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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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

UPDATED: Nov 4, 2020

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Preferred Plus, Preferred, Standard Plus, and Standard are all terms used when describing life insurance health classifications. Life insurance health classifications are used by life insurance companies to determine your risk of insurability.

The less of a risk you are to the life insurance company, the better health classification you qualify for. The life insurance health classification is a determining factor in how much you will pay for the life insurance coverage.

Knowing which health classification you may qualify for can be tricky at times. 

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

Table of Contents

The Common Life Insurance Health Classifications

Most life insurance companies use up to 7 life insurance health classifications. Out of the 7 health classifications, 4 are given to non-tobacco users, 2 for tobacco users, and 1 for applicants who would be considered Substandard or high-risk applicants.

Qualifying for the health classification of Preferred Plus will result in lower premiums, than that of an applicant qualifying for a substandard rating, due to a high-risk medical condition.

PREFERRED PLUS

This risk class is the best health class obtainable for life insurance coverage. The health classification of Preferred Plus should be used for applicants that have absolutely no negative health history, are not taking any medications for health-related factors, are within guidelines for height and weight, and also have no family history resulting in death from cancer or heart disease, before age 60-65, depending on the life insurance company. It should be noted that generally, only 5-10% of people qualify for Preferred Plus.

PREFERRED

This risk classification is the second-best health classification for life insurance coverage. The health classification of Preferred should be used for applicants that are in very good health but may have one or two minor health issues that are being treated with medication such as controlled cholesterol or blood pressure. In addition to having very good health, applicants should also be within the guidelines for height and weight and have no family history resulting in death from cancer or heart disease before age 60-65, depending on the life insurance company.

STANDARD PLUS / REGULAR PLUS

This health classification is generally given to applicants that may have slightly elevated lab results or a little over the height and weight guidelines for Preferred.  Applicants must also fall within the family health history guidelines of no death from cancer or heart disease, prior to age 60-65, depending on the life insurance company.

STANDARD / REGULAR

Although at the bottom of the four general life insurance health risk classifications, Standard / Regular is a very common health classification. This health classification should be considered for applicants that may have elevated labs or some additional health factors.  Height and weight guidelines do not meet that of the preferred health classes and death from cancer or heart disease, prior to age 60-65, of an immediate family member may have occurred.

PREFERRED SMOKER

This health classification is given to applicants who use tobacco products. The health classification of Preferred Tobacco is the best health class obtainable for tobacco users. Applicants that qualify for Preferred Tobacco must meet the guidelines for height and weight, blood pressure and cholesterol and have no death of an immediate family member from cancer or heart disease, prior to age 60-65, depending on the life insurance company.

STANDARD SMOKER

This health classification is given to applicants who use tobacco products and do not meet the guidelines for Preferred Smoker. Labs may be elevated and height and weight do not meet the guidelines of Preferred Smoker.

SUBSTANDARD

This health classification is generally given to applicants who do not qualify for one of the four common health classifications. A Substandard health classification may be given to an applicant who is considered high risk due to certain health conditions.  Substandard health classifications generally come in 8-10 tables that are associated with either a number or letter grade.

The number or letter is given based on the severity of the medical condition and will increase the premium by 25%. Substandard health classifications are not quotable on our instant quote form, as they often require working with an agent to get the best rate depending on the health condition. 

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Other Factors that Effect a Life Insurance Health Classification

Your overall health history plays a big role in determining your health class but it’s not the only factor. The underwriter will also consider the following when determining your final health classification for approval:

  • Height & Weight
  • Alcohol / Drug History
  • Tobacco Use
  • Family Health History
  • Driving History
  • Extreme Hobbies or Sports
  • Foreign Travel

Height & Weight

Every life insurance company will have its own set of height and weight regulations for each health classification. Some life insurance companies use a unisex height and weight chart while others have specific height and weight guidelines for males and females.

If you believe you might be overweight, send us a message, and will check the life insurance company’s height and weight chart to make sure you are quoting the correct health classification.

Alcohol Abuse / Drug History

If you drink a few alcoholic beverages per week, this will not disqualify you for life insurance coverage or prevent you from getting the best health classification. The same goes for using marijuana both medicinal or even recreational use.

Use of hard drugs, addiction to painkillers, or excessive use of alcohol would be a concern to the underwriters especially if it has lead to time in rehab.

Generally, any current treatment can lead to a substandard health classification or possible decline. Most life insurance companies like to see 7-10 years with no abuse or treatment in order to qualify for a health classification other than substandard.

Tobacco Use

Cigarettes – Current cigarette use automatically qualifies you for tobacco rates, even if you smoke one or two cigarettes a day or a week.

Cigars – Cigar smokers are generally classified with smoker rates but many life insurance companies will allow for non-smoker rates for occasional cigar use. Depending on the life insurance company, most will allow up to 1 cigar per month and must test negative for cotinine on the life insurance medical exam.

Smokeless Tobacco – If you use smokeless tobacco such as chew, snuff, or dip, most life insurance companies will consider you at smoker rates.  There are two life insurance companies, as of now, that will consider non-tobacco rates if you admit use on both the exam and application.

See our article on SMOKER RATES FOR SMOKELESS CHEWING TOBACCO LIFE INSURANCE COVERAGE.

Family Health History

You may currently be in the best shape of your life, but if your parents have passed away before the age of 60 due to cancer or heart issues, it will disqualify you from receiving the best health classification.

This is a big reason not to wait to purchase life insurance coverage. Family health history generally does not come into play if you are over the age of 66-70 depending on the life insurance company.

IMPORTANT:
Most life insurance companies will not disqualify you from receiving the best health classification for gender-specific cancers. So if you are a male applicant and mom passed away due to breast or ovarian cancer you can still qualify for the best health class.  The same goes for female applicants if dad passed away from prostate cancer you can still qualify for the best health classification.

Driving History

DUI, DWI or a history of reckless driving can all have a major impact on your health classification.  In most cases, multiple DUI’s, DWI’s or moving violations can prevent you from even getting life insurance coverage.

If you have ever had a DUI or DWI or a major moving violation, most life insurance companies will consider you for the best health classification if it has been over 5-10 years. Anything under 5 year’s time will result in a lower health class than the best.

Extreme Hobbies or Sports

Participation in extreme hobbies or sports such as scuba diving, aeronautics, powered racing/competitive racing, mountain/rock climbing, rodeos, competitive skiing or snowboarding, and any other extreme sports activity can jeopardize your health classification, as well as cost you an extra premium.

Life insurance companies view extreme hobbies and sports as high risk and in most cases charge a “flat rate extra fee”. A flat extra fee is an additional premium that generally ranges from $2-$10 per $1000 of the death benefit and will be determined based on your level of participation in the activity.

Your level of participation is determined by your responses to the extreme hobbies and sports questionnaire that is completed with the life insurance application.

IMPORTANT NOTE:
Not all extreme hobbies or sports activities will require you to pay an extra premium. For example, if you scuba dive less than 100 feet depth you can qualify for a Preferred health classification without any flat extra premium.

Foreign Travel

Foreign travel will not necessarily effect your health classification, but it is important to note that any planned travel outside U.S. to an unsafe area can be a decline for coverage or flat rate extra fee.

Getting the Most Accurate Life Insurance Quotes

Top Quote Life Insurance provides instant life insurance quotes from the nation’s top life insurance companies. Knowing which health classification you may qualify for will give you the most accurate life insurance quotes possible.

For an instant life insurance quote simply use the quote form located to the right of your computer screen and be sure to select your health classification of Preferred Plus, Preferred, Standard Plus or Standard.

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