When you’re pregnant, you do everything you can to ensure that your baby will have the best life possible. You buy all the pricey baby gear, stock up on diapers, and agree to be poked and prodded regularly to ensure that your baby is healthy.
But there’s another part of prepping to welcome a baby that’s important, even if it isn’t exciting enough to be documented in an Instagram story: buying life insurance.
What is Life insurance? Life insurance is designed to protect the people who are financially dependent on you in the event that you die and your income disappears.
You can, of course, buy life insurance well before you take the plunge into parenthood. But because kids are often the first dependents that people have, many people buy a life insurance policy for the first time when they have kids.
But what if you’re pregnant right now? Can you buy a policy now so that your baby will be protected financially from Day 1? Or do you need to wait until after you deliver to be eligible for coverage?
Here’s what to expect from life insurance when you’re expecting:
Now that you’re pregnant, your body probably feels very different from the way it did before you were expecting. You’re tired all the time, you can’t sleep as well as you used to, and some days, you can’t even keep food down.
Will any insurance provider give you coverage during a time when you feel nothing like your normal, healthy self?
You might be surprised to learn that in most cases, the answer is “yes.”
Your body may currently feel like it belongs to an alien. But as long as your pregnancy is progressing normally, the short-term changes to your body won’t have any long-term health effects. Insurers know this. So in most cases, if you’re having a normal pregnancy, they’ll approve you for a standard life insurance policy.
When you apply for life insurance, your insurer assesses your health. They measure your height and weight and performing basic tests, like blood tests. So you might be worried about the fact that because you’re expecting, your basic health stats don’t look the way they did before you got pregnant.
Fortunately, when your body changes in expected ways during a normal pregnancy, it won’t affect your ability to get life insurance.
Here are the health changes insurers typically understand and accept during pregnancy (as long as you don’t have a previous history of them):
Everyone knows that when you’re growing a human inside of you, you’re going to gain some weight. So as long as you gain a typical amount of weight during your pregnancy (15–40 pounds), your insurer will view it as normal pregnancy weight gain that won’t affect your health down the road.
As a result, it won’t hold you back from being approved for life insurance.
To help your insurer understand how much weight you’ve gained, be ready to provide your pre-pregnancy weight. This way, an underwriter can easily compare your current weight to your weight before you got pregnant.
You’ve probably found out by now that when you’re pregnant, you get to have your blood tested all the time. Yay!
Part of the reason for this is that your blood composition changes during pregnancy. It’s important for your doctor to make sure these changes stay within the normal range.
When you’re pregnant, it’s normal to have lower hemoglobin and iron levels, higher cholesterol levels, and lower total protein and globulin levels. As long as you don’t have a pre-pregnancy history of any of these changes, your insurer will view these changes as normal. And they won’t affect your chances of getting approved for insurance.
When you’re pregnant, your total blood volume increases. And in some women, this can cause a temporary innocent heart murmur. Insurers typically consider this to be a normal change during pregnancy and don’t hold it against you when you apply for life insurance.
Although many women have normal, complication-free pregnancies, some women develop pregnancy-related conditions that put them at higher risk of health issues. If you develop one of these conditions, it doesn’t mean that you’ll never be able to get life insurance coverage. But your insurer might hold off on approving your application until after you’ve had your baby.
Here are the conditions that tend to be red flags for insurers during pregnancy:
You might get diagnosed with gestational diabetes if you show high blood sugar levels for the first time during pregnancy. Developing gestational diabetes puts you in the high-risk category in the eyes of both doctors and insurers. It increases your risk of several health conditions like miscarriage, premature delivery, pre-eclampsia, and increased amniotic fluid.
Even though gestational diabetes usually goes away delivery, it raises your risk of developing type 2 diabetes down the road. In fact, 40% of women who develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy end up developing type 2 diabetes in the future.
For these reasons, insurers usually hold off on approving applications if a woman has gestational diabetes.
Although less common, pre-eclampsia, full eclampsia, and HELLP syndrome are serious, life-threatening complications that you can develop during pregnancy. These may high blood pressure, edema, protein in your urine, platelet or blood coagulation problems, or abnormal liver function.
If you’re experiencing symptoms or have a history of these conditions, your insurer will probably postpone approval.
Many women with existing medical conditions go on to have normal, healthy pregnancies. But some conditions, such as heart disease, respiratory disorders, kidney disease, coagulation disorders, and cancer, can be exacerbated by pregnancy. After all, carrying a baby for 9 months takes a toll on even a healthy body. So imagine what it’s like for a body that already isn’t operating at 100%.
Because pregnancy can make it difficult for insurers to assess an underlying health condition, they’ll typically wait until after you’ve delivered to assess and approve you.
If you’re early in your pregnancy, your due date may feel like it’s ages away.
Plus, if you’re throwing up nearly everything you eat, filling out a life insurance application is probably the last thing on your mind.
But if you apply for life insurance early on, you won’t have to get your insurance health assessment done at a time when you’re very uncomfortable physically and already getting poked and prodded all the time. And you won’t run the risk of delivering your baby before your insurer has time to process your application and ensure your child is protected financially. After all, you might think that you’re going to be pregnant for the full 40 weeks. But your baby may have other plans.
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