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Can I get life insurance if I have sleep apnea?

Do you prefer to learn by watching? We answer this question in a video below. Click here to jump ahead.

Various health issues affect term life insurance rates, including sleep apnea. Sleep apnea affects an estimated 18 million Americans which means that many people suffering from the condition still apply for insurance and are accepted for coverage. Even so, life insurance companies view sleep apnea as a risk, so your term life insurance rates might be affected. The good news is that insurance companies underwrite health impairments like sleep apnea a little differently.

Quotacy is here to dig through the different life insurance companies to help you find affordable term life insurance rates that keep you and your family covered.

Buying Life Insurance with Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is one of the most common medical conditions we see with Quotacy clients. It’s a condition our agents are very familiar with and have had a lot of success in helping people with sleep apnea get life insurance coverage.

If you have sleep apnea, your best chances of getting affordable life insurance is to apply through a broker, like Quotacy. Brokers are not tied to one life insurance company and are able to shop the market.

We want you to get approved and will work hard to help you get coverage. Start the process by getting a free term life insurance quote or keep reading for more in-depth information about life insurance and sleep apnea.

» Compare: Term life insurance quotes for sleep apnea

Understanding Sleep Apnea

A tired spouse awake all night from your snoring isn’t the only consequence of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a chronic disorder where breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep. When breathing is paused, carbon dioxide builds up in the bloodstream. A receptor in the blood stream takes note and the brain is then signaled to wake the sleeping individual and breathe in air. Breathing normally again will restore the oxygen levels and the individual falls back asleep. It is rare that the individual even realizes they were having difficulty breathing.

Sleep apnea, if not treated, can lead to hypertension, heart problems, lung damage, lack of concentration, and a high risk of driving accidents. It is because of these possible scenarios that the life insurance industry takes an extra look at applicants who have sleep apnea.

Many people with sleep apnea are able to buy affordable life insurance.  We will help by shopping your case at the appropriate life insurance carriers.

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Most sleep apnea conditions are recognized by others witnessing the signs of the individual while sleeping or awake, or the condition is suspected because of its effects on the body. Sleep apnea is typically characterized by paused breathing or instances of abnormally shallow breathing while sleeping. Snoring is also extremely common. During the day, sleep apnea sufferers are prone to fatigue, slower reaction times, and vision problems. Behavioral effects such as moodiness, belligerence, and a decrease in attentiveness can also occur.

Treatments for sleep apnea can include:

  • Weight loss
  • Avoidance of alcohol prior to sleep
  • Avoiding sleeping on your back
  • Using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device
  • Using a bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP) device
  • Jaw or tongue surgery

Sleep Apnea and Term Life Insurance Rates

Depending on the individual, sleep apnea can be characterized as mild, moderate, or severe. With any severity, the key to getting good term life insurance rates is the management of the condition. If you have mild or moderate sleep apnea and you undergo effective treatment, such as using a CPAP device, and have no other risk factors, many insurance carriers would consider offering you the best classification rating in the life insurance industry. This rating, depending on the carrier, is sometimes named Preferred Plus. If you have severe sleep apnea, no other risk factors, and are managing it effectively, you could be considered anywhere from Preferred to Standard.

When applying for life insurance, you will need to undergo a medical exam and may have your medical records pulled. If your medical records show that you have been advised by a doctor to perform a sleep study test, but have not done so, some life insurance companies will not even consider you for coverage until you do. These sleep study tests, which your health insurance will most likely cover, reveals brain wave activity, respiratory patterns, chest muscle activity and oxygenation.

When the life insurance underwriters find out that you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, but you are non-compliant (e.g. a doctor prescribed you a CPAP device but you do not use it) your insurance costs will reflect this. Your term life insurance premiums could double or even triple in price because of the risk you take by not managing your condition properly.

What Do the Underwriters Look For?

When reviewing an applicant’s sleep study test underwriters look for 2 key items:

  1. The AHI (Apnea/Hypopnea Index)
  2. Oxygen Saturation

The AHI calculates apnea (pauses in breathing) and hypopnea (shallow breathing) during an individual’s sleep.  The index values range from 0-30+; the lower the number the better your AHI. The oxygen saturation is your balance of oxygen in the blood. Normal blood oxygen levels are considered to be 95-100 percent.

Even though your doctor may note that you have “moderate” sleep apnea, this diagnosis is subjective which is why underwriters will review the sleep study tests.

Example: An individual’s doctor told him he had moderate to severe sleep apnea. The sleep study showed that his AHI was 17 and his oxygen saturation was at 90%. While the doctor may see this as moderate to severe, a life insurance carrier may consider the sleep apnea to be mild or even non-existent.

Many people with sleep apnea are able to buy affordable term life insurance. We will help by shopping your case at the appropriate life insurance carriers. To make sure your loved ones are financially secure should you die prematurely, take a moment to run term life insurance quotes instantly without fear of being bombarded by phone calls and e-mails. You do not need to give up your personal contact information to see quotes. Take the first step in financial peace of mind today.

Watch the Life Insurance Sleep Apnea Video

Video Transcript

Welcome to Quotacy’s Q&A Friday where we answer your life insurance questions. Quotacy is an online life insurance agency where you can get life insurance on your terms.

I’m Jeanna and I’m Natasha.

Today’s question is:

Can I get life insurance if I have sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is actually one of the most common medical conditions we work with here at Quotacy. It’s a condition our agents are very familiar with and they have had a lot of success in helping people with sleep apnea get life insurance coverage. Sleep apnea can be a serious sleep disorder, but with proper treatment it can also be very well-managed.

When it comes to life insurance, there are standard and substandard risk classes. Applicants with well-managed sleep apnea can get placed into one of the standard risk classes and sometimes even a preferred risk class.

When we say risk class, this is the category the life insurance company assigns you to based on your health and lifestyle. Your risk class determines how much you will pay for life insurance.

The table shown is an example of how a 30-year-old man’s risk class can affect his monthly premiums.

Sample Monthly Premiums for a 20-Year $500,000 Term Life Insurance Policy
Preferred Plus$21.43
Preferred$28.26
Standard Plus$35.34
Standard$42.55

So, let’s say a 30-year-old male with sleep apnea applied for life insurance. The insurance company would review his application, recent sleep study results, medical exam results, and health records. After evaluating everything, they decide to offer Preferred and the applicant accepts.

This 30-year-old will now only have to pay $28.26 per month for $500,000 of life insurance coverage for the next 20 years no matter what happens. After the policy is active, the life insurance company cannot change the policy. Even if this man was unexpectedly diagnosed with cancer at age 45, he still would have coverage for only $28.26 per month.

When it comes to sleep apnea specifically, the condition is typically diagnosed as mild, moderate, or severe. However, because this diagnosis can be subjective, the life insurance company underwriter will review your sleep study tests. These tests reveal brain wave activity, respiratory patterns, chest muscle activity and oxygenation levels. These values will assist the underwriter in determining your risk class.

If your doctor has advised you to take a sleep study test and you have not done so, many life insurance companies won’t even offer you coverage until you do.

Because the severity of sleep apnea can change with treatment or lack thereof, life insurance companies also want to see recent sleep study results. Results from 10 years ago likely won’t cut it.

If your doctor has advised you to follow a certain treatment method, such as diet and exercise changes or using a CPAP machine, but you are not compliant, the life insurance company is likely going to postpone or decline your application.

If you have sleep apnea and are looking for life insurance, Quotacy can help.

» Calculate: Life insurance needs calculator

Quotacy is a life insurance broker which means we have access to many of the top-rated life insurance companies and can shop the market for you. We don’t work for any one insurance company, we work for you. Our agents’ jobs are to advocate on your behalf to get you the best life insurance coverage possible.

Recently we had a 54-year-old client with sleep apnea apply for life insurance through us. It was considered mild and well-managed with a CPAP machine.

His Quotacy agent reviewed his application and knew that the company he had originally picked when he applied online was likely going to assign him a Standard Plus risk class. His agent suggested actually switching companies in order to save money by getting a better risk class.

graphic illustrating Quotacy shopping life insurance case

second graphic illustrating Quotacy shopping life insurance case

Being a broker with many years of experience, we know the underwriting standards of the life insurance companies that we work with. This is how our agent knew to switch companies.

screenshot of Quotacy's life insurance quoting tool showing advice

Our client decided to follow his agent’s suggestion and switched to the other life insurance company. He was then given a Preferred Plus risk class and actually ended up saving $55 per month.

» Compare: Term life insurance quotes for sleep apnea

If you have any questions about life insurance, make sure to leave us a comment. Otherwise, tune in next week when we talk about getting life insurance while pregnant. Bye!

 

Photo by Adi Goldstein on Unsplash

 

About the writer

Headshot of Natasha Cornelius, a life insurance writer, for Quotacy, Inc.

Natasha Cornelius

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.