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When it comes to reasons why life insurance quotes change, right up there with being 10 pounds off on knowing your true weight, is not having a clue what your cholesterol is and finding out on the exam that it’s out of whack.

So what’s the fuss with cholesterol? Growing up in the 60’s and 70’s you never heard anyone talk about high cholesterol. Of course people were falling over left and right due to heart attacks, but back then we all assumed that there must just be some major flaw in hearts in general. People with flawed hearts had attacks and if you didn’t have a flaw, you didn’t.

The whole concept of cholesterol, good cholesterol (hdl), bad cholesterol (ldl) and triglycerides (MCBS, multiple cheeseburger syndrome) caught us all off guard. It was no longer a genetic flaw in our heart, but rather our own behavior, or a genetic predisposition to out of whack lipids that was causing our hearts to, well, just stop.

Life insurance underwriters didn’t miss this one. Remember, the life insurance business is all about risk estimation and with cholesterol it became something of a no brainer. If your cholesterol was high and your good cholesterol was too low to offset it, your chances of having a heart attack were significantly higher.

Obviously the American Heart Association has a few things to say about cholesterol. It seems for them, and I guess it’s obvious, the best thing you can do is keep track of it (yes guys, that means we have to get checkups).

The great thing is that our country is riddled with easy to use health fairs. No doctor, usually no appointment and once a year you can find out where all of your labs stand. Knowing that your cholesterol is creeping up before it gets too high can actually keep you from having to medically treat it. Often a change of diet, or some moderate exercise, or some needed weight loss will bring those numbers right back into line.

How much do you know about cholesterol? Take this quick quiz from the American Heart Association. You might be surprised.

What does elevated cholesterol mean to your life insurance rates? Just a quick sample of rates for a 50 year old guy. Applying for $250,000 of 20 year term we will assume that the only thing out of whack is his total cholesterol. No other risk factors. I will use a middle of the road company in the cholesterol corner, Banner Life.

1. Cholesterol under 220, rate is $515 annually
2. Cholesterol over 220, under 250, rate is $612 annually
3. cholesterol over 250, under 280, rate is $795 annually
4. Cholesterol over 280, under 300, rate is $927 annually

Bottom line. Cholesterol, like any other risk factor such as blood pressure, glucose, or PSA are worthy of an occasional check. Might just keep you around longer. Also, if you have borderline high cholesterol or treated cholesterol, don’t go to your local American Family or Farmer’s agent for life insurance. You need an independent agent to guide you to the best rates.