When you shop for life insurance, your health is going to be assessed–every aspect.
Life insurance companies look at both your current health and medical history to determine your mortality risk. You may be aware life insurance companies may increase your premiums if you have diabetes, heart disease or hypertension, but did you know it could be difficult to find life insurance after an eating disorder?
Can You Be Approved For Life Insurance After an Eating Disorder?
Many people experience barriers to buying life insurance when they have engaged in unhealthy behaviors. Anorexia nervosa and bulimia are two eating disorders which could affect your ability to get life insurance.
This doesn’t mean you will be denied life insurance if you dealt with an eating disorder; however, we’ll explain how it could affect your ratings and potentially increase your premiums. Our goal is to help everyone find the best coverage possible regardless of their health status.
An eating disorder may be difficult to diagnose. Eating disorders are mental and/or emotional conditions which cause people to have an unhealthy relationship with food. According to the Mayo Clinic, the most commonly known eating disorders are as follows:
- Bulimia nervosa – Episodes of binging and purging, often combined with food restriction
- Anorexia nervosa – Using extreme measures to control body shape and weight
- Binge-eating disorder – Regularly consuming too much food due to a feeling of lack of control over eating
Some other eating disorders include the following:
- Pica – The urge to persistently consume items not edible, like dirt or soap.
- Rumination disorder – The need to regurgitate food after eating it. Rumination disorder is not caused by a medical condition.
- Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder – The avoidance of certain foods for a reason other than a desire to lose weight.
While eating disorders are psychological conditions, they have detrimental physical effects both short term and chronically. People with anorexia, bulimia or avoidant food intake disorder may fall to dangerously low body weights and starve themselves of essential nutrients. Individuals with binge-eating disorder may consume unhealthy foods causing numerous possible health conditions.
Experts aren’t sure what causes eating disorders. The results of an eating disorder are complications ranging from significant medical problems to depression, and even death. Bulimia can cause kidney failure, heart attacks and esophageal cancer. Anorexia can increase your risk for heart failure and osteoporosis.
Many people with eating disorders are never diagnosed. If you have been diagnosed by a doctor, your medical records will show your history of eating disorder. If you are afraid to visit your doctor for fear you may be turned down for life insurance, rest assured you can still obtain traditional life insurance.
The Life Insurance Application Process
A knowledgeable agent will be able to ask you the right questions to help him or her best determine your health category. The severity and details of your case will affect the type of coverage you receive, and help to designate a suitable carrier for you. Your premiums will also be affected by your health rating, so the company you place your business with truly matters.
When you apply for life insurance coverage, you will be asked questions about your condition(s). The questions may be similar to these:
1. When were you diagnosed with an eating disorder?
If your diagnosis is recent, you can be declined. If your diagnosis was made more than a year ago and your condition is stable, you should receive a higher rating. Underwriters like to see stability, and the longer time frame of stable eating, the better.
2. What symptoms have you had in the past year?
Some symptoms are associated with more serious complications. If you have yellowed skin, cognitive difficulties or extreme weakness, your rating may suffer. Drastic weight gain or loss, or even a roller coaster of weight can negatively impact rates, too.
3. Do you take medications for any other health problems?
If you have other medical conditions necessitating medication, it may indicate you have other complications associated with the eating disorder. Even if they are unrelated, they can still add additional risk the underwriter needs to account for.
4. Can you show us any recent tests?
Laboratory tests can demonstrate the lack of complications, which can help you get the best rating possible.
Other questions may include inquiries about whether you are undergoing a treatment plan or have ever been hospitalized for the condition.
Best Outcomes Available
If you have overcome an eating disorder and have no health complications, you may be able to obtain a Standard rating, and maybe even better, depending on time frame since your last instance.
However, if the eating disorder was diagnosed less than a year ago or you have recognizable symptoms, you will probably qualify for a Mild Substandard, at best. This indicates you have a minor health condition putting you a little below average for life expectancy and your rates will increase by a percentage.
If you have ever experienced a significant complication due to your eating disorder, such as muscle wasting or heart problems, you may qualify under the High Substandard class. A recent diagnosis with undetermined complications will put you in danger of a decline or very poor rating, at best.
Non-Traditional Life Insurance Options After An Eating Disorder
If you are denied life insurance because of your eating disorder, you may still qualify for a policy with a graded death benefit.
To obtain this type of policy, you are not required to take a medical exam. You typically only have to answer a few medical questions compared with the extensive questionnaire involved with a traditional policy. The drawbacks, however, are during the first few years.
Your benefits will be reduced, usually paying only a percentage of the full death benefit in the first two or three years. Each passing year, the coverage will increase. A graded death benefit policy comes in both term or permanent life insurance.
Someone who is currently dealing with complications of an eating disorder could also qualify for a guaranteed issue life insurance policy. No medical questions are asked during this application. This type of policy is a permanent life insurance option, but comes with low maximum death benefits and high costs.
Because almost everyone qualifies, the premiums are much higher than those for traditional life insurance, and this is a last resort option if you can’t qualify for anything cheaper.
Even if you have been denied life insurance coverage, don’t assume you will automatically pay the highest premiums.
Just because one company doesn’t offer an ideal fit, you’re not necessarily going to receive the same results from another life insurance company. Call one of our agents to get a detailed analysis of your options so you can make the best decision for yourself and your loved ones.