Getting life insurance if you have Type 2 diabetes is possible to attain. The risk class and the associated costs are a different story. According to the CDC, more than 100 million adults in the U.S. are now living with diabetes or prediabetes. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. since 2015. The growing numbers of diabetics are why insurance companies are worried.
If you pose a higher risk to them because of an illness like diabetes, you will pay a higher premium. This is why choosing an insurance broker who is on your side, understands your condition, and knows which company will look at your situation most favorably will be in your best interest and help you get the best premium.
The best case for getting standard plus rates are possible if you were diagnosed later in life (preferably over 50 years old), if your diabetes is under control, your A1c levels are below 7, and diabetes is the only health condition you have. If, however, you have other health issues like obesity, you have had a stroke or a smoker, you may not be able to get a traditional life insurance policy.
In this post, you will find out what the insurance companies are looking for when they underwrite an individual with type 2 diabetes. I wanted to write this post so that you will know what to expect and also how to improve the things you can control so that you can get a better rate.
Related: Life insurance with Type 1 diabetes
What Are the Insurance Companies Looking for When Insuring Type 2 Diabetics?
All insurance companies have different criteria when it comes to underwriting an individual for a life policy. However, they all have a very similar way of evaluating someone’s diabetes to see if he/she can get approved and which risk class they can get.
Managing Your A1c Level
I’m sure you don’t think about it often, unless you see your doctor or talk to an insurance broker, however, your A1c level may be the most important factor in getting standard plus rates. The A1c score is a blood test used to diagnose type 1 or 2 diabetes and to assess how well you’re managing your disease. The result paints a picture of your average blood sugar level for the past 2 or 3 months.
The A1c level also used to come up with a treatment plan and see how well it’s working (or not working). The higher the number, the worse you are managing diabetes, and the more prone you are to complications or an early death. The lower it is, the better for you. According to the Mayo Clinic, for someone who doesn’t have diabetes, a normal A1c level is below 5.7 percent. Someone who’s had uncontrolled diabetes for a long time might have an A1c level above 8 percent.
Typically the insurance companies are looking for A1c levels below 7 percent to qualify for standard plus rating. If your A1c is over 10, you will be declined. Make sure you apply only after the A1c has been controlled for a minimum of 6-12 months.
At What Age Were You Diagnosed?
Life insurance companies understand that the longer you have had diabetes, the more predisposed to complications and issues in the future you are. The older you are when first diagnosed, the better, preferably over age 50.
Type of Medications Used
Oral medications, such as Metformin, are better than insulin when it comes to getting the best rates. If you don’t use Insulin for blood sugar control, you can get better rates. In fact, there are a few companies who will deny your application if you are insulin dependent. Some other companies, such as Banner, will offer you a “table shaving” opportunity (getting a better rating class) if everything else is under control.
Lifestyle Changes to Control Your Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is usually related to being overweight or having some other underlying health issue, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol. It’s also highly related to one’s lifestyle choices, which include everything from the food you are eating to your movement habits. This is actually good news because it means that it’s in your control.
We can choose to eat healthier or move more often and therefore improve our situations. Life insurance companies love to see some lifestyle changes. If you can control your blood sugar with healthy eating and healthy lifestyle choices rather than with insulin shots, you will get rewarded for it, not only with your improved health but also with a lower premium for your policy. You should qualify for standard plus.
Height and Weight
As mentioned above since type 2 diabetes is highly related to your weight, this will be the second question (after your A1c levels) you would be asked by your insurance broker. Generally, you will need to fit the standard weight table and not the preferred (since you will already be rated as standard rating). For instance, a male 6’0” can weigh up to 280 lbs and not be considered overweight by the insurance company.
How Well Are You Following Your Doctor’s Orders?
Are you getting a check-up once or twice per year? Do you take your medications accordingly? If you don’t follow your doctor’s orders, you will have a hard time getting insurance. The insurance carrier will order an APS (attending physician statement) and can confirm whether or not you are doing as you are told.
Anything other than the doctor’s order will show them that you’re too risky and they will deny the application. On the other hand, anything that shows that you are improving, getting your A1c lower every time you visit the doctor, and losing weight would all give you a better chance for lower rates.
Diabetes complications include neuropathy, retinopathy, foot ulcers, and amputations, among others. If you ever experienced complications related to your diabetes, it will increase your standard rating to table ratings (higher rates). It will depend, off course, on how severe it was, but you should expect to pay more.
Are You a Smoker?
Smokers pay 2-3 times as much as non-smokers, depending on age, gender, and other health factors. If you are a smoker and also have type 2 diabetes (which also may include other issues like being overweight or having high blood pressure), you could find yourself in the table rating category, paying more than 400% of the standard rate, or even being denied altogether.
Overall Health Is the Insurance Company’s Main Concern
Sure there are many other variations they are looking at, such as your driving history, family history, occupation, and hobbies, among others, but after all, it’s your overall health that they are interested in the most. If you have don’t have high blood pressure or cholesterol and are making improvements when it comes to your lifestyle, you have a very good chance to get better table ratings and enjoy a lower premium.
What If I Was Denied for Life Insurance with Diabetes?
First, we will need to find out what the reason was that you were declined. However, you may still have four other options:
- You could try to apply for a simplified issue policy, which doesn’t involve any exam and only has a few health questions to which you will need to answer “no.” The max death benefit is usually up to $50,000, and Assurity Life would be an excellent choice if you haven’t had any complications due to your diabetes. This is a permanent policy which lasts for as long as your premiums are paid and also carries a cash component in it.
- You could apply for a guaranteed issue life insurance. They will not pay the full death benefits if you die within the first two years of the policy. This is last resort type of a policy for individuals who can’t get a traditional policy.
- You could apply for an accident plan. Although, I wouldn’t call this life insurance since they will only pay if you die from something accident-related.
- You decide to manage your diabetes and buy nothing now. Probably not the best choice insurance-wise, although it’s great for your diabetes and that you are getting healthier. You choose to get better and apply at a later time when you have your weight and other health issues under control.
Buying life insurance if you have type 2 diabetes (or any other pre-existing condition for that matter) can be an enormous task to accomplish by yourself. I’m also sure it’s the least enjoyable purchase you have ever made, but probably the most important one. The reason is that there are so many moving parts when it comes to underwriting, that you may not know yourself, and they may put you in a policy with the wrong company for your health situation because you didn’t know any better.
Luckily, an insurance broker costs you nothing (we get paid by the insurance company) and have absolutely no loyalty to them. Instead, we are loyal to our clients and will choose the best company at the best possible rate for your specific situation. You can run the quotes yourself on the right-hand side.