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You know the rates I’m talking about. You see them advertised everywhere and it makes it seem as though life insurance is almost free, simply there for the picking. In the industry those rates are called things like preferred plus, preferred elite, select preferred, or jokingly, Superman rates.

The question really revolves around whether you do, in fact, have to be superman or woman to get those rates? Is perfect health required? Do companies go out of their way once you have applied to find a way to disqualify you? If the truth was really known, would they actually bump Superman out because of his genetic weakness to kryptonite or because he is a private pilot (of sorts)?

OK! Let’s cut to the core of this question. All people do not qualify for those “best rate class” rates. Those who call up with diabetes, a history of depression, or heart disease and get all indignant because they don’t qualify are, well, living in la la land. Life insurance underwriting is to the best of its’ ability a measure of mortality risk. People with health issues and especially health issues with obvious mortality assumptions will be asked to pay a higher rate than those with no health issues.

There are a few health issues that balance in between. High blood pressure is one of those. Most companies will not allow their best rate class if you are treated for high blood pressure. High blood pressure of course has links to heart attacks and stroke. There are a few companies, two that I know of, that will allow their best rate with blood pressure treatment as long as the treatment is working and the blood pressure is well controlled.

Cholesterol is probably a better example as companies seem to be split about 50/50 on cholesterol treatment. About half seem to think it is OK to be treated with good control and the other half think you should pay more because of the cholesterol link to heart disease and heart attacks.

So, the question is “do you have to be in perfect health”? The answer is not cut and dried, but I would say no. We’ve placed a lot of best rate class life insurance on people with less than perfect health. Can you stretch that very far? NO!

Bottom line. Once again the edge for you goes to the independent agent. If you are locked into one company the chances of catching a break is slim to none. Be forthcoming and straightforward about any medications you take and past or present health issues you have and tell your agent that your goal is the best possible rates that you qualify for. Be realistic and you won’t be disappointed.