Can I get life insurance if I'm overweight?

Can I get life insurance if I'm overweight?

According to the CDC, 69% of adults 20-years-old and older are either overweight or obese. If you’re reading this article, there’s a good chance you’re part of that 69%, and you’re wondering if it’s going to stop you from getting life insurance.

Here’s the good news: overweight people can still get life insurance.
However, being overweight can mean that you don’t get the best rates possible, and health problems related to being overweight can lead to even higher rates or rejection.

What is your height to weight ratio?

This is one of the first things that life insurance companies look at it in order to determine your quote. Life insurance companies don’t have just one rate for overweight customers. Instead, there are ranges of weights that match to specific pricing, and you’ll fall into a different category depending on your specific measurements. These categories are usually mapped onto a height/weight table, which is available to agents, brokers, and underwriters (but not the public).
Here's a sample height/weight table to help you get an idea of what these categories look like:
example height weight table
(Click to view larger)

Which life insurance company are you working with?

No two insurance companies have the same height/weight table. That means that one insurance company may be able to give you better rates than another one. This is one reason why it’s important to use an independent agent or broker. Your agent will be able to run a variety of quotes using your specific height and weight measurements, as well as your other health information, and find the insurance company that gives you the best price.

Do you have related health complications?

Being overweight or obese can increase your risk of multiple health problems, including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and kidney disease. If you have health complications related to being overweight, expect your rate to be higher.

Should you go on a diet before you apply for life insurance?

Life insurance companies require that you disclose if your weight has fluctuated more than ten pounds in either direction within the last year. They’ll also check your medical records for weight stability – i.e. how long you’ve been at or around your current weight. Usually, underwriters will not give you full credit for weight loss within the last twelve months, though they may give you half credit (e.g., if you lost forty pounds last month, they’ll credit you for twenty pounds).
Some life insurance companies will let you take a new medical exam one or two years after the policy goes into effect, so if you’re looking to get healthy over the long term, you could potentially save on life insurance premiums in the near future. In short: don’t let anything get in the way of you losing weight and getting healthy or buying life insurance to protect your family.

What if you don't qualify?

First, work with a broker or agent to make sure you exhaust the list of life insurance companies that would potentially cover you. If it doesn’t look like you’ll qualify for any life insurance product, you still have options, such as graded benefit plans and guaranteed issue plans. These products don’t require a medical exam, but they’re usually much more expensive than term life insurance and usually have other restrictions.

Tips and things to remember

  1. Use an independent broker or agent. Don't get stuck working with just one insurance company until you're sure you're getting the best rates.

  2. Quickly losing weight will help you get healthier, but it won’t make your life insurance cheaper.

  3. If you lose weight after you buy your life insurance policy, you may be able to retake your medical exam. Discuss your options with your agent.

  4. PolicyGenius’ own in-house quoting engine is built to take your height and weight ratio into consideration when determining your quote. Since we’re independent, we’ll able to show you the best rates from a variety of insurance companies.

Image: d Wang