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Standard Risk

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The term life Standard Risk health class

What it means in terms of qualifying and rates

Probably the most difficult part of running your term life insurance quote is choosing a health class.  With a range from "best class" to "Standard" rate, what criteria drives this determination.  What if you have high cholesterol?  What about height/weight?  This may be where the Standard risk health class comes into play so look at qualification and the resulting effect on rate.

People with health impairments are usually surprised they can qualify for life insurance at all.  This is partially to blame on health insurance which is probably more stringent than life insurance in that respect.  To account for the range of health status that you find in the general public, the carriers designate life insurance health classes which affect pricing tiers.  The Standard risk class is usually lowest (or least favorable) unless the particular carrier has a Sub-Standard class (the equivalent of double secret probation).  We'll break down the general categories for a Standard risk underwriting tier by category.

Let's start with the general category of Cardiovascular health and all the issues that are directly or loosely tied to general cardiovascular health.  The Standard risk class is usually the least favorable class you can get and some health impairments are allowed.  There can even a history of some cardiovascular diseases or diabetes.  These conditions will likely need to well maintained and treated.  This is also true for high blood pressure which must have average readings in the past two years not greater than: 150/90 - age 45 and younger, 154/93 - ages 45-60, 158/95 - ages 61 and over.  Cholesterol levels should not be over 280 which in actually pretty flexible considering that over 200 would cause most health insurance application to be declined.  The HDL to total Cholesterol ratio should not exceed 7.5.  There should be no tobacco use in the last 12 months.  In terms of cardiovascular family health, there should be no or just one death before age 60 for family members. 

As for driving history, there should be no more than 2 moving violations in the past 3 years. There should be no record of DUI or reckless driving in the past 2 years.  A question that comes up from prospective term life applicants is why driving record would matter for life insurance qualification.  The claims and life actuarial tables drive this.   Car accidents are leading cause of death for people.  Moving violations and DUI's essentially increase this risk.

As for cancer, there can be history of cancer but it will depend on type of cancer, duration of cancer, time away from being symptom free, and current status.  Cancer is tougher to spell out in concrete terms since it can range from fairly benign to very serious.  The good news is that treatment continues to improve people's ability to qualify so that cancer is becoming more a morbidity issue than a mortality issue. 

For aviation, commercial airline pilots may be accepted. If you are a private pilot, a flat extra premium may be applied depending on experience.  For hazardous activities and occupations, Standard health class may be available but will likely result in a higher flat life premium addition.

As with all Health Classes, it's best to go in conservatively when you run your quote so that you can correctly budget.  We usually recommend going down the scale one level just to make sure there's no surprise when the offer comes back.  As for the effect of health class?  For a 40 year old in California applying for 15 years of $500K worth of term, the Best Class is $28/monthly.  It's $48 for Standard Plus and $63 for Standard.  So you can see that term life insurance health class directly affects your rates.  To some extent, with the Standard risk class, we're just happy to qualify for term life insurance.  The ability to get life insurance with health issues at all is the silver lining.


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