Does Family History Affect Life Insurance?

Does Family History Affect Life Insurance?
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    When it comes to finding out how much your life insurance policy will cost, family history can be a major factor. In this article, we’re going to go over the most common (and uncommon) family history health risks that can affect your rate. We’ll also go into how and why life insurance companies find out these details. Lastly, we’ll walk you through how to get approved at the best rate possible. Does family history affect life insurance?

    Let’s see how it can:

    How does family health history affect the cost of life insurance?

    Are you considered a high risk life insurance shopper? Life insurance companies and their underwriters look at many factors before they approve your application and rate you. They want to know how much of a risk you are before they offer you a policy.

    These underwriters aren’t just looking at your your current (and past) personal health history. Even though that is a major factor in determining if a company will approve you – they’ll want to know details of other underwriting factors.

    Family history is just another one of these factors that can affect the cost of life insurance. Some other factors you might be surprised by are:

    What the Life Insurance Underwriter Wants To Know

    When it comes to family history, life insurance underwriters usually look at two major details:

    1. Did one of your siblings or parents die from a medical condition or genetic disease?
    2. How old were they when they died?

    Depending on when your family member died, it can play a major role in how you get rated. Every life insurance company looks at you differently. It can make a big difference if your parent passed away at age 58 or 62 depending on the company.

    Another big difference will be what medical condition your family died from.

    The Top 5 life insurance family history health factors

    These are the Top 5 family history health conditions that may affect your approved rate:

    1. Cancer
    2. Diabetes
    3. Cerebrovascular Disease / Stroke
    4. Heart Disease / Heart Attack
    5. Kidney Disease

    If you had a parent or sibling die from one of these 5 conditions, it may affect your rate by placing you in a higher risk class. Think of your risk class as steps on a ladder. Each one you go up will increase your rate about 25%.

    As you can see below, you may get approved at “Preferred Plus/Best” based on your personal health. However, let’s say one of your parents passed away at age 55 from cancer. Based on the underwriting guidelines of most carriers in the industry, you would qualify for Standard Plus because your parent died before age 60. This is 2 health class ratings above the best possible rate class of Preferred Plus / Best.

    life insurance table rating

    Did they die before age 60?

    Most life insurance companies define their family history ratings around the age of 60. So if you had a parent pass away after age 60, it may not even affect your premium. However, if they died before age 60, you’re likely going to pay more for your life insurance policy – it’s possible to be rated up by 30% or more!

    Examples of How Family History Affects Your Rate

    First, you need to always remember that every company will look at your case differently. With that said, let’s look into the most common family history risks and how it can increase your rate. All sample quotes are based on a 35 year old man in excellent health. The rates listed below were calculated on a $750,000 30-year term life insurance policy. Rates are subject to change.

    Life Insurance With Family History of Cancer

    Here is what a 35 year old male may end up paying for a $750,000 30-year term without and with a family history of cancer. Family history includes 1 parent who died of cancer at age 58.

    Without Family HistoryWith Family History
    $53 per month$86 per month

    Life Insurance With Family History of Heart Disease

    Here is what a 35 year old male may end up paying for a $750,000 30-year term without and with a family history of cardiovascular disease. Family history includes 1 parent who died from a heart attack at age 59.

    Without Family HistoryWith Family History
    $55 per month$88 per month

    Life Insurance With Family History of Diabetes

    It’s pretty uncommon for life insurance companies to factor in a family history of diabetes during underwriting.  In fact, we only have seen a couple carriers who penalize applicants because a family member has a diabetes diagnosis.

    Without Family HistoryWith Family History
    $55 per monthNot a major factor

    Life insurance family history questions

    Before you even apply, your agent should be asking you a bunch of questions that life insurance underwriters will want answers to. Your agent will need these details in order to find the best life insurance company based on your personal and family health history. 

    These are some of the questions that you should be prepared to answer:

    1. Has a family member ever died or been diagnosed with a history of heart attack, cancer, heart disease, cerebrovascular disease or stroke?
    2. Was the family member a parent or sibling?
    3. How old were they when they were diagnosed?
    4. How old were they when they died?
    5. Depending on the condition, you may receive specific follow up questions. For example, if there’s a cancer diagnosis: What stage was the cancer? 

    Don’t lie about your family history!

    You never want to lie on a life insurance application. The entire point of life insurance isn’t to get a policy. The point of life insurance is to pay a death benefit!

    If you lie on your application, it’s only going to create problems. Those problems will happen sooner or later. You might get declined now (which will make it tougher to get approved later on) or your claim may not be paid if the life insurance company investigates the cause of death. 

    Now if your independent life insurance agent knows all about your family history from the beginning, they can find the life insurance companies that may not penalize you with a family history of stroke, heart disease or cancer during the underwriting process. When it comes to getting the best life insurance deal- it’s always about which company will look at you best.

    How to get approved at the best rate

    When trying to find the best life insurance policy it’s best to use an agent who has access to many companies – not just one. Make sure to use an independent life insurance broker (*hint Life Insurance Blog) who can shop your case from the top 10 life insurance companies in the country. In fact, we use over 60 carriers for our clients.

    Family history plays part in the life insurance underwriting process. It’s a complicated process because your need the knowledge of an expert and access to all the underwriting guidelines to make an informed choice. There are over a dozen underwriting factors could affect your final rate. 

    Does Family History Affect Life Insurance?

    We hope you’ve learned how family history affects life insurance rates and approvals. If you have any other questions, please reach out to us. Give us a call to see how we can help you find the lowest rates available. We’ll go the extra mile to match you with the most lenient insurer for your family history.

    If you’d like to learn more interesting facts about life insurance be sure to read our posts on life insurance laddering and having multiple life insurance policies.

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    Michael Quinn

    Michael is a licensed life insurance agent, expert & owner of Life Insurance Blog. LIB has helped thousands of shoppers understand life insurance and secure affordable coverage.

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