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Losing weight can help lower your life insurance rates. But applying too soon after you lose weight might not get you the savings you think. Here's why.
Recent weight loss doesn’t automatically mean lower life insurance rates; you’ll need to prove to the insurance carrier that you can maintain the weight loss in the long-term
Whether you lost weight purposefully or due to an illness determines if carriers view the weight loss as an improvement in health or not
You can apply for reconsideration or a new policy a year after losing weight to potentially score lower life insurance premiums
Applying for a life insurance policy after recently dropping a few pounds might seem like a great idea — a healthier height to weight ratio usually means lower life insurance rates and comes with health benefits that can get you a better life insurance classification.
Unfortunately, losing weight comes with stipulations and doesn’t necessarily mean that you will automatically pay less for your life insurance premiums.
Healthy 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, all play a role in the health classification you receive and how low your life insurance premiums will be.
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To get life insurance, you have to go through an application process that determines your risk of mortality. This includes an interview, medical exam, and final determination by the underwriter.
Insurers see weight as an important measure of health during the medical exam — the medical physician uses your height to weight ratio to determine if your body mass index is in a healthy range and if your weight poses any health risks. Whether or not the medical physician thinks you are in a healthy weight range will impact the health classification you receive, and thus how much you pay for life insurance.
While your recent weight loss may be good for your health, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll receive a better health classification. Insurance carriers want to know that you are at a healthy weight for the long haul, and you’ll need to demonstrate that your weight loss is stable for at least a year to receive rates that accurately reflect your weight.
Additionally, weight won’t be the only consideration that determines the health classification you receive when you go through the underwriting process. There are a few other factors that life insurance companies take into account when deciding what your rates will be:
Here's how some of the top life insurance companies rank when offering the best rates to people who have recently lost weight:
As an example of what weight 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 to apply for a policy.
Sample rates, $250,000/10-year AIG policy for a 30-year-old 5’10” male
|CLASSIFICATION||WEIGHT (POUNDS)||PREMIUM (MONTHLY/ANNUAL)|
|Standard Plus Non Tobacco||224||$16.46/$192.48|
|Preferred Non Tobacco||210||$12.40/$144.98|
|Preferred Plus Non Tobacco||200||$10.34/$120.95|
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/$175.98|
|Preferred Non Tobacco||185||$11.07/$129.48|
|Preferred Plus Non Tobacco||175||$9.57/$111.98|
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To understand how recent weight loss affects your life insurance rates, you need to understand how those rates are set. Life insurance underwriters take multiple factors into consideration, from your driving record to your prescription medicine history. The information you provide during the life insurance interview and medical exam is used to determine your mortality risk (i.e., your likelihood of dying during the term of your life insurance policy), which determines your life insurance classification and what rates you pay.
One of the tools that underwriters use to determine your life insurance premiums is a build table. 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 its purpose remains the same across the board: 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.
Not all weight loss is created equal. Maybe you stuck to a vegan diet or maybe your weight loss was out of your control. How and why you lost weight will affect how much you pay for life insurance premiums.
Healthy weight loss can have a lot of positive side effects, including lower life insurance rates. Unfortunately, if your weight loss is recent, you won’t automatically qualify for better rates.
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 but you suddenly dropped 50 pounds in the past three months, that will raise a red flag for them and they might believe that the weight loss isn’t permanent based on your overall history. They account for this issue by splitting the difference.
An insurer splits 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. 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 have liked.
If you achieved weight loss through a procedure like gastric bypass surgery, 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. If you apply within the first couple of years after your surgery, you’ll be paying 50% more than you might have otherwise.
Occasionally, weight loss is out of your hands. People can lose weight as they become elderly or ill, for instance.
The carrier may decline or postpone coverage for any unintended significant weight loss, which is usually 10 pounds or more. They’ll also want to see extensive medical history to see what’s causing the weight loss; it could be symptomatic of a larger condition, like depression. To receive coverage, the insurer will need to see your weight stabilize 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 and have your rates reconsidered after enough time has passed. You can retake your medical exam a year or two after your first go-round, so while you may have to pay slightly higher rates now, your weight loss can land you lower rates if you retake the exam later.
Some life insurance carriers offer reconsideration, which is when you can go through the underwriting process again to potentially receive a lower rate that accounts for your weight change. This can usually be done after the policy is in force for a year or two.
The reconsideration process consists of the following steps:
If a carrier decides that your weight loss doesn’t justify a better health classification, you don’t need to worry about your policy being canceled or your health rating being demoted; you will continue to pay the same premiums as before.
Here’s how the top carrier’s treat reconsideration:
|Prudential||Policy must be in force for two years for a health reclassification. The highest rating possible with a reclassification is Preferred, but all underwriting costs are covered by the carrier.|
|Banner Life||Reconsideration requests can be made through Banner's customer service department. Any underwriting costs will be at the expense of the policy owner.|
|Pacific Life||Reconsideration possible after a two year waiting period — with some exceptions. The insurance carrier will cover underwriting costs if they request information regarding rate reduction, but if the policyholder is requesting reconsideration, they must cover costs.|
|Mutual of Omaha||New application and underwriting required.|
|Protective||Best carrier for reconsideration. Request for rate class improvement can be made after the policy's first year and underwriting expenses are covered by the carrier.|
If the reconsideration process didn’t result in the outcome you hoped for, you can always cancel your current life insurance policy and apply for a new one. You can do this by discontinuing premium payments or writing a formal letter to your life insurance carrier.
If you decide to purchase a new life insurance policy that prices you for your weight loss, you’ll want to keep your current policy in force while you shop around and go through the underwriting process to avoid a coverage gap. If you cancel your original policy before your new policy’s effective date and die, then your beneficiaries won’t receive the life insurance death benefit.
While you may need to wait 12 months to receive lower life insurance rates, you may have people who are dependent on you now that would suffer financially if you passed away. To make sure that your dependents are adequately protected in the meantime, you can purchase a short-term policy, called annual renewable life insurance.
An annual renewable life insurance policy functions similarly to a term life insurance policy; it pays out a death benefit to your beneficiaries if you pass away while the policy is in force.
An annual renewable term policy differs from term life insurance, however, in its term length. The term only lasts for one year and can be renewed on an annual basis. The short term length is why the premium payments tend to start off lower than those of term policies, though they increase every time the policy is renewed.
Because you only need to prove that your weight is stable for a year to receive life insurance rates that account for your weight loss, an annual renewable life insurance policy is a good way to ensure you’re covered during that year — and likely at a lower cost.
Editorial note: Policygenius does not advocate for weight loss that is not for health reasons. The purpose of this article is to provide guidance on navigating the life insurance process if you have recently lost weight.
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