If you have diabetes and you’ve found nothing but roadblocks when you’ve attempted to purchase affordable life insurance, don’t give up – just get smart. Regardless if your diabetes is type 1 or type 2, there are many companies out there who are willing to issue you a policy at affordable rates. You can buy life insurance with diabetes.
When you eat, your body converts the food into glucose which is the fuel supply that your body uses for energy. Insulin is an important hormone that your body produces in order to convert the glucose (sugar) into a form of energy that it can use.
When you are diabetic, your body is unable to produce insulin, or the insulin that it does produce is not being used effectively, thus causing sugar to build up in the blood. It’s as if the insulin is floating around in your body instead of going into your cells.
The Three Types of Diabetes
Type 1 Diabetes: Type 1 diabetes is better known as insulin-dependent diabetes or juvenile diabetes. A patient with type 1 diabetes has a pancreas that does not produce insulin, so they self-administer by using a syringe or insulin pump. Frequently children and teens have type 1 diabetes and insurers will evaluate it differently.
Type 2 Diabetes: Type 2 is the most common of the three types of diabetes with approximately 90 percent of diabetics having type 2. Although a patient with type 2 diabetes can produce insulin, it is not effective at reducing or resisting glucose levels or their body does not produce enough insulin to meet their body’s needs.
Gestational Diabetes: This form of diabetes occurs in pregnant women who probably did not have any symptoms of diabetes until they became pregnant. When a woman becomes pregnant, hormonal cells can make cells less responsive to the insulin your body produces, resulting in a buildup of glucose in the blood.
Diabetes in the U.S.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 29 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, and 25 percent of them don’t know they have it. Another 86 million people have pre-diabetes, which is when the blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be considered type 2 diabetes. Unless these people with pre-diabetes begin a weight loss program and moderate exercise, 15 to 30 percent of them will develop type 2 diabetes within five years.
The Prevalence of Type 2 Diabetes
The percentage of applications we have received from individuals with Type 2 Diabetes has increased significantly over the past few years. At first, we assumed that more people with this disease are applying for life insurance than they had previously. However, upon further study and investigation, we learned that this disease has reached epidemic proportions in this country.
More than eight percent of the U.S. population has diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). More than 25% of these people have not received formal diagnoses and another 79 million Americans have pre-diabetes. Spending associated with diabetes is approximately $245 billion annually.
The U.N. Response
Last year, the United Nations, in an effort to slow the growth of this epidemic, adopted a declaration addressing the economic and social burdens of this chronic disease. To highlight how serious this epidemic has become worldwide, it’s important to note that the only other time the U.N. has drawn attention to a health crisis was when the spread of AIDS turned into a global epidemic.
It’s About Diet and Exercise (or lack of it)
Unhealthy diet and lack of exercise, aside from genetic predisposition, are the main culprits here. According to Dr. Deneen Vojta, Executive VP and Chief Clinical Officer of the Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance (sponsored by the United Health Group), says, “One study showed that people in the U.S. today have access to 1,000 more calories per day than they did in 1975. We don’t eat all those calories, but we eat a lot of them. The flip side is that our day-to-day activity is much lower. The ins-food-and the outs-activity-are unmatched.”
Reports regarding individuals who have brought this Type 2 Diabetes under control have done so with lifestyle changes, primarily with diet and exercise. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to most people, as diet and exercise are often recommended to get other health issues under control, notably blood pressure and high cholesterol. Research shows that, with moderate exercise and a five percent drop in body weight, people with pre-diabetes can prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes by 58%.
Certainly, the skyrocketing healthcare costs associated with this disease have prompted health insurance companies to take a proactive stance. Many, including the United Health Group (UHG)., have created programs to work with those with diabetes and those who are pre-diabetic to make lifestyle changes that help to lessen the effects of the disease. UHG, for example, has a year-long coaching program, followed by monthly maintenance sessions, that help people make these lifestyle changes. There’s no charge for the program, as UHG knows very well that this program helps to lower healthcare costs for those with this disease.
Regarding life insurance for those with diabetes type 2, the good news is that underwriters pay close attention to how well the applicant is controlling the disease, particularly with lifestyle changes and often reward these folks with lower rates than those who don’t apply these lifestyle changes.
Shopping for Life Insurance with Diabetes
When you are shopping for life insurance with diabetes, it’s important that you contact an experienced independent insurance agent who has been successful in placing high-risk cases. Insurance companies tend to view diabetes differently and depending on whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, it’s important that you apply with a company that has a history of liberal underwriting guidelines. Many life insurers are willing to offer standard rates if you appear to be managing your glucose levels while some may decline because of this condition altogether.
How will Diabetes affect my Rates?
A life insurer will base your life insurance rates on many factors during the underwriting process. The cost of insurance for a diabetic will generally be higher than another person who does not have diabetes. When you have diabetes, your premium will be based on the following factors:
Your Age Your Gender Current Marital Status Income and Occupation Your Overall Health History Your Family’s Health History Date of First Diagnosis Any Additional Health Issues Your Type of Diabetes Your Blood Sugar/Glucose Levels Your A1C Level Current Prescribed Medications
Other Health Issues that You Should Address
When you are shopping for life insurance with diabetes, other health issues should be considered as part of your overall plan of staying healthy. If you really want to nail down the most affordable life insurance rate, you need to address other issues that can motivate your underwriter:
Tobacco: Smokers automatically pay at least double for their life insurance whether diabetic or not. Giving up the cancer sticks is the most important (and usually the hardest) thing to conquer in order to receive the most favorable life insurance rates.
Blood Pressure: Elevated blood pressure is certainly an indicator that underwriters will be concerned about. The good news is, if you are following the plan your doctor prescribed for managing your diabetes, your blood pressure will likely get back to normal over time.
Weight: Most life insurers use a weight vs. height chart that spells out the minimum and maximum weight for your height. Once again, it’s likely your doctor is already addressing this, and your weight should get back to normal over time.
Alcohol: If you are over-consuming or abusing alcohol, this can have a negative effect on your life insurance rates and, in some cases, result in your application being declined. Although “social drinking” is not taboo, consider cutting back on your alcohol consumption.
Finding Affordable Life Insurance when You have Diabetes
It’s very important that people who are looking for affordable life insurance when they have diabetes, look for an experienced independent agent who has demonstrated success in placing high-risk cases. Typically, an agent who specializes in high-risk life insurance cases will represent all the major life insurers who have a reputation for finding a way to insure an applicant with diabetes at very affordable rates. In fact, many experienced agents will be able to give you a legitimate quote after interviewing you about your condition.
Agents who are willing to take on high-risk cases (not all of them do) are willing to invest the time and effort to walk their client through the underwriting process and address and eliminate any roadblocks along the way. Since your agent does not get paid a commission from the insurance company until your policy is issued, they will do everything in their power to advocate for your policy getting issued. In cases where there appears to be a decline, your agent will have alternative products, such as guaranteed issue life insurance for you to consider.
What if I’m Declined?
Not every applicant that has diabetes will be offered coverage. Typically, those applicants that demonstrate they are not trying to manage their diabetes and who appear not to be serious about their doctor’s recommendations will likely be declined coverage. But all is not lost. Your agent is likely to offer you a guaranteed issue policy that can be issued regardless of you having type 1 or type 2 diabetes
Although priced higher than traditional life insurance, a guaranteed issue policy allows those applicants who have been previously declined coverage to get a policy in place quickly as long as they are willing to accept the following:
A two or three-year waiting period where death from natural coverage will not be covered, but all premiums will be returned. After the waiting period expires, the full death benefit is available for death for any reason.
There is typically a limit of $25,000 to $30,000 on the death benefit.
The rates for insurance are much higher than a traditional policy.