Obesity is an incredibly common chronic condition in Canada, with an estimated 30 percent of Canadian adults estimated to be obese according to a 2015 survey.
If you are one of the millions of people who are overweight or obese, you may wonder if you’ll be able to qualify for life insurance.
While it can be more difficult to secure a life insurance policy - and any policy you purchase is likely to come with a higher premium than for someone who isn’t obese - you can still qualify for life insurance.
Depending on the circumstances surrounding your obesity, such as whether or not you have other complicating conditions or if you are otherwise managing your condition well, you may be able to get a better policy than you anticipate.
Why Is It Difficult for Obese People to Get Life Insurance?
Obesity is considered a chronic health condition that can impact your ability to qualify for certain types of life insurance, or to qualify for life insurance at a lower rate.
In many cases, there is much more that complicates a person’s health than just being obese, as obesity is often found alongside other chronic health conditions. Because of this, and especially because some of these comorbidities increase the chances that an individual will die sooner, someone who is obese is considered to be a higher risk for the insurance company.
Some common comorbid conditions that occur with obesity include:
- Heart disease
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Sleep apnea
- Fatty liver disease
- Kidney disease
Even if you don’t currently have a condition that may complicate your health, simply being more at risk of developing additional health concerns can cause your rates to be higher for life insurance.
Health Factors That Impact the Cost of Life Insurance for Obese Individuals
The specifics of your overall health, including your obesity, will be evaluated during the insurance underwriting process.
Here are some things that may be taken into account when determining whether you qualify for a specific policy or what rate you will receive:
Your Current Height & Weight
Many life insurance companies use your Body Mass Index (BMI) to determine where you fall on their rate chart. The closer your BMI is to normal, the better rates you receive.
If you weigh more than the BMI calculators say you “should” for your height but you are athletic and muscular, be sure to tell your life insurance company this information. A BMI calculator cannot tell the complete story about a person’s overall health, and life insurance companies can use extra information regarding your build to determine your rates.
Weight Changes in the Past Year
While it may seem like a good idea to go on a crash diet as a quick fix when applying for life insurance, it’s unlikely to give you too much of a boost in getting a great rate for your policy.
In general, life insurance companies will only credit you for half of any recent weight loss when accounting for your weight and BMI. They get concerned when they see sudden changes in your weight.
However, if you’ve recently begun a diet or exercise regimen that’s resulted in your weight loss, be sure to tell your insurer so they can get a full picture of your lifestyle.
In general, smokers pay a higher rate for life insurance, regardless of other health factors.
If you are obese and also smoke, you are considered a higher risk by your insurance company because your chances of developing additional health complications is higher.
Your Last Doctor’s Appointment
Being under regular care by a physician, even if you are obese, may help you qualify for lower rates on your life insurance.
The closer contact you have with a doctor on a regular basis, the lower risk the insurance company considers your application, as you are more likely to catch potential health problems sooner.
Additional Conditions Related to Your Weight
If you have mobility trouble due to your weight, or you suffer from another medical condition, you may not qualify for the best rates on life insurance.
Choosing the Best Life Insurance Policy for Obese People
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Type of Policy
In general, a term life insurance policy is going to be the most affordable option when purchasing life insurance. This type of policy covers you for a specific period of time and does not carry any cash value.
If your goal in purchasing life insurance is to leave your spouse with enough money to pay off your home or to pay for your children’s college education, a term life insurance policy may be the most cost-effective choice for you. In many cases, term life insurance policies can be converted into whole life policies without additional underwriting, meaning that later complications from your obesity aren’t likely to cause problems during the conversion process.
On the other hand, if your goal in buying life insurance is to provide an inheritance for your loved ones or to give your spouse financial security later in life, a whole life insurance policy may be the more prudent option.
Whole life policies do cost more in the long run, but adjusting how much coverage your purchase can make them more affordable and can also offset any increases in premiums that will come from your obesity.
Level of Underwriting
When you purchase life insurance, you have two underwriting options: fully underwritten and no medical exam policies.
Selecting a fully underwritten policy requires you to undergo a medical exam before the insurance company makes a final decision regarding your coverage. If you have other health conditions related to your diabetes that you may not know about yet, medical underwriting could mean you run the risk of being denied coverage or mean you pay high premiums.
If you are concerned that undergoing a medical exam will limit your options for life insurance, you may want to opt for a no medical exam life insurance policy.
This type of policy requires you to fill out a detailed questionnaire regarding your health. You are expected to be truthful on this survey regarding your overall health and any medical conditions, but you do not have to undergo a medical exam for the insurance company to evaluate your application.
These types of policies typically come with lower coverage limits ($500,000 for term policies and $50,000 for whole life policies), but they may be the best option for those concerned about the impact their obesity may have on their life insurance rates.
Amount of Coverage
The amount of coverage you elect to purchase depends upon a variety of individual factors, including:
- Your financial obligations, such as child support
- Your salary
- The ages of your children
- Whether you have a mortgage or other debt that will need to be paid
If you are worried about how much your life insurance coverage will cost, especially given your obesity, you should consider adjusting the amount of coverage you purchase to help reduce that cost.
What If You Become Obese After Buying Life Insurance?
After you purchase your insurance policy and that policy is issued, your insurance company cannot cancel your policy or raise your rates, even if your weight increases or you are diagnosed with an obesity-related condition.
If you already have a life insurance policy, there are a few situations where later obesity complications could become an issue:
- You have term life insurance and want to continue coverage: When your life insurance term is up, you may elect to purchase another term policy rather than converting that policy into a whole life policy. This new term policy will require that you undergo the underwriting process again, even if your new policy will be with the same company. This may mean your new obesity-related complications could cause problems with you getting coverage at an affordable rate.
- You have group life insurance through your employer and you leave your job: Once you leave your position, you may be given the option to convert your group life insurance coverage or port that policy. Converting or porting your policy doesn’t require further medical review, but doing this can be more expensive than finding coverage on your own.
- You want to increase the coverage limits on your policy: If you decide to increase the amount of coverage you purchase, you may need to undergo further underwriting. This could mean that your obesity could increase your premiums.
What If I Lose Weight After Buying Life Insurance?
If you’ve lost enough weight to no longer be considered obese and you’re still paying higher premiums than you’d like to, you may be able to lower your life insurance rates even after you’ve already purchased coverage.
Once you’ve maintained your lower weight for a year or more, you can reapply for life insurance coverage. This may result in the insurer offering you a lower rate, especially if your insurance carrier has a policy of offering lower rates to people who have lost weight.
Another option to consider is to petition your life insurance company to allow you to retake your medical exam.
This process is called reconsideration, and if you’ve maintained a lower weight and have had a life insurance policy for at least a year or two, your insurance company may grant your request.
Finding the right life insurance policy to meet your needs - at the right price - can be challenging when you are obese. However, if you take the time to look at what different carriers offer, examine your options, and change the amount of coverage you purchase, you may be able to find the coverage you’re looking for at a price you can afford.
And, with Insurdinary, you can do all of that in one place. Compare options, get a personalized quote, and apply for life insurance coverage right from your couch. Get your quote today!