Life insurance for people with high cholesterol

People with high cholesterol can still qualify for competitive life insurance rates. Learn how life insurance companies use your total-cholesterol-to-HDL ratio to determine premiums.

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Rebecca Shoenthal

Rebecca Shoenthal

Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

Rebecca Shoenthal is a licensed life, disability, and health insurance expert and a former editor at Policygenius. Her insights about life insurance and finance have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Fox Business, The Balance, HerMoney, SBLI, and John Hancock.

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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. 

But if your cholesterol ratio is 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 can lead to a declined application

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How do life insurance companies assess cholesterol?

Life insurance companies look at two numbers: your total blood cholesterol level, and the ratio of your total cholesterol to the "good" HDL cholesterol. Both of these numbers are important for getting a full picture of your health. [1]  

Cholesterol numbers and what they mean

Test

Ideal level

Total cholesterol

under 200 mg/dL

LDL (bad) cholesterol

under 100 mg/dL

HDL (good) cholesterol

over 60 mg/dL

Triglycerides

under 150 mg/dL

A higher total-cholesterol-to-HDL ratio signifies a higher risk of heart disease to your life insurance underwriter. [2] Even if you have a low total amount of cholesterol (200mg or less), if your total-cholesterol-to-HDL ratio is high, it can affect your life insurance rates.

But most people with high cholesterol still pay low rates for life insurance, especially if you can successfully lower your cholesterol levels with medication. 

How to calculate total-cholesterol-to-HDL 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. [3]

Ratio

Meaning

< 3.5:1

Very good

< 5:1

Good

> 5:1

High cholesterol

For more information on how to read cholesterol test results and calculate your cholesterol ratio, talk to your doctor.

Why do insurance companies care about cholesterol?

A higher total-cholesterol-to-HDL ratio can lead to other health conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure. Insurance companies use your complete medical profile to determine your premiums. 

How to buy life insurance if you have high cholesterol

Most life insurance policies require a medical exam (similar to a physical) and all insurers look at past health records. If you have a history of high cholesterol, don't try to hide that information.

If you're not sure about your current cholesterol levels, you can avoid unpleasant surprises during the life insurance application process by visiting your doctor beforehand for an updated test.

Reconsideration

If you’re unhappy with your 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.

What if my application is declined?

In the rare case that your application is declined, it is likely because you have other health complications related to your higher cholesterol. Again – talk to your agent. They’ll be able to give you a personalized rundown of other insurance companies that may offer you coverage.

Because each insurer assesses your cholesterol a little bit differently, you may be able to pay lower prices at one insurer over another. Work with a licensed life insurance broker to shop around.

FAQ

Does COVID-19 affect the life insurance application process or eligibility?

Due to the ever-changing nature of the coronavirus pandemic, some insurers are modifying processes and/or imposing coverage restrictions on certain health conditions or age groups. Speak to a Policygenius agent for free to find out how to get the most affordable policy.

Can you get life insurance if you have high cholesterol?

If you have high cholesterol, you will still be able to get life insurance coverage but may have to pay higher rates. How much you’ll pay will depend on the severity of your condition. In rare cases, high cholesterol combined with other health complications may lead to an application decline.

Can I lower my high cholesterol before a life insurance exam?

You should discuss managing your cholesterol levels with your doctor.

References

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Policygenius uses external sources, including government data, industry studies, and reputable news organizations to supplement proprietary marketplace data and internal expertise. Learn more about how we use and vet external sources as part of our

editorial standards.
  1. Harvard Medical School

    . "

    Making sense of cholesterol tests

    ." Accessed November 12, 2021.

  2. Mayo Clinic

    . "

    Cholesterol ratio or non-HDL cholesterol: Which is most important?

    ." Accessed November 12, 2021.

  3. The University of Rochester Medical Center

    . "

    Lipid Panel with Total Cholesterol: HDL Ratio

    ." Accessed November 12, 2021.

Author

Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

Rebecca Shoenthal

Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

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Rebecca Shoenthal is a licensed life, disability, and health insurance expert and a former editor at Policygenius. Her insights about life insurance and finance have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Fox Business, The Balance, HerMoney, SBLI, and John Hancock.

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