Can you buy life insurance if you are overweight?

Buying life insurance when you weigh more than the CDC recommendations.

Logan Sachon

Logan Sachon

Published December 12, 2018

The Centers for Disease Control associates lower weights with better health — and life insurance companies use that data to inform their own underwriting tables and set premiums.

If you’re overweight, your life insurance rates will likely be higher than they would be if you met CDC guidelines for healthy weight, but that doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t purchase life insurance. But you might pay higher rates, which makes it more important to shop around to ensure you’re getting the best rates for you.

When you shop through an independent broker like Policygenius, we can do the work for you and help you find the best rates for your build and health profile.

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Life insurance and your height to weight ratio

Height-to-weight ratio is one of the first data points that life insurance companies look at it in order to determine your rates.

Each carrier has its own height/weight table, which functions similar to a Body Mass Index (BMI) chart, and your rates will largely come from where you fall on that table. Other factors, including family history and your own health history, will affect your rates as well.

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, to find the insurance company that gives you the best price.

Our agents can help you through every step of the application process. You can get started by answering a few health questions, including your height and weight, to compare life insurance quotes.


Compare the market, right here.

Policygenius saves you up to 40% by comparing the top-rated insurers in one place.

Should you lose weight before you apply for life insurance?

If you need life insurance, the best course of action is to apply and get the coverage you need as soon as possible. Waiting until your health improves or you lower your weight is rarely a good option, because it leaves your family unprotected.

Plus: crash dieting isn’t likely to lower your rates. Usually, underwriters will not give you “full credit” for weight loss within the last 12 months. What that means is that if you weigh 240 at the time of your medical exam but you weighed 280 a few months ago, they are not going to use 240 as your weight on the height/weight chart. What weight they willuse though is dependent on the company. Some companies might do something called a “half credit,” which would calculate your weight for the table as your current weight plus half of the weight you lost recently. In this example, that means your weight for reasons of the table would be 260.

Life insurance companies require that you disclose if your weight has fluctuated more than 10 pounds in either direction within the last year. They’ll also check your medical records for a record of your weight over time.

If you have lost significant weight in the past year, there are some companies that will give you more credit than others. Read more about the best life insurance companies if you have recently lost weight.

How to lower your life insurance rates if you lose weight in the future

If you’ve lost weight recently but still have higher rates than you’d like, or if you lose weight in the future, you may be able to lower your life insurance rates even after you have a policy.

One way is simply to reapply once you’ve been a lower weight for a year or more. Your rates could come back lower. A second option is to petition your life insurance carrier to let you retake your medical exam one or two years after the policy goes into effect. This is called reconsideration, and it could adjust your premiums down if your health has increased.

Read more about reconsideration and reapplication.

Further reading

Understanding how life insurance rates change by age

The cost of life insurance can increase by as much as 12% each year you put it off. See real life examples here.


How does the underwriting process work?

Life insurance rates are set largely based on the results of the underwriting process. Find out what exactly carriers look for.


Should you pay my life insurance premiums annually or monthly?

How often you pay your life insurance premiums can have a big impact on how much you spend on your policy.