Jeffrey Manola is an experienced life insurance agent and the founder of Top Quote Life Insurance. His mission when he created Top Quote Life Insurance was to provide online consumers searching for life insurance with the absolute best quotes for term life insurance, permanent life insurance, no medical exam life insurance, and burial insurance. Not only does he strive to provide you with the ...

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Written by Jeffrey Manola
Founder & Licensed Agent Jeffrey Manola

Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insur...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers CSR for 4 Years Leslie Kasperowicz

UPDATED: Jun 29, 2022

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The most common factor that affects your life insurance eligibility is your personal medical history. Another factor that insurance companies take seriously is your family health history too.

Most people do not realize that a health-related death of an immediate family member can have an impact on when they apply for life insurance coverage.

This article will provide a detailed explanation of how your family health history could impact your premiums and what you should do.

Looking to compare life insurance prices? We can help. Enter your ZIP code to get free quotes from multiple insurers.

Family Health History Questions

Underwriters at insurance companies will ask questions about your family’s health history. They are especially interested to know if hereditary diseases run in your family.

You will not need to provide medical records for your parents, siblings and so on. But you will be asked certain questions about your family’s health history on the life insurance application.

These include questions about any family history of heart disease, family history of cancer, and family history of stroke.

For example, has anyone in your immediate family been diagnosed with cancer? If you answer “Yes” to this question, you’ll be asked for details such as what type of cancer, if the family member died as a result of the disease and so on.

The application form asks these questions in an effort to get an idea of what your health could look like down the line.

Don’t be discouraged if someone in your family has had or has died from a genetic disease. Your personal health still matters most. If you are healthy, fit and haven’t had major health concerns up to this point, the higher risk will be reduced.

It is also important to note that the insurance companies in most cases only ask for the history of your immediate family members. This includes father, mother, and siblings. The health history of aunts, uncles, cousins, great grandparents, etc., is almost never asked or has any effect on your life insurance application.

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Why do Insurance Companies ask about Family Health History?

For life insurance, medical history is relevant because the companies want to assess the level of risk they are taking in insuring you. If your family history shows a genetic or hereditary disease, you will get a lower heath classification and likely pay a higher premium.

Life insurance companies take risks when they provide coverage for people. They want to know exactly how much of a risk it is to insure you. By asking about diseases in your family, they are trying to find out exactly how high a risk you pose.

This is where an underwriter comes in. An underwriter’s job is to look at an applicant’s file and figure out the risk to insure that individual. If a person is deemed to be higher risk, the life insurance company will probably charge a higher premium.

If the underwriter feels that a person has too high a risk factor, that individual may be denied insurance coverage.

There would have to be other risk factors on top of family medical history that would lead to a person being denied.

Of course, just because a person in your family had a disease does not mean you will get it. But the history of life insurance shows that these companies worry about risks of things happening, not whether they will happen.

Factors Life Insurance Companies Assess

Life insurance companies look at several factors when assessing your suitability for life insurance coverage.

Most important among these are your personal medical history, your lifestyle and your family health history.

The top medical issues that life insurance companies want to know about are the following:

  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular Attack
  • Type of Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Stroke

If one of your immediate family members (parents or siblings) has died from one of these conditions prior to age 60, your life insurance rates will likely be affected.

The insurance company would place you into a risk category based on what age your family member was when he or she died. Typically, the cutoff age is either 60 or 65 depending on insurance companies’ underwriting guidelines. In other words, if a family member dies of one of these diseases before this age, it negatively affects which health classification you’ll receive.

Talk with an independent agent or agency such as Top Quote Life Insurance who can offer you multiple insurance companies. An independent agent can view the underwriting guidelines from multiple companies to make sure you’re applying with a company that is going to give you the best price based on your background.

When underwriters are evaluating you, certain issues get more weight. Cancers, heart issues, diabetes, and neurological diseases weigh the most.

The insurance company doesn’t care about non-hereditary medical issues that can’t affect you. If your family member had a head injury that affects brain function, the insurance company is not concerned. Injuries to relatives do not influence your health in any way.

Similarly, most life insurance companies are not too concerned if your family member has early-onset hereditary diseases, which show up only at birth or in early childhood. You are now an adult and so the risk of you having that disease has passed.

What if I Don’t Know my Family’s Medical History?

Sometimes people do not know the medical history or their parents or siblings. This is particularly true for people who were adopted or orphaned at a young age.

You will not be made to research this information. Insurance companies understand that you might not have access to some information. When applying for coverage, simply fill out the application form with the information you do know.

If you are unsure about your family health history, it is ok to state on the application or exam that you do not know or are unsure of the questions that you don’t know the answers to.

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How Family History Affects your Rate

No matter how poor your family’s health history is, you will not get denied insurance coverage because of this. Only your personal health could cause an insurance company to deny you coverage.

If your family’s medical history is poor, you may pay a higher premium. For example, you may not qualify for preferred rates but you will likely get the standard rate.

When Does Family History Not Apply?

There are some cases in which a negative family history will not have a role in the determination of your rates. These include:

Gender-Specific Cancers – If you’re a male and your mother passed away from breast cancer or ovarian cancer prior to age 60 or 65, the majority of life insurance companies will not view this negatively towards your health classification.

The same goes for females who may have had a father or even sibling that passed away from prostate cancer. These applicants can still qualify for the preferred health class provided they meet all the other underwriting requirements. Gender-specific cancers are often waived with most companies.

Outliving Parents or Siblings – If a parent or sibling has passed away prior to age 60 or 65, and the applicant has outlived the parent or sibling, this will generally be taken into consideration.

A lot of this will depend on when the death occurred, the cause of death as well as the current age of the applicant. These guidelines vary from company to company with several requiring that the applicant is at least 60 years old for it to be disregarded.

Non-Health Related Deaths – For parents who have passed away at an early age due to non-health related deaths, in most cases, it will have no effect on the applicant’s health classification.

When Buying Life Insurance with a Family Health History

We hope this article has given you an understanding of what life insurance companies want to know about your family’s medical history and how it can affect your premiums.

The biggest thing that we cannot stress enough about is to never wait to purchase life insurance coverage. Most people, especially younger families do not realize that the health-related death of a parent prior to age 60 could take them out of the best health class for their own coverage.

Also, you don’t have to purchase life insurance coverage alone. Use the help of an experienced agency with experienced agents who can make sure you’re applying with the life insurance company that is going to give you the best rates for your insurance needs.

Contact us to reach a licensed Top Quote Life Insurance agent who can answer all of your questions.

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