Are you a diabetic looking for life insurance? Learn why securing coverage can be more affordable than you think.
Updated April 19, 2021|11 min read
Policygenius content follows strict guidelines for editorial accuracy and integrity. Learn about oureditorial standards
and how we make money.
Table of Contents
Disclaimer: The content supplied here may be impacted by COVID-19. Contact a Policygenius agent for free to find out more.
It’s easy to think that life insurance will be prohibitively expensive if you have diabetes. The good news is, affordable life insurance for diabetics is still possible if you can prove consistent and effective treatment for 6-12 months or more, have a less severe diagnosis, and work with the right insurance company.
While you may pay more for a policy than someone of your age and gender without diabetes, some insurers are more lenient than others. An independent broker can identify which companies are more affordable for your specific diabetes type and treatment history.
Having diabetes may raise the cost of your life insurance policy depending on your age, type of diabetes and severity
It’s possible — and more affordable than you’d think — to get life insurance coverage if you have diabetes, especially if it’s well-managed
Even if your diabetes is more complicated, an insurance agent or broker can help you find the best policy for your diagnosis
Not every life insurance company handles diabetic applicants the same way. Depending on the severity, type of diabetes, and treatment, some companies may be better for you than others.
Policygenius recommends diabetics looking for life insurance policies start by comparing rates from four of our partner insurers, depending on the type of diabetes — Banner and Prudential for type 1 diabetics and AIG and Principal for type 2 diabetics. These companies offer more competitive rates for a wide range of diabetics.
Banner is a good option for type 1 diabetics who require less than 50 daily units of insulin with A1c levels below 8.0. The best possible classification for type 1 diabetics is table 6 (Substandard) and the best possible classification for type 2 diabetics is Standard Plus.
Type 1 diabetics can get a table 5 (Substandard) rating with Prudential if their condition is well-managed. Health classifications vary for type 2 diabetics seeking coverage.
AIG is a good option for type 2 diabetics who have been diagnosed at age 50 or above. Type 1 diabetics will likely get more favorable ratings elsewhere.
Principal is an excellent option for type 2 diabetics, but not a competitive option for type 1 diabetics. They are the only insurer that offers Preferred (second best) rates for people with adult-onset diabetes.
When you apply for life insurance, you’ll go through the underwriting process, which assess the risk of insuring you (i.e., the likelihood of you passing away while your policy is active). This includes a look at your family’s health history, your hobbies, and your driving record. You’ll also undergo a routine medical exam and if you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, your insurer will also request records from your doctor.
After underwriting, insurers assign you a health classification, which determines your premiums. The best class, Preferred Plus, gets you the lowest premiums, while Standard or below will result in higher premiums.
Since diabetes comes with health complications, you’ll be considered a greater risk than someone without diabetes and be charged higher premiums as a result. But it’s not an all-or-nothing scenario; underwriters will treat those with less severe, well-managed diabetes more favorably. You may still be eligible for above-standard health classifications with some providers.
If you’re a diabetic applying for life insurance, underwriters will look at the same health and lifestyle factors that they do with any applicant. But a few things are especially important for diabetics.
Underwriters take into account not only the age you are when you’re applying (like they do with everyone), but also the age at which you were diagnosed with diabetes.
In general, the longer you’ve had diabetes, the riskier your profile. If you were diagnosed as a child, you’ll face higher premiums than applicants with late-onset diabetes. If you were diagnosed after the age of 50, you may still qualify for better-than-average premiums. But in general, life insurance premiums increase with age. So, if you were diagnosed with diabetes later in life, your age might pose more of a risk than your diabetes diagnosis.
Type 2 diabetics are likely to have an easier time applying for life insurance. That’s because this type of diabetes, which accounts for about 90% of diabetic cases, is seen as more manageable than type 1 diabetes. Plus, type 1 diabetes usually surfaces when people are younger — meaning a diagnosis at a younger age and thus, higher premiums.
The examples below compare potential rate classifications for two shoppers with diabetes. Both policyholders are the same age (55) seeking the same policy type and coverage amount, but one person has type 1 diabetes that was diagnosed at a younger age, while the second person has type 2 diabetes that was diagnosed at a later age.
|Policyholder with type 1 diabetes|
|Age of onset||10|
|Possible best health class||Substandard (Table rating)|
|Policyholder with type 2 diabetes|
|Age of onset||45|
|Possible best health class||Standard|
The policyholder with type 2 diabetes will likely receive a better health classification (Standard) than the policyholder with type 1 diabetes (Substandard) due to their type of diabetes and age of onset.
Type 1 diabetes (also referred to as insulin-dependent diabetes) is less common than type 2 diabetes. People with type 1 diabetes are usually diagnosed at a younger age (though not always).
If you have type 1 diabetes, you will likely be assigned a less favorable health classification during underwriting. But it’s important to compare quotes from different insurance companies. If you pose no other major health risks (for example, if you don’t smoke and maintain a healthy lifestyle), you could still secure competitive premiums.
Type 2 diabetes is generally seen by insurance companies as milder than type 1. The same health risks (including heart disease and stroke) exist for type 2 diabetics and people with prediabetes, which can lead to type 2 diabetes. Maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine can keep these risks at bay.
Having type 2 diabetes will still affect your health classification, but it won’t have as much of an impact on your monthly premiums as type 1 diabetes.
Many women are diagnosed with gestational diabetes during pregnancy, and while it’s a health concern, it typically goes away soon after childbirth. However, underwriters take gestational diabetes into account the same way they will other types of diabetes. If you currently have or have a history of gestational diabetes in the past five years, the best possible health classification you’ll likely receive is Standard, based on underwriting guidelines from insurance partners in 2021.
The best way to avoid paying higher premiums is to apply for life insurance before you get pregnant or within the first trimester (this also ensures you have coverage in case of any other pregnancy complications).
The underwriter will take your A1c levels into consideration to judge the severity of your diabetes. A1c levels in the lower 6.0-6.9 range are more likely to be viewed favorably and minimally affect your premiums, while A1c levels above 10.0 will lead to an application decline from most insurers.
|A1c range||Impact on health classification|
Underwriters will also be on the lookout for diabetes-related complications such as diabetic retinopathy (damage to retinas), diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage), and proteinuria (excess protein in the urine). If these conditions aren’t well-managed, you’ll pay more for your policy or possibly be denied coverage.
The type of treatment you receive for diabetes is relevant to how a life insurer views the condition, partly because it’s related to its severity. A person with diabetes who can keep their condition in check with healthy diet choices is likely to get the most favorable ratings; those who use oral medication, such as Metformin, can likewise get a better rating than diabetics reliant on insulin.
Regardless of the type of diabetes you have, when you have it, or how severe it is, you’ll almost always secure better premiums if you show signs of treatment and management. Even if you’re a type 1 diabetic who uses insulin, you might still have more affordable premiums than a type 2 diabetic who isn’t seeking any treatment.
Ready to shop for life insurance?
People with type 2 diabetes, or those who were diagnosed later in life, may not qualify for Preferred premium rates, but could qualify for Standard rates with certain insurers. While the cost of life insurance will be greater than someone of the same age without diabetes, it’s not as prohibitive as you might think.
As an example, below are sample average rates for a $500,000, 20-year term policy for a male applicant with a Preferred health classification compared to a Standard health classification, which is more common for type 2 diabetics.
|Age of applicant||Preferred||Standard|
During your life insurance paramedical exam or phone interview, you’ll be asked several general questions about your health history. If you have diabetes, insurers may follow up with some the following questions:
Do you have type 1 or 2 diabetes?
What is the date of your first diagnosis/onset?
Do you measure your glucose daily?
What is your last A1c reading and what is your A1c average for the last year?
Are you taking insulin or other medications?
Do you have any complications with your eyes, kidneys, or feet as a result of diabetes?
Have you had any amputations?
Are you on dialysis?
Some of these questions may seem invasive, but for your broker or agent to give you an accurate quote, it’s important to answer honestly. Every insurance company is different, so the questions may vary, but it’s good to be prepared so your application process is as seamless as possible.
Ready to shop for life insurance?
If you were denied life insurance coverage or assigned a less favorable health classification because of a new diabetes diagnosis and have been undergoing steady treatment for a year or more, it’s worth working with a licensed independent insurance broker, like Policygenius, to see if your treatment translates to better premiums.
Beyond the typical options of term and whole life insurance, there are other ways to get the financial protection you need for your loved ones.
There are two types of final expense life insurance: guaranteed issue life insurance or simplified issue life insurance. We only recommend looking into a final expense life insurance policy as a last resort because these types of policies are expensive for a low amount of coverage.
Guaranteed issue life insurance - High-risk individuals with severe diabetes can typically still get guaranteed issue life insurance. However, it’s more expensive than simplified issue whole life insurance and offers lower maximum coverage amounts, below $25,000 in most cases.
Simplified issue life insurance - If you cannot qualify for a fully underwritten life insurance policy but are only considered moderate risk, you should consider simplified issue insurance. There’s no medical exam involved, but you’ll have to answer a detailed medical questionnaire. Coverage amounts for these policies max out at $50,000.
This option is only available to those whose employers offer it, and it’s not the same as purchasing private life insurance. Your employer pays most or all of the premiums for a group life policy, so you’ll lose insurance if you switch jobs or lose your job (though some companies may allow you to transfer ownership of your policy to yourself so you can continue paying premiums and keep your policy).
Group life insurance won’t have enough coverage to fully protect your family if something happens, but it’s better than having no coverage at all, so we recommend taking advantage of this perk if it’s available. Group life policies do not typically require underwriting, so even if you have a pre-existing medical condition, you can get some insurance.
The best life insurance company for one person might not offer competitive coverage or pricing for another. At Policygenius, we want everyone to easily find affordable and robust coverage.
Policygenius takes a comprehensive approach to determining the best life insurance companies out there for people with diabetes. We don't get paid for reviews and evaluate an extensive set of criteria to come up with a robust — and unbiased — analysis of carriers that will help you find the right one for your needs.
Our independent analyses are comprised of life insurance recommendations by experts in the field and quote data from the 11 life insurance companies we offer in our marketplace. Our life insurance company reviews and recommendations have helped over 30 million people shop for the most affordable life insurance policy for their needs.
Policygenius also weighs ratings from third-party agencies in our assessments. The most common third-party life insurance ratings come from:\
Most of the biggest life insurance companies are financially secure, and while you should look at all these ratings, keep in mind some reviews may be from customers who had particularly positive or negative experiences that aren’t necessarily representative of the company in general. Also worth noting, some smaller insurance companies don’t have standard J.D. Power ratings. However, when available, those ratings can give you an idea of customer satisfaction.
The best-rated companies have high marks all around to provide peace of mind.
Shoppers can also see how big a company is by looking at its market share and the number of policyholders. Size is typically a good indicator of how well a company is doing, but shoppers shouldn’t be afraid to go with a smaller insurer, like a regional carrier or a membership carrier (like USAA), if it fits their needs.
An insurance company’s ratings and reviews can point you to an insurer you can rely on for your family’s financial protection. If you’re looking for life insurance but don’t know where to start, a licensed agent at Policygenius can work with you through the application process so you’re getting coverage from the best insurer for your circumstances at the most competitive price.
Most importantly, when you’re shopping for life insurance, never assume that you’re uninsurable, even if you have a riskier health condition, like diabetes. The right treatment paired with the right insurer will help you find an affordable life insurance policy that suits your needs.
Due to the ever-changing nature of the coronavirus pandemic, some insurers are modifying processes and/or imposing coverage restrictions on certain health conditions or age groups. Speak to a Policygenius agent for free to find out how to get the most affordable policy.
You can buy life insurance with a diabetes diagnosis if you do not have severe complications, though you will probably pay more for a policy than someone without diabetes.
The type of diabetes you have and your treatment history will impact your premiums. Type 2 diabetics typically get better rates, but if you have type 1 diabetes and can prove it’s being well-managed by a consistent treatment plan, your premiums may be lower than someone with type 2 diabetes or someone who isn’t taking any steps to improve their diabetes.
Your premiums will vary depending on several factors, including your life insurance company; your age; your diabetes type, severity, and treatment; any other health conditions you have; your family health history; your driving record; and your hobbies. The more risk you present in any of these categories, the more you’ll pay for your life insurance policy.
More related articles