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Life Insurance with High Cholesterol in Canada

Life Insurance with High Cholesterol in Canada
Life Insurance with High Cholesterol in Canada

High cholesterol is one of the most prevalent medical conditions among Canadians. If you have been diagnosed with high cholesterol, obtaining affordable life insurance may be a top concern.

While high cholesterol can impact your eligibility and premiums, coverage is still attainable. This comprehensive guide will provide Canadians with everything you need to know about getting life insurance with high cholesterol.

Understanding High Cholesterol in Canada

Let’s start by understanding what high cholesterol is and its health implications.

What is High Cholesterol?

High cholesterol means your LDL (low-density lipoprotein) or “bad” cholesterol levels are elevated, causing too much cholesterol in your bloodstream.

According to HealthLink BC, total cholesterol levels above 5.2 mmol/L are considered high for Canadians. Ideal levels are below 5.2 mmol/L. (source:

High cholesterol typically develops gradually over many years and does not have apparent symptoms. It can only be detected through a blood test called a lipoprotein profile.

If untreated, high cholesterol forms plaque on artery walls, raising your risk of heart attack and stroke. Over the long term, it contributes to coronary heart disease, heart failure, arrhythmias, and other cardiovascular conditions.

Prevalence of High Cholesterol in Canada

High cholesterol is widespread among Canadian adults. Here are some statistics:

  • Approximately 41% of adults had a high total cholesterol level
  • High cholesterol is more common in men than women.
  • Rates of high cholesterol increase sharply with age
  • 27% of those aged 20 to 39 had high levels of total cholesterol; but this increased to 47% and 54% among those aged 40 to 59 and 60 to 79, respectively.


With high cholesterol impacting millions of Canadians, it is no wonder life insurance companies pay close attention to cholesterol levels.

Health Risks of High Cholesterol

What exactly concerns high cholesterol from a life insurance perspective? Here are some of the significant health implications:

Heart Disease and Heart Attack

High LDL cholesterol is a primary risk factor for coronary artery disease. Plaque narrows arteries supplying oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle, which can cause chest pain and heart attack.


Plaque can also accumulate in the arteries, supplying blood to the brain and restricting oxygen, leading to stroke. High cholesterol accounts for over one-third of strokes in Canada.

Read more : Life Insurance for Stroke Survivors


Over time, uncontrolled high cholesterol causes hardening and narrowing of all arteries. This condition is called atherosclerosis and can lead to severe organ damage.

Heart Failure

Impaired blood flow to the heart due to blocked cardiac arteries can weaken the heart muscle. This loss of pumping ability is called heart failure, a debilitating and potentially fatal condition.


Insufficient blood supply to the heart may precipitate electrical disturbances, giving rise to irregular heart rhythms, medically referred to as arrhythmias. Some types are life-threatening.

Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)

Plaque buildup from high cholesterol also gradually blocks arteries supplying the legs, arms, and pelvis. PAD causes limb pain and poor wound healing.

High cholesterol substantially increases morbidity and mortality if left unmanaged. Understanding these elevated health risks explains why life insurers emphasize cholesterol control.

How Insurers Assess Life Insurance with High Cholesterol in Canada

How Insurers Assess Life Insurance with High Cholesterol in Canada
How Insurers Assess Life Insurance with High Cholesterol in Canada

When reviewing a life insurance application, underwriters extensively evaluate your cholesterol profile along with other medical and lifestyle factors.

Cholesterol Test Results

Insurers will thoroughly analyze results from your latest lipoprotein profile blood work. Here are the key components they evaluate:

Total Cholesterol

Total Cholesterol LevelInterpretation
Below 5.2 mmol/LDesirable
5.2 – 6.2 mmol/LBorderline High
Above 6.2 mmol/LHigh
Over 6.2 mmol/L will likely lead to higher premiums


LDL Cholesterol

  • Below 3.5 mmol/L – Optimal
  • 3.5 to 4.9 mmol/L – Above ideal
  • Above 4.9 mmol/L – High
LDL Cholesterol LevelInterpretation
Below 3.5 mmol/LIdeal
3.5 to 4.9 mmol/LAbove ideal
Above 4.9 mmol/LHigh
LDL above 3.5 mmol/L raises concerns

HDL Cholesterol

HDL Cholesterol LevelInterpretation
Over 2.0 mmol/LBest
1.3 to 2.0 mmol/LBetter
1.0 to 1.3 mmol/LGood
Under 1.0 mmol/LPoor
HDL below 1.0 mmol/L may negatively impact rates


  • Below 1.7 mmol/L – Desirable
  • 1.7 to 2.2 mmol/L – Borderline high
  • Over 2.2. mmol/L – High

Triglycerides above 1.7 mmol/L could mean higher premiums


Total/HDL Ratio

  • Below 3.5 – Ideal
  • 3.5 to 5.0 – Borderline high
  • Over 5.0 – High

Ratios above 3.5 increase concerns over heart disease risk


Meeting optimal levels for all indexes results in the best life insurance rates. But even mild elevations could impact your policy pricing and eligibility.

Age of Diagnosis and Duration

Underwriters also consider the age when you were first diagnosed with high cholesterol along with the total duration:

  • Developing high cholesterol early in life (under age 45) increases mortality risk perception
  • Longer duration (10+ years) with elevated cholesterol typically means higher premiums
  • Recent diagnoses may have less impact if aggressively treated

Co-existing Medical Conditions

High cholesterol often accompanies other conditions that compound heart disease risk, including:

  • Obesity (BMI over 30)
  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Kidney disease
  • Hypothyroidism

The presence of any co-morbidities in addition to high cholesterol will result in stricter underwriting.

Family History

Insurers will thoroughly investigate your family history of cardiovascular disease. Premature heart disease in close relatives (under age 60) raises concerns that high cholesterol could be more deadly.

Smoking Status

Since tobacco use already substantially increases mortality on its own, smoking, in addition to high cholesterol, is viewed very unfavourably. Expect rated policies or denials if both risk factors are present.

Overall Health Profile

While reviewing cholesterol test results is pivotal, underwriters also evaluate your overall health based on:

  • Blood pressure readings
  • BMI and weight trends
  • Other lab results like A1C for diabetics
  • Medication history
  • Medical complications and hospitalizations

Documenting that all other aspects of your health are well-managed and controlled can help offset high cholesterol risk.

Types of Life Insurance with High Cholesterol in Canada

Types of Life Insurance with High Cholesterol in Canada
life buzz quote in canada new 8 1
Types of Life Insurance with High Cholesterol in Canada

If you have high cholesterol, coverage is still available. However, your policy type choices and rates may be impacted:

Term Life Insurance

Term life insurance provides pure death benefit protection for a specific period, such as 10, 20, or 30 years, without building cash value over time. Term life is the most widely available and affordable type of policy for high cholesterol patients:

  • Premiums simply get locked in for the length of the term.
  • Underwriting is required, but eligibility is pretty broad.
  • You can match the term length to your specific needs.
  • Excellent for mortgage protection or family income replacement.
  • Some policies allow you to renew later without new medical exams.

Expect to pay between 15% to 40% higher premiums compared to healthy individuals when getting term life insurance with high cholesterol.

Whole Life Insurance

If you pay the premiums, whole life insurance offers permanent lifetime protection. It also contains an investment or cash value component that grows tax-deferred.

Whole life advantages include:

  • Lifelong death benefit guarantee
  • Accessible cash value during your lifetime
  • Insurance coverage cannot be cancelled because of changes in health.
  • Premiums remain fixed year after year

The significant downsides are the high upfront cost and limited control over your cash value growth:

  • Premiums are 6 to 10 times higher than term life insurance
  • Projected dividends from the insurer may fall short
  • Cashing out early can trigger surrender charges

Overall rating increases for cholesterol patients may range from 25% to 100% above standard rates when applying for whole life insurance.

Universal Life Insurance

Universal Life offers permanent lifetime coverage similar to Whole Life but with more flexibility and transparency:

  • Allows you to adjust the death benefit and premiums
  • The growth of the cash value depends on the current interest rates.
  • More control over how premiums get allocated
  • No hidden fees or surrender charges

As with whole life, universal life premiums can be 50% to 100% higher for applicants with high cholesterol compared to healthy individuals.

Guaranteed and Simplified Issue Life Insurance

If denied for medically underwritten life insurance, guaranteed issue and simplified issue policies represent an option for obtaining some minimal coverage:

  • Minimal underwriting (or none at all)
  • Fast approval decisions in days or weeks
  • No medical exams required
  • Coverage amounts up to $50,000

The advantages come at the cost of higher premiums and typically a two-year contestability window. But for high-risk cases, these non-med policies may be the only viable option.

Read more: Life insurance in Canada

What Impacts Life Insurance with High Cholesterol Rates

The severity of your high cholesterol diagnosis and your efforts to control it through treatment and lifestyle have a direct impact on the ratings you can qualify for.

Potential Ratings

Preferred or Preferred Plus

Borderline total cholesterol between 200 and 230 mg/dL may qualify for preferred rates, assuming no other major risk factors exist. This indicates a minimal impact from your condition.

Standard Rating

Well-managed high cholesterol patients with total cholesterol less than 250 mg/dL often receive standard rates. This means premiums are 0% to 25% higher than for healthy policyholders.

Table Rating

Table ratings apply to more severe cases of high cholesterol. Depending on exact cholesterol levels and overall health, table ratings range from Table 2 (50% increase) to Table 6 (150% increase).


Total cholesterol exceeding 300 mg/dL, along with poorly controlled co-morbidities like diabetes, may result in a declined application. High-risk cases will need to explore guaranteed issue life insurance options.

Improving Your Risk Profile

Here are some tips for getting your high cholesterol under control to qualify for the best life insurance rates possible:

  • Follow your prescribed treatment plan and take your medications as directed.
  • Attain and maintain a healthy body weight
  • Exercise aerobically for 30+ minutes at least five days per week
  • Follow a heart-healthy, low-fat, high-fiber diet
  • Limit alcohol intake to moderate levels
  • Quit smoking and avoid secondhand smoke
  • Reduce stress through yoga, meditation, or counselling
  • Have cholesterol re-tested after 3-6 months of enhanced management

Documenting improvement through new cholesterol tests, lab results, and physician records can justify improved insurer risk ratings.

Sample Questions on Life Insurance with High Cholesterol Applications

When applying for life insurance, you will be asked detailed questions about your high cholesterol diagnosis. Here are some examples:

  • At what age were you first diagnosed with high cholesterol?
  • What was your total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, and triglycerides on your most recent test?
  • Are you currently taking any medications to control your cholesterol? If so, please list dosage information.
  • Have you ever been prescribed any other cholesterol medications in the past?
  • Do you have a family history of heart disease? If so, at what age did it manifest?
  • Are you following the treatment plan recommended by your doctor?
  • What specific lifestyle changes have you made regarding diet and exercise?
  • Have you experienced any heart problems or related complications from your high cholesterol?
  • Do you smoke or use any nicotine products?

Always answer questions completely and truthfully. Disclosing your condition upfront leads to the best outcome, even if it means higher rates. Non-disclosure is considered fraud and grounds for rescinding your policy.

How to Buy Life Insurance with High Cholesterol in Canada

How to Buy Life Insurance with High Cholesterol
How to Buy Life Insurance with High Cholesterol

If you have high cholesterol, here are some tips for buying life insurance:

1. Get Recent Cholesterol Test Results

Have your doctor run a full lipoprotein profile blood test so you have all the details on your total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, triglycerides, and cholesterol ratios. This provides the information insurers will request.

2. Find an Independent Broker

Work with a broker who can access multiple highly-rated insurance companies. This gives you the best chance of finding an affordable policy. Avoid captive agents who only represent one insurer.

3. Be Prepared to Answer Detailed Questions

Insurers will ask about your cholesterol diagnosis, medications, family history, lifestyle, and other health conditions. Having all the information ready streamlines the process.

4. Highlight Healthy Behaviors

Emphasize any positive lifestyle changes, diet improvements, medications, and treatments on your application. This offsets the high cholesterol risk.

5. Compare Different Policy Types

Look at both term and permanent life insurance. Permanent policies cost more but provide lifetime coverage.

6. Consider Contesting a Decline

If one insurer declines you, have your broker shop it with another. You may get approved if your cholesterol is borderline.

Following these steps helps you secure the best high-cholesterol life insurance policy with the most favourable rates.

Where to Buy Life Insurance with High Cholesterol

You have several options for where to buy life insurance if you have been diagnosed with high cholesterol:

Independent Insurance Brokers

Brokers have access to policies from over 30 top insurers, allowing you to compare quotes and get the best rates. Many brokers also guide optimizing your application.

Insurance Company Websites

Some insurers like Sun Life or Manulife allow you to apply directly online. However, this only lets you access one carrier rather than compare multiple.

Financial Institutions

Banks and credit unions sometimes offer life insurance. However, these may be captive products with limited policy selection.

Online Insurance Marketplaces

Sites like RateHub allow you to compare quotes digitally from a panel of insurers. However, you may not get personalized guidance.

The easiest and most effective option is working with an experienced independent broker. Their expertise in high cholesterol cases gives you the greatest chance for success.

Tips to Affordable Life Insurance with High Cholesterol

While shopping for high-cholesterol life insurance quotes, keep these tips in mind:

  • Work with an independent broker who can access policies from over 30 leading insurers
  • Compare term, whole, and universal policies to determine the optimal fit
  • Emphasize the healthy aspects of your profile during the application process
  • Inquire about qualifying for preferred nicotine rates if you do not smoke
  • Ask brokers to re-shop your rates if cholesterol improves after 6 to 12 months
  • Maintain consistent medical treatment and document positive lifestyle changes
  • Be prepared to be declined by some insurers and re-apply at a later date

Casting a wide net with multiple carriers gives you the best chance of securing reasonable rates. Having an experienced broker guide you through the application intricacies is invaluable.

Many other pre-existing conditions also have certain influence on life insurance underwriting and approval. Review these insightful references:

Take Action to Get Coverage for Life Insurance with High Cholesterol

If you are one of the millions of Canadians with high cholesterol, do not assume life insurance is out of reach. Despite the added risk, affordable coverage is still widely available with the proper preparation and persistence.

Proactively managing your cholesterol, making healthy lifestyle choices, and leveraging the expertise of a top-tier broker can help you attain favourable rates.

To explore your life insurance options specifically, connect us at Lifebuzz to get matched with the best rates from over 30 top insurers. It takes just minutes to receive customized quotes tailored to your situation.

Make a positive step right now to protect your loved ones and your financial future. You may be pleasantly surprised by the competitive high-cholesterol life insurance rates available with a small upfront investment in researching your options.

What are the pros and cons of getting life insurance with high cholesterol?

Pros include protecting your loved ones financially and potential tax advantages. Cons are potentially higher premiums and possible coverage limitations.

Is it better to use an insurance broker or agent when applying for life insurance with high cholesterol?

Brokers can shop multiple insurers for the best rates. Agents just represent one company. Using a broker gives you an advantage.

How long will it take to get approved for life insurance with high cholesterol?

Approval times range from 1 week to 2 months. More severe cases or the need for extra medical records may extend the underwriting.

Can I be denied life insurance solely because of life insurance with high cholesterol?

Outright denials only due to high cholesterol are uncommon for total cholesterol less than 300 mg/dL. Multiple risk factors increase the chances of denial.

What causes high cholesterol, and how does it impact life insurance with high cholesterol eligibility?

Genetics, poor diet, being overweight, and inactivity contribute to high cholesterol. It raises mortality risk, so expect higher premiums.

How long after being diagnosed with high cholesterol should I wait to apply for life insurance with high cholesterol?

Waiting 6-12 months allows you to start medical treatment and make lifestyle changes. Retesting your cholesterol before applying can then benefit your rating.

Will moderate alcohol consumption affect my ability to get life insurance with high cholesterol?

Moderate intake should not be an issue. Heavy drinking can impact cholesterol, so it may draw scrutiny regarding your alcohol habits and lab results.

What causes high cholesterol to develop at a young age when applying for life insurance with high cholesterol?

Genetic factors, obesity, poor diet, inactivity, and other medical conditions like diabetes or hypothyroidism can all cause early-onset high cholesterol.

Do I have to take cholesterol medication to get life insurance with high cholesterol?

No, lifestyle changes through diet and exercise can also effectively lower cholesterol in some cases. Your treatment efforts are more important than how you achieve control.

How often should I have my cholesterol retested after being diagnosed when applying for life insurance with high cholesterol?

Most doctors recommend annual retesting more often if you begin new medication or treatment approaches. Demonstrating improvement can benefit your rates.

What non-medical changes can I make to lower my cholesterol and qualify for better life insurance with high cholesterol rates?

Diet, exercise, weight loss, reduced alcohol intake, and stress management can all help lower cholesterol and offset the risks when applying.

Does a high cholesterol diagnosis make life insurance with high cholesterol more expensive?

Yes, you will usually pay higher premiums than a healthy applicant. The severity and your overall risk profile determine how much rates increase.

How much additional cost should I expect for life insurance with high cholesterol?

Cost increase varies, but expect to pay 15-50% more for mild cases and 50-100% or more for more severe cases compared to healthy individuals.

What causes are there for high cholesterol in adults when applying for life insurance with high cholesterol?

Poor diet, being overweight, lack of exercise, chronic stress, genetics, underlying conditions like diabetes or hypothyroidism, and normal aging can all contribute to developing high cholesterol later in life.

What can I do to improve my chances of getting life insurance with high cholesterol?

Improving your diet, exercising regularly, managing stress, maintaining a healthy weight, taking prescribed medications, and retesting your cholesterol before applying are all important.

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Written by Ben Nguyen

Ben Nguyen is an award-winning insurance expert and industry veteran with over 20 years of experience. He is the chairman and director of IDC Insurance Direct Canada Inc., one of Canada's leading online insurance brokerages.

Ben is renowned for his extensive knowledge of life, health, disability, and travel insurance products. He is the prolific author of over 1,000 educational articles published on LifeBuzz, BestInsuranceOnline, and InsuranceDirectCanada. His articles provide Canadians with advice on making smart insurance decisions.

With a Bachelor's degree in Actuarial Science and a Fellow of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries (FCIA) designation, Ben is frequently interviewed by media as an insurance industry spokesperson.

He has received numerous honors including the Insurance Council of Canada’s Pivotal Leadership Award, the Canadian Insurance Hall of Fame induction, and the President’s Medal from the Canadian Institute of Actuaries.

Ben continues to shape the vision and strategy of IDC Insurance Direct as chairman. He is dedicated to advancing the insurance industry through his insightful leadership.

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