Life Insurance For Diabetics: All You Need To Know
A definitive guide to securing a good life insurance plan for diabetics.
It’s important for everyone to have an insurance plan in place if anything unfortunate was to happen to you. And if you’re a diabetic, the importance of life insurance increases significantly. You could save your family the financial strain from funeral costs, mortgage payments, remaining debts, etc.
A question that’s asked by people when they first hear life insurance and diabetes in the same sentence:
Is there Life Insurance for Diabetics?
The answer is yes. Diabetics can easily get an affordable life insurance plan. However, there are some technicalities.
The premiums of your plan will depend mostly on the severity of your condition and your HbA1c readings. Most people will note the life insurance rates for diabetics will clearly reflect the level of risk for an insurance provider.
To determine the level of risk, life insurance providers have a list of factors that might affect your chances of securing a life insurance plan.
- Age of diagnosis
- Recent HbA1c reading
- Type of diabetes
- Medication (e.g. insulin, metformin)
- BMI (e.g. weight, height and waist measurements)
- Existing diabetes complications (e.g. retinopathy, neuropathy, nephropathy)
It is possible that you have been previously declined life insurance by an insurance provider. But that does not mean you should give up. It is recommended to explore options and find an expert that will ensure you apply to the best insurance provider. What may be good for some people may not work for others. It all depends on your health and how well you take care of yourself.
Why were you declined life insurance?
There are a few reasons why you might have been declined life insurance before.
- If you were a smoker.
- If you had heart conditions or a heart attack.
- If you had diabetes complications.
- If your HbA1c readings are over 10%.
- If you have a high BMI.
Now let’s look at the types of diabetes to see which one you might be. This way we can find for you the best life insurance for diabetics.
Types of Diabetes
|TYPE 1||TYPE 2|
|Diagnosis||Often diagnosed in young children, but can be diagnosed at any age.||Often diagnosed in people above the age of 40, but can be diagnosed at any age.|
|Development||The immune system attacks and destroys beta cells in the pancreas.||The body becomes insulin resistant and does not use insulin properly.|
|Treatment||Dependence upon injected/pumped insulin for life.||Initially treated with diet, exercise and/or pills. Over time, the need to inject insulin may arise.|
|Prevention||Cannot be prevented.||Healthy lifestyle might prevent it. Although, people end up inheriting type 2 diabetes even if they have a healthy lifestyle.|
|Control||Cannot be controlled.||Possible for some type 2 diabetics to manage without medication or to be taken off medication and go in remission. But it’s not the case for all type 2 patients.|
Other Types of Diabetes
- Gestational Diabetes
This is a form of diabetes that only occurs in pregnancy, according to Mayo Clinic. Like other types of diabetes, it also affects how your cells use glucose. It can cause high blood sugar that might affect the mother and the baby’s health both.
It’s not all bad news though. Pregnant women can control gestational diabetes by eating healthy foods and exercising. And if necessary, take medication after seeking expert’s advice.
Blood sugar does manage to go back to normal after delivery. So if you’re pregnant and looking to get life insurance, we would recommend you to wait until after delivery. However, once you’ve had gestational diabetes, it is possible for you to be at risk of developing type 2 diabetes later on. But even if that happens, once you’ve given birth, you’ll receive lower rates from insurance companies.
These are a slower form of Type 1 diabetes, often known as Type 1.5.
This is a specific form of diabetes caused by specific genetic mutations.
Diseases of the pancreases, certain medications and surgeries or infections can also cause diabetes. However, these types of diabetes only account for 1-5% of all diabetic cases.
Factors Determining Life Insurance for Diabetics
Life insurance companies assess the level of “risk” you are based on your health and lifestyle. The higher the level of risk is, the more life insurance premiums for diabetics you would have to pay. Diabetics are generally considered a high risk, however, there are still a few factors insurers look at when determining how much in premiums diabetics would have to pay.
- How long you’ve been diagnosed.
Your premiums are likely to be higher if you have been diagnosed for longer. However, this isn’t true for all insurance companies. Some insurers are more concerned with how well of a control you have on your diabetes than how long you have had it for.
- How well you have controlled your diabetes.
The better you have managed to control your diabetes, the more affordable life insurance for diabetics you’ll have. If you have well managed A1C and diabetes history, it is very likely you will have lower premiums.
- How much and which medication you take for your diabetes.
You might automatically be a high risk if you’re taking medications to control your diabetes. They tend to have negative symptoms and might be a hindrance in you achieving cheap life insurance for diabetics.
- Any diabetes complications.
If your complications for diabetes are severe, like neuropathy, retinopathy, diabetes amputations etc, the higher of a risk you will be. It is very likely that with such severe complications you are declined for life insurance altogether.
- The kind of lifestyle you have.
It is very important for insurance companies to assess what kind of a lifestyle you have. Whether you’re eating healthy or exercising. It all contributes to your overall well being. Insurance companies want someone who is active and healthy. Then the duration of your diabetes doesn’t matter.
- Other general health questions.
The best life insurance companies for diabetics tend to inquire about other general questions as well. For example, they might ask about your weight and height. If you’re obese, insurance companies are likely to think you’re not healthy enough and this would reduce your chances at favourable premiums. If you’re a smoker, your health would be compromised. If you’re an alcoholic, again, your lungs would have been affected. All these questions help insurance companies determine whether or not you’re actually healthy.
One of the biggest factors in determining exactly how well managed your diabetes is, is your A1C history. It will help your underwriter in accurately determining how healthy you are. Your premium rates are bound to be lower if your A1C scores are low.
But like we mentioned before, most of the insurance companies are concerned with your overall health profile.
So if for some reason you can’t get your A1C below 8.0 even though you have a healthy lifestyle, you might end up receiving the same rates as someone with an A1C of 6.0.
No Medical Exam Life Insurance for Diabetics?
Like all life insurances, diabetics would also be required to take a medical exam. You’ll have to give a blood and urine sample which will then be tested for any other medical complications. The exam would also consist of measuring your blood pressure, weight, height etc.
Moreover, life insurance companies will also review your diabetes history and other medical records. After that, they will make an “informed” decision about the final rates. You’ll then receive life insurance quotes for diabetics.
Since all life insurance companies have different ways of assessing your data, they will review it differently too. That is why it is recommended that you work with diabetic life insurance specialists to determine which insurance company would be the right fit for you.
However, it is also possible that you have an option of no medical exam. Certain people who don’t wish to take a paramedical exam may choose to opt for a non medical exam life insurance policy for diabetics. But this doesn’t mean you’ll be off the hook. Companies will still ask you basic health questions, prescription drug background check, diabetes history, and will also conduct an overall MIB (Medical Information Bureau) review. This information is essential so underwriters can determine whether you qualify or not.
If you are confused whether you should go for a non medical life insurance policy or a medical one, it depends on you.
However, if you are pressed for time, a non medical life insurance policy might be the right option for you. These tpes of policies are approved in a matter of two to three days so you’ll be good to go without having to wait for weeks. No medical exam life insurance policies are also great if:
- You have a high A1C.
- You aren’t controlling your diabetes.
- You consume tobacco.
- You are considered overweight.
However, there are certain disadvantages to no medical exam life insurance policies. These policies can cost you 25% to 50% more than a normal insurance policy with a medical exam. Moreover, the coverage limit in these types of policies is not great. Although each company has a different limit, it’s usually not really enough.
Life Insurance for Diabetics Type 1: The Myths
This is the biggest myth when it comes to life insurance for diabetics. People are under the illusion that type 1 diabetics cannot qualify for life insurance. Maybe it has to do with the fact that these diabetics are considered a high risk. However, as stated before, it is only a myth.
Although type 1 diabetes can appear any time in life, it has mostly been diagnosed at an early age. That’s the reason it is also known as “Juvenile Onset Diabetes.” In some cases, it is possible to be diagnosed even in your 40s and 50s.
Moreover, it is possible to secure an affordable plan for type 1 diabetes, although it’s difficult. Insurance companies are usually wary of type 1 diabetics since they are at a higher risk of heart disease, kidney damage, neuropathy etc. However, if you are approved, you will receive extra table ratings that will lead to higher premiums.
In type 1 diabetes, how well controlled your diabetes is and your A1C history is key for insurance companies. Your A1C score plays a huge role in determining the rate you will receive. If your A1C is around or lower than 7 with no other health complications, you’ll receive a standard/sub-standard offer. It’s nothing to worry about. It will only be slightly more costly than someone with no diabetes would get.
However, in the event that your A1C is 8.5, it might be difficult to find you a company that will offer coverage.
Again, it’s all about the kind of insurance company you’re looking at. Certain companies don’t even consider offering coverage to type 1 diabetics. Other times there are companies that will offer you good premiums regardless of your type 1 diabetes. That is why finding a good insurance agent is important if you want to secure a good coverage plan.
One advantage of having type 1 diabetes in terms of life insurance is that you may even get approved for a non medical exam life insurance policy for diabetes.
The truth is, it is a fact that life insurance for diabetics type 1 is always more expensive than life insurance for diabetics type 2.
However, there are a few things you can do to make sure your premiums are as low as they can be if you’re a type 1 diabetic.
- See an endocrinologist.
Seeing an endocrinologist regularly can help you keep better control on your diabetes. Life insurance companies are more inclined towards a type 1 diabetic that is working with a diabetic specialist.
- Use technology.
Some insurance companies tend to offer lower premiums to individuals that are using FitBit’s, CGM or even an insulin pump.
- Have a regular exercise routine.
As said before, it is very important for type 1 diabetics to have a regular exercise routine. It helps them stay active and healthy. Insurance companies love seeing you exercise and might even offer discounted rates.
- Complete a paramedical exam.
Allowing an insurance carrier to review your complete profile will only benefit you in getting the lowest premium rates. To complete a paramedical exam, insurance companies would require your blood and urine samples. Besides that, they will also look into your previous medical records.
Life Insurance for Diabetics Type 2: Without Medication
For certain individuals, it is possible to qualify for rates that might be 20% lower than the rates available to others. However, this is only for those type 2 diabetics that live a healthy and active life.
Some of the questions insurance companies ask include:
- How often do you exercise?
- When were you diagnosed?
- Are you taking any medications? If yes, then what?
- Do you consume tobacco?
- What is your A1C?
- Any diabetes complications?
- Any other significant health issues?
- What is your diet like?
- What is your occupation?
- How often do you schedule a checkup?
Insurance companies are more interested in knowing how you control your diet. Whether it’s by diet, medication or exercise. If you are taking medication, the type and frequency might affect the life insurance rates for diabetics type 2 you will receive.
It is possible to control your type 2 diabetes without taking any medication. If you maintain a healthy lifestyle, exercise regularly and keep a strict lookout on your diet, securing good premiums would be a breeze for you. You would fall into the category of favourable candidates that qualify for life insurance.
Life Insurance for Diabetics Type 2: With Medication
Although insurers would prefer that you keep your medication to a minimum and instead control your diabetes with exercise and diet, it isn’t always the case. But even with medication, getting life insurance coverage is pretty easy.
Certain life insurance companies will reward you with better rates if you keep your type 2 diabetes controlled with this method. However, some companies would also prefer not providing you with low rates in the event that you are taking insulin or oral medication or maybe a combination of both.
These companies typically prefer individuals who are diagnosed at ages 40 and above. However, as we have stressed many times, depending on your lifestyle, it’s not necessary that you’d get higher premiums if you have been diagnosed at a young age.
Examples of “preferred” vs “standard” rates
An applicant who would receive “preferred” rates:
- Diagnosed with type 2 diabetes after the age of 50.
- Diabetes is controlled with a healthy diet and exercise.
- Has a healthy BMI range.
- Fasting blood sugar is under/near 100.
- A1C is 7.5 or below.
- No diabetes complications.
Compared to an applicant who would receive “standard” rates:
- Diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at age 30.
- No regular exercise or proper diet.
- Fasting blood sugar is 125 or above.
- A1C is above 8.
- No diabetes complications.
Life Insurance for Pre-Diabetes
It’s common for people to have pre-diabetes and not even know they have it. Centers for Diabetes Control and Prevention reported that nearly 84 million people could be living with pre-diabetes and not know it.
Depending on what your A1C is and what your overall health looks like, it is very likely that you would be in the standard to preferred plus premium range. You will also have many no medical exam life insurance options to choose from. Life insurance for pre-diabetic people couldn’t be breezier.
How to find the best Life Insurance for Diabetics?
It’s important to consider your needs first before you start looking for life insurance. The best life insurance is one that will fit within your budget and supports your long term goals as well. To make an informed decision, you have three options to choose from:
Term Life Insurance for Diabetics
If you choose term life insurance for diabetics, you’ll have life insurance for a set period of time, for example, ten, twenty, thirty years, etc. You will have to pay the premiums for the entirety of the term. The premiums tend to be less than those of permanent life insurance. It can be the ideal form of insurance if you’re looking for income replacement. You can choose to get a policy that covers you until a specific age. For example, until 70. There is a death benefit in the case of a death which is a non-taxable amount paid to the beneficiary.
Permanent Life Insurance For Diabetics
Permanent life insurance for diabetics includes whole life insurance for diabetics and universal life insurance for diabetics. But for diabetics, these options will be more expensive than they are for non-diabetics. They are also considerably more expensive than the best term life insurance for diabetics. Permanent life insurance policies have a cash accumulating feature that grows over time, kind of like a savings account. However, this feature can significantly increase the premium value. In some cases, you could even borrow money against that amount. Let’s look at the features of both the types of permanent life insurance available for diabetics; whole life and universal life insurance.
● Whole Life Insurance for Diabetics
- Non-taxable death benefits. Your death benefit is a selected coverage amount which will be available to the beneficiary of your choice upon your death.
- Price of premiums will remain stable and unchanged throughout the life of the policy.
- Cash value accumulation. Depending on the policy, you could borrow money against the cash value accumulation. It will keep growing over time regardless of the company’s investment performance.
● Universal Life Insurance for Diabetics
- Non-taxable death benefits.
- Flexible death benefits that can be customized under a coverage limit.
- You can tailor your premiums to fit in your budget.
- Cash value accumulation: higher interests when rates are high and a minimum guaranteed when the rates are low.
However, if you need some sort of coverage and you feel like your diabetes isn’t in control, that’s where the third option of life insurance for diabetics comes in.
Guaranteed Life Insurance For Diabetes
This type of policy doesn’t require a medical exam as the insurance company automatically assumes you’re a high risk person. That is why it’s the best option for you if your diabetes isn’t in control.
However, you can’t expect insurance companies to give you a policy no questions asked without a catch, right? Well here’s the catch, these policies generally have a long waiting period, expanding over 2-3 years. And if you die during this waiting period, there’s no death benefit pay out either. You will only be reimbursed for the entire premium amount you paid. So essentially, you’ll get nothing out of this policy.
Since there are a lot of misconceptions surrounding guaranteed life insurance, I want to make it clear that no guaranteed life policy would pay you any portion of the death benefit in advance. However, there is an exception. If your death is ruled an accident, even if it happens during the 2-3 year waiting period, your death benefit will be paid out in full.
Life Insurance and Critical Illness Cover for Diabetics
Now talking about life insurance and critical illness cover, there is now more flexible underwriting for diabetes. Over the last several years, there has been an increase in insurance providers who offer critical illness cover for diabetes.
Unfortunately, critical illness cover is only available for type 2 diabetics, not for type 1.
Critical illness cover will be assessed for type 2 diabetics who are non smokers, have good A1C levels, low BMI and zero diabetic complications.
The Best Insurance Companies for Diabetics
Although not every company is the same when handling diabetic applicants, we have compiled a list of the best insurance companies out there for diabetics. However, please note that it depends on the severity and the level of risk of your diabetes that will determine how lenient or strict these companies are.
- Lincoln Financial
- Banner Life
- Pacific Life
- Mutual of Omaha
John Hancock Aspire Vitality Program
John Hancock recently designed a vitality program specially for life insurance for diabetics. This program includes John’s existing Vitality option and traditional life insurance help provide lower life insurance rates and diabetes wellness tools.
The original John Hancock Vitality program provided people with some exclusive life insurance benefits like discounts on health devices, annual premium savings when participating in healthy activities and free health magazines.
The price of the policy is usually $2 a month. The program requires you to fill out a health questionnaire before you’re registered for the program. As you complete healthy living goals, you’re rewarded points that are later turned into better rewards. You also gain status levels as you earn more and more rewards.
Aspire is another diabetes specific program besides Vitality. However, the difference with this program is, instead of the original 15% discount that Vitality offered, Aspire can increase your discount up to 25% depending how far along you are on the Vitality status level.
What to do if you get diagnosed with diabetes after buying life insurance?
In such an event where you get a diabetes diagnosis after you’ve already bought a life insurance policy, nothing will change. Once the policy has been issued to you, the insurer can’t cancel the policy or change the rates even if you have been diagnosed with diabetes. So if you purchased a permanent life insurance policy like whole life insurance for diabetics, there’s nothing to worry about. Your policy will still live on like it was going to and the premiums and coverage will remain unchanged.
However, there are three instances when being diagnosed with diabetes would affect your insurance policy.
- You have a term life insurance and want coverage to continue even after the set period.
In this case, it is advisable that you convert your policy to a permanent life insurance policy if it has a conversion option. This will allow you to switch without having to undergo a medical exam. It will obviously cost you more but you will save yourself the hassle of having to requalify while extending your coverage to however long you want.
Moreover, if you only need coverage for a few more years, if you’re getting healthy or your diabetes is under control, you can just get a new term life insurance policy that extends a couple of years.
- You bought group life insurance through an employer.
In an event as such, your group life insurance will cease to exist if you’re no longer employed by the same company. Some group life policies do have a conversion option where you can choose to convert to an individual life insurance without being required to undergo a medical exam. The drawback to this is that these converted policies are too expensive and you might end up paying for more than you should, even with diabetes. It is recommended that you convert your policy as soon as possible while also exploring other options to find a better rate.
- You want to increase the policy coverage.
If you want to have coverage for a longer period of time, you will have to go for additional underwriting. This will lead to increased costs, even if you have diabetes. You may be able to increase your coverage if you have whole life or universal life insurance by purchasing paid-up additions. This will be done without the need of a medical exam. However, most companies don’t have this option available.
Similarly, even with a term life insurance policy, you won’t be able to increase your coverage without additional underwriting, which as we’ve already understood, is quite costly.
Hence, your best option is to purchase a second policy with no medical evaluation if the coverage you want to increase is only for a small period.
What happens now?
Now, with all this information, you can make an informed decision about which life insurance for diabetics is suitable for you and what to do if you want the more affordable pick of the litter.
However, it is always recommended to seek the help of an insurance expert so they could guide you better about what companies around you are better suited to your needs.