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Life insurance companies rate you to help determine the price you pay for a policy. There are some things you can do to earn a better rating and get a better rate. I’m Doug Whiteman with your Bankrate.com Personal Finance Minute.

Your rating reflects how much risk there is that you’ll cost the insurer money — by dying. The life insurance underwriter will consider your health, age and other physical characteristics, behavior, family history, financial standing, driving record and geographic location. You’ll be put into a rating class, and they have names such as “preferred,” “standard” and “substandard.”

Experts say that you can improve your risk class by tackling high cholesterol, hypertension or other health issues through diet, exercise and medication. Moving up into a better class can reduce your premiums by about 20 percent, according to an executive with insurance company MetLife. And according to one consultant, if you’re a smoker you might do better on a health exam and score a better rating by staying off nicotine for a relatively short time.

For more on health insurance ratings and rates, visit Bankrate.com. I’m Doug Whiteman.