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What are risk classifications for life insurance?



Your risk classification (aka risk class or interest class) is what ultimately determines how much you pay for your life insurance.

Risk classes can be divided into two groups: standard and substandard.

Standard Life Insurance Risk Classes

Although each life insurance company may have slightly different names for its risk classes, there are at most six standard risk classes:

  • Preferred Plus
  • Preferred
  • Standard Plus
  • Standard [19659006] Preferred Tobacco
  • Standard Tobacco

Standard risk class indicates average health and normal life expectancy. If you are healthier than the average person, you can qualify for better prices, ie. Preferred Plus, Preferred and Standard Plus.

If you use tobacco products, you are assigned Preferred Tobacco or Standard Tobacco. Someone with average health who uses tobacco will get standard tobacco. If you are healthier than average, you may qualify for Preferred Tobacco. Some companies are willing to offer non-tobacco charges for certain types of tobacco use, such as cigars or chewing tobacco.

Most life insurance applicants will qualify for standard ratings. However, do not be discouraged if you think you are too unhealthy. Quotation can help you find coverage, even if your health is below average.

Risk classes for substandard life insurance

If your life expectancy is below average, you are considered to be at high risk for insurance and therefore receive substandard ratings. [1

9659002] Substandard risk classes are expressed as a "table rating". These table ratings go from table AJ or 1-10, depending on whether the insurance company chooses alphabetical or numeric names.

As table ratings fall, your life insurance premium increases 25% beyond the standard risk class. [19659002] Certain health problems, such as obesity, treatment of chronic diseases or major health conditions, such as previous heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, and abnormal laboratory results may result in table evaluation.


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