The top health hazards that make life insurance expensive

A couple in their golden years are seated in lawn chairs. Standing behind them is a man in a business suit – an implied life insurance agent – is holding a umbrella over the couple's heads.

Will that umbrella still be there if he has a heart attack? (Photo Credit: CC BY-ND/Affordable Life Insurance Policy)

Which health conditions are most likely to send your life insurance premiums skyrocketing? asked New York Life’s chief underwriter Stephen Bloom and chief medical officer Dr. Jacki Goldstein for some of the top health hazards as they would get started to life insurance for a 40-year-old man. Here is their tale of the unhealthy red tape.

High blood pressure

High blood pressure can lead to a host of organ diseases, said Goldstein. Coronary artery disease, stroke and kidney damage are just a few. While life insurance industry underwriters show the most favor to those who control their blood pressure, people with high blood pressure may still qualify for a preferred policy, as long as they’re taking steps to manage it.

“Different carriers have different categories of preferred, but yes, high blood pressure that is well-managed, most carriers would have that qualified for preferred,” said Goldstein.

Type 2 diabetes

Adult onset diabetes (Type 2) takes a toll on the body’s vascular system, with coronary artery disease, renal failure and blindness being some of the potential risks. If a Type 2 diabetes sufferer is younger, the potential for higher life insurance premiums increases because the condition generally does not improve with time.

“If I get diabetes at age 70, I might already have coronary artery disease or a stroke anyway, so the impact of the diabetes might not affect my life expectancy in the way it might a 40-year-old. A 40-year-old is unlikely to qualify for preferred in my experience,” Goldstein told Bankrate.

Heart disease

A massive heart attack relates to a host of heart conditions that can be difficult to document, which makes a life insurance underwriter’s job more difficult. If the situation is indeed severe, the person may not be insurable, says Bloom.

“We do consider family history in our underwriting assessments,” Bloom said. “Generally, this is associated with immediate family members — father, mother, sister, brother — who may have developed heart disease or had a stroke.


The chronic respiratory condition asthma can, while rare, lead to death if not carefully controlled. If it is carefully controlled, a preferred life insurance rate class is not out of the question.

“For the most part, asthma will be extremely favorably underwritten,” said Goldstein.


Depending upon the type and severity of the cancer involved, life insurance premiums can be affected to a negligible degree or quite severely. According to Bloom, if New York Life were to underwrite a policy for a cancer patient, the company would want to monitor the patient for six months to a year before making a policy decision.

“Cancer conditions may require a longer period of time depending on the location of the cancer, the staging and type of treatment involved,” he said.

More of the top health risks for life insurance are cataloged at


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