Diabetes affects millions of Americans, young and old.
But it doesn’t have to prevent you from buying an affordable life insurance policy.
There are more stringent underwriting rules for someone who has diabetes and life insurance could be more difficult to obtain.
However, with proper preparation, the right agent, and the best life insurance company to fit your situation, you’d be surprised how affordable it really may be.
We’ll go over the different types of diabetes, the details the carriers will require from you, and best practices for you to put yourself in the best position to get the best rates.
Life Insurance For Diabetics Made Simpler
First, you have to understand that diabetes is considered a high risk to a life insurance company.
Too many consumers are led to believe diabetes isn’t a big deal because they are currently under control, but it is not always representative of the long term risks.
Having diabetes is very much a big deal in the eyes of life insurance companies, and you need to accurately portray how well controlled you are to have a shot at affordable premiums.
What exactly does the issuing company need to know?
Aside from the basic information, here are the most related questions for diabetics you’ll be asked by both your agent and the carrier:
- What was your original date of diagnosis, and how old were you at the time?
- What is your most recent Glycohemoglobin score (also called the HbA1C or A1C level)? *
- Do you regularly visit a primary care physician or specialist? If so, how often?
- How do you maintain your diabetes, other than medication? If you do require medication, list your prescriptions in detail, including name, dosage, frequency and date it was first prescribed. (ie Metformin, Pramlintide, or Humalog)
- What were your most current blood sugar levels?
- What are your most recent cholesterol readings (both HDL and LDL)?
- Have you been diagnosed with high blood pressure?
- Have you experienced any other type of health concern, diabetes related or not?
*Without this, stop your inquiry and immediately obtain the information before continuing your search. No agent or carrier can properly determine an accurate quote without knowing this number.
How you answer these questions, in addition to the common questions of age, height and weight, tobacco use and other health and wellness considerations, will determine not only what rate you can consider applying for, but also to which company.
Several of the best life insurance companies for diabetics may not be the largest, most familiar brands you know.
The single greatest key to getting accepted is showing control.
First and foremost, the amount of time which has passed since the date of your diagnosis is a primary factor for all carriers.
If you were diagnosed too recently and don’t have enough data to show long term control, you will definitely be rated, or even postponed.
Without sufficient history, the issuer cannot be certain you won’t have complications in the near future, putting you at a higher risk for long term damage.
While there is no definitive time frame from diagnosis across the board, a better way to determine enough time has passed is by monitoring the last time you had to alter your insulin or prescription dosage.
As the body becomes accustomed to being supplemented by daily to constant intervention, it will adjust to a certain level to balance itself out.
When this occurs, and there are no insulin shocks, hospitalizations or any highly necessary medical attention events required, you can begin counting your control time period.
For most, a Standard issue life insurance policy is possible, assuming control.
This would require a formal application, medical exam, and a medical history provided by your physician. There are also no exam life insurance options available for diabetics, but only a few select companies are willing to do so with fair rates.
Underwriters first look at your age, your diagnosis date, and how long you’ve been stable. Instability or not enough elapsed time will immediately push you into a rating or postponement.
If it’s determined you do fit the first few qualifications, your A1C level will quickly help the underwriter to begin profiling you with a rating, such as standard or sub-standard.
An A1C level between 6 and 7 is deemed excellent, and those who can accurately declare these will be started at standard rates.
Any applicant with an A1C of 8 to 9 will begin at mild sub-standard rates, and 10 or higher will be considered poor control and rated or declined on a case-by-case basis based on the rest of your health profile and health history.
Next, assuming the underwriter has qualified you to this point based on the factors mentioned above, the most immediate concerns will be your blood pressure, cholesterol, kidney function and heart health. If you use tobacco, or have previously, expect an even higher importance of these.
Over time, the body’s different functions of keeping blood sugar and glucose levels stable take a toll on other organs, such as the kidneys and major arteries.
If proper function has diminished in any way, it’s seen as a compounded high risk.
A case with multiple risks, including diabetes, are some of the more difficult to get approved, especially if the compounding concern is heart disease or kidney failure.
It would not be uncommon to get declined. If you find yourself in this situation, seek a graded or guaranteed life insurance policy.
How To Help Your Cause
Outside of maintaining your diabetes, excelling in other areas can help tremendously.
For example, a person with great eating habits, a proper exercise routine, and an average or better body mass index (BMI) will do substantially better than their overweight counterpart.
In addition, your family history can play a part, too. It is often asked by the agent, but reinforce the note if your immediate family history is clean of diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Your immediate family will consist of biological parents, brother and sisters only, so do not consider grandparents, aunts, uncles or extended family.
How Different Types of Diabetes Are Underwritten
At this time, Type I is very difficult or near impossible to insure until adulthood is reached, and even then, many carriers require the applicant be at least 25 or 30 to apply.
In the opposite way, adult-onset diabetes is looked on favorably because it is the lowest form of risk between the two.
In addition, gestational diabetes is unique in its underwriting practices, as well.
Additionally, the rare condition of diabetes insipidus is underwritten differently than other forms of diabetes.
If you have diabetes insipidus, you are likely to qualify for traditional coverage. If your condition is well-managed with no real complications and you’re in good health, you could get rated as “Standard” or “Standard Plus.”
Underwriters sometimes confuse diabetes insipidus and other forms of diabetes, so be sure to clearly state what form of diabetes you have on your application to get the best rates.
How Diabetes Medications Affect Underwriting
In addition to the type of diabetes you have, underwriters will factor in any medication you take to treat it.
Some medications may impact the rates you receive, while others will have less of an influence.
Here’s a closer look at a few common diabetes medications:
Metformin helps your body to better accept and use the insulin it creates, regulating blood sugar and potentially prevent you from having to take insulin injections.
Metformin goes by a number of other names, like Diabex, Diaformin, Glucophage, and more.
Taking Metformin signifies that you’re working to control or moderate your diabetes, an advantage with life insurance.
However, taking Metformin with another prescription, like insulin over a long period of time, can be harmful to the body, especially the kidneys.
Humalog is considered to be fast insulin that can cover most meals.
It works quickly and mirrors long-lasting insulin, offering most individuals more flexibility and control over their diets.
By keeping diabetes under control and maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle, you can expect to pay lower rates for life insurance.
Your proper use of Humalog, as prescribed by your doctor, is a serious factor. How much the medication impacts your rates will depend on your dosage, other medications, lifestyle, and management of the disease.
Pramlintide is an injectable medication which effectively lowers glucose levels.
Insurance companies recognize diabetics who take Pramlintide are actively working towards stabilizing their glucose levels and will regard this favorably on their insurance application.
But you can expect to pay a higher rate of premium than non-diabetics and diabetics who can control their illness with diet and exercise alone.
For over 20 years, Metformin has been helping people with diabetes to manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.
Frequently Asked Questions About Buying Life Insurance With Diabetes
We get a few common questions from our clients about getting life insurance with diabetes, so we’ll do our best to go ahead and answer them right here. Of course, the answer is always, “It depends on your particular case,” however we’ll try to be as simple as possible.
Who are the best life insurance companies for diabetics?
This, unfortunately, is not one answered easily.
Whether or not you want to take an exam, what your current A1C is, and what your BMI currently is, will all play a strong factor. Given those,we can usually narrow it down to about 5-10 companies, and sometimes fewer.
Since we use more than 50 life insurance carriers, a few new insurers jump in and out of the picture, but there are a few who remain most prominent for a majority.
Can you get no exam life insurance with diabetes?
No matter what type of diabetes you have, and how severe your medical issues are, no exam life insurance policies are available for you.
There are many types of no exam policies available, including some specifically tailored to diabetics. Some common types include term, universal, and permanent life insurance.
So even though you might have more limited options than a non-diabetic, you still have no exam options.
I’m considered pre-diabetic. How does this factor in?
This will typically depend on whether or not your doctor is aggressively keeping it at bay, or whether he’s simply monitoring you.
If you’re only being monitored and you’re actively taking steps to improve yourself, like proper diet and exercise, you won’t be considered diabetic.
If, however, you’re taking a medication for it, the underwriter will most certainly view it as diabetes.
Is a family history of diabetes really so bad?
While we mention it, it’s not actually a huge concern.
We always try to be as comprehensive as possible, so each question we ask is sort of an elimination of carriers, if you will. S
o, for example, if you had a relative pass away of complications of diabetes, we’d immediately drop two carriers whose requisite of top tier rates would no longer be available to you.
In short, it’s a very small number of carriers.