Life Insurance & Diabetes

Health

Are you a person with diabetes who’s looking for life insurance? Let’s talk about what you can expect when applying for it.

Many people with diabetes think that life insurance is out of reach because their medical condition will make life insurance too expensive. 

But the good news is that this usually isn’t the case. If you have diabetes, there are lots of ways to get affordable life insurance. Seriously, these opportunities exist. You just need to know where to look—and what life insurance carriers are looking for.

Regardless of the type of diabetes you have, when you developed it, or how severe it is, you’ll almost always secure a better rate if you can show signs that your diabetes is being adequately treated and under control.

Why does diabetes matter to life insurance companies?

A life insurance company cares about the chances that you’ll pass away during the term of your life insurance policy, especially the chances that you’ll die when you’re still young. After all, if you’re more likely to pass away while your policy is active, the insurance company is more likely to have to pay a claim. And that translates into higher costs.

But what exactly is the impact of diabetes on life expectancy? Does having diabetes make you a higher risk than someone without it?

How diabetes affects life expectancy

Diabetes is a chronic disease. And for most people with diabetes, the chances of dying at a younger age are higher. This is especially true when people develop complications of diabetes or when their diabetes isn’t well-controlled. After all, uncontrolled diabetes can lead to heart disease and other problems with circulation (vascular disease), which can cause a heart attack, a stroke, and occasionally, the loss of a limb. And for insurance companies, that spells R-I-S-K.

The tables below show the risk levels for a person with diabetes (depending on their age and the number of years since diabetes was diagnosed). Note that the key word here is “average." Consistently normal blood sugars, lower than average blood pressure, lower than average cholesterol, and normal exercise can lead to better than average life expectancy for people with diabetes!

Type 1 Diabetes

Age Range <5 years since diagnosis 6 - 15 years since diagnosis 16 - 25 years since diagnosis >25 years since diagnosis
20 - 30 yrs oldSevereSevereSevereExtremely severe
30 - 40 yrs oldModerateSevereSevereSevere
40 - 50 yrs oldModerateModerateSevereSevere
50 - 60 yrs oldModerateModerateModerateSevere
>60 yrs oldModerateModerateModerateModerate

Type 2 Diabetes

Age Range <5 years since diagnosis 6 - 15 years since diagnosis 16 - 25 years since diagnosis >25 years since diagnosis
20 - 30 yrs oldSevereSevereSevereSevere
30 - 40 yrs oldModerateModerateModerateSevere
40 - 50 yrs oldModerateModerateModerateModerate
50 - 60 yrs oldMildModerateModerateModerate
>60 yrs oldNoneMildMildModerate

The above is based on Welcome to Know the Risk, an educational website that contains valuable medical and non-medical underwriting information for insurance professionals, available exclusively to Advisors affiliated with PPI.

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, “People with diabetes are more likely to die prematurely than people without diabetes in every age group. In younger Canadians (aged 20 to 39 years), all-cause mortality rates were 4.2 to 5.8 times higher among individuals with diabetes. In the 40 to 74 year age group, all-cause mortality rates were two to three times higher among people with diabetes."

How do insurance companies price a policy for a diabetic?

If you apply for life insurance and have diabetes, your insurer will be particularly interested in these pieces of information:

Age at diagnosis

The younger you were when you were diagnosed with diabetes, the more likely it is that you’ll have to pay a higher price. As a rule of thumb, the longer you’ve had diabetes, the higher your rates will be.

The type of diabetes (type 1 or type 2)

People with type 2 diabetes usually have an easier chance of getting standard rates. That’s because type 2 diabetes is generally seen as more manageable than type 1.

Complications

Underwriters will also be on the lookout for diabetes-related complications, such as diabetic retinopathy, diabetic neuropathy, and proteinuria. If you have these conditions, they can raise your rates. This is why it’s so important to make sure your diabetes is well-managed when you’re looking for life insurance.

Blood sugar control

During the underwriting process, your insurer will also want to better understand your blood sugar control. To help judge this, they’ll probably look at your A1C levels, which they’ll get from doing a blood test. An A1C level of 6.0–6.9 will be very favourable, a 7.0–7.9 may raise your rates somewhat but still keep them relatively affordable, and an 8.0 or above will give you a riskier classification and, therefore, higher premiums.

Other medical conditions

Your life insurance premiums will increase if you have any other medical conditions, such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, or smoking history. After all, if you have multiple medical conditions, that raises the odds that your insurer will have to pay your death benefit sooner than expected.

What can help your case

Your chances of getting a better rate will be higher if you can show any of these:

  • Consistently normal blood sugar
  • Lower than average blood pressure
  • Lower than average cholesterol
  • Normal exercise test

What might hurt your case

Similarly, your chances of getting standard or 'healthy' rates will drop if you have any of the following medical conditions. In some cases, they could even result in your life insurance application being declined:

  • Obesity
  • Poor blood sugar control
  • Hypertension
  • High blood lipids
  • Smoking
  • Diabetic complications (i.e., retinopathy, nephropathy)
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Microalbuminuria
  • Proteinuria

Life insurance quotes for people with diabetes

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

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

For most diabetics, expect 1-2x your life insurance quotes.

The underwriting process

When it comes to clients with diabetes, we find that it usually takes a bit longer to get approved for life insurance. (Expect it to take 3–4 weeks.)

Your insurer will probably have additional medical requirements for you after reviewing your application. This comes in the form of a quick nurse visit to assess your vitals and collect fluid samples. But don't worry—your advisor (or our dedicated customer service team if you apply through PolicyMe) can schedule this on your behalf when the request comes in. 

Your insurance company may also ask for a report from your doctor.

The final word

Don’t get discouraged if you have diabetes and are looking for life insurance! There are plenty of ways for people with diabetes to get affordable coverage. You just need to know where to look and what life insurance carriers are looking for.

Plus, applying for life insurance is a no-cost, no-commitment process. You don’t have to make a final decision until you get your final price from your life insurance company.

So when you’re shopping for life insurance, the most important thing is to never assume that you’re uninsurable. With the right treatment and the right carrier, getting affordable life insurance is well within your reach.

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