Does Family History Affect Life Insurance Rates?

    Why Insurers Ask For Your Family History

    Most life insurance applications require you to disclose an extensive amount of personal information – and a big part of this disclosure includes a thorough evaluation of your family health history. 

    But, how exactly does this specific factor affect your policy? In this quick guide, we’re going to answer all the most frequently asked questions about family history checks. Read on to find out why this measure is taken, how it affects your premiums, and how the process works.

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    Why Is Your Family History Required By Insurers?

    When applying for a life insurance policy, the provider will want to make sure they’re taking on as little risk as possible. Dispensing medical information and family history allows the life insurance company to screen for potential risk factors that may contribute to premature death. As such, your family history will influence the life insurance rate offered to you for all types of plans.

    What Will Your Policy Provider Be Looking For?

    According to the World Health Organization, your family medical history affects your genetic predisposition to certain illnesses. Life insurance companies take this very seriously and will especially want to know about:

    1. Family history of cancer, including breast cancer, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer, and colon cancer
    2. History of cardiac disorders, such as coronary heart disease, congenital heart disease, or arrhythmia. 
    3. History of chronic illnesses, like asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol. 

    With these factors taken into consideration, combined with your health status, lifestyle, and the severity of the illnesses, you may be given more expensive rates. However, remember that one variable isn’t enough to make or break your chances of getting approval – you can still vie for competitive rates and insurance coverage if the other areas of your application look good. 

    How Does Your Family History Affect Your Premiums? 

    The effect of your family health history on your life insurance premiums will depend on the type and severity of the illness, as well as the age your family member was diagnosed. 

    If members of your family were diagnosed at over 60 years of age, your insurer will likely disregard them. Companies also mostly pay attention to illnesses passed on by your parents, so a distant family member is unlikely to have an effect on your life insurance rates. 

    Naturally, some life insurance companies will be more lenient than others in regards to family history. Underwriting rules will also vary from company to company, so it’s important not to settle for your first offer. 

    Finding the best life insurance policy for your situation might take a while. Be sure to ask the life insurance agency questions, shop around, and compare life insurance quotes. It’s also a great idea to consult with an independent agent or financial advisor that can assist you along the process and help you find a policy that works for your needs. 

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    How The Process Works

    The application process for life insurance policies works in two parts. These help life insurance companies evaluate your risk and determine what your coverage and premiums will look like. 

    Initial Application

    After submitting an application, you’ll be contacted by an agent for an initial phone interview. You’ll be asked a series of questions. Typically, they will ask if you, your parents, or your siblings have been diagnosed with heart disease, kidney disease, cancer, or diabetes.

    If you answer yes, you’ll have to provide the age at which you or your family members were diagnosed, as well as details about the disease. If a family member died from any of these illnesses, you’ll be asked at what age they died. Most insurance companies will disregard gender-specific conditions if you are of the opposite sex. 

    Underwriting Process

    After you submit your application and take the interview, your life insurance company will evaluate your medical records, health exam results, and do further background checks if necessary. Underwriters may have to ask you more extensive questions about your family history, especially for cases like Alzheimer's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, stroke, sickle cell anemia, or a history of cancer.

    These factors alone will not spell an immediate rejection, but they will affect the rates offered to you. 

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    Can You Refuse To Share Your Family History?

    It may feel intrusive to disclose your family history to life insurers, and if you know they will affect premiums, you may be tempted to withhold information. However, the consequences of doing so will be much worse than dealing with the impact on your premiums. 

    Remember that people who withhold information can be charged with insurance fraud, which could terminate their policy and affect the chances of being approved at another life insurance company.

    The Consequences Of Lying On Your Application

    Lying is considered insurance fraud. If you’re thinking about lying in your interview, be aware that doctors note your family’s medical history on your charts, so these records are accessible to insurers and will be cross-referenced. 

    If you do manage to get away with it but are caught after your policy is enforced or after you die, insurance companies can deny the payout of your death benefit to your loved ones. 

    What If You Are Adopted?

    If you’re adopted and don’t have information about your birth family, insurers won’t hold it against you and the portion about family history will be redacted from your underwriting process. This may be a benefit or slight disadvantage, depending on the other factors of your application such as your lifestyle.

    Since there’s no family history available, if you are a heavy smoker or drinker, are overweight, suffer from health physical, or mental conditions, you’ll immediately be considered high risk. If you don’t manage your conditions or can’t prove you have them under control, you won’t be eligible for competitive life insurance rates.

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    The Bottom Line

    No matter what type of life insurance you’re applying for, you’ll be required to share your family’s health history. If you’re worried about your family history raising rates too much, you may need to do some extra digging to find a lenient policy provider. 

    If you need help finding the best policy for your situation, get in touch with Wesley Insurance, LLC! Our team of financial professionals will give you the assistance you need.

    Written By Cameron McDowell
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