How Do Insurance Companies Rate Height and Weight? -

How Do Insurance Companies Rate Height and Weight?


When a person applies for life insurance, the relationship between their height and weight are considered.

It also happens to be one of the basic determinants of mortality risk, according to Edward E. Graves, author of McGill’s Life Insurance.

The first studies on the relationship of build and mortality was published in 1913, and the findings served as a basis for build height and weight tables that have been used by insurance companies for the last decade to determine a person’s risk. In 1980, height and weight tables were adopted from a 1979 Build Study, raising the ranges of acceptable weight for shorter men and women, and illustrating various combinations of weight and height.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield website has illustrations of similar tables related to insurance for both men and women.

When men and women apply for life insurance, their body types are assessed based on height and weight tables. Debits and credits, which are positive or negative ratings given by insurers as a means of scoring applicants and placing them in a specific class, may be assigned to each person depending on their build. Debits are unfavorable and they can raise insurance rates; credits can help lower rates and are desirable to applicants.

A woman who has a height of 5’ 5” and weighs 166 pounds would be eligible for a preferred plus category. A man who stands 5’ 5” and weighs 171 pounds would also fall into the preferred plus category, according to a leading life insurance company. This is the ideal weight for a policyholder and they would pay substantially less for a life insurance policy.

If a man or a woman stands 5’ 5” and weighs 230 pounds (this is the maximum allowable weight allowed by the insurer) this would place them in the standard category. Anything higher than 230 pounds would consign them a Table-B or Table-C rating, which means they would pay more in insurance premiums.

Overweight men are also subject to additional measurements based upon where the extra weight is distributed. In well-built men, the chest measurements usually exceed the abdominal girth by two inches, which may be reversed among overweight men.