Everything You Need to Know About Life Insurance Rate Classes

Chris Riley

Chris Riley

Chris is the Founder and CEO of USA Rx. Chris has led the USA Rx team to continue to push for further transparency and more savings options in the U.S. prescription marketplace for the Diabetes community. With COVID-19 transforming and normalizing how consumers view and use digital health, Chris led the transformation of the USA Rx brand to a digital health marketplace.

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Last Updated on September 24, 2023

In the process of determining the cost of your life insurance coverage, you have probably come across the term – Life Insurance Rate Class, also known as the Health Ratings. When anyone applies for life insurance coverage, the insurance company uses the life insurance rate class in order to decide the risk that he or she poses to them. They then use this to determine how much premium to charge the applicant.

People who live with a type of diabetes will oftentimes have a ‘table rating’ assigned to their profile.  Almost every person with type 1 diabetes will be table rated in the eyes of the underwriter.  Now if you live with type 2, or gestational diabetes, you may not be assigned a table rating and may qualify for Standard rates or even Preferred ratings.

A variety of different parameters go into determining the premium one has to pay for life insurance. The process of reviewing your profile is known as underwriting.  These parameters include the amount as well as the type of coverage one is applying for. Apart from these factors, the premium rates are also decided by things like the applicant’s age, their anticipated life expectancy, gender, weight, height and most importantly, their overall health status.

Life insurance premium rates also consider factors like lifestyle choices, for example- whether the applicant smokes and whether they take part in activities like rock climbing, scuba diving, etc. which are considered as ‘risky’.  In the event you fall outside of an insurance company’s underwriting parameters, you’ll be declined for coverage.

Depending on their health, an insurance company will classify an applicant into different rate classes which will determine their life insurance policy premium. Every life insurance company has their own specific underwriting guidelines.  Which means one company could charge you 50% more for the same type of policy.  Obviously, it wouldn’t be a wise financial decision to pay more for life insurance, than you actually have to.  Lean on our expertise, and let us help you find the best possible policy that’ll protect your family today.

What are the different life insurance rate classes?

Rate classification differs from one insurance company to the next. However, most companies follow the following basic health ratings:

Preferred Best or Preferred Plus

This is the best rate class an applicant can get. It requires you to be in extremely good health apart from also falling into the above-average weight and height range in order to be qualified into this category. Being a part of the Preferred Best rate class means you need to pay the lowest premium.

If you have type 2 diabetes or type 1 diabetes, you’ll never qualify for these types of rates.  Now if you have a history of gestational diabetes, it’s quite possible you may be considered for this underwriting classification.


In order to be in the Preferred health class, you’re still required to be in excellent health although minor health issues like your cholesterol being slightly above the ideal range will be allowed.  If you are a well controlled type 2 diabetic, there’s a chance you could achieve Preferred ratings.  Same goes for a person with gestational diabetes history.

Sadly, if you live with type 1 diabetes, you will never receive a Preferred rating as companies will view your health profile as a higher risk.  While we tend to disagree that people with type 1 diabetes are a higher risk, underwriting departments are simply not underwriting you in the same manner as a person with type 2 diabetes.

Standard Plus

Here, again, you’re required to be in good health to be a part of the Standard Plus rate class. However, issues slightly more severe than that in the Preferred class are allowed like being slightly overweight or having high blood pressure (although nothing severe).

Again, those with type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes may qualify for this rating.  It’s honestly not too difficult to receive these rates, when you’re working with us.  We know what companies are favorable, and which ones will offer the most competitive priced policies.


Applicants who are in average health fall into this rate classification. It is the ‘Standard’ class because those who belong here have an average life expectancy within their gender and age. Applicants within this class generally have mild health issues like being overweight and could have a parent who had a terminal disease like stroke or cancer.

Assuming your diabetes is under pretty good control, and you do not have any diabetes related complications, nor other health issues, people with type 2 and gestational diabetes usually get approved for Standard rates.  Now if you have type 1 diabetes, it is highly doubtful you’ll be approved at this classification.  However, if you’re one of the rare individuals diagnosed with type 1 diabetes after age 50, we’ve seen Standard ratings be offered on a case by case basis.

Preferred Tobacco User

Using Tobacco products is known to decrease the life expectancy of an individual significantly and for this reason, if you’re a smoker, expect to pay 2-3 times the premium a non-smoker would have to pay. However, if you’re a smoker but are in excellent health, then you are classified into the Preferred Smoker class.

We’ll note the use of Tobacco products and diabetes do not ‘mix’.  Companies will view you as a higher ‘risk’ if you’re using cigarettes.  Now there are some companies who will not rate you higher if you’re using chewing tobacco, or smoking a pipe on a regular basis.  If your diabetes control is well managed, you may qualify for non tobacco rates.

Standard Tobacco User

If you’re a Tobacco user or a smoker and are in average health (where a non-smoker of your health status would be in the Standard rate class), you belong to the Standard Smoker rate class.  Again, having a form of diabetes in addition to using Tobacco products will not be viewed favorably by an underwriter.  Chewing tobacco, or using a pipe on a regular basis will be accepted by certain companies without adding additional rates.  You’ll have fewer life insurance options if you’re a diabetic in combination with being a tobacco user.

Substandard Rate Class

If you’re in bad health or have a life-threatening disease, you fall into the Substandard Rate Class – where your anticipated life expectancy is below average. Not being in the best of health doesn’t mean that you cannot qualify for insurance at all. In most cases, you will be required to pay a higher premium. You could also consider getting a Guaranteed Issue life insurance policy where your health isn’t considered as a factor in the underwriting process.

The majority of type 1 diabetics will fall into this category, and you’ll most likely have higher priced premiums.  Substandard ratings are assigned once your complete health profile is reviewed, and will range from Table A to Table J with most life insurance companies.  The higher the ‘Letter’ or rating assigned to your profile, the higher your premiums for life insurance will be.

What is a life insurance Table Rating?

Life insurance companies use table rates in order to determine your premium amount depending on which rate class you fall into. The Standard rate class is considered as the base and if your health is above average, you pay a lower percentage of the standard premium, and vice versa.

Each rate class is usually assigned a letter or a number which determines how much extra premium percentage (which is usually 25%) will be added on top of the standard premium. For example, if you belong to Table 2, then the insurance company may charge you 2 x 25% = 50% extra on the standard premium.  Your health profile, including detailed diabetes history ultimately determines your final rates.

Here are some sample criteria that companies will use to determine what table rating classification you’ll fall into:

These are just some sample health information underwriters will use.  If you wish to get a better understanding of EVERYTHING a company will review to determine your final rates, simply contact us and we’ll go into further detail with you.

What is a Flat Extra rate?

A flat extra rate is a fixed extra amount that the insurance company may charge you with temporarily due to a certain health condition that you have. For example, if you are a cancer survivor, you may be charged an extra $10 for every $1000 coverage for a fixed period of 5 years. Once you live past that time period, that flat extra rate is dropped off.

Good news for people with diabetes. Very rarely will you have a ‘flat extra’ rate assigned to your policy.  The only times we see this is if there’s some extreme underlying health issues, in addition to having a form of diabetes.  Or if searching for coverage on a child with type 1 diabetes, you could expect to have a flat extra assigned to the policy.

How to determine your life insurance health class?

Are you wondering which life insurance rate class you fall into and therefore how much premium you will be required to pay? The fact is that your rate class can be determined only after the completion of the underwriting process.  It’s best to contact us, or to fill out an initial quote request.  Once we know more about your personal health profile, we can provide some real and accurate quotes for you to review.  Without supplying this information, it’ll be impossible to determine what possible rates you’ll be eligible for.

However, if you’re trying to find your expected premium rate so that you can get the best deal, it’s a good idea to check with several life insurance companies and compare their quotes. You could also use the help of an insurance broker who has access to a number of different life insurance policies and can suggest to you which one would be the best for your specific situation.  This is what we do for people with diabetes every day.  We’ll be your personal life insurance shopper!

At Diabetes Life Solutions, we have affiliations with over 80 of the best life insurance companies which means that we can get you your life insurance at the best price to fit within your budget and financial goals.  Since we only work with people with diabetes, there’s nobody who’s more focused on finding the best life insurance policies than us.

The fact of the matter is that life insurance companies charge different rates even while following the same underwriting process for the same coverage type and amount. Hence, it is important for you to compare different quotes, and at Diabetes Life Solutions, we can do all the heavy lifting for you!  When working with us, we’ll make recommendations that are in your best interest, and we promise to be honest in our unbiased recommendations.

Matt Schmidt is a nationally licensed diabetes insurance expert. Over this time frame he's helped out over 10,000 clients secure life insurance coverage with Diabetes. He's frequently authors content to Forbes, Entrepreneur, The Simple Dollar, GoBanking Rates, MSN, Insurancenews.net, and Yahoo Finance and many more.

Matt Schmidt is also the Co-Founder of Diabetes Life Solutions and Licensed Insurance agent. He’s been working with the Diabetes community for over 18 years to find consumers the best life insurance policies.  Since 2011, he has been a qualified non-member of MDRT, the most prestigious life insurance trade organization in the USA

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