Life insurance for people with high cholesterol: What you need to know

You can get life insurance if you have high cholesterol, and you may even qualify for some of the most affordable rates. However, your options and premiums will depend on your specific levels of cholesterol and how well you’re managing your condition.

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By

Rebecca ShoenthalEditor & Licensed Life Insurance ExpertRebecca 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.&Katherine MurbachEditor & Licensed Life Insurance AgentKatherine Murbach is a life insurance and annuities editor, licensed life insurance agent, and former sales associate at Policygenius. Previously, she wrote about life and disability insurance for 1752 Financial, and advised over 1,500 clients on their life insurance policies as a sales associate.

Edited by

Antonio Ruiz-CamachoAntonio Ruiz-CamachoAssociate Content DirectorAntonio helps lead our life insurance and disability insurance editorial team at Policygenius. Previously, he was a senior director of content at Bankrate and CreditCards.com, as well as a principal writer covering personal finance at CNET.

Updated|5 min read

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If you have a history of high cholesterol but are taking medications to keep your cholesterol and triglyceride levels in check, not only will you qualify for life insurance — your condition won’t even affect how much you’ll pay for coverage. Other factors, like your age, gender, overall health profile, and lifestyle habits, will determine your life insurance rates.

Key takeaways

  • Having a history of high cholesterol won’t disqualify you from getting life insurance.

  • If your high cholesterol is under control with medication, you can expect to pay some of the most affordable life insurance rates.

  • 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, very high cholesterol combined with other health complications can keep you from being eligible for the two most common types of life insurance, term and whole, but you may have other options.

How does high cholesterol affect your life insurance premiums?

About 86 million adults have high cholesterol in the U.S., according to the CDC, [1] and since high levels of cholesterol can lead to other health issues like heart disease or stroke, [2] most life insurance companies consider high cholesterol a risk factor when determining the cost of your premiums.

If you have high cholesterol, you can still expect to pay lower-than-average life insurance rates, especially if you can successfully lower your cholesterol levels with medication. But if you have very high cholesterol and also have other health complications, your rates might be higher than average, or you might not be approved for the two most common types of life insurance coverage, term and whole.

However, your cholesterol levels are just one risk factor that insurers will consider when determining the cost of your premiums. Your age, gender, and overall health profile will also play an important role in how much you’ll pay for your policy.

How do life insurance companies know if you have high cholesterol?

During the application process you usually have to take a medical exam, which includes a blood test. The blood test assesses you for several medical conditions — one of which is high cholesterol.

Insurers look at two main numbers related to your cholesterol results: 

  • 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. [3]  

The insurance company 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. [4]

The chart below shows each type of cholesterol and the levels life insurance companies consider acceptable.

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 ratio of total cholesterol to HDL, known as your cholesterol ratio, signifies a higher risk of heart disease. [5] 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.

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 be a  cause for concern for life insurance companies. [6]

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.

Can you lower your high cholesterol before a life insurance exam?

Insurance companies typically look at your cholesterol levels over the last year when deciding your rate. However, taking steps to lower your cholesterol before an exam could help you get a lower rate. Exercising and changing your diet can help lower cholesterol, but your doctor will be able to provide specific advice for your situation.

Every insurance company treats high cholesterol and other determining factors differently. The best way to ensure that you’ll find the right coverage at the best price for your particular situation is to connect with an independent broker like Policygenius. 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.

Ready to shop for life insurance for people with high cholesterol?

Best life insurance companies for people with high cholesterol

Methodology

Why you can trust our picks

Our recommendations are based on internal and external expert analysis, as well as our Policygenius Life Insurance Price Index, which uses real-time data from leading life insurance companies to determine pricing trends. When reviewing a life insurance company, our editorial team uses a proprietary scoring rubric with five factors — price, policy details, financial strength, transparency, and customer experience — to assign an unbiased rating between one and five stars. These ratings are also taken into consideration as part of our company recommendations. We don’t get paid for our reviews.

Our reviews and recommendations can help you find a reliable insurer for your family’s financial protection, but the best life insurance company for you depends on multiple factors. A licensed agent at Policygenius can support you during the application process to ensure you get the right coverage for your circumstances at the most competitive price.

Read more about our reviews methodology

Our analysis found that Legal & General America (which also does business as Banner Life and William Penn) offers some of its most affordable rates to people whose cholesterol ratio is under 5.5:1, with or without medication. The company also offers 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.

award icon

2024 Policygenius award winner

Pacific Life

Pacific Life logo

Policygenius rating 

Our proprietary rating methodology takes multiple factors into account, including customer satisfaction, cost, financial strength, and policy offerings. See the "methodology" section for more details.

Full orange starFull orange starFull orange starFull orange starHalf orange star

4.8

AM Best rating 

AM Best is a global credit rating agency that scores the financial strength of insurance companies on a scale from A++ (Superior) to D (Poor).

A+

Cost 

Using a mix of internal and external rate data, we grade the cost of each insurance company's premiums on a scale from least expensive ($) to most expensive ($$$$$).

$

$

$

$

$

All 50 states

No-medical-exam option

Why we chose itchevron icon

Pacific Life offers some of the lowest rates for term life insurance across age brackets. It also has the most competitive rates for many health conditions and builds.

Pros and conschevron icon

Pros

  • Extremely affordable across age brackets

  • Affordable guaranteed universal life insurance option for people who need lifetime coverage

  • Favorable underwriting for many health conditions

Cons

  • Traditional term life not available in NY

  • There are better carriers for active duty military, people who have a history of alcohol abuse, and people who have been through bankruptcy

Pacific Life is an A+ rated company according to AM Best. It can offer some of its best rates for male applicants with cholesterol ratios up to 5.5:1 and female applicants with cholesterol ratios up to 5:1. Pacific Life will also review your application before requesting a in-person medical exam, so if you have slightly high cholesterol but no other health complications, you may not have to take one.

award icon

2024 Policygenius award winner

Corebridge Financial

Corebridge Financial logo

Policygenius rating 

Our proprietary rating methodology takes multiple factors into account, including customer satisfaction, cost, financial strength, and policy offerings. See the "methodology" section for more details.

Full orange starFull orange starFull orange starFull orange starHalf orange star

4.6

AM Best rating 

AM Best is a global credit rating agency that scores the financial strength of insurance companies on a scale from A++ (Superior) to D (Poor).

A

Cost 

Using a mix of internal and external rate data, we grade the cost of each insurance company's premiums on a scale from least expensive ($) to most expensive ($$$$$).

$

$

$

$

$

30+ year terms

All 50 states

Why we chose itchevron icon

With competitive pricing and a range of flexible term periods for its Select-a-Term product, Corebridge is a solid option for many life insurance shoppers. Note: We are currently using AIG’s financial strength ratings until Corebridge has its own rating.

Pros and conschevron icon

Pros

  • Competitive pricing for all ages

  • Favorable underwriting for people with heart conditions and diabetes

  • Good for current and recently pregnant people, including people with gestational diabetes

Cons

  • Not the best for people with mental health conditions, including anxiety and depression

  • No no-medical-exam term option

Corebridge Financial (formerly AIG Life & Retirement) offers some flexibility when it comes to your cholesterol ratio and your age. You could qualify for this insurer’s second-lowest rates with a cholesterol ratio under 5.5:1. If you’re over the age of 45, you may be able to qualify for the second-lowest rates with a cholesterol ratio under 6:1.

Comparing the best life insurance companies for people with high cholesterol

Insurer

Policygenius rating

AM Best rating

Legal & General America

4.9/5 ★

A+

Pacific Life

4.8/5 ★

A+

Corebridge Financial

4.6/5 ★

A

Read more about the best life insurance companies of 2024

How much does life insurance cost if you have high cholesterol?

A 30-year-old non-smoking male who manages his cholesterol with or without medication can expect to pay less than $23 per month for a 20-year term life insurance policy with a $500,000 payout. A 30-year-old non-smoking female with the same health profile can expect to pay $19 per month for the same coverage.

20-year term life insurance rates for people with well-controlled cholesterol

If your cholesterol ratio is below 5:1 (or 4.5:1, depending on the insurer), with or without treatment and you have no other health conditions, you may be able to pay Preferred Plus rates. These are the available rates and are usually reserved for people in very good or excellent health. If you have a similar health profile but use tobacco, you’ll have access to the lowest rates available to smokers.

Age

Gender

Non-smoker

Smoker

20

Female

$18.54

$60.59

Male

$23.66

$76.43

30

Female

$18.90

$65.75

Male

$22.59

$80.95

40

Female

$28.73

$113.40

Male

$34.27

$145.39

50

Female

$63.71

$257.05

Male

$81.71

$351.50

60

Female

$169.25

$617.51

Male

$234.59

$887.93

Collapse table

Methodology: Average monthly rates are calculated for male and female non-smokers in a Preferred Plus health classification and male and female smokers in a Preferred Smoker health classification obtaining a $500,000 20-year term life insurance policy. Life insurance averages are based on a composite of policies offered by Policygenius from Brighthouse Financial, Corebridge Financial, Legal & General America, Lincoln Financial, Foresters Financial, Mutual of Omaha, Pacific Life, Protective, Prudential, Symetra, and Transamerica. Rates may vary by carrier, term, coverage amount, health class, and state. Not all policies are available in all states. Rate illustration valid as of 02/01/2024.

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.

Age

Gender

Non-smoker

Smoker

20

Female

$33.82

$74.34

Male

$42.64

$102.27

30

Female

$34.41

$83.92

Male

$43.11

$110.73

40

Female

$53.51

$150.37

Male

$67.19

$201.96

50

Female

$121.88

$350.72

Male

$156.80

$477.29

60

Female

$292.85

$805.79

Male

$408.84

$1,110.30

Collapse table

Methodology: Average monthly rates are for male and female non-smokers in a Standard health classification and male and female smokers in a Standard Smoker health classification obtaining a $500,000 20-year term life insurance policy. Life insurance averages are based on a composite of policies offered by Policygenius from Brighthouse Financial, Corebridge Financial, Legal & General America, Lincoln Financial, Mutual of Omaha, Pacific Life, Protective, Prudential, Symetra, Foresters Financial, and Transamerica. Rates may vary by carrier, term, coverage amount, health class, and state. Not all policies are available in all states. Rate illustration valid as of 02/01/2024.

Each person’s health profile is different, so 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.

Ready to shop for life insurance for people with high cholesterol?

How to lower your life insurance rates if you have high cholesterol

If you receive higher life insurance rates than expected 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.

How to buy life insurance if you have high cholesterol

It’s fairly simple to buy life insurance even if you have high cholesterol. 

  • Connect with an agent. A Policygenius agent can help you shop around to find the best life insurance company for your health profile and compare quotes from multiple insurers in one place.

  • During the  application process — also known as underwriting — 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 activate your policy.

What if your application is declined due to high cholesterol?

If you’re declined due to your cholesterol and other health conditions, you can consider applying for other types of life insurance that usually don’t require you to take a medical exam or answer questions about your health history for approval. 

  • Guaranteed issue life insurance is a type of policy that doesn’t expire and is aimed at covering end-of-life expenses, like a funeral or medical bills. You usually need to be between age 45 and 85 to qualify. While coverage amounts are usually low — up to $25,000 — and it costs more than traditional life insurance, approval is near-guaranteed.

  • Group life insurance is usually offered by many employers for free or at a subsidized rate as part of a benefits package. Coverage amounts are usually low, too, and you might not be able to keep your policy if you switch jobs, but group policies generally have fewer health requirements and most people can get approved.

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.

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 oureditorial standards.

  1. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

    . "

    High Cholesterol Facts

    ." Accessed February 22, 2024.

  2. Mayo Clinic

    . "

    High cholesterol overview

    ." Accessed February 22, 2024.

  3. Mayo Clinic

    . "

    HDL cholesterol: How to boost your "good" cholesterol

    ." Accessed February 22, 2024.

  4. American Heart Association

    . "

    HDL (Good), LDL (Bad) Cholesterol and Triglycerides

    ." Accessed February 22, 2024.

  5. Mayo Clinic

    . "

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

    ." Accessed February 22, 2024.

  6. The University of Rochester Medical Center

    . "

    Lipid Panel with Total Cholesterol: HDL Ratio

    ." Accessed February 22, 2024.

Authors

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.

Katherine Murbach is a life insurance and annuities editor, licensed life insurance agent, and former sales associate at Policygenius. Previously, she wrote about life and disability insurance for 1752 Financial, and advised over 1,500 clients on their life insurance policies as a sales associate.

Editor

Antonio helps lead our life insurance and disability insurance editorial team at Policygenius. Previously, he was a senior director of content at Bankrate and CreditCards.com, as well as a principal writer covering personal finance at CNET.

Questions about this page? Email us at .