Going through life insurance underwriting can be a daunting prospect for some prospective clients.  You may be nervous, unsure of what to expect, and there is a lot of confusion about what the life insurance company is really doing with all your personal information.  You can take a deep breath and relax.  Life insurance underwriting is very routine, and there are laws preventing life insurance companies from disclosing any information they learn about you in most cases.  At Life Ant we like our clients to look at the underwriting process as an opportunity to learn more about themselves and take steps toward self improvement.

What the Insurance Companies Care About


The biggest factor affecting your life insurance risk rating is your health.  Life insurance companies determine your relative health through your medical records, family history, and a medical exam called a paramedical exam.  While it is probably not possible for you to completely change the state of your health in the weeks leading up to the exam, being aware of what factors you can improve can help you through the process may improve your rating, and reduce your costs.

Lose Weight

Being overweight or obese is the easiest way to drop to more expensive health ratings.  Losing 10-20 pounds can make a big difference in your health rating, and the reason for this is that losing weight will make a huge difference in your life expectancy!  If you have time to prepare for a paramedical exam, the biggest improvement you can make is dropping some weight.  The caveat is that you must have reasonable expectations for your weight loss.  If putting off an exam for a couple months means you are able to lose 15 pounds, you may save a lot of money over the long run.  Most people are unable to make this type of commitment to weight loss though.  Remember most people will never be healthier than they are today!

Take Medications Exactly as Prescribed

If you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, make sure that you are taking prescribed medications regularly.  Most health insurance exams will include a blood test.  Prescription medications for blood pressure and cholesterol work.  If you take your medications exactly as prescribed leading up to the exam chances are highest that your numbers will come in lower.  If you are not currently controlling your blood pressure or cholesterol with medication, make sure you see a doctor prior to your application being submitted.  Life insurance underwriters want to see that any pre-existing medical conditions are under control and actively managed.  If you have any other conditions that can be helped with medication make sure you are prescribed the proper medicine and take it exactly as prescribed.

Stop Tobacco Use

Using tobacco will result in smoker ratings, which are extremely expensive compared to non smoker rates.  Stop using tobacco if possible, and if given a smoker rating inquire about the insurance company’s policy for a new rating consideration after cessation of use.  Usually a smoker can be given a nonsmoker rating if they don’t use tobacco for two years, but this can vary company to company.

Exercise Regularly

The benefits of exercise are generally well known and numerous so we won’t bore you with a huge list.  Suffice to say that besides controlling weight, exercise can quickly control key indicators of health such as blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol, and stress levels.

Sleep Well

Getting solid rest reduces stress levels, which can help control blood pressure and weight.  Getting good sleep leading up to your exam can only help your rating.

Do Not Life About Health

As tempting as it may be to lie to save money, never lie to your medical examiner, or on your life insurance application.  If you knowingly lie and the insurance company can prove this after you pass away, they can deny your beneficiaries money.  If they find out about your lie while you are alive, they can cancel your policy and you will lose the money you put in.  Always be truthful so you can depend on your coverage.


Life insurance companies also will look at your hobbies and activities.  If you have dangerous hobbies such as scuba diving, rock climbing, or skydiving they may include a rider in the contract stipulating that they will not pay a death claim if you die from your dangerous hobby.  There is nothing to worry about here.  If you have a dangerous hobby it will most likely not affect your rating, it may simply cause the life insurance company to exclude this hobby from coverage.

Mental Health

Life insurance companies will also look at your mental health history.  If they consider you a risk for suicide, it may raise red flags to the life insurance company.  People with a history of depression may also be less likely to take care of themselves in the future, and statistically when looking at a large group of people are more likely to die younger.

If you have any history of mental illness, make sure you are taking medication if needed, and make sure

Family History

The next factor life insurance companies is your family history.  There is nothing that can be changed about this.  Be truthful to the insurance company.  As long as you are controlling your own medical issues the company will not usually punish you too harshly for your family history.  Odds are though that if a certain disease runs in your family, you are more prone to the same disease.  The insurance companies take this into consideration during underwriting.

Dangerous Career

The last important factor a life insurance company will look at is your career.  If you have a career that regularly exposes you to danger such as a military member, farmer, power line worker, miner, or something similar, the life insurance company may create a rider exempting a death on the job from coverage.  Not many careers will change your health rating.

Be Truthful and Calm

The best way to get a fair shake in underwriting is to be truthful on all questions, and to be calm during your exam.  Only postpone your exam if you are confident a small change will make a significant difference and you need extra time to implement this change.  Be realistic about your ability to change habits, and overall use the exam as an opportunity to learn about your health and think more deeply about developing better health habits.

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