Can you qualify for life insurance if you have sleep apnea?
Yes, you can qualify for life insurance coverage if you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea — as long as you’re being actively treated for this condition.
The severity of your sleep apnea and other factors, including your height-to-weight ratio, will likely have an impact on your application and premiums. You’re more likely to get lower rates if you have mild to moderate sleep apnea and you stick to a treatment regimen.
Can you qualify for life insurance if you had sleep apnea in the past?
Yes, you can qualify for life insurance if you previously had a sleep apnea diagnosis. The insurance company may have you take a medical exam, or request an attending physician statement (APS) to confirm that you underwent a successful treatment plan and no longer have sleep apnea.
What types of life insurance are available if you have sleep apnea?
Term life insurance and whole life insurance are the two most common types of coverage options for most people, including those with sleep apnea. However, deciding between term life and whole life will, in most cases, have more to do with your financial situation and coverage goals than with your health condition.
Term life insurance
You can qualify for term life insurance if you have sleep apnea. You'll likely need to take a medical exam for approval, especially if your sleep apnea is classified as moderate or severe.
Term is generally appropriate if you're looking to provide protection for your loved ones during your peak earning years. It's usually much more affordable than whole, and it can last between 10 and 40 years, depending on the term you choose.
Whole life insurance
Like with term, you can still apply for whole life insurance if you have sleep apnea. The application process will be similar — the insurance company will review your medical history to determine your premiums based on your health, and you may have to take a medical exam.
Whole is a type of permanent life insurance. It provides lifelong coverage, and usually has a cash value component that can be used as an investment vehicle. Whole life insurance is generally more appropriate for complex estate planning needs. Whole premiums are generally five to 15 times more expensive than term.
How much does life insurance cost if you have sleep apnea?
If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea but have failed to follow the proper treatment prescribed by your physician, your life insurance rates could increase as much as 50%.
Sleep apnea — a condition experienced by nearly 22 million Americans  — increases your insurance risk if left untreated.
This is because the disruptions to your sleep and breathing can lead to daytime sleepiness (and therefore injuries or accidents) and other potentially serious conditions, like high blood pressure and heart disease.
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of sleep apnea, which occurs when your throat muscles relax and block your airway while you're sleeping. 
However, the type of sleep apnea — including central sleep apnea and complex sleep apnea, which are less common — won't necessarily impact your rates as long a you're following your treatment plan.
On the other hand, the underlying cause of your sleep apnea can have an impact on how much you'll pay for life insurance.
For example, if your sleep apnea is caused by heart disease, that medical condition will also affect your rates. Or, if your sleep apnea is caused by obesity, your height-to-weight ratio will be taken into account as well.
Life insurance companies will use the underwriting process to determine the risk of insuring you. If your sleep apnea is well under control, your condition could have a minimal impact on your life insurance policy rates — it will all depend on your overall health.
20-year term life insurance rates for people with sleep apnea
How sleep apnea affects health classifications
The severity of your condition and other factors, including your height-to-weight ratio and oxygen saturation levels, will determine the health classification you’re assigned during your life insurance application. Your health classification, in turn, affects your cost of life insurance.
Each insurer weighs these health factors differently. The best way to find a provider that will offer you the most affordable policy for your personal situation is to work with an independent broker. At Policygenius, our experts are licensed in all 50 states and can walk you through the entire life insurance buying process while offering transparent, unbiased advice.
The best life insurance companies for people with sleep apnea of 2023
Every insurer weighs a sleep apnea diagnosis differently. During your application for life insurance coverage, expect to answer questions about your date of diagnosis, your last sleep study, and your treatment plan.
We used industry data, pricing from Policygenius carrier partners, and third-party ratings like A.M. Best and J.D. Power to pick the best insurers on the market. Our independent recommendations will help you get life insurance coverage with confidence.
According to 2023 data, applicants with sleep apnea are more likely to qualify for the best or second-best rates with the following Policygenius partners:
Best overall: Pacific Life
Best for mild sleep apnea: Transamerica
Best for well-controlled sleep apnea: Lincoln Financial
Best overall for people with sleep apnea
If you have sleep apnea, you can qualify for some of the most affordable rates with Pacific Life, assuming you otherwise qualify for life insurance. If you have mild sleep apnea, use a CPAP machine as treatment, and don’t smoke, you may qualify for up to Preferred rates, which is the second-best health classification.
If your sleep apnea is moderate to severe, Pacific Life may be able to offer you more competitive pricing than other insurers.
Best for mild sleep apnea
Transamerica is a great choice for people with well-controlled sleep apnea and an average height-to-weight ratio. It offers competitive life insurance rates and comprehensive coverage.
Transamerica also allows you to complete health questions online or over the phone first — the insurance company will review the answers to your health questionnaire before requesting an in-person medical exam.
If you’re consistent with your treatment and don’t have many other health conditions, you may not have to take an exam.
Best for well-controlled sleep apnea
Lincoln Financial offers competitive options, even if you have moderate sleep apnea. Depending on the severity of your condition, you may be required to take a medical exam, but you will still have coverage options from a top-rated insurer.
What do life insurance companies consider when you’re applying?
During your initial phone interview and medical exam, you’ll be asked about your sleep apnea and other medical information. If you consistently use a device to improve your breathing overnight and report fewer sleep disturbances, you’re more likely to get more favorable premiums.
But if there are indications that your sleep apnea isn’t well-managed — like you recently had an accident caused by lack of sleep — or if you smoke or have other health concerns that can make your sleep apnea worse, your premiums will be higher.
Expect to be asked about the following factors, each of which can impact your rates:
Apnea hypopnea index and oxygen levels
Sleep apnea is usually diagnosed using some form of sleep study or monitoring. The life insurance company will want the results of your most recent study, which will include the following data:
Apnea hypopnea index (AHI)/respiratory disturbance index (RDI): Number of pauses in breathing or instances of shallow breathing per hour of sleep
Oxygen saturation: A measure of your blood oxygen levels, which decreases if breathing is paused or shallow
Date of diagnosis
The life insurance company will likely request an attending physician statement (APS) to better understand your condition. How long you’ve had your diagnosis — and sometimes your age when you were first diagnosed — can change which rates you qualify for.
Some insurance providers are more likely to give lower rates to applicants who have had a sleep apnea diagnosis for two years or more. The lengthier period makes it easier to assess the severity of your symptoms and your ability to manage the condition long term.
If your sleep apnea is related to being overweight, it may make more sense to seek an insurance provider that will offer better rates to someone with your build first.
An independent insurance broker like Policygenius can help you identify companies that will offer more affordable quotes for both your height-to-weight ratio and your sleep apnea diagnosis.
In general, chronic conditions like sleep apnea will result in higher life insurance quotes. But if you’re taking active steps to treat your condition and your diagnosis is mild, you should be able to get insured at an affordable price.
What happens if your sleep apnea gets better?
Some insurance companies allow you to apply for reconsideration if you receive a higher rate due to a condition one to two years following your original application. Some companies, however, do not guarantee reconsideration for health conditions.
If you can’t apply for reconsideration, you can apply for a new policy to see if the insurance company can approve you at a cheaper rate. If you can get approved at a more favorable health class on your new policy, you can always cancel the previous one.
A Policygenius expert can help direct you to a company with guidelines that might suit your specific needs.
Can your life insurance policy be canceled if your sleep apnea gets worse?
No, once you have been approved for life insurance and place your policy in force, changes in your health condition will not affect your existing policy. However, if you were to cancel your policy and apply for a new one, you'd likely have to pay higher premiums.
What to know before you apply
Make sure to have a diagnosis and a proper treatment plan in place. For moderate or severe sleep apnea, it can be easier to get approved after six months from the date of your original diagnosis, assuming you've been properly following the treatment prescribed by your physician.
You can even wait until your sleep apnea has improved to increase your chances of getting a better rate.
What to do if you’re denied coverage or your quote is too expensive
Sometimes the life insurance policy you’re offered is more expensive than you expected, or you may even be denied coverage due to your sleep apnea. You still have options to get coverage at the right price for you:
Reduce your coverage: Your final rates can sometimes increase after a review of medical records. If the cost is higher than you can afford, you can choose to reduce either the term length or the coverage amount, which can lower your overall cost. For example, you could reduce a 30-year term to a 20-year term, or $500,000 in coverage to $250,000 in coverage.
Reapply with a different insurance company: Since the application process is non-binding, you can turn down your offer if the final price is too high, and apply with a different insurer. Reapplying with a new insurer is also an option if you were denied coverage.
Revisit your treatment plan: You can work with your doctor to ensure you have a plan to improve or control your sleep apnea. Once your sleep apnea has been well under control for six months to a year, you can reapply.
If you apply for life insurance through Policygenius, an expert can help you reapply with a different insurance company without having to start the whole application process again from scratch.
Other health concerns that can affect your life insurance
Certain pre-existing conditions and other health-related concerns can affect your life insurance options or costs. A Policygenius expert can help you find the right policy for your needs.
Mental health issues such as depression or anxiety