While life insurance companies do make you take a blood test during the underwriting process, they do not test for pregnancy. There is no way that the life insurance company will be able to tell if you’re pregnant from the results of the test. Your medical examiner will ask you if you’re pregnant, which you should answer honestly.
The answer to this question alone will not affect your final rate — instead, it’s the various conditions that may arise during and after pregnancy that will affect your rate. While many pregnant women buy life insurance at the same rate they would get if they weren’t pregnant, some women may see an increased rate.
Pregnancy changes your body in a lot of ways, many of which directly affect your overall health. Chief among them? Weight. Literally every woman gains weight during their pregnancy because they’re carrying around a tiny human inside of them. In addition to the literal baby weight, women typically gain additional weight due to hormone changes.
While some women can shed that weight pretty easily post-pregnancy, some women keep at least some of those pounds after having their child. There lies the issue for life insurance companies: if you’re applying for life insurance in the middle of your pregnancy, it doesn't make sense from an underwriting perspective to use your weight before you got pregnant, and they have no idea what’s going to happen to your weight once your baby is born. So they split the difference and use your current weight at the time you apply— even if it’s a bigger number than it should be because you have a baby inside of you.
There are other ways pregnancy affects your life insurance rates. Many women develop high blood pressure or gestational diabetes during their pregnancy. Both of these conditions can jack up your life insurance rates. Your cholesterol may also rise during pregnancy, but if you have proof of pre-pregnancy cholesterol levels you can sometimes get your life insurance company to disregard the pregnancy-related increase.
Medical underwriters do expect a certain amount of change in your body due to the pregnancy — increase in blood volume, low iron levels, etc. — but if any change meets their definition of abnormal or results in a condition that will last past the end of the pregnancy, it will make your life insurance policy more expensive.
With all this in mind, you may think that it will make more sense to put off buying life insurance until after you've had your baby. We think this is a great idea. If you wait until around four to eight weeks after a successful pregnancy, most pregnancy-related medical conditions should have resolved themselves.
If you do end up with a rate you're not completely happy with, you should know that most life insurance companies allow you to re-take your medical exam one to two years after your policy is issued. If you qualify for a lower rate, your premiums will be readjusted. This one to two year window gives you time to normalize your health after a pregnancy. Make sure to talk to your agent to confirm the timeline for your specific life insurance company.
At the end of the day, the most important thing to do with life insurance is to buy it as early as possible, especially if you plan on having kids, are pregnant, or already have a kid. The younger you are, the cheaper life insurance usually is, even with extenuating circumstances like pregnancy-related medical conditions.
Image: Vladimir Pustovit