When completing a health interview before receiving a life insurance quote from your independent life insurance agent, you will be asked a family history question. Most companies want to know if any member of your immediate family (defined as mother, father and full siblings) has had an occurrence of heart disease or cancer prior to their age 60. Some companies go a little further and include type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes and ask about disease prior to age 70.

If the answer is yes to any of those, your agent will ask about that family member and whether they survived whatever illness occurred prior to that age. If you were keeping score, in general an occurrence of disease before 60 would be one strike and a death prior to 60 would be 2 strikes. With each of those you would normally take a one rate class bump up in your life insurance quotes.

Often argued is the relevance if the person being interviewed is healthy, a non smoker and non drinker, and we are discussing a parent who died of a heart attack at, say, age 55 of a heart attack when they were obese, and drank and smoked like there was no tomorrow. While those risk factors certainly contribute to coronary artery disease, there are certain hereditary factors that can also make a person with a great life style susceptible to the same problem. Bottom line from an underwriting standpoint, while that parent didn’t do themselves any favors with the bad habits, is there any proof that they would not have had the heart attack anyway?

A good independent agent can help you navigate toward the company that will be best for you based on family history. There are companies that don’t look at family history of cancer. There are companies that don’t care about occurrences, only deaths. There are companies that, even though a family member died prior to 60, will throw that out if you are past age 60.  There are a few companies that will only bump you one rate class if there has only been one immediate family death prior to 60. Why an independent agent? Folks, you aren’t going to get those options with your local State Farm or Farm Bureau agent. If your agent doesn’t have options you will never know they exist.

In summary, family history will remain a part of life insurance underwriting, so seek an agent who knows how to get you the absolute best rate anyway.

This post is somewhat dated. Life insurance underwriting is changing and evolving continually. For more updated information check out some of the key word links. If you have a specific question or topic you need information for do a search. If you don’t find the answers you need contact me and we’ll make sure you get the information that is important to you.