Just about everywhere you go these days, you’ll read information or hear a conversation about obesity. The topic of obesity, and its related health risks, is constantly on the news and all over the internet. Life insurance and obesity is a topic of much controversy within the insurance world.
If you are overweight or obese, and you are considering purchasing life insurance, you may be concerned about how your weight will affect your approval rating. And, you are right to be concerned; some of the first questions on a life insurance application are about your height and weight.
Thankfully, many people who are obese are approved for life insurance every day. Coverage and rates vary from person to person, so working with an experienced life insurance agency, like us, is in your best interest. We work with many different life insurance companies to find the best rates and policies for each type of applicant.
Life Insurance And Obesity by The Numbers
Obesity is determined by calculating a person’s weight in relationship to their height. The resulting figure, known as a Body Mass Index (or BMI), falls into a range which determines ideal weight. BMI ranges for adults are categorized as follows:
- A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered a healthy weight
- A BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered to be overweight
- A BMI of 30 or higher is considered to be obese
Figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state more than 36% of adults in the United States are obese. Obesity rates are high amongst all age groups, but tend to be highest for adults who are 40-59 years old, and those over 60.
Hispanics and Non-Hispanic Blacks have a higher genetic predisposition to obesity than other ethnicities. Regardless of this predisposition, though, obesity is preventable and reversible. Maintaining a healthy diet and getting regular exercise are the first steps in losing weight and improving your BMI.
Obesity can lead to a number of high risk health conditions which are red flags for an insurance company. Heart disease, diabetes, and cancer have all been linked to obesity, and have high mortality rates. In addition, being overweight can contribute to high blood pressure and put strain on your bones.
Other health conditions obese people are at high risk for developing include:
Someone is considered morbidly obese if they have a BMI of 40 or more, or if their BMI falls in the 35 to 40 range and they have one of the above high risk health conditions. Morbid obesity often interferes with a person’s ability to walk or perform other basic physical functions.
Someone who is morbidly obese is considered the highest risk for a life insurance company.
Applying for Life Insurance When You Are Obese or Morbidly Obese
Your weight and BMI will obviously play a large part in your life insurance approval, but they aren’t the only factors considered.
Each life insurance company will have its own standards by which they assess an application. Even if you have a BMI of 31, some companies may not consider you to be obese if you are in good general health, live an active lifestyle, and are under the regular care of a doctor.
If you are not under the regular care of a doctor, it could work against you during the life insurance application process. Since obesity can lead to many life-threatening diseases, a life insurance underwriter may find you to be a higher risk because you are not getting regular check-ups and tests to monitor your health. You can increase your chances of being approved for life insurance by seeing a doctor before you apply.
In addition to a medical exam, you can expect to provide the following information on your life insurance application:
- Changes in your weight over the last year
- Any health conditions related to your weight
- Any issues you have with mobility (walking, standing, etc.)
- The date of your last doctor appointment
- The results of any health tests you have had in the past year
Beginning a doctor-monitored weight loss program before you apply for life insurance may increase your chances of being approved, but underwriters usually want to see weight loss progress over a long period of time. Generally speaking, progressive weight loss over a period of 12 to 14 months is ideal. You and your doctor should determine how much weight you need to lose to achieve a BMI closer to, or under, 30.
If you smoke, quitting will help you lose weight, improve your overall health, and will make you a better candidate for life insurance coverage.
Ratings You Could Expect
Exactly what type of life insurance policy you will qualify for is difficult to determine. Health class ratings and potential costs vary widely from person to person. While many obese people receive a Standard rating, their premiums differ due to existing health conditions, medications they may be taking, or the type of lifestyle they lead.
Something to consider is your current weight versus your old weight. Even if you’ve lost, say, 50 pounds in the last year, the life insurance carrier you choose may only actually credit you with a loss of 25, or half the weight. This can bump you up a rating in some cases.
If you are morbidly obese, have limited mobility, and have other high risk health conditions, you will likely receive a Sub-Standard rating, or have your application declined. If your application is declined, you will need to explore other life insurance options, like graded or guaranteed insurance.
What To Do Next
Don’t give up! Many obese people are able to lose weight, changing their overall health dramatically. Get in touch with a doctor who specializes in nutrition and weight loss, and start making lifestyle changes as soon as possible.
If you qualify for life insurance coverage now, you can always decrease your premiums over time as you lose weight and your BMI improves, too. We know which life insurance companies will cover obese applicants and we’ll do our best to help you find the best option possible. Contact us today to get started.
If you struggle with your weight, and it’s making it difficult to find affordable life insurance, contact us today. We’ll help.