Obtaining Life Insurance with Diabetes

People with diabetes want to provide financial protection for their families just as non-diabetics do, but may have given up after being turned down for life insurance several times. Fortunately, there are life insurance providers willing to approve a policy for someone who is diabetic as long as he or she is willing to put in the effort to find them. In addition, it’s important to remember that all insurance companies consider risk when underwriting a policy. Someone whose diabetes is well controlled presents a much lower risk than the diabetic applicant who has experienced numerous complications of the disease.

Diabetes in the United States

In 2012, 29.1 million Americans had either Type I or Type II diabetes. This equates to 9.3 percent of the population, an increase of one full percentage point since 2010. The 2012 figure includes 21 million diagnosed and 8.1 million undiagnosed cases of diabetes as well as 1.7 million people just diagnosed that year.

Diabetes was a factor in 234,501 deaths in 2010, which made it the seventh leading cause of death in the country. In 69,071 cases, diabetes was the primary cause of death. In the remaining cases, it was a contributing or underlying cause of death.

What Do Life Insurance Underwriters Want to Know about Diabetic Applicants?

When someone with diabetes applies for term life insurance, the underwriter asks several questions about the disease itself as well as questions about the applicant’s lifestyle and other health conditions.

Term life insurance applicants can expect to answer questions similar to these:

  • Age at diagnosis
  • Whether he or she has Type I or Type II diabetes
  • Medications used to manage diabetes
  • Blood sugar readings first thing in the morning and within two hours of a meal
  • Last A1C reading
  • If the applicant has experienced any diabetes-related complications like kidney damage or neuropathy
  • Age and gender
  • Marital status
  • Height and weight
  • Income and occupation
  • Genetic disorders he or she may be at risk of developing
  • Other risk factors and overall health

Most life insurance companies require a physical examination of all applicants, not just those with diabetes. Life insurance applicants who undergo such an exam can expect to give a blood and urine sample, have their blood pressure and heart rate checked, and provide more in-depth information about their diabetes and other health conditions that they indicated on their application.

How Life Insurance Companies Assess Premiums for Diabetics

Like all types of insurance companies, life insurance providers are primarily concerned with risk. When reviewing a person’s application, the underwriter looks at evidence of good decision-making skills and a lifestyle that is as healthy as possible under the circumstances. Specific to diabetes, life insurance underwriters look favorably at people who take charge of their health by eating right, exercising, and following their doctor’s recommendations. By analyzing all information available to them, life insurance underwriters are looking for a predictable pattern of behavior that lowers the company’s risk.

Four Different Category Classifications for Life Insurance and How They Impact Diabetics

Life insurance companies typically assign one of four classifications to all applicants. These include:

  • Preferred Plus: People classified as Preferred Plus are in excellent health. They likely have no current health conditions and few risk factors.
  • Preferred: Those in the Preferred category are also in good health, although they may have one or two minor health problems.
  • Standard: Someone assigned to the Standard category is considered to be in average health. Their height and weight statistics also fall into the average category.
  • Substandard: People in this classification have some type of diagnosed health condition that makes them a higher risk for the insurance carrier. There are several levels of substandard classifications, depending on the specific health condition, applicant’s age, and several other factors.

People with well-controlled Type II diabetes may qualify for coverage at the Standard level. For people with Type I diabetes or those who have experienced minor complications with Type II, being placed into the Substandard classification is the most likely scenario.

Types of Diabetes and Their Effect on Life Insurance

Type I diabetes, sometimes called juvenile diabetes, is typically diagnosed in childhood. It is unrelated to body weight and requires insulin injections or an insulin pump to treat. Type II diabetes, also known as adult-onset diabetes, is most often diagnosed after age 30. It is also closely associated with obesity, high cholesterol levels, or high blood pressure. Type II diabetes can be treated with oral medications and responds to diet and lifestyle modifications much better than Type I. Diabetics without good symptom control or those who have experienced several complications of the disease may not qualify for either the Standard or Substandard category.

Can a Diabetic Get Life Insurance without a Medical Exam?

Yes, there are numerous life insurance companies that are willing to approve a policy for someone who has diabetes without requiring a medical exam. This is more common for people with well-controlled Type II diabetes. Applicants who are interested in this option should be prepared to truthfully answer several questions about their diabetes when they first request coverage.

All life insurance policies are subject to a contestability period for two years from the date of issue. This means that the insurer can investigate the applicant’s health history and cancel the policy if it discovers he or she concealed having diabetes. The life insurance company also conducts an investigation when it receives a claim after the policyholder dies. It can also deny payment to beneficiaries if it discovers the applicant was dishonest, regardless of how long ago he or she originally applied for life insurance.