What Are The Different Health Classifications For Life Insurance?

Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

In life insurance, there are four different classifications. They determine how much it costs to get a life insurance policy.

  • Preferred Plus
  • Preferred
  • Standard Plus
  • Standard

Substandard or table ratings are a broader category that includes people who don’t match any other classification.

Most companies have a category just for people who smoke.

Preferred Plus

This is the best health rating. You are in good health. You have a good height-to-weight ratio, and your family history is healthy too.


Outside of a few minor details, you are in very good health. You will not get the same rate as someone with Preferred Plus coverage, but it is still better than third place.

Standard Plus

You are in good health, but you might have a few things you need to keep an eye on. Your height-to-weight ratio does not fall into the range that people want for Preferred insurance plans, so you may have to pay more. The family history is also good.


You have a less ideal height/weight ratio, an average life expectancy, or your medical exam came back with a few flags. In this class, you will see higher life insurance premiums but you can still get insured.

Table ratings

Your health history is complicated, and you might have had some recent health problems.

How are life insurance classifications determined?

Insurance companies give you a policy based on the probability of paying out. They do this by looking at how healthy you are and what your health class is. For example, if you have a lot of health problems or take a lot of medicine, they will make sure to give you a higher risk classification so that they can charge more for:

Each insurance company has its own criteria for assessing the significance of each component and how it affects your classification, which is why you’ll probably get different quotations from insurance company to insurance company.

Common Factors Determining Health Classifications

Here are some of the most important things that will determine your classification.

Health status

You will have to take a medical exam. But you might not need one if you meet the requirements of the accelerated underwriting process. This includes answering questions about your current health status, like whether or not you smoke.

The insurance company might ask your doctor to write a statement about your health.

Height and weight

Each insurance company has a Build Table that decides what your health class is. This table is based on how tall you are and how much you weigh.

Tobacco use

Regular smoking will make it more expensive for you to buy life insurance. You might pay three times as much as a non-smoker.

Alcohol and drug abuse

Don’t worry about the costs of your insurance. You can have a beer once in a while. Insurance companies will take your health classification into account, but if you drink occasionally, it won’t make much difference.

Marijuana is now legal in many states. But not all insurers offer non-smoker rates for people who smoke marijuana. Insurers do this regardless of the law in each state.

Family health history

When you go to the doctor for an evaluation, the underwriting team will ask if anyone in your family has been diagnosed with or treated for cancer. This is because there might be cancer in the family and it needs to be found out.

  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disease 

Health history is a big thing for life insurance. If someone in your family has an illness or disease, it might make it hard to buy life insurance. Especially if someone close died before they were 60 years old.


The insurance company evaluates how risky your lifestyle is based on details like: 

  • Driving record (DUI, DWI, suspended license)
  • Hobbies (skydiving, bungee jumping, etc.)
  • Occupation (pilot, veteran, etc.)

Criminal history

It is not a problem if you have a misdemeanor. However, if you have a felony, you should wait to apply for life insurance so that your classification isn’t Standard or Substandard and the insurance is more expensive.

How to pass a life insurance medical exam and get a better life insurance classification

  • Your life insurance classification is how you will be classified and the final determinant of your premium. How do I get the best rates for my life insurance?
  • Apply today: Every year you put off applying for life insurance, your rates will go up 4.5-9%. So if you apply when you are young, you can save a lot of money.
  • Stop smoking: If you quit smoking, then you can get affordable rates.
  • Get healthier:
  • Lose weight before applying
  • Fast before the exam
  • Drinks lots of water
  • Avoid intense workouts
  • Detox from drugs and alcohol
  • Quit smoking
  • Come prepared with your medical background
  • Dress lightly (less weight when measuring your weight)

Find The Best Life Insurance Coverage At The Cheapest Cost!

Compare life insurance quotes from 25 companies in seconds. Then, apply for coverage in less than 10 minutes.

Skip The Exam, Get Coverage Instantly.

Apply for affordable insurance with no medical exams. Then, apply for same-day coverage in less than 10 minutes. A+ rated companies.

Need Help Getting Life Insurance Coverage?

Feel free to contact us if you need help purchasing a life insurance policy. The service is free of charge.

Life Insurance Inquiry

Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

I’m a licensed financial professional focusing on annuities and insurance for more than a decade. My former role was training financial advisors, including for a Fortune Global 500 insurance company. I’ve been featured in Time Magazine, Yahoo! Finance, MSN, SmartAsset, Entrepreneur, Bloomberg, The Simple Dollar, U.S. News and World Report, and Women’s Health Magazine.

The Annuity Expert is an online insurance agency servicing consumers across the United States. My goal is to help you take the guesswork out of retirement planning or find the best insurance coverage at the cheapest rates for you. 

Scroll to Top