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In general, insurance companies look at two things: whether an applicant's siblings or parents died of a genetic disease and at what age they passed away. The main four health concerns insurers consider are all types of cancers, coronary artery disease, cardiovascular attack, and Type 2 diabetes. If any of an applicant's immediate family members, which would include parents and siblings, have been affected by these health issues, the applicant may experience an increase in premium rates.
What's more, age plays a major factor. If a family member dies of one of these conditions before 60, a person's insurance classification will be affected. It may seem absurd that the difference between age 59 and 60 would make that much difference, but that's how insurance companies work. Some have different cutoff dates than others, such as cutting off the age at 65 instead of 60, but they all work the same way. Once a family member has died before that cutoff age, premiums go up.
It seems like a healthy family history would make one's rates reduced, but this isn't the case. Even if a policyholder's grandparents lived to the ripe old age of 100, they won't get any rewards that would count toward a better classification.
Depending on the insurer, some gender-specific diseases like breast cancer or testicular cancer do not count against the classification when an applicant is not the same gender that was affected. For example, if a man's mother died from breast cancer, he most likely won't see increased premiums because breast cancer is unlikely to affect his health.
For those who have a poor family history, it's important to stay physically fit, eat right, and maintain any existing health conditions. Doing so can help keep those life insurance rates as low as possible, even when someone doesn't qualify for the best rates.