When you apply for life insurance, your premiums will be mainly based on your “risk class,” which is defined by an insurer’s “underwriting guidelines.” The amount of cover and the length of the term are the other pricing factors. The better your risk class, the lower your premiums will be.

Your ability to get affordable life insurance will be based on your life expectancy and risk factors. Underwriters will look at your income and lifestyle, medical history and overall health, your family’s medical history and any hazardous recreational sports or occupations.

Illnesses suffered by your family members after age 60 shouldn’t affect your premiums.

Some life insurers are more aggressive in determining your risk class, and they may put you in a more preferred class (meaning lower premiums) than another company would. For example, someone with a history of high blood pressure who’s on medication for it might pay less with one life insurer than another.

Life insurance companies may require you to undergo a medical exam and allow them to request your medical records. They’ll also want to know if you smoke.

If you suffer from the following health conditions, you can expect to pay a raised premium called a ‘loading’:

High blood pressure; High cholesterol; Depression; Asthma; Type 2 (adult onset) diabetes; Sleep apnoea; Cancer (except skin cancer); Heart disease; Coronary artery disease and Mitral valve prolapse

Conditions that could possibly make you “uninsurable” are:

Alcoholism treatment (past 2 years, using or used in the last year); Alzheimer’s disease/dementia (at any time; Bankruptcy (not discharged); Cancer treated with chemotherapy or radiation therapy (present); Cirrhosis of the liver (at any time); Illegal drug use other than marijuana (within 3 years);

Gastric/intestinal bypass (within 1 year); Heart attack (within 6 months); Heart bypass surgery (within 3 months); HIV positive (at any time); Kidney failure/disease, on dialysis (currently)

Lung disorder, on oxygen (present) Mental disorder requiring hospitalization (within 1 year); Organ transplant pending or received (within 1 year); Currently serving Probation/parole; Pregnancy with complications (currently); Suicide attempt (within 2 years); Stroke (within 1 year) and Valve replacement (within 1 year)