According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, nearly 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, and as many as 90% of cases can go undiagnosed. That’s a lot of people who may be suffering — and who may end up paying too much for life insurance if they don’t know the right companies to choose.
Being diagnosed with sleep apnea can cause your life insurance rates to rise, and you may not realize it. Before you buy life insurance, learn about who the best life insurance companies are so you’re not paying too much.
The best life insurance companies for people with sleep apnea
While it’s a condition that’s manageable (see below for treatment options), sleep apnea does affect life insurance rates. Some insurers are better than others at accommodating people with sleep apnea. Before you start shopping, keep the following list in mind.
(Full methodology below.)
|Life insurance company||Ranking|
|Mutual of Omaha||Excellent|
Life insurance companies use the underwriting process to determine your risk after you apply for a policy. The risk you pose – based on things like lifestyle, health and personal information (age, sex, etc) – is used to determine how much you’ll pay for life insurance.
For sleep apnea in particular, insurers use the Apnea-hypopnea index. It indicates the severity of your sleep apnea and will play a role in how you’re rated.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is fairly widespread, and can make life insurance expensive. But before you ask “Do I have sleep apnea?” you might ask – what is sleep apnea, anyway?
Sleep apnea is an affliction that causes disruptions in breathing while you sleep. There are three different types of sleep apnea, with different causes.
- Obstructive sleep apnea — The throat is obstructed by things like swollen tonsils, an enlarged tongue or muscles relaxing. It’s also often caused by excess weight.
- Central sleep apnea — There aren’t any outside sources obstructing the throat; it’s simply due to the brain not sending the proper signals to the body to keep breathing.
- Mixed sleep apnea — A combination of the above.
There are many factors that contribute to risk of sleep apnea. Weight plays a role; obese people are more likely to suffer from sleep apnea. Additionally, sex and age can be determining factors (males and people over the age of 65 have a higher risk). Finally, other conditions like smoking and heart disease can contribute to sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea symptoms also vary. Some are fairly benign, like snoring. However, sleep apnea can also lead to hypertension and heart and lung issues. And since people with sleep apnea are often restless while they sleep, it can contribute to fatigue and slow reaction times when awake.
What are sleep apnea treatments?
As a general rule of thumb, chronic conditions will cause your life insurance rates to rise, but if you show you’re taking active steps to treat your condition, you’ll be rewarded with more affordable rates. That’s why it’s important to never assume you’re uninsurable no matter your condition. If you’re working to make your affliction manageable, insurerers tend to view you as healthier than a person who is letting their condition go unchecked.
Different sleep apnea treatments that insurers look favorably upon include:
Use of a sleep apnea machine. A continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine is a mask that maintains airflow and keeps your throat clear. It’s a common way to prevent sleep apnea.
Sleep studies and doctor checkups. Regular checkups to ensure that your sleep apnea is not worsening is a good sign that you’ll catch it quickly if it does get more severe.
Treating associated conditions. Because conditions like obesity are associated with sleep apnea, treating them will help lower your rates. And because these conditions, like smoking, can be dangerous on their own, getting a handle on them can help lower your risk and your rates further.
Changing sleeping patterns. Sleeping on your side helps control sleep apnea. Special pillows can help you maintain helpful sleeping positions.
Surgery. In extreme cases, surgery may be required to remove offending body parts that are causing a throat obstruction. Jaw or tongue surgery isn’t uncommon.
Even if you’re not the picture of perfect health, you can still get competitive life insurance rates by following two important rules: Don’t lie on your application, and do whatever you can to make sure you’re treating your condition.
See our full list for more information on the best life insurance companies for everyone.
Methodology: The insurers above are rated by how likely they are to overlook the condition or trait in question when setting premiums. Excellent indicates rates are competitive; good indicates rates aren't affected; and fair indicates rates may be higher. For a full methodology on how we determine the best life insurance companies, go here.
Disclosure: PolicyGenius offers insurance policies from many of the nation’s top insurers, who pay us a commission for our services. However, all editorial choices are made independently.