Having high cholesterol can affect your ability to secure life insurance at lower rates, but not as much as it has in the past. While a diagnosis of high cholesterol can affect life insurance, there are a variety of factors to consider, not only from the individual but also from the insurance companies. There are things you can do to help reduce high cholesterol and things you can do to present a clear picture of your health to the insurance company.
High cholesterol, or hyperlipidemia, is defined by the American Heart Association by the soft, waxy substance that is part of the fats in the bloodstream and in the cell body. The body produces cholesterol in the liver naturally, and it is also taken from high-fat foods from animals, such as eggs, dairy products, some processed foods, and meat.
The body needs a certain amount of cholesterol to form the membranes of cells and to help produce the acids necessary to digest any fats eaten. However, the body only needs a small amount to function properly. Excess cholesterol isn’t dissolved in the blood; it needs to be transported out by lipoproteins called low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL).
LDL is the major cholesterol carrier and if often referred to as the “bad cholesterol.” It will slowly build up plaque on the walls of the arteries, which can cause all kinds of problems in your cardiovascular system. HDL removes excess cholesterol, so is referred to as the “good cholesterol” because it removes plaque buildup in arteries. Simply put, when your LDL level is high, and the HDL level is low, it can mean problems. High cholesterol is the ratio of the HDL to the LDL.
Effects of Cholesterol on Life Insurance
Because high cholesterol increases the risk of a person developing heart disease, it can put you into the high-risk category for life insurance. Part of the issue with the effects to your life insurance policy is that doctors and life insurance companies define high cholesterol in different ways. On top of that, life insurance companies also have their own guidelines for acceptable cholesterol levels. These two factors can cause some confusion.
The underwriters are the insurance company’s professionals that look at the company’s guidelines and any other health related problems you may have to determine how much of a risk you may be. The higher the risk, the higher the rates can be, and you may be denied a policy. If a denial happens, you can appeal the decision or look into a different company. If you are placed into a high-risk category, this decision can be revisited and revised in one year, so you won’t necessarily always need to have the same rates.
How to Manage High Cholesterol
If you have been diagnosed with high cholesterol, there are a variety of things you can do to help bring it down. Keep in mind that some people genetically have high cholesterol, but more people develop it due to their lifestyle. If your cholesterol is high due to lifestyle, some changes can help to decrease it over time, with or without medication. Working with your physician can help create a plan for the best route of treatment, but here are some helpful ideas you can do for your overall health.
- Change your diet to decrease the amount of saturated fats or trans fatty acids you eat. This means you will need to stay away from some foods you may love, like that bacon cheeseburger and fries. Sticking to more natural foods like fruits and vegetables is an excellent place to start.
- Work in some exercise. If you’ve been inactive, increasing your activity and adding in an exercise routine will help decrease your cholesterol and lower your weight. Obesity has a tendency to increase LDL levels and decrease HDL, the combination you do not want. Exercise will improve your physical health, and it can also help you to get out and meet some new people.
- If you smoke, it is a perfect time to start a stop smoking program.
- If you have diabetes or a family history of heart disease, it puts you at greater risk for developing heart disease. If you have heart disease or diabetes, make sure you follow your physician’s orders to take good care of yourself.
Steps to Take for Life Insurance
Be prepared to have a medical exam as part of applying for life insurance. Try to be as healthy as you can for the exam, so reschedule if you are ill, avoid drinking alcohol two or three days prior to the exam, and have lab work completed early in the morning after fasting the night before. If you were diagnosed with high cholesterol for a while and have changed your diet and exercise routines to be healthier, you can request a letter from your doctor that indicates the life changes you made. You also will need to have your medical records available for the insurance company to review, so be sure to collect them.
If you’re taking medication for high cholesterol, this is considered a good choice and not a ding on your health picture. Some medications for different health issues can increase rates, but medication for high cholesterol is not one of those conditions. Taking the medication will help decrease your cholesterol and risk for heart disease.
There is help to locate the right life insurance company for your unique situation. Smithfin is a life insurance comparison company. They work with several life insurance companies like MetLife, Prudential, Assurity, Lincoln and more. To make the process easier, work with an experienced Smithfin agent. They are friendly and will help you sort through the confusion to find the life insurance policy you want at a rate that can fit into your budget. Visit them online or contact them to start planning for your loved ones if you can no longer be there for them.