Effects of Cholesterol Medication on Life Insurance
High cholesterol is shown to increase the risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
However, while your doctor may tell you that your cholesterol is too high, a life insurance company may very well tell you that it is not an issue—especially if you are on cholesterol medication.
You should, of course, follow your doctor’s orders to lower your cholesterol. But don’t let high cholesterol prevent you from applying for life insurance under the assumption that you are “unhealthy.” Many insurers are actually very lenient with applicants on cholesterol medication.
In this article, we discuss the basics of cholesterol, what details insurers care about, what types of life insurance are best for those with high cholesterol, as well as the cost.
Here’s what we'll cover in this post:
Quick Article Guide
Here’s what we'll cover in this post:
Good Cholesterol, Bad Cholesterol, & Total Cholesterol
There are two types of cholesterol: the good and the bad. The good cholesterol is called “HDL” (short for high-density lipoprotein), and can actually reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Low-density lipoprotein, or “LDL,” is the bad cholesterol that contributes to plaque buildup in your arteries and increases the risk for heart disease and stroke.
Your total cholesterol is the sum of HDL and LDL in your blood, plus triglycerides, which are a type of fat that your body uses for energy.
A high level of triglycerides combined with either high LDL or low HDL is also considered a risk factor for heart attack and stroke. To measure your cholesterol, there is a blood test called a lipid profile.
Insurers Care More About the Ratio
Doctors usually consider total cholesterol over 200 to be high or elevated. Meanwhile, insurance companies will often accept applicants with total cholesterol of 275 or 300 at "preferred best" rates.
How can someone with significantly higher cholesterol than their doctor deems healthy be eligible for the top-rate class in life insurance alongside the healthiest applicants?
Insurance companies place emphasis on good cholesterol more than doctors tend to. They evaluate your cholesterol ratio rather than only looking at the number.
This ratio is measured by dividing your total cholesterol by your HDL. So, if your cholesterol is 200 and your HDL is 40, the ratio is 5.0. In insurers’ eyes, your elevated cholesterol of 200 is attributed to the good kind, which makes you healthier than an applicant who also has a cholesterol level of 200 but with an HDL level of 20 that equates to a ratio of 10.0.
Cholesterol Medication is a Non-Factor if it’s Working
The use of cholesterol medication is not a red flag for insurers. In fact, it’s quite the opposite, and shows that you are actively managing your condition. Most cholesterol medications work pretty well in lowering cholesterol. Lower cholesterol means a lower risk of heart attack or stroke, which means you are a lower overall risk to the insurance company, which means the insurance company can offer you a better rate on life insurance.
At the end of the day, insurers aren’t very interested in whether or not you’re taking cholesterol medication. They’re more concerned with the ratio that we just walked through and your overall health. If your cholesterol does happen to be high, they are perfectly fine with your using a prescription to lower it.
Aside from your HDL ratio and medication, there are several other factors that life insurers take into account when reviewing your application, including:
- Current age
- Age at diagnosis
- Blood pressure
- Any hospital visits
- Tobacco use
Underwriting Credits for Applicants With High Cholesterol
If your cholesterol is considered to be high, certain insurers will allow you to qualify for a rate class improvement by meeting certain criteria.
One of the companies we work with most frequently—A+ rated insurer, Banner Life Insurance—encourages applicants to seek better rates even with high cholesterol by meeting three of the following seven conditions:
1. No tobacco use in the last 10 years
In many cases, no tobacco use for the past five years is acceptable. The longer you have gone without tobacco, the better. If you have never been a smoker, this is almost a freebie for you.
2. A cholesterol ratio of 4.5 or less
To calculate your ratio, take your overall cholesterol number and divide it by your HDL, also known as your “good” cholesterol number. For example, if my cholesterol is 210, and my HDL is 63, my total cholesterol ratio is 3.33 because 210 divided by 63 equals 3.33.
3. A healthy lifestyle
If you exercise regularly and eat relatively well, and if you have annual checkups each year confirming you are in good health, an underwriting credit may be available.
4. Favorable family history
There are some things in life insurance that are out of your control, such as your family history. Life insurance underwriters always consider your lineage to identify any potential risk factors.
If you’re going to qualify for a credit, they will want to see that both of your parents lived to age of 75 or older. Additionally, if you have any siblings, the insurance company will check to see if they had cancer or cardiovascular disease before the age of 60.
5. Normal cardiac function
If you have had a cardiac test completed within the last two years and the results were normal, you may be eligible for underwriting credits thanks to your proactivity with your health screenings. Examples of cardiac tests include a stress echocardiogram, a nuclear or perfusion stress test, a CT angiogram, or a cardiac angiogram.
6. GGT level below 30
GGT is a liver enzyme that becomes elevated when the liver is diseased or has suffered trauma. When an individual’s GGT levels are elevated, but no other liver enzymes are elevated, it is an indication of excessive alcohol use or alcoholic hepatitis. If your GGT is below 30, this indicates that your liver is in good health and is functioning normally.
7. NT Pro BnP under 100
NT Pro BnP is a marker in the blood that indicates if an individual is at a higher risk of having acute congestive heart failure. This test is more common in men after the age of 60. According to the New York Heart Association, a NT Pro BnP score of 100 or less indicates that an individual is an extremely low risk for congestive heart failure or renal failure.
We recently worked with a woman who called us about three months before her planned retirement date to purchase life insurance for pension maximization.
Her cholesterol ratio was considered to be elevated (6.4), which would typically qualify her for a "standard plus" rate class. However, she had not smoked within the last 10 years, exercised regularly, and had favorable family history. In light of this information, Banner was able to credit her one rate class to "preferred", which saved her more than 20 percent on the cost of her life insurance.
How Much Will I Pay for Life Insurance With High Cholesterol?
Below we’ve provided some sample rates for male and female applicants who are prescribed a cholesterol medication. These rates are available to otherwise healthy individuals with a total cholesterol score of 275 or less. If your total cholesterol is lower than 250, lower rates may be available.
Common cholesterol medications include: Atorvastatin, Crestor, Fluvastatin, Lescol, Lipitor, Livalo, Lovastatin, Pravachol, Pitavastatin, Simvastatin, and Zocor.
To receive an accurate quote based on your age and health profile, please feel free to give us a call toll-free at: 855-247-9555, or you request a free instant quote online to compare rates from more than a dozen companies in less than a minute.
Types of Life Insurance with High Cholesterol
Controlling your high cholesterol opens you up to just about any type of life insurance policy you might need, including:
Term Life Insurance
Term life insurance is typically the most affordable type of life insurance policy and offers guaranteed premiums for a set initial period, known as the “term.” It is generally purchased to cover short-term insurance needs (10-30 years) rather than last a lifetime.
Whole Life Insurance
Whole life insurance offers lifetime protection, with fixed premiums and guaranteed cash value accumulation. This type of insurance typically costs more than any other type of policy because of the guaranteed payout to your family upon your death. Since it is very expensive, it is also the easiest type of life insurance to qualify for with high cholesterol.
Guaranteed Universal Life Insurance (GUL)
Guaranteed universal life insurance is like a cross between term life and whole life. It does not build cash value like a whole life policy, which allows you to keep your monthly payments low.
Instead, a GUL policy offers fixed premium rates through the life of the policy, just like a term policy—except while term policies offer fixed rates for a specific number of years (10, 15, 20, 25, 30), GUL policies are set to specific ages (90, 95, 100, 105, 110, and even 121).
Shop the Market
The most important piece of advice we can offer to those with high cholesterol is to think outside of the big box insurers and let an independent agency like JRC shop the market. Many of the bigger companies will insist on offering you a second-class rate because of your high cholesterol, while smaller but equally esteemed companies will be more lenient.
As independent agents, JRC is able to shop 63+ top rated carriers to help you find affordable coverage, even if you’re on cholesterol medication. Click the button below to get a free quote today, or give us a call, toll-free at: 855-247-9555.
Managing Partner and Co-founder
Cliff is a licensed life insurance agent and one of the owners of JRC Insurance Group. He has helped thousands of families of businesses with their life insurance needs since 2012 and specializes with applicants who are less than perfect health. In his spare time he enjoys spending time with family, traveling, and the great outdoors.