More on Life Insurance
Life Insurance Reviews
Life insurance overview
Best Life Insurance Companies
Best life insurance companies
Largest life insurance companies
Life insurance and coronavirus (COVID-19)
Life insurance for chronic illness
Life insurance with pre-existing conditions
Life insurance for cancer
Life insurance for high cholesterol
Life insurance for sleep apnea
Life insurance for high blood pressure
Life insurance for HIV-positive
Life insurance for overweight people
Life insurance for people who have lost weight
Life insurance for recovering alcoholics
Life insurance and family history
Life insurance for diabetics
Life insurance for people with depression
Life insurance for Millennials
Life insurance for Generation X-ers
Life insurance for Baby Boomers
Life insurance for seniors
Life insurance for scuba divers
Life insurance for skydivers
Do cyclists pay less for life insurance?
Life insurance rate for vegans
Do runners get cheaper life insurance rates?
Life Insurance for Families
Life insurance for families
Life insurance for your parents
How much life insurance do parents need?
Life insurance for women
Life insurance for spouses
Life insurance for children
Life insurance for young adults
Life insurance for graduate students
Life insurance for college students
Life insurance during pregnancy
Life insurance for new parents
Life insurance for single parents
Life insurance for people with disabilities
Life insurance for special needs children
Life insurance for transgender people
Life insurance policy on someone else
Life insurance for nursing home residents
Life Insurance for Smokers
Life Insurance for Other Shoppers
Life insurance for visa & green card holders
Life insurance for high-net-worth individuals
Life insurance for felons
Life Insurance Company Reviews & Comparisons
Life insurance company reviews & comparisons
AAA life insurance review
AIG life insurance review
Banner Life insurance review
Brighthouse Financial life insurance review
Costco life insurance review
Fidelity Life insurance review
Guardian life insurance review
Gerber life insurance review
Globe Life insurance review
John Hancock life insurance review
Liberty Mutual life insurance review
Lincoln Financial life insurance review
MassMutual life insurance review
Mutual of Omaha life insurance review
Pacific Life insurance review
Principal life insurance review
Protective life insurance review
Prudential life insurance review
SBLI life insurance review
State Farm life insurance review
Transamerica life insurance review
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Disclaimer: The content supplied here may be impacted by COVID-19. Contact a Policygenius agent for free to find out more.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) associates lower weight with better health — and life insurance companies use that data to inform their own underwriting tables and set premiums. The CDC defines adults with a body mass index (BMI) of 25 to 30 as overweight and those with a BMI over 30 as obese. A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 falls within the CDC’s healthy range.
If you are considered overweight or obese according to the CDC guidelines, your life insurance rates may be higher than if you met their criteria for a healthy weight, but that doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t purchase life insurance. It just means it’s more important to shop around to ensure you’re getting the best rates for your build and health profile.
Being overweight or obese doesn’t disqualify you from purchasing life insurance, you may just have higher premiums
It’s rare for insurers to decline coverage based solely on weight, and even more unlikely to be declined by multiple insurers
Employer-sponsored life insurance is an alternative option in the immediate term
If you maintain a healthy weight according to CDC guidelines for a year or more you could lower your rates
Your height-to-weight ratio is one data point that life insurance companies look at to determine your premium rates. The application and underwriting process includes a review of your health history and a paramedical exam. This helps the insurer evaluate the risk they would take to insure you. Whether a physician determines that you have a healthy height-to-weight ratio will impact the health classification that the insurance company gives you.
Even if you opt for no medical exam life insurance, providers can gather height and weight information from your application or medical history. While a no-exam policy could be comparable in price, it can also be more expensive than a fully underwritten policy, since skipping the exam means the insurer is evaluating the risk of insuring you with less information.
Other factors, including family history and your health history, will affect your rates as well.
Each insurer has its own height-to-weight table, also called a build chart, which is similar to a BMI chart. Some insurance companies rely solely on BMI charts. Your rates are affected by where you fall on that table or chart. No two insurance companies have the same height/weight chart, which means one insurance company may be able to give you better rates than another one.
Assuming your health is otherwise good, life insurance companies will likely assign you a Standard Plus or Standard rating class if you are overweight (as opposed to Preferred Plus or Prefered). Each insurance company varies in how they determine rating classes and how much they factor in height-to-weight.
Methodology: Sample premiums are for male and female non-smokers with Preferred and Standard health ratings based in Ohio; Life insurance averages are based on a composite of policies offered by Policygenius from AIG, Banner, Brighthouse, Lincoln, Mutual of Omaha, Pacific Life, Principal, Protective, Prudential, SBLI, and Transamerica and may vary by insurer, term, coverage amount, health class, and state. Not all policies are available in all states. Rate illustration valid as of 1/15/2021.
An independent insurance agent or broker can 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.
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 you lose weight is rarely a good option because it leaves your family unprotected.
Losing weight right before or after you apply isn’t likely to lower your rates either. An underwriter will rarely give you “full credit” for weight loss within the last 12 months. That means if you weigh 240 lbs at the time of your medical exam but you weighed 280 lbs a few months ago, they are not going to use 240 in your height to weight chart. What they will use 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 the table would be 260.
If you’ve lost weight 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. Simply reapply once you’ve maintained a lower weight for a year or more. Your rates could come back lower, especially if the insurer offers better rates to people who have lost weight. A second option is to petition your life insurance company to let you retake your medical exam one or two years after the policy goes into effect. This is called reconsideration, and it could lower your premiums if your health has improved.
Compare and buy life insuranceGET STARTED
If you’ve applied for traditional life insurance and were declined a policy or the policy you were approved for is unaffordable due to your weight, there are other affordable options. Beyond these, you can also look into guaranteed issue life insurance, but it typically costs much more than traditional life insurance.
This kind of policy is renewed with the insurer every year, and rates start on the lower end — often lower than they would be through a more traditional term life policy. If you plan to lose weight in the next few years, an annual renewable policy could lock you into a lower rate in the short term. Once you lose the weight you can apply for a term life policy. Remember, premiums on annual renewable policies increase every year, so if you don’t plan to lose weight, a traditional policy will probably save you more money in the long term.
If your application is declined or if paying a higher rate isn’t an option, you may be able to receive group life insurance through your employer. In this scenario, you won’t need to submit health information to receive coverage and companies often cover premiums for employees up to a set amount, like $50,000 or one to two times an employee’s salary.
While these policies provide you with coverage and save you money, note that they do not offer enough coverage to adequately protect most families. Group coverage also usually ends when your employment does, and an individual policy obtained outside of your workplace will offer much higher coverage amounts.
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.
Insurers use weight to help determine your health class, and losing weight can get you a better rate.
You can still get life insurance coverage if you’re overweight or obese, but you might have higher premium rates.
Most life insurance underwriters use body mass index (BMI) to inform their height-to-weight chart calculations that determine premium rates. BMI, combined with several other measurements and factors (such as age, family history, and hobbies) affect the cost of life insurance.
Rebecca Shoenthal is a life insurance editor at Policygenius in New York City, specializing in buying life insurance and the ins and outs of life insurance ownership. She's edited business books by the country’s top academics, politicians, journalists, thought leaders and CEOs, including venture capitalist John Doerr’s Measure What Matters, entrepreneur Scott Belsky's The Messy Middle, NYU Stern professor Scott Galloway's The Four, and technologist John Maeda's How to Speak Machine.
Rebecca has a B.A. in Media and Journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Amanda Shih is a life insurance editor at Policygenius in New York City. She has a passion for making complex topics relatable and understandable, and has been writing about insurance since 2017 with specialities in life insurance cost and policy types. She's previously written for Jetty and LegalZoom.
Amanda has a B.A. in literature and communication from New York University.