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A complete guide to life insurance if you have diabetes

Many people with diabetes can qualify for life insurance. Banner Life and Pacific Life are our top-ranked life insurance companies for people with diabetes this year.

Katherine Murbach PolicygeniusTory Crowley, Associate Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert at 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.

&Tory Crowley

Tory Crowley

Associate Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

Tory Crowley is an associate editor and a licensed insurance expert at Policygenius. Previously, she worked directly with clients at Policygenius, advising nearly 3,000 of them on life insurance options. She has also worked at the Daily News and various nonprofit organizations.

Edited byAntonio Ruiz-Camacho

Antonio Ruiz-Camacho

Associate Content Director

Antonio helps lead our life insurance and disability insurance editorial team at Policygenius. Previously, he was a senior director of content at Bankrate and CreditCards.com, as well as a principal writer covering personal finance at CNET.

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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|8 min read

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

Can you get life insurance if you have diabetes?

Yes, you can get life insurance if you have diabetes. There are several insurance companies that are able to provide life insurance for diabetics. 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. Evaluating the cost of life insurance for diabetics is similar, but 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 and glipizide 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 for diabetics is more expensive than it is for people without 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 the underwriter reviews your application, they’ll assign you 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 applicant

Monthly rate

25

$74.65

30

$68.77

35

$80.29

40

$101.25

45

$153.81

50

$202.17

55

$335.00

60

$388.35

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, Symetra, and Transamerica. Not all policies are available in all states. Rate illustration valid as of 12/01/2022.

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

Age of applicant

Monthly rate

25

$82.29

30

$85.37

35

$100.12

40

$143.41

45

$217.43

50

$333.18

55

$552.14

60

$937.95

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, Symetra, and Transamerica. Not all policies are available in all states. Rate illustration valid as of 12/01/2022.

Best companies for life insurance if you have diabetes

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

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 life insurance for diabetics

Banner Life

Policygenius rating 

Our proprietary rating methodology takes multiple factors into account, including customer satisfaction, cost, financial strength, and policy offerings. See the "methodology" section for more details.

Full orange starFull orange starFull orange starFull orange starHalf orange star

4.7

AM Best rating 

A.M. Best is a global credit rating agency that scores the financial strength of insurance companies on a scale from A++ (Superior) to D (Poor).

A+

Cost 

Using a mix of internal and external rate data, we grade the cost of each insurance company's premiums on a scale from least expensive ($) to most expensive ($$$$$).

$

$

$

$

$

No-med-exam option

30+ year terms

All 50 states

Why we chose it

Banner Life has some of the longest term lengths — up to 40 years — and most competitive life insurance rates available, even for people with a history of medical conditions.

Read our full Banner Life review
Pros and cons

Pros

  • Very competitive rates

  • Covers many health conditions

  • Term lengths up to 40 years

Cons

  • Strict temporary coverage eligibility

  • 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 lower rates if your condition was diagnosed at or after age 50, and your blood sugar levels are well-controlled. 

Best life insurance for type 2 diabetes

Pacific Life

Policygenius rating 

Our proprietary rating methodology takes multiple factors into account, including customer satisfaction, cost, financial strength, and policy offerings. See the "methodology" section for more details.

Full orange starFull orange starFull orange starFull orange starHalf orange star

4.6

AM Best rating 

A.M. Best is a global credit rating agency that scores the financial strength of insurance companies on a scale from A++ (Superior) to D (Poor).

A+

Cost 

Using a mix of internal and external rate data, we grade the cost of each insurance company's premiums on a scale from least expensive ($) to most expensive ($$$$$).

$

$

$

$

$

All 50 states

No-med-exam option

Why we chose it

Pacific Life has high third-party financial ratings and a competitive application process (also known as underwriting).

Read our full Pacific Life review
Pros and cons

Pros

  • More affordable permanent insurance pricing

  • Strong financial stability ratings

  • Better for people with minor health conditions

Cons

  • No cash value whole life policy

  • Doesn’t pay dividends

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 without significant health conditions, save a few medical issues on their records.

Best life insurance for type 1 diabetes

Why we chose it

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. The insurance company can’t change rates on an active policy. However, 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

Does diabetes affect life insurance?

Having type 1 or type 2 diabetes does not automatically disqualify you from getting life insurance, but it will determine what kind of policies you may be eligible for.

Does type 2 diabetes affect life insurance rates?

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?

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?

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?

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?

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.

References

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Policygenius uses external sources, including government data, industry studies, and reputable news organizations to supplement proprietary marketplace data and internal expertise. Learn more about how we use and vet external sources as part of our

editorial standards.
  1. Mayo Clinic

    . "

    Type 2 diabetes

    ." Accessed June 15, 2022.

  2. Mayo Clinic

    . "

    Type 1 diabetes

    ." Accessed June 15, 2022.

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

    . "

    All About Your A1C

    ." Accessed June 15, 2022.

  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

    . "

    Smoking and Diabetes

    ." Accessed June 16, 2022.

  5. Mayo Clinic

    . "

    Diabetes

    ." Accessed June 15, 2022.

  6. International Diabetes Federation

    . "

    Diabetes Complications

    ." Accessed June 15, 2022.

Authors

Associate Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

Katherine Murbach

Associate Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

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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.

Associate Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

Tory Crowley

Associate Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

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Tory Crowley is an associate editor and a licensed insurance expert at Policygenius. Previously, she worked directly with clients at Policygenius, advising nearly 3,000 of them on life insurance options. She has also worked at the Daily News and various nonprofit organizations.

Editor

Associate Content Director

Antonio Ruiz-Camacho

Associate Content Director

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Antonio helps lead our life insurance and disability insurance editorial team at Policygenius. Previously, he was a senior director of content at Bankrate and CreditCards.com, as well as a principal writer covering personal finance at CNET.

Expert reviewer

Financial Advisor

Maria Filindras

Financial Advisor

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

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