You can likely still get life insurance in Canada if you're overweight. When determining your life insurance rates, insurance companies consider your Body Mass Index (BMI), which is a combination of your height and weight. Insurers see higher BMI as potential for increased risk of medical conditions.
If you’re wondering how much your BMI or weight will affect your life insurance rates, including if your application might get denied, and what the maximum BMI is for life insurance, we’re here to help.
Life insurance for overweight individuals can be more complex. It’s possible that insurance companies may decline to offer you a life insurance policy. But, they usually only do this in extreme cases.
So if you don’t currently have any health conditions related to being overweight, you have a good shot at getting life insurance.
If you’re overweight, the best life insurance company will consider your weight, BMI, and overall health fairly.
You should also compare quotes from various insurers to see where you can get the best rates. PolicyMe offers some of the best term life insurance rates in Canada.
You won’t be denied life insurance solely due to your weight in most cases. It is possible to be denied life insurance for having a high BMI or a high BMI in combination with other health risks (e.g., high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, diabetes, heart disease).
For example, if you are mildly overweight but do not have other risk factors, your life insurance application will likely be accepted.
If you’re denied a life insurance policy for having a high BMI, you still have coverage options!
Generally, we recommend applying for a "no medical" policy as a Plan B. Try to apply for a standard life insurance policy first.
You can also see if you can get a group life insurance policy through your employer. I
n group plans, there are little-to-no hurdles to be approved for coverage, which will work in your favour. Who knew that your employer could end up saving the day?
But use caution here; because your policy will end if you leave your employer. We tend to recommend this option if you know you will keep your job until retirement.
For overweight applicants or applicants with a high BMI, the underwriting process usually takes a bit longer. It's fairly common for a life insurance application to be flagged for BMI. If your application does get flagged, it can take 4–6 weeks to get approved.
Your insurer will likely order a blood and urine test to better understand your current health status. And your insurance company may ask for a report from your doctor.
Life insurance companies use BMI to assess your risk level because they see it as an important measure of your health. If you have a higher chance of passing away young, that’ll increase your risk level in the eyes of your insurance company. This is because they are more likely to have to pay out your death benefit.
To assess your current BMI, they’ll look at your weight and height. To get life insurance, the BMI requirements are that your BMI is within a “healthy range.” This tells your insurer that there are no additional risks.
Recommended reading: high risk life insurance guide
Although insurers rely on BMI to assess risk, BMI isn’t an accurate way to measure a person’s overall health. For example, Dr. Kelvas notes in this article how BMI doesn’t account for other factors like gender, age, ethnicity, and muscle mass. So, someone with more muscle mass can have a higher BMI that classifies them as overweight when they’re actually healthy.
Dr. Kelvas also cites a 2016 study by Tomiyama et al. which found that BMI doesn’t correctly reflect a person’s cardiometabolic health. 45% of participants who were considered overweight or obese based on their BMI were cardiometabolically healthy. Meanwhile, 30% who were considered normal weight by BMI were cardiometabolically unhealthy.
Yes, height and weight do affect life insurance rates because they impact your BMI. The healthier your BMI, the lower your life insurance rates will be.
So if you’re overweight by BMI standards, you can expect one of these scenarios:
Each insurance company uses its own BMI table to determine how your rate may increase if you have a higher BMI. We’ve included a sample build table as an example below:
If you lose weight, it may lower your cost of life insurance. Along with improving your health and boosting your confidence. Even if your premiums are high now because of your BMI, they aren’t set in stone for life. This process is called “reconsideration.”
Insurers will want to see that you’ve kept the weight off for 12 months before re-evaluating your case. They’ll probably also ask you to take another medical exam to verify that you don’t have any other medical issues. After all, insurers have to protect themselves too!
Now, we know what you’re thinking: “Is there a risk that they could raise my premiums if they discover a new risk during this process?”
Nope! Your premiums are locked in, even if they find out something else about you. So there’s little risk of asking them to reconsider your policy rate if you lose weight.
The weight limits for life insurance depend on the insurance company and premiums can range from standard pricing to a maximum rateable weight of 350%.
Usually, you can exceed the standard weight (as defined by the insurer) for your height and still receive insurance. But your premiums will be higher depending on your exact weight class.
Yes, you can get life insurance if you’re considered obese by BMI standards, but you will likely pay higher premiums.
In Canada, obese classification is split into three categories:
If you’re looking for life insurance and your BMI is over 40, you can still see if qualify for life insurance through traditional means. If you don’t, you may want to consider a no medical life insurance company.
If your BMI is 30 or higher, you can still get insurance but will likely pay higher premiums. This is because Canada’s weight classification system considers a person with a BMI of 30+ to be obese and thus at a higher risk of developing health problems.
To know the maximum BMI for life insurance and weight cutoffs, look out for build tables or height and weight charts from insurance companies.
Don’t get discouraged if you’re overweight and looking for life insurance. You don’t have to let concerns about your weight hold you back from getting the coverage your family needs.
To calculate BMI, you need a person’s height and weight. The formula is BMI = kg/m^2 where “kg” is a person’s weight in kilograms and “m^2” is their height in metres squared.
Waiting until you lose weight to get life insurance isn’t better if you want to protect your loved ones as soon as possible. A good alternative is to apply for life insurance now. And if you lose weight later, you can apply for reconsideration and get your rates lowered.
Life insurance companies ask about weight loss because they want to know if you recently lost weight and whether that weight loss is sustainable. If you did lose weight recently, they may offer you premiums that fall somewhere between your new and old weight.