Can you buy life insurance if you’re overweight?

Are you looking for life insurance but nervous about how your weight may affect your price? Let’s talk about what you can expect when applying for it.

Buying life insurance can be very intimidating no matter who you are. Sure, it starts out as a simple process. But then comes the lengthy application that asks about your health and lifestyle.

And that’s when like many people, you start to wonder how your weight will affect your application and what your chance is of getting approved for a policy. You may even think that life insurance is completely out of reach for you.

Fortunately, we’ve got good news: it almost never is!

Why does weight matter to life insurance companies?

To get life insurance, you go through a process where your insurance company assesses your risk level. If you have a higher chance of dying young, it’ll increase your risk level in the eyes of your insurance company. After all, if you die young, there’s a higher chance that your insurance company will have to pay out your death benefit.

Insurers see weight as an important measure of your health and, therefore, your risk level. To assess your weight, they’ll look at your Body Mass Index (BMI). If your BMI is within a “healthy range," it tells your insurer that there are no additional risks.

Does weight affect insurance rates?

Yes, it does. Insurance companies will look at your BMI to determine your life insurance rate. The healthier your BMI, the lower your life insurance rates will be.

So if you’re overweight, you’ll probably be offered a higher life insurance rate than if you had a lower BMI.

Each insurance company uses its own BMI table to determine how your rate may increase if you have a higher BMI. We’ve included Manulife’s build table as an example below:

Manulife life insurance build table

Avg 150% price increase 200% price increase 250% price increase 300% price increase 350% price increase
5’0" 128 lbs 194 lbs218 lbs236 lbs247 lbs256 lbs
5’2" 138 lbs 206 lbs 230 lbs 248 lbs 261 lbs 272 lbs
5’4" 147 lbs 218 lbs 243 lbs 262 lbs 276 lbs 288 lbs
5’6" 156 lbs 229 lbs 257 lbs 276 lbs 292 lbs 304 lbs
5’8" 165 lbs 242 lbs 271 lbs 292 lbs 308 lbs 320 lbs
5’10" 174 lbs 255 lbs 286 lbs 308 lbs 324 lbs 336 lbs
6’0" 184 lbs 267 lbs 302 lbs 324 lbs 340 lbs 352 lbs
6’2" 194 lbs 282 lbs 318 lbs 340 lbs 357 lbs 368 lbs
6’4" 204 lbs 299 lbs 334 lbs 356 lbs 373 lbs 383 lbs
6’6" 215 lbs 314 lbs 350 lbs 372 lbs 388 lbs 399 lbs

How to calculate your BMI?

It’s easy to calculate BMI using 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.

Can you get life insurance if you’re overweight?

If you’re overweight, you’ll probably still be able to get life insurance. Insurance companies do have the option to decline a policy. However, they usually do this only for extreme cases. So if you don’t currently have any health problems related to being overweight, you have a good shot at getting life insurance.

Can you be denied life insurance due to weight?

In most cases, you won’t be declined for life insurance solely due to your weight. (Phew!) It’s only if your BMI is too high or if your BMI is pretty high and is causing other health complications that you may get declined for life insurance.

Can your life insurance rates be lowered if you lose weight?

We’ve got more good news! Even if your premiums are high now because of your BMI, they aren’t set in stone for life. If you lose weight, not only can it improve your health and boost your confidence, but it may also lower your life insurance premiums. 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 health 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.

What happens if you get declined for life insurance?

You still have options! The Canada Protection Plan (CPP) is the leading provider of simplified and no-medical life insurance policies in Canada. It offers many options for people who haven’t been able to get insurance in the past. This may be a good fit for you.

Alternatively, look into whether you can get any coverage through your employer. In 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?

Life insurance quotes for people who are overweight

There are many places to get life insurance quotes. Many companies even offer instant life insurance quotes online.

But remember, these quotes are based on only 3 factors: your smoking status, your age, and your gender. They’re not personalized to your specific health situation. So you’ll still need to undergo life insurance underwriting to get your personalized price for life insurance.

The underwriting process for people who are overweight

When it comes to clients who are overweight, we find that it usually takes a bit longer to get approved for life insurance. (Expect it to take 4–6 weeks.)

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.

The final word

Don’t get discouraged if you’re overweight and looking for life insurance. Applying for life insurance is a no-cost, no-commitment process. You also don’t have to make a final decision until you get your final price from your life insurance company.

In other words, you have nothing to lose by trying. So don’t let concerns about your weight hold you back from getting the coverage your family needs.

PolicyMe’s editorial content is meant for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical, legal, or financial advice.