Life Insurance for Diabetics: Coverage Guide

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Key Takeaways

  • Life insurance coverage for diabetics isn't as expensive or tough to get as many believe.
  • Diabetics in Canada can secure affordable life insurance coverage that fits their needs and lifestyle, even seniors!
  • And yes, you can get life insurance coverage if you have diabetes; whether Type I or Type II.
  • To qualify, you may need a medical exam and to answer a few health questions.

You can get life insurance if you have diabetes!

Regardless of whether you’re a Type I or Type II diabetic, you’ll likely qualify for a standard term life insurance policy, but you’ll need to undergo a medical examination and answer some health questions.

More of a conversationalist? Get pointers on the life insurance process from our non-commissioned advisors. Here are some examples of what an advisor can help with:

  • Saving money by getting only the coverage you need; nothing more, nothing less
  • Finding out what insurers are looking for when reviewing your application (for diabetes and otherwise!)
  • Understanding the 101 of life insurance policies (e.g. type of coverage, naming beneficiaries, etc.)

Does diabetes affect life insurance?

Diabetes does affect life insurance; the rates and products you qualify for depend on the severity of your condition.

However, once approved and enrolled, you’ll remain covered as long as you were truthful on your application and continue making your monthly payments. This means even if your condition worsens, the terms of your insurance policy will remain in effect.

Can diabetics get term life insurance?

Yes, most diabetics can get term life insurance coverage. Diabetes is a relatively common and manageable health issue that can be controlled with healthy choices and consuming healthy foods. Life insurance companies will take this into account when providing you with a quote during the application process.

During the application process, you’ll need to complete a health questionnaire and undergo a medical exam, where your prospective insurer will review the risk factors and severity of your condition.

While your rates will likely be higher than someone who doesn’t have diabetes, they’ll still generally be lower than premiums associated with other products (like permanent life insurance policies or no medical plans). In other words: finding term life insurance for people with diabetes is both possible and affordable, even if you're senior in age.

Get real-time pointers from an insurance expert on how you can save money on life insurance, even with diabetes.

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 living 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.

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 old Severe Severe Severe Extremely severe
30 - 40 yrs old Moderate Severe Severe Severe
40 - 50 yrs old Moderate Moderate Severe Severe
50 - 60 yrs old Moderate Moderate Moderate Severe
>60 yrs old Moderate Moderate Moderate Moderate

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 old Severe Severe Severe Severe
30 - 40 yrs old Moderate Moderate Moderate Severe
40 - 50 yrs old Moderate Moderate Moderate Moderate
50 - 60 yrs old Mild Moderate Moderate Moderate
>60 yrs old None Mild Mild Moderate

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 person?

To price out a life insurance policy for someone with diabetes, the insurer will be particularly interested in these pieces of information:

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. Blood sugar control

During the underwriting process, your insurer will also want to better understand your blood sugar level 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.

5. Other medical conditions

Your life insurance premiums will increase if you have any other medical conditions, such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, HIV, 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.

Life insurance and diabetes: 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

Life insurance and diabetes: 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

Diabetes life insurance quotes

There are many places to get life insurance quotes. Many companies even offer instant life insurance quotes online. For starters, you can do a life insurance premium calculation to get a ballpark on how much coverage you need and how much it may cost.

But remember, these quotes are only based on three factors – your smoking status, your age and your gender. They are not personalized to your specific health situation.

You’ll need to undergo life insurance underwriting to get your personalized price for life insurance. And life insurance premiums for diabetics tend to be higher than average.

Expect life insurance rates for diabetics to be around 1-2x the life insurance quotes you receive. Tobin Tuff, a Certified Life Insurance Advisor at PolicyMe, says, “The vast majority of diabetics will get a rating of +50, which translates into premiums that are about 50% higher than similar individuals with no pre-existing conditions.”

According to Tuff, the most significant factors that influence your premium payments are your A1C levels and how well your diabetes has been managed in the past.

Read our guide to the most affordable life insurance on the market (and pricier options too).

The underwriting process

When it comes to clients living with diabetes, we find that it usually takes a bit longer to get approved for life insurance coverage. (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.

Don't want to take a medical exam and willing to pay a higher premium? You'll need to go with a company that specializes in no medical policies.

How to get life insurance with diabetes

Don’t get discouraged if you’re having trouble getting life insurance coverage with diabetes. There are plenty of ways for people living 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 coverage 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.

We suggest shopping around for term life insurance coverage first because they tend to have more affordable rates than other life insurance products. In addition, many insurers offer term policies, so if one company denies you coverage, you can always try another.

Simplified issue life insurance is a type of no medical policy that only requires you to fill out a medical questionnaire; no health exam needed. While they’ll cost more than traditional term policies, you’ll likely find coverage easier to qualify through simplified issue policies.

So when you’re shopping for diabetes life insurance rates, the most important thing is never to assume that you’re uninsurable. With proper treatment, including healthy choices and a balanced diet with healthy foods, and with the right insurance provider, obtaining affordable life insurance is well within your reach.

Best life insurance for diabetics

The best life insurance diabetics is one that offers the type of coverage the applicant needs. In other words, it really depends on the person. In most cases, term life policies provide financial protection with reasonable monthly premiums.

Term life insurance will give your family a safety net during the years they’ll need it the most—when you have financial obligations like a mortgage, debts and a partner and children to provide for.

In most cases, we would recommend term life insurance for diabetics. In general, life insurance rates for diabetics can be already pricey, and even more so if you choose other life insurance options like a no-medical or permanent policy.

By choosing a term life plan, your premiums will likely be lower, and you’ll avoid being overinsured—paying more than you have to for coverage you don’t need.

PolicyMe has made getting term life insurance coverage hassle-free, even if you have a medical condition. Our rates are among the most affordable in the country, for the same coverage you’d get through our competitors.

Bottom line: You can still get life insurance with diabetes.

  • Because diabetes affects life expectancy, insurance companies tend to charge higher premiums to those with this condition—people with diabetes are more likely to pass away.
  • When applying for traditional policies, you’ll need to disclose your health history through a medical exam and questionnaire.
  • Those with Type 2 diabetes have a better chance of qualifying for a lower rate because it’s seen as more manageable than Type 1.
  • If you’re having trouble qualifying for traditional life insurance, you still have options for life insurance. Another policy type, like a no medical plan might be right for you.

FAQ: Life insurance for diabetics

Do I have to inform life insurance companies that I have diabetes?

Yes, you have to inform life insurance companies if you have diabetes or any other chronic health conditions. Unless you’re going with a no-medical policy, life insurers will obtain your medical history using a detailed questionnaire and health exam.

If you’re not honest during the application process, your insurer can cancel your policy or deny your family a death benefit payout. It’s best to be honest about your health issues, even if you have to pay more for coverage. This way, your family can rely on your life insurance policy if you pass away.

What do I do if I’ve been declined a life insurance policy because of my diabetes?

If you’ve been denied a life insurance policy because of your diabetes, you can apply through a different insurer. If you’re finding it difficult to get term life insurance coverage, you can consider a different type of policy, such as a no medical exam life insurance policy for diabetics.

As a last resort, you can always opt for guaranteed issue life insurance. These policies don’t need any health info from you at all, and their monthly premiums reflect it!

Guaranteed issue plans can be costly, and many won’t pay out if you pass away within the waiting period—about two years before your coverage kicks in. However, these products are available for people who are very hard to insure otherwise.

Is there a type of life insurance specifically for diabetics?

No, there isn’t a type of life insurance designed specifically for diabetics. People with diabetes can apply for any life insurance policy suitable for their needs, including term and permanent life insurance plans.

The approval process is different at each insurance company. With a health condition like diabetes, you may find that some types of life insurance are easier to get approved for than others due to their underwriting requirements.

What if my health improves after getting a life insurance policy as a diabetic?

Unfortunately, if your health improves after getting a life insurance policy as a diabetic, this won’t impact your premiums. You can always cancel your current plan and apply for a new policy.

However, other factors, such as age, are at play when an insurer calculates your monthly premiums. So make sure you shop around to see if you’ll actually be saving any money before cancelling an ongoing plan.

In very limited cases, if you’re a new policyholder (having enrolled less than two years ago), you may request to be reassessed to reduce your monthly premiums if your health improves. Not every insurer allows this—you would need to contact a representative at your insurance company to see if this option is available.

Why is life insurance more expensive for people with diabetes?

Life insurance is more expensive for people living with diabetes because they are riskier to insure. Because diabetes has an impact on life expectancy, it means that insurance companies are more likely to pay out to clients who have this disease. This translates into higher monthly premiums.

In essence, diabetics pay more for coverage because there’s a higher chance the insurance company will need to pay a death benefit. Low-risk clients who are young and in good health pay lower premiums because they’re less likely to pass away.

If you suffer from illnesses which in some cases are more fatal than diabetes, get a critical illness insurance to get a rate that suits your needs.

How can diabetics lower their life insurance policy costs?

Diabetics may be able to lower their life insurance policy costs if they can manage their condition with proper treatment, including healthy choices and a balanced diet with healthy foods. However, this depends on their insurer. Some companies may allow an individual to be reassessed within a short time frame of their initial enrolment (think two years or less).

This could result in lower premiums. Reach out to your life insurance provider to ask if you have any options to decrease the cost of life insurance—it’s an area that may be treated differently by different insurers.

What will happen to an existing policy if I am diagnosed with diabetes after the fact?

Diagnosis or development of diabetes after purchasing life insurance typically does not impact coverage, rates, or policy cancellation. Gestational diabetes may not be seen as a preexisting condition. Once your life insurance policy is in place, any health issues you experience after enrolment will have no impact on its status.

Your beneficiaries will still qualify for a payout if you pass away, and your insurer cannot cancel your plan. However, if something happens to you within the first two years of getting life insurance coverage, this may raise suspicions with your insurer.

If you die during these two years—called the contestability period—your insurance company may review your application for discrepancies or fraud. If they find out that you were dishonest when you applied, this could void your policy and payout.

What is a good A1C level for life insurance?

For diabetics, a good A1C level to aim for when applying for life insurance is typically below 7%. Insurers use A1C levels to assess how well your diabetes is managed over the past two to three months. If your A1C is below 7%, it shows that you have good control over your blood sugar levels, which can positively influence your insurance premiums and approval chances.

However, some insurers may have different thresholds and could consider levels slightly above 7% acceptable, depending on other factors like your overall health, age, and how long you've had diabetes. To improve your chances, maintain a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet, regular exercise, and consistent monitoring of your blood sugar. Consulting with a licensed life insurance advisor can also help you find the best policy that suits your health profile and financial needs in Canada.

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