High Risk

Are you applying for life insurance but are afraid of declines and expensive premiums because you may be considered a “high risk” candidate?

If this applies to you, the process of looking for life insurance is likely going to be frustrating.

An applicant is defined as high risk if his or her lifestyle choices, jobs, hobbies or health are determined to lower his or her life expectancy.

Confused? Let’s cover the basics:

You already know an underwriter assesses an applicant’s risk compared to the risk of an average person. These risks are grouped into four risk classes:

  1. Declined: if the client is deemed too great a risk to the insurance company
  2. Preferred: candidates in this category have life expectancies that are longer than the average person’s. Premiums at this level are the most affordable.
  3. Standard: an applicant is rated as “Standard” if his or her life expectancy is the same as the average person’s. The premiums of all other categories are determined in relation to this risk class.
  4. Substandard: a candidate whose life expectancy is considered lower than that of an average person is considered “Substandard” and will have higher premiums.

A company’s cost of insuring a lower risk individual is less than that of insuring a higher risk applicant.

A high risk applicant doesn’t fall into any of these categories, which is why high risk life insurance exists.

This is good news for high risk candidates: it doesn’t have to be frustrating or upsetting to shop for life insurance as a high risk applicant! There are plenty of life insurance options out there for high risk applicants. Read on to find out more information.

What Does High Risk Life Insurance Look Like?

There are several facets to determining an individual’s risk class. Let’s take a look at some of the factors underwriters take into consideration:

  1. Your health. Disease are the number one factors that will place an applicant into a higher risk category. This is because diseases such as cancer, diabetes, obesity, melanoma or cardiac disease significantly decrease an individual’s life span. Insurers will look at the date you were diagnosed, a list of medications you are taking to manage your disease, your treatment regimen and the date of your last treatment, as well as any additional medical concerns that you may have in conjunction with the high risk disease. Your medical records will be necessary, as well as copies of your treatment plans. If you are in remission, the carrier will want to know how long you have been in remission.
  1. Your hobbies. Hobbies such as rock climbing, scuba diving, skydiving and piloting are all considered dangerous by underwriters. Fortunately, there are several carriers that will take on the risk of those who participate in these hobbies. These carriers will want to know how often you participate in these hobbies, the type of equipment you use and if you have any certifications or trainings in the activity. 
  2. Your job. Professions, like hobbies, can be considered high risk. Occupations such as firefighting, logging or rigging are all extremely dangerous and pose a higher risk than the average desk job. In instances like this, carriers look at the US Department of Statistics’ injury and death statistics for that occupation, as well as the company’s history with insuring individuals in the same line of work. 
  3. Your habits. Any habit that is deemed to have deleterious effects upon an applicant’s health are considered high risk. These habits include alcohol consumption and smoking. These are a bit tricky to underwrite, because all companies view risk differently. The length and frequency with which you indulge in these habits are vital to assessing your risk.

Here is where it is important to be honest on your life insurance application. If you are a smoker and fear high premiums, there are measures you can take to earn better ratings, so be sure to talk to an agent first!

Most high risk and standard policies have something called a two-year contestability, which means that if you lie on your applicant and pass away with nicotine in your system, your beneficiaries won’t receive the death benefit.

Coverage As A High Risk Applicant

Remember when we said that you can find coverage as a high risk life insurance applicant? You absolutely can, but there are a few things you should know.

The first thing you should know is to seek the help of a knowledgeable agent. If you have been declined for coverage in the past, the odds are good that you were working with the wrong company.

There are many companies who will take on your risk. A good agent knows that companies view risk differently; that what is a risk to one company is not seen as such to another. An agent uses this knowledge to your advantage and combines it with his or her access to the best high risk life insurance companies, earning you the best rates every time.

A high risk life insurance agent can provide guidance and the tools necessary to help you find the most affordable coverage.

One of the biggest ways an agent helps high risk life insurance applicants is by asking the right questions. These independent agents will go over your risk class and lifestyle choices with you in detail, and then will be able to favorably present your risk to underwriters. It may be a small step, but asking the right questions could save you hundreds of dollars in premiums a year.

The label of “high risk” should not mean that you and your loved ones go unprotected.

When assessing risk, companies take into consideration many different factors, making it incredibly important that your risk is presented as accurately as possible. This accuracy doesn’t just fall to the agent, however: it is your job as an applicant to make sure your certification, licenses and medical records are as accurate as possible.

An agent is the first step on the road to finding the best life insurance policies for your risk. It may take a few extra steps to find the right policy for you, but it is possible. Call me today to see how I can help!