Life Insurance with Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a condition that causes disturbances in breathing while sleeping. Typically, an individual with sleep apnea will quit breathing during sleep for a time period, varying from a few seconds to a few minutes. The individual will then usually begin breathing again, occasionally with a snorting sound. The disturbances often cause the person sleeping to come out of a deep sleep state into a lighter sleeping state, which can cause daytime drowsiness and even fatigue. People with this issue frequently are not aware until a family member or partner alerts them of the issue.

Types of Sleep Apnea

There are three kinds of sleep apnea to be aware of.


With Central Sleep Apnea, your brain does not signal the body’s muscles that control your breathing. Typically, heart disease is the contributing factor.


A person with Obstructive Sleep Apnea experiences the air passage squeezed by an obstruction, like a large tongue, swollen tonsils, or just the closing of the soft tissue in the throat as your muscles relax.


Complex Sleep Apnea is a combination of central and obstructive sleep apnea.

Sleep Apnea Risk Factors

Research indicates that sleep apnea is likely to occur in males and females without regard to age. Increased risks are likely to include:

  • Being obese
  • Having a neck that measures more than 17 inches
  • People with a narrow airway
  • Males who are 65 and older
  • Having a family history of the disorder
  • People taking sleeping aids or pills and drinking alcohol before sleeping
  • Cigar or cigarette smoking
  • Sitting for a long period of time
  • Persons with heart disease
  • Persons with high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • People who have suffered from stroke or other brain conditions

Sleep Apnea Statistics

The CDC has published the following statistics that indicate the significance of sleep apnea:

four to nine percent of men who are middle aged

two to 4 percent of women who are middle aged

80 to 90 percent of people who have sleep apnea are not aware of it

Sleep Apnea Prevention and Treatment

  • Most people with sleep apnea are treated effectively with a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) device. A CPAP is a device that is worn while sleeping and maintains positive air flow by combating collapse of the throat.
  • Lifestyle changes, such as weight loss, stopping tobacco/alcohol use, and elimination of caffeine or sedatives may help.
  • Some individuals undergo a procedure to remove surplus tissue from the soft palate to try to alleviate symptoms.
  • Sleeping on the side of the body instead of the back is helpful for some.

What the Insurer Will Look For

Life insurance companies are interested that those with sleep apnea are taking the appropriate measures to keep it under control. The life insurance company will be looking particularly at:

  • Current, favorable sleep review to prove that treatment is doing the job
  • Current, favorable sleep review to prove that treatment is doing the job
  • Current, favorable sleep review to prove that treatment is doing the job
    Good reaction to treatment
  • Repeated follow-ups with the doctor to be sure the C-PAP is working
  • Related medical diagnosis or risk factor, such as elevated blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, depression symptoms, stroke or being overweight
  • No sleep-related collisions while driving

The rating class provided by insurers for applicants with sleep apnea will rely on the seriousness of the disorder, outcome of sleep studies, signs and symptoms, treatment, response and complying with treatment, number of years since last symptoms, and the all-around health and mortality risk of the individual.

Unattended sleep apnea is often ranked poorly or may even be refused for coverage, as are individuals who have sleep apnea but do not abide by the doctor’s treatment instructions. The insurance company will be looking for evidence in the medical records that treatment advice is implemented and is effective.

Tips for Preparing for Your Insurance Application

Always follow you doctor’s treatment recommendations and make certain to complete follow-ups.

Schedule and complete a post-treatment study to have evidence treatment is successful.

Request current treatment notes from your doctor after each office visit.

Examples of Sleep Apnea Cases

Robert applied for life insurance at 52 years old. He had been diagnosed at age 46 after having a sleep study and was prescribed to use a CPAP. Robert uses the CPAP every night and visits his doctor twice per year as a follow-up. The doctor’s record makes it clear that his treatment is successful and his post-treatment study confirms this. He is a non-smoker and was approved for a Preferred Rate Class.
 Louis applied for term life insurance at age 45 and was diagnosed with sleep apnea at age 43 with moderate sleep apnea. Louis’ doctor prescribed that he use a CPAP and stop smoking. After trying the CPAP, he found it uncomfortable and stopped the treatment. He has not returned for a doctor visit and continues to smoke cigarettes. The insurer postponed his application until a current sleep study has been completed. Since Louis did not have a sleep study completed in the allotted time provided by the insurer, his application for insurance was declined.

When applying for insurance with sleep apnea, proof of successful treatment is key to getting a favorable health classification. In most life insurance applications, the problems will typically arise because the applicant has not completed or followed up after treatment.

There is Good News

The great news about applying for term life insurance if you have sleep apnea is — yes, you can probably get coverage! The bad news is the acceptance and rate class can be very unpredictable and very subjective. Then again, if you follow the recommendations we’ve offered and, more importantly, talk about your circumstances with your life insurance agent, you can have a very positive end result.


Get In Touch

To get more information about purchasing life insurance with severe medical conditions, contact an insurance professional at LifeInsure.Com today at (866) 691-0100 during normal business hours, or you can contact us through our website 24/7.