Cholesterol, as I’ve mentioned before, is one of the two leading causes of surprise insurance quote changes. The other is not really knowing what your weight is. A good guess only lasts until the examiner pulls out the scale. But, are insurance companies treating cholesterol, and especially the cholesterol ratio (total cholesterol divided by good cholesterol, HDL) fairly?

Well guys, I wouldn’t have brought this up if I thought the answer was yes. Let’s look at average guidelines for cholesterol and cholesterol ratios. For this example I’ll use American General as a kind of conservative company with a mildly innovative way of looking at the issue.

For their best rate class you need a total cholesterol of 205 if you have a ratio of 5. They will allow as high as 240 total if your ratio is 4.5.

For their second best rate you need a total of 235 and a ratio of no more than 6, or you can be as high as 260 with a ration of 5.5.

For their standard rate classes you need to have a total of 250 and ratio of no more than 7, or up to 280 with a ration of no more than6.5.

Their take on the good effects of HDL is somewhat in line with the American Heart Association but to my way of thinking, only holds out a part of a carrot. I believe there should be more reward for a low cholesterol ratio.

Looking at the best rate class, they hold out the tiny carrot of your cholesterol ratio being 4.5. The American Heart Association says that a ratio of 2 or 3 dramatically lessens your chances of getting stung by heart disease. So, why don’t insurance companies look at the actual picture and not cap it at convenient round numbers? If my total cholesterol is 275 and my ratio is 2.5, I should present a better risk to American General than someone with a total of 260 and a ratio of 5.5. Truth is I should, medically speaking, be better off or at least on equal footing with the best rate 240 total with a ratio of 4.5.

Bottom line. We have successfully argued better rates in a few cases, but life insurance companies really don’t want to bend. They have this insane fear that the whole system will break down if logic is applied. If your cholesterol is above 200 and you have a great ratio, seek out an independent agent who can find those few hold out underwriters who will still occasionally peek outside the box.

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