How being transgender changes your life insurance rates


Adam Cecil

Adam Cecil

Former Staff Writer

Adam Cecil is a former staff writer for Policygenius, a digital insurance brokerage trying to make sense of insurance for consumers. He is a podcast producer, writer, and video maker based in Brooklyn, NY.

Published October 26, 2017 | 3 min read

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Insurance companies are notoriously conservative, and life insurance companies are no exception. They go to extreme lengths to figure out exactly how risky you’ll be as a customer. This process, called underwriting, is trying to answer the question of how likely is it that they’ll end up having to pay out a life insurance benefit for your beneficiaries.

Life insurance companies read every piece of medical research out there to help them make these calculations. But this means that if something has not been researched extensively, life insurance companies may prefer to hedge their bets – i.e. raise rates – than give customers the benefit of the doubt.

For transgender people, life insurance has traditionally been a minefield: insurers refused to give them rates that corresponded with their genders, instead only accepting the gender assigned at birth. Luckily, as the world slowly moves forward, so have life insurance companies.

Life insurance underwriting for transgender applicants

These days, most life insurance companies will underwrite you based on your actual gender, not the gender you were assigned at birth. But this policy is rarely codified at life insurance companies; if you ask one hundred different underwriters, you might get one hundred different answers as to how, exactly, they reach their final decision. However, the general feeling is that because the difference between male and female rates is relatively small, it’s not worth the risk that someone may file a lawsuit because they did not receive the correct rates for their gender.

Additionally, most life insurance companies use a unisex build chart (for height and weight measurements) for Standard rates. Depending on your medical profile, you may not qualify for above Standard rates and the point of gender will be mostly moot. For individuals who are non-binary or genderqueer, this may be your only option, though you can discuss your options in more detail with an agent.

Life insurance companies will ask for some kind of medical record or other paper trail that shows your gender. This could be anything from a therapist’s note to a surgery record to a modified birth certificate to your driver’s license. Life insurance companies require this kind of paperwork from cisgender people as well, though depending on your individual situation, your paperwork may require explanation and context.

Mental health and life insurance

While life insurance companies typically won’t give you higher rates because you’re transgender, your rate will still depend on your medical profile and other lifestyle risks. For example, if you’re a smoker, you will not qualify for non-smoking rates. A history of depression is one of the most common medical conditions affecting transgender applications. If you have a history of depression or another mental illness, such as anxiety, read our article on the best life insurance companies for applicants with a mental health history for more details on how to get the best rates.

Life insurance companies look at every applicant as an individual, and each life insurance application is a personal journey. The best way to get through this process is with a qualified life insurance agent who can help you apply to the right life insurance company for your specific profile. Ultimately, they’ll help you guarantee that you get the best rates for a life insurance policy that protects your family and your legacy.

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