Life insurance can protect your loved ones if something happens to you. Ideally, good life insurance comes with affordable premiums and pays a generous death benefit to your survivors, so your death doesn't lead to financial disaster.
Unfortunately, not everyone can easily get approved for a policy at premiums they can afford because of how life insurance works. Individuals with a health issue such as diabetes may face added challenges getting covered.
But the good news is, diabetes doesn't necessarily mean you won't be able to buy life insurance protection. A lot depends on the type of diabetes you have and whether your condition is well-controlled by medication.
If you’re diabetic, here's what you need to know about your life insurance options, as well as how qualifying for life insurance might be different for you.
- Why it can be hard for diabetics to get life insurance
- Life insurance and your type of diabetes
- Factors that impact the cost of life insurance for diabetics
- How to choose the best life insurance policy for diabetics
- Bottom line
Why it can be hard for diabetics to get life insurance
Life insurance companies don't have to provide insurance policies to everyone. To determine if they will give you coverage and what they'll charge you for it, you'll go through a process known as underwriting. An underwriter is someone who assesses risk levels for an insurance company.
During the underwriting process, insurers may ask you to undergo a medical exam. And they'll also ask questions about your current habits and past health status. The purpose is to assess the risk that you'll die while you are covered, and the company will have to pay the death benefit.
If insurers discover you have a pre-existing health condition, especially a chronic one such as diabetes, they'll view you as a higher-risk person to insure. Diabetes has been linked to adverse health outcomes, including heart disease, kidney disease, nerve damage, infection, vision loss, and other serious complications.
Unfortunately, since insurers believe diabetes means there’s a high risk you'll pass away while their policy covers you, they will typically charge you higher premiums or not insure you at all. Of course, a lot depends on the specifics of your situation.
Because Type 2 diabetes is considered more manageable, insurers may be more willing to provide affordable coverage to Type 2 diabetics than Type 1 diabetics. Those diagnosed at an older age are also more likely to be eligible for insurance since long-term diabetics diagnosed when they are young face a higher risk of developing complications.
Different life insurance carriers also have different policies, with some companies specifically offering insurance designed for diabetic individuals. But if your diabetes is well-controlled, you may have a broader choice of insurers offering different types of policies, including both term life insurance and whole life insurance coverage.
Life insurance and your type of diabetes
The type of diabetes you have is one of the biggest factors determining whether you can qualify for life insurance and how much an insurer will charge for a policy.
Life insurance for diabetics type 1
Type 1 diabetes (also known as insulin-dependent diabetes) isn't as common as Type 2 diabetes, and it's almost always diagnosed in young children rather than adults. It occurs because of a problem with insulin production in the pancreas, and it's a lifelong condition that requires ongoing management.
Insurers assign health classifications to applicants when they apply for coverage. Those with Type 1 diabetes usually get a less favorable insurance rating than people with type 2 diabetes who otherwise present the same risk profile. There are a few reasons why. For example, most Type 1 diabetics have the condition for a much longer time, and Type 1 diabetes can be more challenging to manage
Because type 1 diabetics are considered riskier to insure, it is more difficult to find a company willing to provide coverage. Insurers who do issue life insurance to people with type 1 diabetes also typically impose more stringent requirements during the application process to assess how well-controlled a person's diabetes is.
Life insurance for diabetics type 2
Around 10% of Americans have diabetes, and between 90% and 95% of individuals with the condition have Type 2 diabetes. Individuals with Type 2 diabetes become insulin resistant, which means their bodies don't respond properly to the insulin their pancreas naturally produces.
Most people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes are over 45 years old. The condition can sometimes be managed by diet or lifestyle changes alone, but medication may also be required.
Although insurers view Type 2 diabetics as riskier to insure than individuals without diabetes, the condition is typically viewed as milder than Type 1. As a result, health classifications aren't as heavily affected by Type 2 as Type 1. People with this type of diabetes should have a wider choice of life insurance products and a better chance at qualifying for coverage.
Factors that impact the cost of life insurance for diabetics
If you have diabetes, the type of diabetes you have is the most critical risk factor insurers consider. But it's not the only consideration when an insurance company assesses your risk level during the underwriting process.
When deciding whether to cover a diabetic and what rates to charge, people with diabetes will typically have to answer an additional questionnaire. There are a few key pieces of medical information that underwriters take into account:
- Type of diabetes: As mentioned above, Type 2 diabetics will find it easier to get coverage and won't pay as much of a premium penalty as Type 1 diabetics because the condition is viewed as milder and usually hasn't been present for as long.
- Age of diagnosis: The longer you have diabetes, the more likely it is to cause complications. Those who have late-onset diabetes (with the diagnosis coming after age 50) may qualify for lower life insurance rates.
- A1C: An A1C test measures blood sugar levels to see how your body has been processing sugar over time. If you have higher blood sugar levels, you'll have more sugar-coated hemoglobin in your red blood cells. The lower your A1C range, the less severe your diabetes, while those with an A1C of 10 or more may find themselves denied coverage altogether.
- Blood glucose: Insurers will want to know if you measure your glucose levels daily. Some insurers may also want to see past data on glucose readings to see if your blood sugar is within the normal range. If your fasting glucose is regularly too high or you aren't monitoring glucose levels, this could affect your ability to get covered.
- Medical history: Insurers look at your overall medical history, including your family history. They’ll also want to know whether your diabetes has caused any complications in the past. If you've had repeated infections or your diabetes has caused high blood pressure, you can expect your policy premiums to be higher or coverage to be denied.
- How your diabetes is managed: Diabetics with a consistent treatment plan whose condition has been well-managed for a while can expect to qualify for better rates and stand a better chance at approval altogether. The form of management will also have an impact. Diabetes that can be managed with a healthy lifestyle alone will be seen as less of a risk than diabetes controlled by oral medication or insulin.
How to choose the best life insurance policy for diabetics
For people with diabetes, as for anyone else researching life insurance, there are a few key steps to take to find the best coverage before you even start filling out a life insurance application.
Understand the types of life insurance
There are several different types of life insurance, including:
- Term life insurance policies: These remain in effect for a set number of years. If you don't die while covered, your family will not receive a payout from the insurer. They are much less expensive to buy than whole life coverage. Still, you can't count on getting affordable insurance coverage for life since you’ll have to apply and qualify for another life insurance policy after this one ends.
- Whole life insurance policies: These are in effect indefinitely as long as you don't let your policy lapse. Whole life insurance premiums cost much more than for term life. But some of your money is invested, so you accrue a cash value in your whole life policy.
If you have well-controlled diabetes, you should qualify for either type of coverage in most cases.
Understand the role of the medical exam
You'll need to be prepared to have your health evaluated when applying for life insurance coverage. A medical exam helps an insurer assess the risk of providing you with a policy.
While some life insurance is available without a medical exam, guaranteed issue policies (or no medical exam life insurance policies) usually have smaller coverage limits. They may also cost more than comparable coverage that requires an exam because insurers take a bigger risk when issuing a policy to someone without knowing their health status.
Your diabetes will likely be assessed in a medical exam, along with other factors that give an insurer an idea of how healthy you are. If doctors discover your condition is well controlled and you're generally in good overall health, this could help you qualify for lower rates.
Do your best to manage diabetes
If your diabetes is well managed and your A1C levels and glucose levels are normal, then insurers will consider your condition to present less risk.
Seeing a doctor regularly and following your physician's guidance can help you to increase the likelihood of getting approved for affordable life insurance premiums despite your diabetes.
Insurance policy premiums vary from one insurer to the next. This is especially true when you have a pre-existing condition such as diabetes. That's because some insurers are much more strict than others about how this medical problem will impact premiums.
As a result, it's essential to get life insurance quotes from multiple companies to find the best coverage at the right price. You can use our list of the best life insurance companies to get started.
Can you get life insurance if you have diabetes?
It is often possible to get life insurance even if you have diabetes. Some insurance companies specifically cater to diabetics and provide specialized policies. Those with well-controlled diabetes, especially late-onset type 2 diabetics, will also find they have an easier time qualifying for a broader range of policy options.
While people with diabetes may pay more to get covered than those with no pre-existing conditions, it's still possible for most people with diabetes to find affordable coverage if they shop around and if their diabetes is well-managed with a consistent treatment plan.
How much is life insurance for a diabetic?
The cost of life insurance for a person with diabetes varies depending on the type of diabetes you have, your current age, your age at diagnosis, whether you have had any complications associated with your condition, your A1C levels, and a variety of other factors.
In most cases, people with diabetes receive a lower health rating than individuals without pre-existing conditions. That means their insurance premiums will typically be higher. Still, some insurers impose more of a premium penalty for diabetes than others, which is why shopping around for coverage is so essential.
Can you be denied life insurance for diabetes?
Life insurance companies can deny individuals insurance coverage if they have pre-existing conditions. Diabetes is a pre-existing condition. An insurer can deny you if you have diabetes, especially if you have type 1 diabetes, your condition is not well controlled, or you have experienced complications.
There are, however, many insurers who do provide life insurance coverage for individuals with diabetes. And you can also look into guaranteed issue insurance. While policy limits are usually lower with guaranteed issue policies, your history of diabetes shouldn't preclude you from being able to purchase one.
If you have diabetes, you most likely can still get life insurance to protect your loved ones. Keeping your condition under control and shopping around for coverage from the best companies will be essential to get a policy at an affordable price that provides the coverage your loved ones deserve.