One of the most common abnormalities found in the lab work from a life insurance medical exam is elevated liver function tests.
While you may have a good heart, regular blood pressure, and a healthy weight, an elevated liver function test can indicate risk to insurers, leading them to increase the cost of your coverage.
If you’ve been rated by a life insurance company because of your liver enzymes, there may be better options out there.
Don’t feel obligated to take the first offer you get, because chances are, there are better premiums rates out there, even with your condition.
In this post, we’ll walk through everything you need to know about your liver function tests and what the results might mean for your life insurance coverage.
What Are Liver Function Tests?
As its name suggests, a liver function test is a blood test that checks to see how well your liver is functioning. It’s a portion of the medical exam that life insurance companies require you to undergo when you apply for coverage with them.
It’s important to note that there are exam-free policies out there, but those policies will have higher premiums as the risk of insuring you is higher.
Depending on your situation, a no medical exam policy may be your best option, but you should hold off until you read the info below.
You might be surprised at the premiums you can get with elevated liver function test results. It all depends on your specific case.
In order to assess how well your liver is operating, the test looks at the levels of specific elements such as albumin, bilirubin, total protein, liver enzymes, and your body’s prothrombin time, which tests how quickly your blood clots.
An excess amount of bilirubin could result in jaundice, an indicator of liver problems.
Elevations in SGOT (or AST) and SGPT (or ALT), the liver enzymes referenced above, are typically caused by liver damage which allows these enzymes to be released out of the cells.
The GGT (or GGTP) test is a very sensitive enzyme for the detection of early liver disease or damage and it will also rise when the liver is busy metabolizing some types of drugs or toxins – like alcohol.
Why Elevated Liver Function Tests Matter to Insurers
You and your doctor aren’t the only people who might be concerned with abnormal results to your liver function tests. Life insurance providers will care about these results as well.
Here’s how it works. When you apply for life insurance coverage, you enter what’s known as the underwriting process, where you are responsible for providing an accurate picture of the state of your health, and the underwriters are responsible for classifying you based on your responses and the results of your medical examination.
That classification will determine the cost of your premiums, which is how much you will pay to keep your life insurance policy in place, as well as the maximum size of your policy in some cases.
The elements that are analyzed in a liver function test could be indicators of liver disease and other issues. As such, they elevate the risk to the company of having to pay out on your policy in the event of your passing.
What do Elevated Liver Function Tests Mean to Life Insurers?
There are many impairments that cause elevations in the liver enzyme tests like hepatitis, cirrhosis, excess alcohol use, or liver cancer.
Medications can also increase liver enzymes, such as Allopurinol, Dilatin, and Phenobarbital, so there is more to consider than just the numbers themselves.
The abnormal liver test results should be assessed for their underlying causes. The underwriter will consider the degree of elevation, the clinical history, and the current physical findings and then rate the customer for either high-risk life insurance or standard.
How Life Insurers Classify Rates
While the exact classification methods may vary from company to company, they generally look at the same criteria and place customers similarly across the board. What differs is the weight each of these factors holds in rating you.
Overall, here are some of the general factors that underwriters will consider during your application process:
- Your height and weight (and weight history to see any major fluctuations)
- Family health history
- Your health conditions (past and present)
- Drug and alcohol use (a history of substance abuse can be detrimental to your coverage)
- Tobacco use
- Hobbies (life-threatening ones like skydiving will hurt your chances)
- Profession (dangerous fields increase premiums and may limit policies)
Most life insurance companies work within the following categories: Preferred Plus or Preferred Select, which means you’re in tip-top shape with no family health history or health problems, Preferred, which may mean you have high blood pressure or a similar well-managed condition, Standard Plus, which may entail a couple of minor issues, and Standard.
A Standard rating may mean you have a negative family health history alongside a few issues, followed by a Substandard rating, which may suggest more severe issues like a heart attack or diabetes.
The further down the list you are ranked, the higher your premiums will be. As we mentioned earlier, you might also see limits to the size of the policy you can purchase.
You can check the criteria of each company you’re looking at to see if issues like your liver test results or other conditions are weighed heavily in your classification as some companies are more lenient with specific conditions.
How to Get the Best Rates with Elevated Liver Functions
There are SEVERAL life insurance carriers which are more aggressive than others with elevated liver function tests.
But the fact of the matter is, great rates aren’t out of the question, especially if your liver functions are only slightly elevated.
Scoping out which companies will be preferential to your condition can be daunting, with countless insurers to choose from. We can help.
In order to determine which carrier will offer you the lowest rate, we’ll need to learn more about you and what might be at the root of your elevated liver function test, whether it’s due to a medication, disease, or alcoholism.
Here’s the information we need from you:
1. Length of Condition: How long have you had elevated liver functions? Is it a new finding?
2. Who Tested You: Was the testing done by your physician or was it found in the lab results from the life insurance exam?
3. Elevation Level: How elevated are the tests? (1x normal amount, 2x normal amount, or more than 3x normal amount)
4. Alcohol Marker: Has there been a positive alcohol marker test? What are your drinking history and habits?
5. Known Cause: Is there a known cause of your elevations? Has your physician reviewed the elevated labs yet?
Once we know the answers to these questions, along with other health and lifestyle questions related to the health factors we covered earlier, we’ll review over 60 life companies and find the best rate based on your situation.
Most consumers make the mistake of paying more than they should for life insurance because they dealt with an agent who didn’t know where to take them after learning about the elevated liver functions. Don’t make this mistake.
Don’t settle for poor premium rates without researching all of your options.
You can give us a ring for quick, personal service or find out on your own using the quote form on the right!
We’re happy to answer any of your basic questions about how life insurance works and help you land on the right type of policy, whatever that might look like.