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Your cholesterol levels say a lot about your overall heart health and they can speak volumes when you’re applying for life insurance. Having high cholesterol doesn’t automatically disqualify you from getting covered but it can throw a wrinkle into the process. Knowing what the insurance company’s concerns are can improve the odds of getting affordable life insurance with high cholesterol.
What Is High Cholesterol?
To understand how to get life insurance with high cholesterol, you first have to know what high cholesterol is.
In general, cholesterol is a fat-like substance that’s carried through your blood stream by lipoproteins. It’s produced by your body naturally but it’s also present in the foods you eat, such as eggs and dairy products.
Cholesterol becomes a problem when it begins to accumulate inside your blood vessels. It can harden into a substance called plaque and when there’s a substantial build-up of plaque, you can experience a blockage leading to a heart attack or stroke.
Cholesterol can either be “good” or “bad” based on the type of lipoproteins involved. High-density lipoprotein or HDL cholesterol is characterized as good because it absorbs cholesterol and takes it to the liver which helps to eliminate it from the body as waste. The higher your HDL level, the better.
Low-density lipoprotein or LDL cholesterol, on the other hand, is the bad seed so to speak. This type of cholesterol isn’t eliminated as quickly from your body and high levels can lead to serious cardiovascular health problems.
According to the National Institutes of Health, you have high cholesterol when your total cholesterol level is 240 milligrams per deciliter of blood or higher. Ideally, your HDL level should be 40 mg/dL or higher while your LDL should be 100 mg/dL or less.
How The Life Insurance Company Views High Cholesterol
High cholesterol is considered a major risk factor because of its link to heart disease and stroke. If you disclose your high cholesterol when you apply for life insurance or it’s discovered during the course of the medical exam, the insurance company is going to be concerned with how well you’re managing it.
For instance, you’ll be asked whether you’re taking any medications to treat your high cholesterol. Statins are the most commonly used drugs to treat elevated cholesterol and they work by reducing cholesterol production in the liver. Lipitor, Crestor and Zocor are some of the most frequently prescribed statins.
Other types of medications that can be used to treat high cholesterol include cholesterol absorption inhibitors (Zestia), bile acid binding resins (Prevalite, Colestid), omega-3 fatty acids (Lovaza, Vascepa) and fibrates (Lopid, Tricor).
If you’re taking these or any other prescription drugs, you’ll need to tell the insurance company when you started taking them, how often you take them and in what dose and whether you’ve had any side effects.
In addition to asking about your medications, the insurance company’s going to look at things like diet and exercise as well as whether you smoke or use alcohol. Specifically, they want to see that you’re observing healthy habits that can reduce your cholesterol levels over time versus doing things that could push it even higher.
The final piece of the puzzle is your overall health history. You’ll be asked whether you’ve been diagnosed with any other health conditions and whether there’s a history of heart disease or stroke in your family.
Life Insurance Rates With High Cholesterol
The kind of premiums you’ll pay ultimately depends on how much of a risk you pose to the insurance company. This comes down to two things: your total cholesterol level and your cholesterol ratio, which is simply your HDL divided by your LDL.
Generally, you should be able to score a preferred plus or preferred rate if your total cholesterol is under 300 mg/dL and your cholesterol ratio is 5 or less. If your total cholesterol is slightly above these levels, you may still qualify for a preferred rate if you’ve got a lower ratio.
A standard plus or standard rate typically applies when your total cholesterol is between 300 and 350 mg/dL and the cholesterol ratio is between 7 and 8. Once you get past 350 mg/dL and your cholesterol ratio is higher than 8, you’ll see your premiums start to climb significantly. When you hit 400 mg/dL and/or your ratio reaches 10, it’s possible that you could be denied coverage altogether.
Get Life Insurance With High Cholesterol Via NoExam
If you’re worried about getting a check up for life insurance coverage because of possible high cholesterol, you could always choose a no exam life insurance policy instead. There’s no medical exam involved and the approval process can take as little as 24 to 48 hours. You may pay a little more for the premiums but the convenience can be well worth it in the long run.