The Harvard School of Public Health conducted a 2018 study and found that 40% of Americans are obese. Accordingly, almost half of the U.S. populace will be obese by 2030.
Obesity can lead to a variety of chronic diseases including cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure. It is difficult for overweight people to find life insurance. Obesity can lead to premature death in some cases. In fact, there are about 300,000. people who die each year from obesity.
These concerns could also be a factor in your insurance premiums.
Are life insurance companies required to know your weight?
Because of the possibility that policyholders may be affected by other diseases such as Cushing’s, hypothyroidism or polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), weight information is crucial. Life insurance companies often look at your body mass index (BMI), to determine if you are a high-risk applicant because of your weight.
“Build is the number one factor that knocks people out of preferred life insurance underwriting classes,” states Michael C. Staeb. He’s an Insurance Planning Consultant with over 20 years of experience and an independent wholesaler. Studies have shown that extra weight can cause long-term stress to the heart. This holds true for overweight people whose extra weight is muscle, not fat.
“Build is an important factor in life insurance. It has to do also with the higher likelihood of you developing chronic conditions like diabetes or heart disease, if you have been overweight for a long time.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers guidelines for calculating one’s obesity using one’s body Mass Index. The following tables, which are for comparison purposes, show how BMI influences the weight range of a 5-foot-9-inch adult.
Insurance rates can be higher if you have a high BMI. While your BMI is a useful tool for assessing your weight for insurance purposes it does not replace a personal medical evaluation and ongoing care if you need it. You can schedule an appointment with your doctor if you have any questions or concerns about your weight.
Additional factors, other than your BMI, may affect the cost for your life insurance.
- If you don’t address weight-related issues, excess weight can often be a problem for your health. According to the CDC, obesity can adversely impact your mental health and open you up to other leading diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
- Lifestyle habits: Smoking and drinking are two examples of unhealthy lifestyle habits that can significantly harm your health . They also increase your risk and could potentially affect the price of your life insurance premium.
- Family medical history: Insurers will likely request information about your family’s medical history. This includes any diseases or conditions that have resulted in death. When setting rates, this information is often considered alongside your own health.
Victor Vega is a licensed life insurer agent and founder of Garden Mutual. He described typical medical exam considerations.
“Insurance companies use urine and blood lab results to determine insurability based upon the detection of tobacco, alcohol, illegal drugs or medication dosage, blood sugar levels. Cancer levels, HIV/AIDS, and other chronic or acute conditions.”
Some states have a high prevalence of obesity. These states have an obese rate above 35% in the U.S. This could make it more expensive to get life insurance.
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
Will being overweight impact life insurance rates?
Life insurance for overweight people may be more costly than the standard life insurance policy for someone who is in good health. Insurance companies will take into account multiple health factors such as blood pressure, cholesterol, and whether or not you smoke.
“While there are some niche carriers that provide products without a weight or height requirement, all other carriers with competitive rates [usually] do take weight into account when determining the cost for life insurance,” Gordon Conwell, the owner of the Gordon E. Conwell Associates, Inc. agency. Life insurance companies might charge you more for life insurance, or even deny you coverage due to the potential for serious health problems caused by being overweight.
“Insurance companies use weight to determine rates because obesity is considered a high-mortality risk,” says Vega, Garden Mutual. To determine the rates for insurance companies, they rely on data from actuaries.
These factors are used to determine the life insurance classifications you will be quoted for.
Table ratings are used by insurance companies to determine the cost of life insurance for high risk applicants. This is often done to evaluate more extreme cases. Rates based on table or substandard ratings would be given to those who are considered very obese.
Based on his experience in insurance, Conwell says that “while there are carriers who offer special table rating structures[s],] each rating (i.e. class A, B, C, etc.) This is usually equivalent to an additional 25% premium to the regular or standard rate.
What is life insurance without a medical exam?
When you are looking to purchase a new policy on your life insurance, medical exams are required. For those with medical issues, however, this process can be tedious or difficult. Some people opt to look for no exam life insurance. This is a great alternative if they have difficulty qualifying for traditional insurance policies.
“This allows applicants apply online or over the phone and get approved without having to provide blood sample[s] or urine samples,” Vega explains. This type of life insurance is more expensive because of the greater risk that the insurance company takes.
No-exam life insurance is often a good option for overweight applicants. It offers convenience, flexibility, and affordability. An exam may reveal your weight gain and could lead to insurance companies increasing your premiums or limiting your coverage. You can skip the whole exam and fill out a questionnaire by purchasing no-exam coverage.
No-exam life insurance may be an option for you, depending on your circumstances.
Pros of no-exam life insurance:
- No medical exams: One of the biggest perks of no-exam coverage is the ability to skip the blood and urine tests usually associated with medical examinations.
- Faster approval: No exam insurance can allow you to buy life insurance faster than waiting for the results of your medical appointments.
- Accessible: There are some people who fear needles deeply. Others may feel anxious visiting the doctor. This may make no-exam coverage attractive.
Cons of no-exam life insurance:
- Higher premiums: Insurance companies that offer coverage without conducting a medical exam are more expensive.
- Limited coverage: No-exam life insurance often doesn’t offer as many options for coverage as a classic policy. You will usually find fewer riders.
Questions frequently asked
Which life insurance company is best for people who are overweight?
Our experience analysis has shown that MetLife, New York Life Insurance Group and Northwestern Mutual are the top-rated life insurance companies. Always shop around for the best options. Your circumstances may determine which life insurance company is best for you. This includes your age, what coverage you require.
Will you be denied coverage for being overweight?
Most insurance companies will not deny applicants because they are overweight. One exception is when a serious medical condition could impact coverage. When determining coverage and pricing, insurance companies will often consider your BMI.
Which life insurance policy is best suited for overweight individuals?
Life insurance is a policy that can be customized to suit each person. Insurance professionals recommend that you thoroughly research your options in order to determine which life insurance provider provides the best pricing and coverage for your medical condition.
Do I need to inform my insurance company that I am overweight?
It is a good idea to be open with your insurance provider about your medical history and health. Your insurance provider may discover that you have withheld vital health information and could even cancel your coverage when your family is most in need.