picture let me explain life insurance rates

How are life insurance rates determined?  

All insurance companies have different criteria to qualify for their different rate classifications (i.e. preferred plus, preferred, regular plus, regular, table 2, table 4, etc.) and most insurance companies have 12 to 16 rate classifications for which any one person could qualify. 

Since no two life insurance companies underwrite exactly the same, explaining life insurance rates and ratings can be a complicated topic.

Life insurance rates explained, not as easy as you'd think

Besides for your overall health, which includes but is not limited to your cholesterol levels, blood sugar level, blood pressure, height and weight, recent or present tobacco use...

The most competitive life insurance companies are also going to look at your family history, your driving record, your mental health history, any potentially hazardous future travel, any hazardous avocations (like scuba diving, hang gliding) and other non health related issues.

So if you have no issues with any of the above, then you may be able to qualify for Preferred Plus or Preferred rates.

If you do have even some minor health or other underwriting issues, then you may only qualify for a Regular Plus or Regular rate with some carriers. 

If You Don't qualify for Regular Rates, you'll be "Rated"

If you don’t qualify for “Regular” also known as “Standard” or better rates, then you could be “rated" for life insurance or offered a substandard rate.

While there are a few insurance companies that have a special rating structure, the norm is that most insurance companies will “rate” and charge a 25% additional premium per table rating and this is in addition to their “Regular” rate.

So most insurance companies ratings will start at the Regular rate plus 50% also called Table 2 or Table B, then Regular rate plus 75% (Table 3 or C), then Regular rate plus 100% (Table 4 or D) and go all the way up to Regular rate plus 250% (Table 10 or J) and sometimes even higher, depending on the company.

Up to 16 different rate classifications with some carriers

Below is an example of some sample ratings.  For simplicity, assume that a “Regular” or Standard rate would be $100.    If this were the case, then a Table 2, 4, 6, 8 or 10 rating would have an approximate cost as follows:

 Regular:  $100
  Table 2:  $150
  Table 4:  $200
  Table 6:  $250
  Table 8:  $300
 Table 10:  $350

As I mentioned, there are a few insurance companies that have a better table rating structure than most. With these companies, many times their Table 2 rate can be the same or better than many other companies Regular rates. 

Or a Table 4 rate with these companies that offer a better rating structure could be close to most other companies Table 2 rates.

What is a Flat Extra Life Insurance Premium

For many recent or high stage cancers and for hazardous avocations, instead of or in addition to table ratings, the insurance companies can charge a flat extra premium. 

This "flat extra" could be a $1.50 per $1,000, $2.50 per $1,000, $5.00 per $1,000 or any higher extra premium amount.   

Flat extra's are usually charged for a certain # of years and then they're automatically removed from your policy. 

You want the lowest flat extra premium

Again, for simplicity, let's assume you were going to buy a $100,000 policy and the annual cost is $100 per year...but the underwriter puts a $2.50 flat extra per $1,000 on your premium for the first 3 policy years.

This would equate to an additional cost of $250 per year ($2.50 multiplied by 100) on top of the $100 annual premium for a total cost of $350 per year for the first 3 policy years.  

Starting in year 4, your annual cost would reduce back to $100 since the flat extra was only being charged for first 3 policy years. 

All Life Insurance Companies Underwrite Differently!

All insurance companies “rate” ailments differently and we’ll find the insurance company that will offer you the best price depending on your particular criteria.

Whether you have diabetes, heart disease, are overweight, if you're involved in motorized racing or another potentially hazardous activity, there will be one life insurance company that is best for you. 

Whether you'll be charged with a table rating or a flat extra, we'll find the best option for you as we have a system to finding absolute best offers on tough cases.

PRO TIP: If any agent tells you every carrier will rate you the same or will charge you the same flat extra, fire them immediately as they will not be able to help you!!!

What is a good price to pay for life insurance?

This is the million dollar question and also not easy to answer!

For example, right now there are a couple insurance companies that are offering very well controlled type 2 diabetics age 60+ who are in otherwise excellent health “Preferred" or Regular Plus rates, whereas many insurance companies are only offering these same people a Regular or Table 2 rating.

We recently shopped a case for a professional race car driver seeking life insurance and best offer was a Regular rate with no flat extra, whereas the next best carrier offered a $2 flat extra, and $5 flat extra was 3rd best offer.  

Many cases needs to be "shopped", prior to formally applying

After we get basic health and avocation info, we'll usually email underwriters for preliminary offers.

Below are some of the carriers we'll inquire with:

American Amicable, American National, Ameritas, Banner Life, Columbus Life, Corebridge Financial (formerly American General/AIG), Cincinnati Life, Ethos, Foresters Financial, Guarantee Trust Life, Guardian Life, Illinois Mutual, John Hancock, Lincoln National, Mass Mutual, Mutual of Omaha, National Life, Nationwide, New York Life, North American Co. for Life & Health, Ohio National, Pacific Life, Penn Mutual, Principal Life, Protective Life, Prudential, Securian Financial, SBLI of MA, Security Mutual Life, Sons of Norway, Symetra Life, Transamerica & Thrivent Financial.

It often takes some work and negotiation on our part, to get many of our clients the BEST offer!!

Unless offered best rate class on first try, we'd be doing our clients a HUGE disservice by accepting ANY carriers first offer.

Life insurance table rating chart

As mentioned above, some carriers have significantly better table ratings than others! 

Below are the current best $250,000- 10 year term Regular, Table 2, Table 4 and Table 6 rates for males and females ages 40, 50 and 60.  These are all monthly rates: 



Table 2

Table 4

Table 6

Male 40





Male 50





Male 60







Table 2

Table 4

Table 6

Female 40





Female 50





Female 60





Non-medical & non-avocation underwriting issues

Besides for your medical history or hazardous avocations, insurance companies will also take your tobacco history, family history, driving record, foreign travel and mental health history into account when determining what rate class they'll offer you.

Tobacco and life insurance

Cigarette smokers live about 10 years less than non-smokers, on average.

Cigarette smokers pay a lot more than non-smokers for life insurance, for obvious reasons.

Tobacco use other than cigarettes or e-cigarettes can qualify for non-smoker or non-tobacco rates with a few carriers.   

Family history and life insurance  

Family history health issues can prevent people in otherwise excellent health from qualifying for better life insurance rates. 

Familial diseases like coronary artery disease or cardiovascular disease, some cancer's, and even diabetes in parents or siblings prior to their age 60 can preclude you from qualifying for Preferred Plus or Preferred rates with life insurance carriers. 

Some carriers only care about a death prior to age 60 of a parent, whereas others will even consider a diagnosis  of disease prior to 60 as a reason to preclude you from better rate.  

If you're a male and your mother died of breast cancer at age 50, there are some carriers that won't hold this gender specific cancer against you but others that will.  

Driving record and life insurance

More than 1 moving violation in past 2 or 3 years can also preclude you from many insurance carriers better rates. 

Driving under the influence, DUI or DWI in past 5 or 10 years will also preclude you from many carriers better rate classifications.  

Every carrier runs a department of motor vehicle report on every applicant, and this is how they find out about your driving history.  

Foreign travel and life insurance

Covid 19, war, terrorism, kidnapping and civil unrest are all potential underwriting concerns with regard to foreign travel.  

If any country you intend to travel to is under a level 3 or 4 advisory on the State Departments travel advisory then this may be a problem with some life insurance companies depending on exactly where you're going, why you're going there and for how long you're going.    

If you are only considering going somewhere, but have not yet reserved and booked your trip, then DO NOT say yes to foreign travel on any life insurance application.  

This does not mean you cannot travel to location after you place a life insurance policy in force, it only means that the trip was not booked or reserved prior to you paying for a new policy.

Mental health and life insurance

Use of anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medications are a consideration for every life insurance company nowadays.  

Many carriers will automatically preclude anyone taking these medications from their Preferred Plus and Preferred rate categories, but not all will.

Suicide attempts and even thoughts of suicide mentions in medical records, can impact your ability to qualify for ANY life insurance for long periods of time.    

There are carriers that are better for ALL of these "alternate" underwriting issues issues, but finding the BEST carriers can require some work on our part!!

What can you do if offered a higher life insurance rate?

If you're offered a higher rate, have the policy issued even if you do not intend to accept it.

If the agent tries to get you to pay for the policy prior to sending to you, tell them you want to review it first.  You are entitled to review the insurance policy, prior to paying for it. 

If you must make a payment and agent won't send to you unless you do, pay monthly and then cancel policy upon receipt as there is free-look period for which every insurance company will refund 100% of what you paid initially.  

You are under no obligation to keep any insurance policy

REASON for having policy issued: the insurance medical questionnaire will usually be attached to the policy.  With copy of this medical questionnaire and copy of your insurance exam lab results, if you did have a free exam, we can easily get you other offers without requiring you to be examined again!

If you'd just like an accurate, no hassle quote, simply click on button below and we'll send you quotes: 

Or simply call or text us at 800-380-3533 or email us and we’ll help find you the absolute best life insurance rate and value!! 

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