Updated July 12, 2017
We’re all looking for shortcuts in life, right? That’s why we do things like start flossing the week before our dentist appointment and then tell her that we do it every day.
You might be looking for a similar shortcut when it comes to your life insurance. You know that weight affects your life insurance rates, so if you drop 20 or 30 (or more) pounds in the next few months before you apply, you’ll be golden, right?
Recent weight loss can lower your life insurance rates, but the method by which you lost the weight, how much weight you lost, and how long it’s been since you’ve lost it play a role in how you’re classified and how low your rates will be.
The best life insurance companies for people who have recently lost weight
In our insurer reviews, we rate various life insurers on a few different areas like application turnaround time, customer service, and how well they’re able to work with customers who have complicating circumstances like various chronic illnesses. One of those complicating circumstances? Recent weight loss.
Here's how some of the nation's top life insurance companies rank in terms of accommodating and offering the best rates to people who have recently lost weight:
The best life insurance companies for recent weight loss
|Life insurance company||Ranking|
|Mutual of Omaha||Good|
As an example of what weight loss can mean for your rates, check out these sample 10-year policies and how losing weight can help you in the long run, even if it means waiting to get past those first 12 months.
|Sample rates, $250,000/10-year AIG policy for 30-year-old 5’10” male|
|Classification||Weight (pounds)||Premium (monthly/annual)|
|Standard Plus Non Tobacco||224||$16.35/$189|
|Preferred Non Tobacco||210||$13.54/$156.50|
|Preferred Plus Non Tobacco||200||$10.51/$121.50|
|Sample rates, $250,000/10-year AIG policy for 30-year-old 5’6” female|
|Classification||Weight (pounds)||Premium (monthly/annual)|
|Standard Plus Non Tobacco||195||$15.05/$174|
|Preferred Non Tobacco||185||$11.59/$134|
|Preferred Plus Non Tobacco||175||$10.29/$119|
But it's not as simple as losing weight. There are a few different factors that life insurance companies take into account when deciding what your rates will be.
Understanding build tables
To understand how recent weight loss affects your life insurance rates, you need to understand how those rates are set. There’s a lot that goes into it, from your driving record to your prescription medicine history. All of the data about you is compiled by a life insurance underwriter and used to classify your mortality risk (i.e., your likelihood of dying during the term of your life insurance policy), which determines the rates you’ll pay.
One type of tool that underwriters use during this whole process are build tables. A build table indicates the acceptable weight range, for your height and sex, for each risk classification. Each insurer has their own build table, but the purpose is the same: the healthier your build and body mass index (BMI), the lower your life insurance rates. If you’re overweight, you’ll be offered a higher life insurance rate than if you had a lower BMI. However, there are plenty of life insurance companies that can competitively price people with heavier builds.
Types of weight loss
Not all weight loss is created equal. You may have stuck to a strict diet or gotten gastric bypass surgery or you might have lost weight some way that was out of your control. Those scenarios will all affect the rates you’ll pay.
Intentional weight loss
If you went on a mission to lose weight and succeeded – then first off, congratulations! You might think that based on the build table information we talked about that you’d automatically qualify for better rates if you’re a lower rate. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.
Insurers don’t have crystal balls, so they don’t know what your future health will hold. If they see that you’ve been on a certain weight trajectory for most of your life and dropped 50 pounds in the past three months, that will raise a red flag for them (that maybe the weight loss isn’t permanent based on your overall history). They account for this issue by splitting the difference.
If you lose more than 10 pounds in the 12 months before you apply for life insurance, you’ll get credit for 50% of that weight loss until you’ve maintained it for at least a year. That means if you weighed 300 pounds and lost 100 pounds within the past year, you’ll be rated at 250 pounds rather than 200. You’ll still get better rates than you would have otherwise, but likely not as low as you would’ve liked.
If you achieved weight loss through a surgical procedure the same guidelines apply as to what weight will be used, but for the first 1-2 years after the procedure you’ll be classified two levels lower in what’s called a table rating system. Essentially, each step down the table adds 25% to your premium. That means if you apply within the first couple of years after your surgery, you’ll be paying 50% more than you might have otherwise.
Unintentional weight loss
All of that is when you’re trying to lose weight. Sometimes, though, your weight loss is out of your hands. People can lose weight as they become elderly, for instance.
Any significant weight loss in those cases – usually classified as 10 pounds or more – means that the carrier would decline or postpone coverage. They’d want to see extensive medical coverage to see what’s causing the weight loss; it could be symptomatic of a larger condition, like depression. The insurer would need to see your weight stabilize, usually for around a year, before they’d be willing to proceed with coverage.
If you’re feeling disheartened that your weight loss isn’t amounting to much, you shouldn’t! You can either wait a year to apply for life insurance, or you can go ahead and apply right now. Some insurers will let you retake your medical exam a year or two after your first go-round, so you can pay slightly higher rates now, retake the exam later, and put that weight loss to good use (and lower rates).
For more information on finding the right life insurance company for you, see our list of the best life insurance companies of 2017.