Will my family medical history affect my life insurance?

Insurance companies take into consideration a variety of factors when assessing how much you should pay for your life insurance premiums. Such factors include your age, whether you’ve suffered any illnesses, whether you smoke or are overweight and your family’s medical history.

Calculating the probabilities

Insurance companies use the information given in application forms as well as statistics on average life expectancy and past claims data to set a premium rate that will reflect the level of risk a customer represents. So, for example, if you’re a smoker, you will pay more than a non- smoker as you are more likely to suffer health problems associated with smoking.

The same reasoning applies when it comes to your family’s medical history. It all comes down to probabilities; if a close relative has experienced a serious medical condition, there’s a higher likelihood that you could suffer the same illness. This is especially true of inherited conditions, like certain types of bowel or breast cancer.  

Why don’t insurance companies make prices simpler?

You might wonder why insurance companies don’t simplify the process by making premiums the same for everybody. The answer is straight forward, premiums would rise for everyone. If no assessment of a customer’s individual risks took place and there was no increase in the premium rate for those that are higher risk, there would be an overall increase in the volume of claims. This would mean premiums would rise for everyone. If the premium rate a customer pays reflects the risk they represent, this is fair to all our customers.

How family history affects your life insurance with us

Conditions that occur in some families that may have an impact on your premiums include:

  • Heart disease, for example heart attack, angina
  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Cancer, for example bowel (colon) breast or ovarian
  • Polycystic kidney disease
  • Familial adenomatous polyposis
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Mytonic dystrophy
  • Motor neurone disease.

However, the mere fact that your family has a history of one or more of these conditions doesn’t automatically mean your life insurance premiums will be affected. Our underwriters will also take into account how many relatives* were affected, how close the relationship might be, the age of the relative when the disease occurred as well as your own age and gender.

*This means your natural parents, brothers and sisters

Our life insurance

You can add Critical Illness Cover for an extra cost when you take out your life insurance. You can find out more about our different life cover policies on the life cover page.