Life insurance for people with high cholesterol

People with high cholesterol can still qualify for life insurance. Learn how life insurance companies use your cholesterol levels to determine your rates.

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Rebecca ShoenthalRebecca 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 MurbachKatherine MurbachEditor & Licensed Life Insurance ExpertKatherine Murbach is an editor and a licensed life insurance expert 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.

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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.

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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. 

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.

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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. [1]  

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. [2]

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 ratio of total cholesterol to HDL, known as your cholesterol ratio, signifies a higher risk of heart disease. [3] 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. [4]

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 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 $24.24 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.

Age

Sex

Non-smoker

Smoker

25

Female

$17.63

$58.10

Male

$21.38

$73.44

35

Female

$20.47

$77.96

Male

$24.24

$93.23

45

Female

$41.02

$164.09

Male

$50.84

$223.83

55

Female

$93.53

$364.32

Male

$127.15

$526.72

65

Female

$314.61

$959.43

Collapse table

Methodology: Sample monthly rates are based on a $500,000, 20-year term life insurance policy for non-smokers in a Preferred Plus health classification and for smokers in a Preferred Smoker health classification; quotes based on data from Policygenius partner insurance companies including AIG, Banner Life, Brighthouse, Lincoln Financial, Mutual of Omaha, Pacific Life, Protective, Prudential, Symetra, Foresters Financial, and Transamerica, and may vary by carrier, term, coverage amount, health class, and state. Not all policies are available in all states. Rate illustration valid as of 01/01/2023.

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

Sex

Non-smoker

Smoker

25

Female

$31.84

$73.50

Male

$39.19

$95.50

35

Female

$38.17

$101.48

Male

$45.91

$128.59

45

Female

$76.28

$225.47

Male

$96.82

$302.99

55

Female

$169.46

$491.43

Male

$239.33

$693.61

65

Female

$516.14

$1,287.37

Collapse table

Methodology: Sample monthly rates are based on a $500,000, 20-year term life insurance policy for non-smokers in a Standard health classification and for smokers in a Standard Smoker health classification; quotes based on data from Policygenius partner insurance companies including AIG, Banner Life, Brighthouse, Lincoln Financial, Mutual of Omaha, Pacific Life, Protective, Prudential, Symetra, Foresters Financial, and Transamerica, and may vary by carrier, term, coverage amount, health class, and state. Not all policies are available in all states. Rate illustration valid as of 01/01/2023.

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.

Methodology: How we chose the best life insurance companies for high cholesterol

We don't get paid for our company reviews and use an extensive rubric of criteria covering policy details, price, financial confidence, third-party ratings, and customer experience to assign unbiased ratings out of five stars. Any recommendations we make are based on internal and external expert opinions and data from our Policygenius Price Index, which uses real-time rate data from leading life insurance companies to determine pricing trends.

Our ratings and reviews can help point you to an insurer you can rely on for your family’s financial protection, but the best life insurance company for you is dependent on multiple factors. A licensed agent at Policygenius can work with you through the application process so you’re getting coverage from the best insurer for your circumstances at the most competitive price.

→ Read more about our reviews methodology here

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2023 Policygenius award winner

Lincoln Financial

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 

A.M. 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 ($$$$$).

$

$

$

$

$

No-med-exam option

Why we chose it

Lincoln Financial offers a diverse array of life insurance policies, including competitive no-med and high-net-worth options.

Pros and cons

Pros

  • Affordable rates

  • Good for many existing health conditions, including depression, stroke, and heart conditions

  • Good for marijuana users, including daily users

Cons

  • Term life not available in New York

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

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 

A.M. 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 ($$$$$).

$

$

$

$

$

No-med-exam option

Why we chose it

Transamerica is one of the oldest and largest life insurance companies, with over 12 million active accounts today. It offers affordable rates for almost every age, and you can even skip the medical exam if you fall under a certain age or coverage amount.

Pros and cons

Pros

  • Competitive rates for term life insurance

  • No-medical-exam available for qualifying applicants, including smokers and people between 60 and 70, which is rare

  • One of the fastest turnaround times in the industry for traditionally underwritten term policies

Cons

  • Term life not available in New York

  • Not a good option for people with a history of cancer, alcohol abuse, or asthma

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.

FAQ

What is considered high cholesterol for life insurance?

High cholesterol is typically considered a total-cholesterol-to-HDL ratio of 5:1 or higher.

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.

Can you be denied life insurance for high cholesterol?

In rare cases, high cholesterol combined with other health complications, like heart disease, may lead to an application decline.

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

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

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. Mayo Clinic

    . "

    HDL cholesterol: How to boost your "good" cholesterol

    ." Accessed December 13, 2022.

  2. American Heart Association

    . "

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

    ." Accessed December 13, 2022.

  3. Mayo Clinic

    . "

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

    ." Accessed December 13, 2022.

  4. The University of Rochester Medical Center

    . "

    Lipid Panel with Total Cholesterol: HDL Ratio

    ." Accessed December 13, 2022.

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 an editor and a licensed life insurance expert 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.

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