options or costs. A Policygenius expert can help you find the right policy for your needs.
Mental health issues such as depression or anxiety