Life Insurance Rating Classes - How Do They Work?


This is the third step in the SPF Insurance 5 Step process to get the life insurance your family needs.

Most life insurance ads tell you that life insurance costs less than $15/mo for a 40-year-old male. In the fine print, it says that they are using the pricing for a “Preferred Plus” rating. What does that mean? How would your life insurance be rated?

Once your life insurance application is submitted, a paramedic visit will be scheduled. This medical professional will meet you at a convenient time and place to collect blood and urine, measure height and weight, and ask a boatload of health questions. The results of this paramedic visit are given to the life insurance company to determine your rating.

How does a life insurance company rate you?

What's your health rating?

We’ll go over the main life insurance rating classes and give you an idea about the criteria that the insurance companies use to determine what your rating is going to be. Then we’ll give you an overview of the ratings that are most likely, along with what you can do to help get the best ratings.

“How To Get The Best Results From Your Paramedic Exam”


What Are Life Insurance Ratings?

When you apply for life insurance, the insurance company looks at your medical history and lab tests to determine how healthy you are. They know if you are healthy, have a clean driving record, a good profession, and no family history of medical problems, the odds are good that you will live to reach an old age.

Because the risk to insure you is much smaller, so your life insurance can be priced at the lowest rates.

At the same time, if your family has a history of heart attacks, you’ve been stopped for drunken driving, and your medical history and blood tests all show problems, the insurance company knows the risk of insuring you will be higher, so your life insurance will cost more.

High risk activities EQUALS Higher cost life insuranceRisky Lifestyle

The insurance companies distinguish between low, medium, and high-risk people by assigned a rating to your application. The typical rating names vary from one insurance company to the next, but a general idea of the ratings is the following:

1. Preferred Plus – Extremely healthy, almost an Olympic athlete

2. Preferred – Very healthy

3. Standard Plus – A little better than average

4. Standard – Average health characteristics

5. Preferred Tobacco – A healthy smoker

6. Standard Tobacco – An average smoker

7. Table Rated A to H – Have specific medical conditions

The actual numbers for each company and rate class are different, but we give you an example of the levels at each rating in the sections below.

Preferred Plus

To qualify for a preferred plus rating, you will need to have a blood pressure reading of ≤ 135/80, and cholesterol of ≤ 215 if your HDL ratio is ≤ 5.0 (or 290 if the ratio is ≤ 4.5). No tobacco use in the last 5 years, no parent deaths due to heart disease or cancer prior to age 60, and no personal health history of cancer or ratable medical issues.


You need to have a driving record with less than 3 moving tickets in the last 3 years, and no DUI, reckless, revocation/suspension of your license within the last 7 years. Your job and recreational activities need to be low risk.

Preferred

A preferred rating will require that your blood pressure reading is ≤ 140/85, and your cholesterol is ≤ 245 if your HDL ratio is ≤ 6.0 (or 290 if ratio is ≤ 5.5). No tobacco use in the last 3 years, no parent deaths due to heart disease or cancer prior to age 60, and your personal health must not show a history of cancer or ratable medical issues.


You need to have a driving record with less than 3 moving tickets in the last 3 years, and no DUI, reckless, revocation/suspension of your license within the last 6 years. Your job and recreational activities need to be low risk.

Standard Plus

A standard plus rating means you need your blood pressure to be ≤ 145/88, and your cholesterol to be ≤ 260 if your HDL ratio is ≤ 7.0 (or 290 if ratio ≤ 6.5). No tobacco use in the last year, no more than 1 parent death due to heart disease or cancer prior to age 60, and your personal health must not show any signs of cancer or ratable medical issues.


You need to have a driving record with less than 3 moving tickets in the last 3 years, and no DUI, reckless, revocation/suspension of your license within the last 5 years. Your job and/or recreational activities may include some higher risks.

Low risk professions get better life insurance ratings
Low Risk Lifestyle

Actuary and The Law Of Large Numbers


Wikipedia defines an Actuary as: “a business professional who deals with the measurement and management of risk and uncertainty.”  Webster’s Dictionary defines Actuary as: “a person who calculates insurance and annuity premiums, reserves, and dividends.”

At insurance companies, an actuary determines what the risk of providing insurance is. They set the parameters that underwriters use to determine health ratings for life insurance policies. Actuaries know how many people will die each year of various ailments because of the Law of Large Numbers.

The law of large numbers (for life insurance) means that as the number of people with life insurance from a company increases, the more likely it is that the “deaths” in each year will look like the average for the whole USA.

They know how many will die, but they don’t know WHO those people will be.

Therefore, they look for clues and connections to help them determine what type of people are riskier to insure.

Standard

A standard plus rating means you need your blood pressure to be ≤ 145/88, and your cholesterol to be ≤ 260 if your HDL ratio is ≤ 7.0 (or 290 if ratio ≤ 6.5). No tobacco use in the last year, no more than 1 parent death due to heart disease or cancer prior to age 60, and your personal health must not show any signs of cancer or ratable medical issues.

You need to have a driving record with less than 3 moving tickets in the last 3 years, and no DUI, reckless, revocation/suspension of your license within the last 3 years. Your job and/or recreational activities may include some higher risks.

Preferred Tobacco

This rating is for “healthy” smokers. The limits are typically the same as for Preferred Non-Tobacco above.


A preferred tobacco rating will require that your blood pressure reading is ≤ 140/85, and your cholesterol is ≤ 245 if your HDL ratio is ≤ 6.0 (or 290 if ratio is ≤ 5.5). No parent deaths due to heart disease or cancer prior to age 60, and your personal health must not show a history of cancer or ratable medical issues.

You need to have a driving record with less than 3 moving tickets in the last 3 years, and no DUI, reckless, revocation/suspension of your license within the last 6 years. Your job and recreational activities need to be low risk.

Standard Tobacco

To get a standard tobacco rate means that your blood pressure is > 140/85, or your cholesterol is ≤ 245 if your HDL ratio is > 6.0 (or 290 if your ratio is >5.5). Your parent’s medical history doesn’t matter, and your personal medical history may contain limited issues.

You need to have a driving record with less than 3 moving tickets in the last 3 years, and no DUI, reckless, revocation/suspension of your license within the last 3 years. Your job and/or recreational activities may include some higher risks.

non-smoking rates are less than half smoking life insurance rates

Table Ratings

A table rating happens when the insurance company looks at all the details on your application, the paramedic results, and a physician’s statement, and determines that the risk to insurance you are greater than a Standard rating. They may offer a table rating instead.

Table ratings are also called substandard ratings. Here are some examples of common issues that result in table rated policies:

  • check
    Family history of Heart Disease or Cancer
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    Diabetes, either Type 1 or Type 2
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    Severe depression and/or anxiety
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    History of stroke
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    Body mass index and build (height and weight)
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    Personal history of heart attack, and time since your last heart attack
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    Criminal record

If you get a table rating, it typically will add 25% to the cost for each level. As an example, if Standard Class is $100/mo, and you are rated Table A, then your monthly cost will be $125/mo. If you are rated Table B, then your cost will be $150. At Table G your cost would be $275/mo.


What Conditions Will Get You Declined For Life Insurance?

Life Insurance Rating Guidelines

One of the biggest factors (literally) that cause you to be rated below where you think you should be, are the height and weight tables.  or many people, the problem is not being tall enough for your weight.


The tables below give an idea of what a typical height and weight table (Body Mass Index) looks like. Every life insurance company has their own table so these values are different for each company.

height and weight table for life insurance rating
height and weight table for life insurance ratings

If you are near a boundary between rating classes, you should contact us for help. We can use your height and weight to determine which insurance companies will give you the best rating.

Using the information about life insurance rating classes above, along with the height and weight tables, determine what rating you might be able to qualify for.

As a tidbit of information, only a smaller percentage of people qualify for Preferred Plus.  If your are very healthy, it is probably a better idea to assume you would get a Preferred rating.

That way you are less likely to be surprised by a lower rating than expected. If you do qualify for Preferred Plus, the insurance company will give you that rating when you apply.

How Rating Classes Effect The Price You Pay For Life Insurance

Life insurance rating classes can have a major impact on the price you pay for coverage.  Age and sex are also big factors.  As the graphics below show, the change in price based on rating class is typically more pronounced than age or sex.

Some simple rules of thumb are:  Women will pay less for life insurance; Rating classes can change your price by more than 2x; The younger you are, the less you'll pay for life insurance. 

Male Age 30

Showing monthly price of a $250,000 Term Policy for 20 years

Preferred Plus - $13.22
Preferred - $16.56
Standard Plus - $20.02
Standard - $23.36
Pref Smoker - $39.78
Standard Smoker - $50.31

Male Age 50

Showing monthly price of a $250,000 Term Policy for 20 years

Preferred Plus - $41.94
Preferred - $49.74
Standard Plus - $62.48
Standard - $77.06
Pref Smoker - $157.04
Standard Smoker - $210.26

Female Age 30

Showing monthly price of a $250,000 Term Policy for 20 years

Preferred Plus - $11.90
Preferred - $14.40
Standard Plus - $16.94
Standard - $19.59
Pref Smoker - $32.04
Standard Smoker - $38.27

Female Age 50

Showing monthly price of a $250,000 Term Policy for 20 years

Preferred Plus - $31.65
Preferred - $38.61
Standard Plus - $46.33
Standard - $58.73
Pref Smoker - $112.20
Standard Smoker - $150.42

California pricing from July 2017

 
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What You Can Do To Get The Best Life Insurance Rating? 

There are some simple steps you can take to improve your ratings. Each of these must be done before you are ready to apply for coverage. The steps involve improving your health in the categories the insurance companies are most interested in:

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    Blood Pressue
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    Cholesterol
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    Weight
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    Smoking
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    Exercise
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    Drug Use (illicit drug use)

Improvements in these areas can make a big difference in what you will end up paying for your life insurance.

After your life insurance is approved and issued, we can go back after one year and ask that the insurance company reconsider your application for a better rating and lower cost.

How Life Insurance Companies View Weight Loss

Life insurance companies know that many people diet and lose weight prior to applying for life insurance. To catch this, the application will have a specific question to determine how much weight you’ve lost in the past year (sometimes it’s 1 to 3 months).
Do not lie and say that your weight has not changed. The insurance company can determine if you are giving incorrect information by asking for a physician’s statement.
If you state that you’ve lost 30 pounds and your current weight is 215 lbs, the insurance company will typically give you credit for half that amount (15 lbs) and they’ll review your application with your weight at 230 lbs. 

Concerned about ratings? There are life insurance policies that will not do full underwriting.

How Do You Get Life Insurance?

Here are five steps you must follow when buying life insurance.

1. How much life insurance do I need?

2. How long does it need to last?

3. What life insurance ratings will you get?   Standard, Preferred, Preferred Plus, or Sub-standard?    ---- You're Here Now ----

4. Get life insurance quotes

5. Select the plan and apply.

You now know how much life insurance you need, how long it needs to last, and what kind of life insurance you  need.  Now you're ready to get a quote to see what the cost your term life insurance will be at “Get Life Insurance Quotes.”


SPF Insurance provides service throughout California including these cities:

Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco, Fresno, Sacramento, Long Beach, Oakland, Bakersfield, Anaheim, Santa Ana, Riverside, Stockton, Chula Vista, Fremont, Irvine, San Bernardino, Modesto, Oxnard, Fontana, Oceanside, Escondido, Carlsbad, Temecula, El Cajon, Vista, San Marcos, Encinitas, Solana Beach, Imperial Beach, National City, La Mesa & Ramona

SPF Insurance Services
San Diego, CA 92128
(858) 613-3628

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