Welcome to our Life Insurance Table Ratings – The Ultimate Guide page! Life insurance table ratings are used by the insurance company underwriting departments to assess the risk you present when they offer you a life insurance policy. If you have any medical or health issues, work in a dangerous occupation, have an adventurous lifestyle, or any combination of these factors, these all increase the risk associated with issuing you a life insurance policy.
A good way to think of this is like trying to get automobile insurance for your car. If you are a good driver and have no tickets or infractions, you will get the best auto insurance rates.
If you have traffic tickets, driving infractions, driving under the influence, negligent driving, alluding the police, or any other driving issues, your automobile insurance will be expensive, if you can even get it at all.
Why do insurance companies use table ratings?
Using table ratings has helped the life insurance industry have a standardized method of quoting to create a fair and equitable way of providing quotes to consumers. It also helps protect the insurance companies from individuals with medical problems, who may pose a risk greater than a healthier life insurance candidate.
Using table ratings helps assure a healthy person does not pay the same amount as somebody with numerous health problems.
Table Ratings – A “Points” based system?
In many parts of the country, when you get a ticket or driving infraction, you will be assessed “points.” A speeding ticket may be one point, an accident may be one point, driving under the influence may be two or three points. The automobile insurance company will add up the points to help them determine what automobile insurance rate you receive; you could even be denied if you have too many points.
Life insurance is the same way. If you are healthy, you will get the best life insurance rates. If you have medical problems, your life insurance rates will be more expensive, or you may not get life insurance if your health issues are severe (you can still get guaranteed issue life insurance policy).
Does it matter if a male or female?
Yes, life insurance companies consider your gender when factoring your risk class. Women tend to live longer than males. This means the insurance companies often consider females less risky to insure than males. If all other age and health factors are identical, a male life insurance candidate will pay more than a female life insurance candidate.
Many life insurance companies consider male and female builds differently (although some have unisex guidelines).
Can you simplify it even more?
Think of each life insurance table as a points system (although each life insurance company’s point system may vary slightly). The more bad points you have, the more expensive your life insurance will be. The more good points you have, the less expensive your life insurance will be; good points, sometimes can often offset bad points.
How do table ratings work?
Life insurance companies use a system, called “table rating”, the equivalent of a “points” system in automobile insurance.
- If you have diabetes, that may add one table rating, which will increase your rates 25% over a non-diabetic person.
- If you have high blood pressure, that may add another table rating, which will increase your rates an additional 25%.
- If you have had bypass or stent surgery, this may add 2 to 4 tables. This will raise your life insurance rates an additional 150 to 200% over a perfectly healthy person.
If you are healthy, you will get better life insurance rates. If you have cancer, you can still get life insurance; it will just cost a lot more, and the guaranteed benefit will be much less. We can help you get the best life insurance rates for your age, health, and other risk factors.
How many insurance table ratings are there?
There are 16 table ratings (although not every insurance company goes up to 16). Some insurance companies will only go up to a certain table rating for a term life product, and then everybody who falls into a higher table rating than that will be declined.
All table ratings assessed will fall below the “standard” life insurance rating. Some insurance companies use a numbered table rating system, such as a “table rating 1.” Other insurance companies use a letter-based table rating system. Here, a “table rating 1” with another company would be a “table rating A” with their company.
Table ratings for whole life insurance products are often more forgiving.
Since whole life policies are a combination of insuring the risk of death, and the cash value component, the risk portion will not be weighted so heavily.
For example: if you had a $100,000 whole life insurance policy, and you had accumulated $15,000 in cash value, the only risk to the insurance company would be $85,000 (your $15,000 cash value deducted from the $100,000 coverage amount). This gets factored into the premiums you will pay.
Here are VERY GENERAL guidelines for a Preferred Plus rating down through Table 16
Remember all companies have different table rating requirements and guidelines:
- Preferred Plus – This is when you have no personal or family history of illness or disease, and your height and weight are normal.
- Preferred – This is where you may have a family history of illness, or take medication for blood pressure or cholesterol.
- Standard Plus – If you are mildly overweight, or have a family death at an early age due to illness.
- Standard – Average health, depression or anxiety, family history, or prior illnesses.
- Table Rating 1-2 (A-B) – 25+ pounds overweight, abnormal blood pressure readings, moderate arthritis, abnormal cholesterol, well-controlled sleep apnea with CPAP or Bi-PAP, history of skin cancer that has been resolved, mitral valve prolapse without complications.
- Table Rating 3-4 (C-D) – Mild to moderate diabetes, Crohn’s disease, 40+ pounds overweight, abnormal EKG reading, abnormal lab tests, some hazardous activities, mild heart disease
- Table Rating – 5-6 (E-F) Overweight, obesity, heart issues, epilepsy, recent external cancer treatment, internal cancer treatment over 10 years ago (fully resolved), use of narcotics for chronic pain.
- Table 7-8 (G-H) – Parkinson’s disease, multiple illnesses, 60+ pounds overweight, bipolar disorder, other mental/nervous disorders, or other major health considerations.
- Table 9-16 (I-P) – Most likely, a combination of the above health conditions. Usually, if you are rated at table rating 9 through table rating 16, you will get a decline of coverage in a fully underwritten policy. Health conditions, such as advanced cancers, a recent internal cancer treatment, severe heart disease, severe mental/nervous disorders, and severe cases of many common illnesses, such as diabetes, epilepsy, Crohn’s, Parkinson’s, will fall in this category.
Here is an example of some underwriting guidelines for various medical issues (this is an example – all companies will have different guidelines):
Here is an example of a life insurance table rating chart for term life products:
Preferred Plus (Best Rates – Less than 5% of applicants qualify for this rate)
Table 1 (A) = 125% increase over standard rates – Healthy $100 monthly rate would now be $125
Table 2 (B) = 150% increase over standard rates – Healthy $100 monthly rate would now be $150
Table 3 (C) = 175% increase over standard rates – Healthy $100 monthly rate would now be $175
Table 4 (D) = 200% increase over standard rates – Healthy $100 monthly rate would now be $200
Table 5 (E) = 225% increase over standard rates – Healthy $100 monthly rate would now be $225
Table 6 (F) = 250% increase over standard rates – Healthy $100 monthly rate would now be $250
Table 7 (G) = 275% increase over standard rates – Healthy $100 monthly rate would now be $275
Table 8 (H) = 300% increase over standard rates – Healthy $100 monthly rate would now be $300
Table 9 (I) = 325% increase over standard rates – Healthy $100 monthly rate would now be $325
Table 10 (J) = 350% increase over standard rates – Healthy $100 monthly rate would now be $350
Table 11 (K) = 375% increase over standard rates – Healthy $100 monthly rate would now be $375
Table 12 (L) = 400% increase over standard rates – Healthy $100 monthly rate would now be $400
Table 13 (M) = 425% increase over standard rates – Healthy $100 monthly rate would now be $425
Table 14 (N) = 450% increase over standard rates – Healthy $100 monthly rate would now be $450
Table 15 (O) = 475% increase over standard rates – Healthy $100 monthly rate would now be $475
Table 16 (P) = 500% increase over standard rates – Healthy $100 monthly rate would now be $500
Good things to know about table rating in life insurance:
Here are some additional considerations to know about table ratings:
- Insurance companies often view health and lifestyle issues differently. At one company, your table rating for life insurance may be a table rating 2 (B), and another company you deal table rating 1 (A) (saving you 25% on your life insurance premium). Having a knowledgeable life insurance agent can save you some serious cash in these situations!
- Sometimes, table ratings are negotiable. We have had many instances, where we went back and talked with the client, got more health information, and could talk to the insurance company underwriters to secure a better rate for our client. Remember, every table rating will save you an additional 25% on your premium!
- As time passes and your health condition remains stable, it may be worth shopping around for another policy. Even though you may be two years older in age from your first and original policy, you may reduce your table rating! One table rating will save you 25%! Usually, this more than offsets the additional two years in your age.
- Sometimes, life insurance companies will also negotiate table ratings. If you have favorable results from your medical checkups, you comply with your medical treatment plan, more time is passed, etc., you can sometimes get a better life insurance table rating.
How can I get an accurate life insurance quote?
At Life-Wealth-Win we are familiar with the table ratings for the life insurance carriers. We stay up-to-date with all the changes in the life insurance industry and are in close contact with the underwriters at the different insurance companies.
If we have a tough case, we will simply call the insurance company underwriters or send them a pre-approval letter to understand what kind of life insurance rate for which we can get you pre-approved.
We also have software and specialized quoting tools that will help us best understand what kind of life insurance rate you can get.
What happens after I submit my life insurance application?
At Life-Wealth-Win, we will do our part by asking you very detailed health questions and getting all the information we can from you to get the most accurate quote. This will help us estimate what table rating for term insurance or table rating for whole life insurance for which you will qualify.
The insurance company will then review your prescription and medical records to get you an accurate life insurance quote. Sometimes, the quote will come back higher than what we expected. This often occurs when a client forgets they have taken a certain medication or forgets (or withholds) they have had a medical diagnosis that would affect their life insurance rates.
We have no control over quote errors when a client does not tell us the truth or fails to disclose all their health information. We are very good at what we do when we know all the health issues involved; just tell us everything about your health history!
What happens if it costs more than I thought or was quoted?
If you get approved for a policy rated higher than you thought, and it costs more than you thought, you have options:
- You can decline the offer.
- You can accept the offer as received (we would only have you do this after we had contacted other life insurance companies to see if you can get you a better offer).
- You can accept the offer temporarily. You may need the coverage right now. Remember, you may qualify for lower rates as your health improves or remains stable. We can help you find and research other companies in the coming months or years that will be a better fit for you.
- You can reduce the number of years of the term policy or reduce the amount of coverage. This will help you keep your insurance premium more affordable. Again, we can always come back and try to get more life insurance coverage later. The most important thing is to get life insurance protection now!
Healthier lifestyle habits = Better life insurance rates!
Healthier lifestyle choices can have a profound impact on your life insurance rates. It really pays to be healthy. If you are not overweight, you will be healthier, and you will get much better life insurance rates!
Healthy Steve Example:
- Steve is 40 years old
- 5’10” and weighs 185 pounds
- Perfect health
- No family history of any disease
- Perfect driving record.
- Steve’s life insurance rate is – 20-year term – $500,000 coverage – $50 per month
Overweight Bob Example:
- Bob is 40 years old
- 5’10” and weighs 295 pounds (100 pounds overweight)
- No family history of any disease
- Perfect driving record.
- 100 pounds overweight = 4 table ratings = an additional 100% added onto the base premium
- Total table rating charges = 100% rate increase over Steve’s healthy base rate
- Bob’s life insurance rate is – 20-year term – $500,000 coverage – $100 per month after table ratings
Because of Bob’s additional weight, he would pay twice as much as the healthier candidate, Steve.
Over the 20 year term period Steve would pay $12,000 in premiums. Bob would pay $24,000 in premiums for the same insurance amount and time period. Just by being rated higher than Steve, Bob would pay an additional $12,000 in premiums!
This is not even factoring in that Bob would probably have sleep apnea at this weight and a high potential for diabetes (each of which would add even more table ratings).
Would Bob always be charged more than Steve by the insurance companies?
Not necessarily. Many life insurance companies consider risks differently and have different criteria for assessing table ratings. This can save you a lot of money over the years!
Bob might be rated a 3 (C) table rating at one insurance company, and a 4 (D) table rating at another. This would result in a 25% savings! In the example above this would result in a $12.50 per month premium savings. Some might not consider that to be that big of a savings, but let’s do the math!
That extra $12.50 per month equals $150 per year. Over the 20 years of this life insurance policy, that extra $12.50 per month would add $3,000 to the total cost of this life insurance policy. This is what a small 25% reduction in table ratings can do for you.
We will find the life insurance companies that view your age, medical condition, and other underwriting considerations more favorably to save you the most money.
Another example of table ratings:
Let’s say company XYZ has a standard premium of $100 per month for $500,000 in coverage for 20 years for Paul. Here are examples of what Paul would pay under various table ratings.
Insurance Table Rating 1 (A) – an additional 25% table rating (125% increase in rates) = $125 per month
Insurance Table Rating 2 (B) – an additional 50% table rating (150% increase in rates) = $150 per month
Insurance Table Rating 4 (D) – an additional 100% table rating (200% increase in rates) = $200 per month
Insurance Table Rating 8 (H) – an additional 200% table rating (300% increase in rates) = $300 per month
As the table ratings increase for Paul, he will pay more in monthly premiums. A healthier Paul would pay $100 per month, and an unhealthier Paul at a table rating 8 (H) would pay a $300 per month premium.
This is one reason we recommend people get life insurance earlier rather than later!
What if I am overweight and lose weight in the future for life insurance?
In the example above, if Paul were table rating 8 (H), and four of his table ratings (a 200% rate increase) were assessed for being overweight, then this could change. If Paul were 350 pounds and dropped his weight to 200 pounds, this would have a profound impact on his table ratings and insurance rates.
- Paul’s current table 8 (H) rate is $300 per month.
- If Paul were two years into his original policy, he would have 18 years left to pay $300.
- OLD RATE – $300 X 12 months X 18 years = $64,800
If Paul were to reapply for new coverage at table 4 (D), his $200 per month’s total cost would be $200 X 12 months X 20 years = $48,000.
- When Paul’s weight became stabilized at 200 pounds, this would be a great time to reapply for life insurance at a better rate. Paul’s new rate at table 4 (D) would be $200 per month.
- NEW RATE – $200 X 12 months X 20 years = $48,000
Paul would save $24,800 by reapplying and getting approved a lower table rating! He would also add an additional two years to his life insurance coverage (as the original policy would have expired in 18 years vs. 20 years for the new policy).
Here is a build sheet example that shows how you could save money by dropping a few extra pounds (this is just an example – all companies will have their own unique table ratings and build sheets).
Note that, for every table reduction, you will get a 25% reduction in premium.
What tests will the insurance company want to have me perform?
For non-medical policies – none. For term life and life policies, you may have to undergo some of these tests (individual insurance companies’ payout limits and requirements vary).
- BU Blood and Urine
- CXR Chest X-Ray (often required for tobacco users only.)
- DAQ Daily Activities Questionnaire
- EIR Electronic Inspection Report
- EKG Electrocardiogram
- IR Inspection Report
- MVR Motor Vehicle Report
- PM Paramedical Examination
- TMEKG Treadmill EKG
What impairments would the insurance companies be concerned about?
Some of the more common impairments that insurance companies will want to know before issuing a life insurance policy are listed below (many of these would require an Attending Physician Statement (APS) when applying for a fully underwritten term policy).
Alcohol or Drug treatment history
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gehrig’s Disease)
Bipolar, schizophrenia, major depression
Congestive heart failure (CHF)
Crohn’s disease/Ulcerative Colitis
Coronary disease including heart attack or heart surgery
COPD including Chronic Bronchitis or Emphysema
Collagen Vascular disease including Lupus
Hodgkin’s or Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
Liver disease including Cirrhosis
Neurological disorders including Muscular Dystrophy,
Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease
Peripheral vascular disease (PVD or PAD)
Polycystic kidney disease
Rheumatoid disorders including rheumatoid arthritis
When would and APS be needed, or ordered?
At all ages and amounts, an APS may be required by insurance companies if the proposed insured has obtained medical consultation for these conditions:
Arrhythmia / Palpitations
Blood in Urine
Blood Pressure (Elevated)
Cerebral Vascular Disease
Chest Pain (Angina)
Cirrhosis of Liver
Colitis – Ulcerative
COPD – (Chronic Obstructive
Coronary Bypass Surgery
Coronary Artery Disease
Hereditary Cancer Syndrome
Regional Enteritis or Ileitis
Stroke (Cerebral Vascular
Tumors, Growths, Lesions
Ulcerative Colitis / Proctitis
Vascular Disease (PVD)