Life Insurance Risk Classifications and Your Policy

When you decide to take out a life insurance policy, the life insurance company looks at a few factors to decide what your premium rates will be. One factor is your level of coverage, or the amount that the company would pay in benefits were something to happen to you. A higher level of coverage costs more.

Companies also consider your level of risk when figuring out your premium costs. They evaluate the chances of something happening to you and forcing them to pay out. Life insurance companies comes up with its own exact value for your monthly or annual fees, but they use standard risk categories to guide their decisions.

Preferred Class

Premiums in Preferred are relatively low. You may qualify for preferred coverage if you are healthy and have few risk factors.

* Your weight is within the normal range for your height.
* No immediate family members died before age 60 from cancer or heart disease.
* Your cholesterol, blood pressure, and other values are normal.
* You have no chronic conditions.

Qualifying for Preferred Plus is even more difficult than Preferred, and your premiums in this class would be lower.

Standard and Substandard

Premiums in standard are more expensive than Preferred because you have some risk factors, such as the following.

* Mildly elevated blood pressure or slightly high LDL/HDL cholesterol ratio.
* Slightly overweight.

The cost of life insurance if you fall within the Substandard class can be three or more times as high as the cost of Standard. If you have an uncontrolled or advanced chronic condition or you are very overweight, you may be in this category.

Classes Consider Nicotine

Smoking is a risk factor for many health conditions, including oral, esophageal and lung cancers, cardiovascular diseases, and respiratory conditions. Since these increase your risk of dying, life insurance companies charge smokers extra.

You'll need to get estimates from specific life insurance companies before making a decision, and being informed before you get quotes can help you make smarter decisions. You can have some idea of your expected rates by checking with risk class you are in.

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