While many think life insurance costs more if you have diabetes and finding coverage may be more difficult, there are life insurance companies who will offer coverage. We understand the importance of protecting your family from a financial struggle in the event of premature death and will work with you to get affordable life insurance coverage.
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Life insurance carriers all follow a different set of underwriting guidelines. This means that each carrier will rate a certain condition differently and life insurance costs will vary from one company to the next. While one company may decide to give an applicant a Preferred Plus rating for a certain condition, another company may offer only Standard.
This is where we can help you. We have relationships with many of the best life insurance carriers and know the idiosyncrasies of each. Once we know your unique situation, we will shop your case at the appropriate carriers to help you get the best possible coverage.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes Mellitus (DM) is a health condition characterized by hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) in which there is an inadequate amount of insulin for the needs of the body (Type 1) or the insulin that is produced is ineffective (Type 2). The Centers for Disease Control estimates that in the U.S. diabetes affects 18.2 million people (or 6.3 percent of the population). Of this group, nearly one-third are undiagnosed. Insurance medical testing discovers some of them.
Types of Diabetes
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes, formerly called juvenile-onset or insulin dependent (IDDM), has a peak age at onset of 12 years old. It is unusual to begin after age 40.
Type 1 diabetes occurs due to beta cell destruction resulting in an insulin deficiency which must be replaced by insulin injections. Symptoms include excessive thirst, excessive urination, and weight loss.
Life insurance ratings for diabetes depends on:
- Age at onset
- Years since diagnosis
- Control of the diabetes
- Presence of complications
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes was formerly called adult-onset or noninsulin dependent (NIDDM). It occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin or resists insulin.
Type 2 usually develops over the age of 30, but its incidence is increasing in children and adolescents, especially those who are obese. It’s usually not diagnosed until health complications have occurred. Many have excessive thirst or urination, but most have no symptoms.
Type 2 is initially treated with diet and exercise. If decreased calorie intake and increased exercise does not result in blood glucose control, oral medication is added. Type 2 may also require insulin in the later stages.
Risk factors for the development of type 2 diabetes include older age, obesity, positive family history, and history of gestational diabetes.
Gestational diabetes is different from Type 1 and Type 2 because it is a short-term condition that can sometimes happen during pregnancy. The main reason life insurance underwriters take caution with gestational diabetes is because it can increase a woman’s likelihood of developing Type 2 diabetes later on in life.
When underwriting gestational diabetes, life insurance companies will take a closer look at the applicant’s family history. If it is determined that there is a high probability you can develop Type 2 based on the history, the carrier will rate you accordingly.
The companies also take a look at your overall health and lifestyle to help determine what coverage they can offer you. Your premium costs will most likely be much higher if you apply for life insurance while pregnant and have gestational diabetes.
It’s impossible to plan out every scenario in life, but consider purchasing life insurance ahead of your pregnancy. Planning beforehand will give you the most favorable pricing and plan options. Just check out the quoting tool for an estimate on a term life insurance policy. You do not even have to give out your personal contact information.
How Underwriting Diabetes Can Affect How Much Life Insurance Costs
Underwriting diabetes is a complex process. The underwriters assign credits and debits to each applicant to determine the overall risk classification. It begins with assessing basic debits for diabetes for age of onset and the type of diabetes. Then additional credits or debits are assigned for:
- blood sugar control
- coronary artery disease (CAD) risk factors such as LDL (bad) cholesterol
- C-reactive protein (CRP)
- HDL (good) cholesterol
- blood pressure
- microalbumin (a microalbumin test is used to detect early signs of kidney damage.)
Diabetes ratings increase with younger ages, longer times since onset, poor control, and complications. These would merit debits added onto the basic rating. Meanwhile, credits would be added if the condition is well-managed.
After the underwriters review the complete application and all the records that go along with it, they then decide how much coverage and at what life insurance cost to offer the applicant, unless they decide to deny or postpone the application. Most applicants who live with diabetes will end up being “table rated.” The table rating system typically means that your pricing for life insurance will be the Standard price plus 25 percent for every step down the table you are, Tables A-J or 1-10 depending on which format the insurance company uses.
Example: As you can see from the chart below, if one company rates you as a Table 5 and another company rates you as a Table E, you would be equal in the eyes of the two insurance companies. One just chooses to use numbers and the other uses letters.
|A||1||Standard + 25%|
|B||2||Standard + 50%|
|C||3||Standard + 75%|
|D||4||Standard + 100%|
|E||5||Standard + 125%|
|F||6||Standard + 150%|
|G||7||Standard + 175%|
|H||8||Standard + 200%|
|I||9||Standard + 225%|
|J||10||Standard + 250%|
Let’s take a look at some real-life examples (names have been changed).
Case Study # 1:
Jane Doe is 30 years old, a non-smoker, and was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was 4 years old.
She visits her doctor every 6 months and her diabetes is controlled by insulin – 70 units per day. She monitors her own blood sugar and the most recent reading was 112. Her most recent HbA1c level (glycated hemoglobin) was 7.4. She has not experienced any chest pain or coronary artery disease, protein in urine, neuropathy, retinopathy, abnormal ECG, overweight, elevated lipids, kidney disease, black out spells, or hypertension. She does not have any other major health problems.
She applies for a $250,000 20-year policy and tells her agent she would prefer a term policy, but will consider a permanent policy.
|Tentative Offer*||Estimated Cost|
|A||Approve Term Policy||Table H|
|B||Approve Term Policy||Table 10|
|C||Approve Permanent Policy,|
Decline Term Policy
Insurance Company A offers Jane Table H non-tobacco. This means that if the Standard premium cost is $24/month, Jane would instead have to pay $72/month (24 + 200%).
Insurance Company B offers Jane Table 10 non-tobacco. This means that Jane would be paying $84/month (24 + 250%).
Insurance Company C offers Jane Table 8 non-tobacco, but only for a permanent policy. They opt to decline offering a term policy. A permanent policy averages to be about 10 times more expensive than a comparable term policy, so here Jane would be paying $720/month.
Insurance Company D decides to decline Jane’s application altogether. They would prefer to not accept the risks.
Case Study # 2:
John Doe is a 54 year old male, a non-smoker, and was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes when he was 49.
He visits his doctor every 6 months and his diabetes is controlled by daily medication. He monitors his own blood sugar and the most recent reading was 116. His most recent HbA1c level was 6.2. Other issues are elevated lipids, but controlled by medication, and history of kidney stones.
He applies for a $500,000 20-year term policy.
|Tentative Offer*||Estimated Cost|
Insurance Company A offers John Standard to Standard Plus (depending on full review of his medical records.) Taking John’s age into consideration, we can estimate his Standard to Standard Plus premiums to be in the range of $135 – $150 monthly.
Insurance Company B offers John a possible standard non-tobacco rating, as long as there have been no kidney stone attacks within the past year and no other complications.
Insurance Company C offers John Table 2. With $150 being his estimated Standard monthly cost, we calculate 150 + 50% to equal an estimated $225 monthly premium payment.
Insurance Company D offers John Table C. To calculate a monthly premium estimate we take 150 + 75% to equal approximately $263.
*We say “Tentative Offer” because during these underwriting studies, the life insurance carriers come back to us with an idea of what they can offer our client. The company takes an overview look at the client to give a tentative offer. They still need to do a full review of the application and all records before confirming any premium costs and rating classifications.
If there is evidence that your condition is well-managed, your chances for coverage are much higher. If you have other health conditions in addition to diabetes, coverage will be more challenging to obtain, but, again, the more information we have the better. We have relationships with many insurance carriers and will work hard to find you coverage.
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When you apply for life insurance, you will undergo a simple medical exam. The exam will include:
- Weight and height measurements
- Pulse and blood pressure check
- Urine sample
- Blood sample
Along with the information from your application and questionnaire forms, the medical exam results and possible medical records help the life insurance underwriters determine how much life insurance coverage they can offer you and at what price. Premiums may be higher than that of non-diabetics because the insurance companies consider insuring people with diabetes a higher risk.
If there is evidence that your condition is well-managed, your chances for coverage are much higher.
Being Diagnosed After Purchasing Life Insurance
If you already bought a life insurance policy and were diagnosed with diabetes afterwards, then you do not have to worry. Changes in your health will not affect your policy as long as it is already inforce, or “active”. This is one of the many reasons why it is wise to buy life insurance sooner rather than later.
The situation changes, however, if you bought a non-portable policy through your group plan with your employer. Should you leave that company, your policy would end and you would need to apply elsewhere. Your diabetes diagnosis would then be taken into consideration. Because most employer-sponsored life insurance policies are only valid as long as you are employed there, it is a good idea to look into purchasing an individual life insurance policy outside of your group plan.
A benefit to working with Quotacy is that we work with multiple A-rated life insurance companies. As you can see from the above examples, shopping your application around to more than one insurance company can only help you.
Quotacy has years of experience getting clients life insurance coverage, including diabetics. Our in-house underwriter has worked in many carrier home offices, knows how to navigate each individual’s health history, and knows which life insurance company would be the best option for your individual case. If you are ready to buy life insurance coverage, get a term life insurance quote now and let’s start the process.
If you have any questions regarding underwriting diabetes, feel free to contact us or jot us a message in the Comment section below. If you are looking to get an idea on the cost of life insurance if you have diabetes, we will need the following information to provide you with an accurate quote.
- Date of when you were first diagnosed.
- Which type of diabetes you have:
a. Type 1
b. Type 2
- How your diabetes is controlled:
a. Diet alone
b. Oral medication (medication & doses)
c. Insulin (amount of units/day)
- Are you on any other medications?
- Your most recent blood sugar reading and whether you monitor it yourself.
- Most recent glycohemoglobin (HbA1c) or fructosamine level, if available.
- Also let us know if you have had any of the following:
a. Chest pain or coronary artery disease
b. Protein in the urine
e. Abnormal ECG
g. Elevated lipids
h. Kidney disease
i. Black out spells
Give us a 2-3 business days to respond with some individualized and thorough information. Quotacy is here to help make the life insurance buying process easier for you.
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Photo credit to: TesaPhotography
About the writer
Writer, Editor, and Co-host of Quotacy's Q&A Fridays
Natasha is the content manager and editor for Quotacy. She has been in the life insurance industry since 2010 and has been making life insurance easier to understand with her writing since 2014. When not at work, she's probably studying and working toward her Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) designation while throwing a tennis ball for her pitbull mix, Emmett, or curled up on her couch watching Netflix. If it’s football season, the Packers game will be on. Connect with her on LinkedIn.