Life Insurance rating classifications are based on one’s medical history and the results of the medical exam (if one is taken). An insurance company will make an offer (or occasionally decline to make an offer) that reflects its guidelines for a rating class.

Each insurance company is somewhat different. They differ on the names of their classifications and in the requirements to qualify for a rating class. The classifications also differ between term life insurance and whole life plans, especially in the extra rating categories. The following can give you some guidelines. Much of the content of these definitions come directly from major life insurance company rating guides.


Life Insurance Rating Classifications -What is the difference between Super Preferred, Preferred Plus, Preferred, Standard etc.?


Here are some general guidelines:

The best class (lowest rate) from a life insurance company is commonly called Preferred Plus or Preferred Best, also sometimes Super Preferred. To confuse things further, at least one insurance company has a preferred best and preferred plus as a second class.

Here are some of the general requirements for best class (super preferred, preferred plus etc.):

  • No family history (parent or sibling) of death from cancer or heart disease before age 60 (some companies use age 65)
  • No tobacco use for 5 years (some companies 3 years)
  • Blood pressure 130/80 or less
  • Cholesterol (total) 200 or less
  • No cancer or cardiovascular disease history
  • No DWI or more than 2 moving violations in three years
  • Meets the company height weight requirements


At the next category, commonly called preferred, the requirements become somewhat more liberal such as:

  • No more than one death of a sibling or parent before age 60
  • No tobacco use for 3 years or 5 years (depends on company). Some may allow mild cigar or chewing tobacco use at
    this rating class.
  • The height weight ratio is liberalized
  • The total cholesterol limit is liberalized to up to 230 or 240
  • The other health history areas are still in place


Above the preferred categories are what’s called standard. With some companies, standard is also the category for those who use tobacco. Some companies differentiate between cigarette smoking and cigars and chewing tobacco by not adding the same rate increase for the cigar or tobacco chewer as for a cigarette smoker. This is further complicated in that some life insurance companies have preferred tobacco rates and standard tobacco rates.

The bottom line: Shop! It’s not only the quoted rate. It’s what you can actually get as an offer. Two companies (or more) could give you the same rating class, say Super preferred (Preferred Plus) but you can’t qualify for one but might for the other! On the quoting engine, Company A may quote you $950 per year for Preferred Plus and Company B $1050 but you can’t qualify for Company A! An experienced online broker can help you choose.


What does an extra rate or table rating mean and how is it calculated?


When you get above standard rates because of medical history or other history, you might be offered what is called a These are policies that are higher in risk for the insurance company. Here’s where shopping with a good insurance agency with multiple companies becomes imperative. Rated policies are rated according to a table and the extra premium is sometimes called a “Table rating.”

Extra tables go from 1 to 16 (or higher). Not every company goes to 16. Some companies will only rate term life insurance a certain amount and then above that decline to offer insurance. Some life insurance companies use an equivalent letter system as in Table B (equivalent to Table 2) or Table F (Table 6). Each table is a 25% increase in the term insurance rate, so a Table 2 would be 50% more than the Standard rate, Table 4 would be 100% higher etc.

Table ratings for whole life insurance are not quite as drastic. Since these policies are a combination of cash and risk only the cost of the risk is affected by the extra rating so the extra premium for the policy does not rise at the even 25% per table as in term life insurance.

Have Questions? Contact us today to speak with a qualified broker. Or, get your instant quote request online now.

Richard Reich

CEO - Licensed Agent

Richard Reich CEO and Licensed agent

In my 20+ years as an independent life and disability insurance broker, I have personally assisted thousands of clients with their life and disability insurance needs.  Being independent, I represent many highly-rated insurance companies and, because I am not beholden to any one insurance company, my focus is to find the right company and policy for each individual client. I believe that when people shop for insurance (or anything else, for that matter) on the Internet, they are looking for a simple, non-intrusive, non-pressure method of doing so.  I strive to treat my prospective clients with the utmost respect and I believe an educated prospect can make the right decision without sales pressure. Please feel free to contact me at your convenience.