/meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1">Life Insurance Underwriting Guidelines Table chart

This is page 4 of the "AmericaQuote Cram Course on Life Insurance."
If you entered the site here, please click the "Home" button above to start on the first page.

Viewer comment - From Connecticut...
The discussion on different health categories was particularly good - the first
time I have read such a comprehensive explanation, free of insurance lingo...

Your Parents Did It To You - Underwriting Guidelines


What Is A Super Preferred, Preferred and Standard Risk?

Below are some tables than can assist you in determining into what health category you fit. Life Insurance underwriting is like trying to hit a moving target that keeps changing direction. For example, a few years ago, underwriting high blood pressure was easy - no one received Preferred rates. Today, many taking blood pressure medication can get the best rate available from certain companies. Acid Reflux or high cholesterol medication used to hurt an insured's risk factors. Today, such medications are considered proactive. We're seeing those with Sleep Apnea get standard rates vs. a declination just a few years ago. The key is knowing what companies are aggressive in certain circumstances. If you have a health condition, you want to avoid picking the wrong company to insure you. One phone call to us (800-542-5530) can save you thousands of wasted dollars that could be used for something better (like buying gas).

Article continues directly below the quote screen...

Article continues ...

Life insurance companies are becoming more interested in an insured's genetic makeup. At some point in our lives, we blame our parents for how we turned out. Your genetic makeup is something you can stick on them. Underwriters are looking more and more at family history in the evaluation process. Companies many times assume that if a family member has it, you're probably going to get it.

Family history relates to "immediate family members." That means your father, mother and any brothers or sisters. They especially look at problems occurring with a family member prior to the age of 60. If the family member experienced the problem after 60, you're probably in the clear.

The primary attention is focused on cardiac, cancer and diabetes (to a lesser degree) family histories. This is where it pays to talk with an experienced agent because it can bump you up or down as many as two spots on the underwriting guidelines chart.

Most companies use six general rating categories. These are:

Super Preferred No Nicotine (also called Preferred Plus)
Preferred No Nicotine
Standard No Nicotine
Preferred Nicotine
Standard Nicotine
Substandard.

Super Preferred No Nicotine risks refers to people who meet an insurer's strictest standards. Actuarial tables indicate that these will live the longest. The rates quoted on AmericaQuote include the Super Preferred and Preferred risk categories as well as Standard Plus and Standard. The Super Preferred category qualifies a person for the lowest policy rate.

As the owner of AmericaQuote, I want to throw my two cents in. The quote page is where it gets a little complicated. "The Company Policy Comparison" page (Instant Life Quote) is the heart of this web site. You can compare rates of America's top companies. It could just as easily be titled the "Don't Get Your Hopes Too High" page or even the "Great Disappointment" page. Here's why. It would be no problem at all for AmericaQuote to present comparisons of over 100 companies and their rates. We could present them to you and leave you to figure out which one is best suited to your circumstances. But, given too much detail, viewers are likely to go into "information overload." We have attempted to simplify this process - to give you the information you need and, hopefully, bring clarity to the complex world of underwriting life insurance.

There are many fine resources on the Internet for researching life insurance. Most list plans in order of premium, or cost. Obviously, the least expensive appear at the top. All too frequently, viewers jump at the least expensive plan; apply for it, only to find out two months later that they can't qualify medically for that rate. Then it's back to square one. This happens because of the new, and sometimes confusing, rating structure used by insurance companies. Our goal is to educate you, before picking a plan.

The Policy Rating System

At one time, the life insurance rating system was quite simple - non-smokers received non-smoker rates, smokers received smoker rates. Several years ago, companies introduced lower "Preferred" non-smoker and smoker rates for those in better health. Unfortunately, clients in good -- but not great -- health were forced to pay more (in most cases 50% more) because more restrictive underwriting dropped them into the "Standard" risk category. Rates went down for those in better health since they were bumped up to the "Preferred" category.

To complicate things still further, most companies added a "Super Preferred" rate (only for non-nicotine users) in addition to the four previously mentioned. Personally, I call this newest addition the "Bionic Rate" because of its stringent health qualifications. It is with reluctance that the "Super Preferred" rates are listed on our site. It would be preferable -- and more realistic -- for you to make a policy selection based on the regular "Preferred" or "Standard" rates than to assume that our potential clients are also perfect specimens.

True, the lowest rates offered today are these "Super Preferred" rates. However, please understand when comparing policies is that even if you're in very good health, there is a good chance you won't qualify for the best rates. In fact, only about 25% of all applicants get this "Super Preferred" rate. About 60% can qualify for the "Preferred" rate and the rest fall in the "Standard" or below category. Even so, we'd prefer you to get the facts now -- rather than be disappointed later. We've listed very general requirements below for each category to determine where you fit.

When you go to the rates page, notice there are listings for 10, 15 and 20-year and longer rate guarantee plans. There are four health categories quoted too. They are Super Preferred, Preferred, Standard Plus and Standard for each company plan.

About the Rates

All companies listed are compared on initial guaranteed rates. This is not considered to be a complete comparison proposal since it lacks renewal rates. You can print the comparison file or save it on your computer for your future study and reference. For additional information on any particular company, please call or e-mail us.

Life insurance was simpler twenty years ago, when we had only "smoker" and "non-smoker" rates. The rate books for term were two pages. Today, you need to have an MD degree and a computer to quote someone accurately. This is something viewers need to pay particular attention to when comparing quotes.

Standard Risks

Standard risks refer to persons who have had some minor health impairments in their lifetime. An example of Standard risk would be someone taking medication for high blood pressure, or a borderline diabetic. In some cases, we have been able to get better rates for those with very well controlled high blood pressure.

Substandard risks refer to persons who are having more than minor health problems. Companies charge them additional premiums depending on the risk factors involved.

Just who qualifies as a Super Preferred, Preferred or Standard risk varies from company to company. Insurance underwriting is not an exact science. Although much of the underwriting is done by computer based on a "point" system, sometimes it's simply a judgment call. Below is a partial list of general indicators that may be used to determine a risk. Please understand that these are not all the requirements but a general guide. An underwriter may add further requirements depending on the case. On the quote page, you can view individual company requirements.

As I mentioned above, a family history of cancer (internal or otherwise) or heart disease, doesn't necessarily exclude one from the best rates. Some companies are more proactive than others. Knowing which ones for any specific situation is key. Most companies will look past a basal cell carcinoma or other minor skin cancers.

Here are some very general guidelines. Don't use these as gospel as underwriting guidelines are a moving target. It depends on a lot of factors. Occasionally, we find applicants that meet the requirements below but when combined with other factors get a lower health category. There are several factors not listed below and can negatively affect your situation. Although I've covered this in a previous section, it's important to talk with an experienced licensed agent in your state.

If you see an "(*)" in any column, that means there are exceptions to the general rule - please call for specific details.

Category Super Preferred Preferred Standard
Blood
Pressure
No current or history
of blood pressure treatment (*)
No current or history
of blood pressure treatment (*)
Currently controlled
Blood
Pressure
Readings
No current or history of
blood pressure readings in excess of:
140/85 Age 60 or younger
150/90 Age 61 or older
No current or history of
blood pressure readings in excess of:
140/90 Age 60 or younger
150/90 Age 61 or older
Average readings in
the past 2 years
does not exceed:
155/95 Age 60 or younger
160/95 Age 61 or older
Family
History
No cardiovascular disease
or internal Cancer
in either parent or
siblings before age 60 (*)
No cardiovascular or
internal Cancer death
in either parent
before age 60 (*)
Not more than one
cardiovascular or Cancer death
in parents
before age 60 (*)
Category Super Preferred Preferred Standard
Driving
History
Not more than 1
moving violation in
the last 2 years.
No DUI in the
past 5 years (*)
Not more than 1
moving violation in
the last 2 years.
No DUI in the
past 5 years (*)
Not more than 1
moving violation in
the last 2 years.
No DUI in the
past 2 years (*)
Nicotine Usually 5 years
no nicotine (*)
Usually 3 years
no nicotine (*)
Usually 1 year
no nicotine (*)
Cholesterol 210-240 (depending on
rest of health history)
250-270 (depending on
rest of health history)
Under 300
Cholesterol/
HDL Ratio
Cannot exceed 5.0 Cannot exceed 6.0 Cannot exceed 8.0
Alcohol/
Substance Abuse
No alcohol or
substance abuse history
No alcohol or
substance abuse in past 10 years
No alcohol or
substance abuse
in past 7 years
Category Super Preferred Preferred Standard
Cancer
History
No cancer history
(except certain
skin cancers)
No cancer history
(except certain
skin cancers)
No cancer history
(except certain
skin cancers)
Aviation Private pilots will
have extra premium
or exclusion
Private pilots will
have extra premium
or exclusion
Private pilots may
have extra premium
or exclusion
Avocation Available,
possible extra
premium depending
on avocation
Available,
possible extra
premium depending
on avocation
Available,
possible extra
premium depending
on avocation

Below are some general weight tables. These are only a part of the process and are considered with other factors. Some company's tables are more liberal, other less. When you get a quote, if weight is an issue, use the "Health Analyzer."

In the Standard rate category, we have some flexibility. Here's an example: if everything else is good, a male who is 5'10" and 270 lbs. can get Standard rates.

Height Weight
Super
Preferred
(Male)
Weight
Super
Preferred
(Female)
Weight
Preferred
Male/
Female
Weight
Standard
Male/
Female(*)
5' 0" 145 130 161 189
5' 1" 149 133 165 193
5' 2" 153 135 170 197
5' 3" 158 138 175 204
5' 4" 162 140 180 209
5' 5" 166 143 185 215
5' 6" 170 145 190 220
5' 7" 176 150 195 225
Height Weight
Super
Preferred
(Male)
Weight
Super
Preferred
(Female)
Weight
Preferred
Male/
Female
Weight
Standard
Male/
Female
5' 8" 182 155 200 230
5' 9" 188 160 205 235
5' 10" 193 165 210 242
5' 11" 199 170 216 251
6' 0" 205 175 222 256
6' 1" 211 179 229 263
6' 2" 216 183 236 271
6' 3" 222 188 243 279
Height Weight
Super
Preferred
(Male)
Weight
Super
Preferred
(Female)
Weight
Preferred
Male/
Female
Weight
Standard
Male/
Female
6' 4" 227 192 250 286
6' 5" 233 196 257 293
6' 6" 238 200 264 300
6' 7" 243 204 272 307
6' 8" 249 209 280 316
6' 9" 254 213 288 325
6' 10" 260 217 296 333
6' 11" 265 221 305 341

We think it's important for you to know as much as possible about what insurance companies are taking into consideration as they evaluate potential policyholders. In short, to qualify for the Preferred rate, you need to be in excellent health (though it never hurts to apply). However, in the application process, anything can happen -- especially in the area of Substandard risks. This is by far the least predictable area in underwriting.

If your health is not good, AmericaQuote can "shop" your condition with several companies. A number of companies specialize in specific health conditions. It has been our experience that such clients may be offered Standard rates by one company and extremely high premiums from another. In general, we have seen the best offers from highly rated smaller companies. These are companies that have the same financial stability as the larger ones, but are smaller in terms of assets. These avoid competing with the major carriers for the best risks but have carved out a specialty niche. This is especially true in heart or diabetes cases and those with cancer histories.

Questions? Comments? 1-800-542-5530

Previous: Page 3 - Who Are The Competitive Life Insurance Companies
Next: Page 5 - Term Life Insurance, Perm, Universal Or Just Give Me An Advil

Site Map  |  Privacy Policy  |  Contact Us  |  Instant Life Insurance Quote   |  Refer A Friend To AmericaQuote  |  Copyright 1996-2011 AmericaQuote