A complete guide to life insurance if you have diabetes

A complete guide to life insurance if you have diabetes

Katherine Murbach Policygenius

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Katherine Murbach

Katherine Murbach

Associate Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

Katherine Murbach is an associate editor and a licensed life insurance expert at Policygenius. Previously, she wrote about life and disability insurance for 1752 Financial, and advised over 1,500 clients on their life insurance policies as a sales associate.

Expert reviewed

Expert reviewed

This article has been reviewed by a licensed Policygenius expert to ensure that sources, statistics, and claims meet our standard for accurate and unbiased advice.

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By

Maria Filindras

Maria Filindras

Financial Advisor

Maria Filindras is a financial advisor, a licensed Life & Health insurance agent in California, and a member of the Financial Review Council at Policygenius.

Updated June 21, 2022 | 8 min read

Policygenius content follows strict guidelines for editorial accuracy and integrity. Learn about our editorial standards and how we make money.

Policygenius content follows strict guidelines for editorial accuracy and integrity. Learn about our editorial standards and how we make money.

Katherine Murbach Policygenius

By

Katherine Murbach

Katherine Murbach

Associate Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

Katherine Murbach is an associate editor and a licensed life insurance expert at Policygenius. Previously, she wrote about life and disability insurance for 1752 Financial, and advised over 1,500 clients on their life insurance policies as a sales associate.

Expert reviewed

Expert reviewed

This article has been reviewed by a licensed Policygenius expert to ensure that sources, statistics, and claims meet our standard for accurate and unbiased advice.

Learn more about oureditorial review process.

By

Maria Filindras

Maria Filindras

Financial Advisor

Maria Filindras is a financial advisor, a licensed Life & Health insurance agent in California, and a member of the Financial Review Council at Policygenius.

Updated June 21, 2022 | 8 min read

Policygenius content follows strict guidelines for editorial accuracy and integrity. Learn about our editorial standards and how we make money.

Disclaimer: The content supplied here may be impacted by COVID-19. Contact a Policygenius agent for free to find out more.

One in ten Americans has diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), making it one of the most common health conditions people experience across the U.S. Because most life insurance companies see a diabetes diagnosis as a health risk, life insurance is often pricier for people with diabetes than it would be for someone of the same background who doesn’t have this condition.

But having diabetes doesn’t disqualify you from getting life insurance. Insurance companies will set your rates based on your age, gender, lifestyle habits, and health condition, including any diabetes diagnosis. People with diabetes still have many coverage options.

Shopping for life insurance with diabetes?

Finding coverage doesn't have to be complicated. We've got a team of experts who specialize in life insurance for people with various health considerations, including diabetes. They'll help you find the right options for your unique needs so you can get covered with confidence.

Can you get life insurance if you have diabetes?

Yes, you can get life insurance if you have diabetes. As with other medical conditions, insurance companies will take a look at your diagnosis, the components of your treatment plan, and how long you’ve been managing your condition to determine your rates.

In most cases you’ll also need to take a medical exam, which is a common requirement of the life insurance application process.

Insurers tend to view type 2 diabetes as less of a health risk than type 1 diabetes because it develops later in life and can often be managed with diet, exercise, and sometimes medication, [1] while type 1 diabetes requires lifelong insulin therapy. [2] As a result, you may have less expensive rates with type 2 than type 1.

Can you get life insurance if you are in remission for type 2 diabetes?

Yes, you can get life insurance if you are in remission for type 2 diabetes. The insurance company may ask a few additional details, such as when your treatment stopped, and what your most recent blood sugar levels were. Having this information handy can make your application process move faster.

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What do life insurance companies consider when you're applying with diabetes?

The cost of life insurance varies depending on your age, your lifestyle, how much life insurance coverage you’re getting, and your health. If you have diabetes, the insurance company will want to know more details about your diagnosis, including blood sugar levels, any medications you’re taking, and how long you’ve been in treatment. 

Insurers will look closely at the following factors when setting your rates:

Health status

Life insurance companies will likely have you take a medical exam when applying. It’s also common for insurance companies to request an attending physician statement (APS) to get more insight from your doctor on how you’re managing your diabetes. 

The insurance company will ask if you have had any complications as a result of your condition, such as diabetic neuropathy, impaired vision, or impaired kidney function. If you have multiple conditions — for example, diabetes and heart disease — it will be more difficult and more expensive for you to get coverage, but you’ll still have options.

Blood sugar levels

The insurance company will ask for your most recent A1C (a test that measures blood sugar levels over the past three months), [3] as well as your average A1C over the last 12 months. Blood sugar levels in the lower 6.0-6.9 range will minimally affect your premiums, while blood sugar levels above the 10.0-10.9 range will lead to an application decline from most insurers.

Age of onset

The younger you were when you were diagnosed with diabetes, the less favorable your rates will be. People diagnosed over the age of 50 generally receive better rates, according to 2022 Policygenius data.

Height and weight

Life insurance companies use your height-to-weight ratio to determine your rates regardless of whether you have diabetes. Because weight loss is often recommended to help manage type 2 diabetes, your height and weight are especially important in assessing your insurance risk if you do have diabetes.

Medications

Insulin or diabetes medications such as metformin are taken into account. The type of medications you do or do not take, how long you’ve been taking them, and how effectively they control your blood sugar levels indicate to the insurer whether you have your symptoms under control.

Tobacco use

Smokers pay more for life insurance than non-smokers because smoking has known negative health effects. People with diabetes who smoke are more likely to have trouble managing their diabetes, and are more likely to develop serious health problems like heart disease. [4] So if you have diabetes and smoke, your life insurance costs will be higher.

How to prepare for the life insurance phone interview

The application process includes a phone interview. To prepare for the call, expect to answer questions about your diabetes history, including:

  • What was the date of your first diagnosis/onset?

  • Do you measure your glucose daily?

  • What was your last A1C reading and what was 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? 

Best types of life insurance for people with diabetes

Term

Term life insurance is the best fit for most people because it provides financial protection during your peak earning years at a much more affordable price than other types of life insurance. It’s straightforward and lasts as long as you need — for most people, that’s between 10 and 40 years.

As long as your type 2 diabetes is well-controlled with treatment and medication, you should qualify for a term life insurance policy, just at higher rates than someone with a similar background who doesn’t have diabetes. Type 1 diabetes will not automatically disqualify you from coverage, either, although your rates will usually be higher than someone with type 2 diabetes.

In rare cases, you can be denied coverage if your diabetes symptoms are severe. In this case, guaranteed issue life insurance, a type of coverage that covers final expenses and offers near-certain approval, may be a better fit for you.

Whole

Whole life insurance is a type of permanent coverage that usually comes with a cash value component that can be used as an investment vehicle. Whole is generally best for high earners and people with long-term financial obligations.

You can still qualify for whole life insurance if you are diagnosed with diabetes — although some insurers might not offer you whole coverage if you have type 1 diabetes or additional conditions affecting your health.

Similar to the process with a term life policy, the insurance company will review your application and health history to determine premiums. Whole life premiums are five to 15 times more expensive than term premiums to begin with, and a diabetes diagnosis will further contribute to higher premiums. If you’re exploring whole life insurance coverage options due to more complex estate planning needs, a licensed agent can walk you through what you can expect to pay.

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How much does life insurance cost if you have diabetes?

Life insurance is more expensive for people with diabetes because insurance companies view the condition as a health risk. Some people with diabetes need to take insulin or other medication. If untreated, people with diabetes might experience diabetic complications such as heart disease, neuropathy, or vision loss. [5] [6] What you’ll actually pay will depend on the type and scope of your diabetes, your treatment plan, and how long you’ve been in treatment.

Some insurance companies offer more affordable life insurance rates for people with diabetes than others. When they review your application, you will be assigned a health classification. With type 2 diabetes, you are more likely to qualify for a lower rate if you are following your treatment plan from your doctor and your blood sugar levels are below 7.5. With type 1 diabetes, you are more likely to qualify for coverage if you are taking fewer than 50 daily units of insulin and your blood sugar levels are below 8.

20-year term life insurance rates for people with type 2 diabetes

Age of applicantMonthly rate
25$83.31
30$75.78
35$89.14
40$109.64
45$162.23
50$213.69
55$352.24
60$406.39

Methodology: Approximate estimated rates are calculated for a male non-smoker with a type 2 diabetes diagnosis obtaining a $500,000, 20-year term policy. Typically, the younger you are at the time of diagnosis, the higher your premiums will be, so different health classifications were used to calculate rates accordingly. Rates at age 25 were calculated using an average of Substandard T5 health classifications; ages 30 and 35 were calculated using an average of Substandard T4 health classifications; ages 40 and 45 were calculated using an average of Substandard T3 health classifications; ages 50 and 55 were calculated using an average of Substandard T2 health classifications, and rates at age 60 are calculated using an average of Standard health classifications. Quotes are based on a composite of policies from AIG, Banner, Lincoln, Mutual of Omaha, Pacific Life, Protective, Prudential, SBLI, Symetra, and Transamerica. Not all policies are available in all states. Rate illustration valid as of June 2022.

20-year term life insurance rates for people with type 1 diabetes

Age of applicantMonthly rate
25$92.72
30$96.91
35$112.27
40$157.78
45$235.52
50$360.03
55$597.92
60$1,028.24

Methodology: Monthly rates are calculated for a male non-smoker with a type 1 diabetes diagnosis in Substandard T6 health classifications, obtaining a $500,000, 20-year term policy. Quotes are based on a composite of policies from AIG, Banner, Lincoln, Mutual of Omaha, Pacific Life, Protective, Prudential, SBLI, Symetra, and Transamerica. Not all policies are available in all states. Rate illustration valid as of June 2022.

Best companies for life insurance if you have diabetes

Methodology: How we chose the best life insurance companies for people with diabetes

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We don't get paid for our company reviews and use an extensive rubric of criteria covering policy details, price, financial confidence, third-party ratings, and customer experience to assign unbiased ratings out of five stars. Any recommendations we make are based on internal and external expert opinions and data from our Policygenius Price Index, which uses real-time rate data from leading life insurance companies to determine pricing trends. Our ratings and reviews can help point you to an insurer you can rely on for your family’s financial protection, but the best life insurance company for you is dependent on multiple factors. 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.

→ Read more about our reviews methodology here

Best overall

4.7

Policygenius rating

How we score: Policygenius’ ratings are determined by our editorial team. Our methodology takes multiple factors into account, including pricing, financial ratings, quality of customer service, and other product-specific features.

Banner Life logo

Long term lengths and competitive rates make Banner Life a top contender for people with diabetes, among other health conditions.

Pros

  • Very competitive rates

  • Covers many health conditions

  • Term lengths up to 40 years

Cons

  • Strict temporary coverage qualifications 

  • Reconsideration is paid for by the applicant

Banner Life is a good option if you have either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. They have competitive pricing across all health classifications when compared to other companies. For type 2 diabetes, they can offer rates usually reserved for people in otherwise good health if your condition was diagnosed at or after age 50, and your blood sugar levels are well-controlled. 

Best for type 2 diabetes

Pacific Life

4.6

Policygenius rating

How we score: Policygenius’ ratings are determined by our editorial team. Our methodology takes multiple factors into account, including pricing, financial ratings, quality of customer service, and other product-specific features.

Pacific Life logo

Pacific Life offers competitive rates at every age and solid coverage options for people with type 2 diabetes.

Pros

  • Affordable prices at every age

  • Strong financial ratings

Cons

  • No accelerated underwriting

  • No online quote tool

Pacific Life’s rates are competitive in nearly every age group, including people over 60, who typically have trouble finding affordable coverage. Pacific Life also has more flexible guidelines when it comes to type 2 diabetes than other companies. They might offer you rates usually reserved for people in otherwise good health, save a few medical issues on their records.

Best for type 1 diabetes

If you receive a health classification usually reserved for people with serious medical issues due to a type 1 diabetes diagnosis, getting life insurance through Banner Life will likely cost less than it would through other insurers. Especially if your condition is controlled with fewer than 50 daily units of insulin, Banner is generally able to offer you coverage, while other insurance companies might not make an offer.

Type 2 vs. type 1 diabetes: What health classification will you qualify for?

Life insurance companies set premiums based on the likelihood that you will pass away while your policy is active. Insurers use a health classification system to indicate your risk level (ranging from Preferred Plus to Substandard).

People with type 2 diabetes can qualify for up to Standard, which means you’ll pay higher-than-average premiums but you’ll still get coverage. In comparison, people with type 1 diabetes typically qualify for Substandard ratings, which are reserved for people with a complicated health history and offer higher-than-Standard rates.

Having type 1 diabetes makes life insurance premiums more expensive than if you have type 2 diabetes or no diabetes, based on quotes provided by Policygenius partner insurers in 2022. Here’s why:

  • Management: Because type 2 diabetes can be managed with certain treatments or medications, insurance companies view it as less risky, versus type 1 diabetes which always requires insulin therapy.

  • Rarity: Type 1 diabetes is less common than type 2 diabetes, which accounts for 90-95% of cases in the U.S. 

  • Age of diagnosis: The younger you were at the time of your diabetes diagnosis, the less favorable your life insurance health classification will be because you will have had the condition for longer.

While having type 1 diabetes will likely mean a less favorable health classification assignment, it’s important to compare quotes from different insurance companies because some insurers might offer you better rates than others. The best way to find an insurer that will offer you the most affordable policy for your personal situation is to work with an independent broker. At Policygenius, we've got a team of experts who specialize in life insurance for people with various health considerations, including diabetes. They'll help you find the right options for your unique needs so you can get covered with confidence.

What happens if my diabetes gets worse?

If your diabetes gets worse after you have an existing policy, your premiums will remain the same as long as you pay them, or until the end of the term. Similar to other health conditions, if you were to apply for a new policy following a significant change to your diagnosis or medications, you would likely see higher premiums.

What happens to my existing policy if I am diagnosed with diabetes?

Any health condition you develop after your life insurance policy’s effective date won’t have any impact on your premiums or your coverage, including diabetes. As long as you keep paying your premiums on time, your policy will remain active.

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Other life insurance options if you are denied coverage

If your diabetes diagnosis keeps you from getting traditional life insurance at an affordable price, there are other ways to get the financial protection you need.

  • Final expense insurance: This type of policy, also known as burial insurance, can be used as a last resort to pay outstanding loans or funeral costs. Though it offers low coverage amounts and can be very expensive, most people with serious health conditions are eligible for final expense insurance.

  • Guaranteed issue life insurance: This is a type of final expense insurance that offers near-certain approval and doesn’t require a medical exam or medical questionnaire to apply. The coverage benefits max out around $25,000 and premiums are high.

  • Simplified issue life insurance: This is another type of final expense coverage that doesn’t require a medical exam, but you will have to answer a medical questionnaire during the application process. It has slightly lower premiums than guaranteed issue, but may decline applicants who have serious or life-limiting medical conditions. Benefits go up to $50,000.

  • Group life insurance: Employers offer group life insurance for free at a subsidized rate, and employees with health conditions cannot be excluded from getting coverage. Coverage amounts are generally low, and you lose the policy if you leave your job.

→ Learn more about the difference between final expense and guaranteed issue life insurance

Frequently asked questions

Can you get life insurance if you have diabetes?

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Yes, you can. Having type 1 or type 2 diabetes does not automatically disqualify you from getting life insurance.

Does type 2 diabetes affect life insurance rates?

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Yes, type 2 diabetes affects life insurance rates. This health condition often requires medication and can lead to other health complications if left untreated. Your rates will likely be higher than average, but you’ll still have coverage options.

Do you have to tell your insurance company if you have diabetes?

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Yes. The insurance company will be able to see your health history from your Medical Information Bureau report (MIB). If you intentionally withhold information from the insurance company, this could affect your approval or the payout of your policy down the line.

Does diabetes count as a pre-existing condition?

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Yes. If you are diagnosed with diabetes prior to your life insurance application, it is considered a pre-existing condition.

Do life insurance companies test for diabetes?

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Life insurance companies can test for indicators of diabetes. Part of the standard medical exam involves a blood test, which is used to test for several conditions, including your blood glucose levels. If you do not have a diagnosis for diabetes but your blood sample comes back with elevated glucose levels, this can still affect your rate.

Can you be denied life insurance if you have diabetes?

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In some cases, you can be denied traditional life insurance if your diabetes is severe. If you have difficulty keeping your blood sugar levels below the 10.0-10.9 range (based on your A1C tests), for example, you may be declined coverage until it is consistently in a lower range.