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They’re the rates you see advertised all the time and they are definitely the rates that everyone would like to be paying for their life insurance coverage. But do you qualify?

First let’s dispel with a few old myths. Your age and the amount of insurance have nothing at all to do with whether you qualify for the best rate class. Being younger doesn’t make you better qualified and asking for more insurance doesn’t mean you are less likely to be approved for the best rates. What matters is your health history, your family history and your lifestyle.

Build matters. Every company has a build chart. 5’5″ and 160 pounds gets the best rates, 190 pounds doesn’t. 5’10” and 190 pounds gets the best rates, 210 pounds doesn’t. Life insurance companies are more lenient than the standard BMI charts, but they are there and underwriters are serious about them. They know there is a link between obesity and any number of health issues with high mortality experience such as diabetes, heart disease or cancer.

Your lab results, both blood and urine have to be in the normal range. If you haven’t been to a health fair or had a physical with blood and urine profiles, you may be in for a surprise when you apply for life insurance. It is fairly common for people to discover their perceived perfection is flawed when they are faced with the reality of lab results. Cholesterol, liver functions and glucose (blood sugar) are just a few that pop up and surprise people.

Your family history matters. If you had a parent die before age 60 of a heart attack or stroke, underwriters aren’t going to lend a sympathetic ear to your tales of your parent’s lifestyle. They will look you straight in the face and tell you that in spite of the fact that your father weighed 400 pounds and smoked and drank and never exercised, they don’t have any proof that he wasn’t predisposed genetically to heart disease.

They will look at your driving record. They will ask about any past drug or alcohol treatment. They’ll ask about your hobbies and they, not you, gets to decide if it’s risky. They’ll ask about foreign travel and again, they decide if what you do is risky.

Bottom line. The best rates in life insurance are worth shooting for, but before you get your heart set on them you might want to have a serious talk with an independent agent and see if you are really going to stack up.