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What to know about life insurance when you have diabetes
Coverage isn't out of reach — especially if you have the condition under control.
Diabetes affects the lives of millions of Americans. While it can make underwriting for life insurance a little more complicated, many insurers will cover those with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes — and offer good rates if you can prove you’re successfully managing the condition.
Can I get life insurance if I have diabetes?
Yes. Many of the top life insurers in the United States extend coverage to people with diabetes.
While not every life insurance company weighs diabetes the same way in underwriting, you’ll likely pay a higher premium than a person who doesn’t have it. This is because diabetes puts you at risk for other health complications, and insurers need to compensate for that to protect their bottom line. But you might be able to access lower rates if you can show you’re taking action to control and treat your condition.
What about gestational diabetes?
Gestational diabetes is a temporary condition that’s associated with pregnancy. But if you apply while you have an active case of gestational diabetes, your provider will weigh your diagnosis as heavily as it does Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.
If you’re diagnosed with gestational diabetes, you may want to wait until after your condition subsides before applying for life insurance. But keep in mind that it can still affect your life insurance premiums after it goes away, though generally not as much.
What do insurers look at when assessing people with diabetes?
Insurers assess diabetes along with most of the same health and lifestyle factors they use to evaluate any applicant. If you have diabetes, your insurer will pay closer attention to these factors:
- Your age at diagnosis. Generally, the longer you’ve had diabetes, the more likely you’ll suffer complications later in life. A person diagnosed with adult-onset diabetes might pay a lower premium than somebody who was diagnosed in childhood.
- Your diabetes type. Type 2 diabetics is considered to be the more manageable condition, and it accounts for roughly 90% of cases, according to WebMD. If you have Type 2 diabetes, you may be able to access lower rates. Type 1 diabetes is often diagnosed earlier in life and can lead to serious health complications, so insurers tend to hike up the rates.
- The severity of your diabetes. To determine the severity of your condition, underwriters will look at your AIC levels. If they fall in the 6.0-6.9 range, they shouldn’t affect your ability to get coverage. But an AIC reading over 7 will likely raise your rates.
- Your alcohol use. Alcohol can accelerate the onset of diabetes and sometimes interfere with medication. If you’re a diabetic who drinks excessively, you might be denied a policy or charged a higher premium.
- Your family medical history. An underwriter will look at more than just your family’s history with diabetes. Type 2 diabetes, for instance, carries a higher genetic risk for renal and cardiovascular disease. If you have a poor family health history, you can expect to pay more for coverage.
- How you’re managing your disease. You’ll nearly always get a stronger premium if you successfully manage and treat your diabetes. You’ll likely need to take a blood test so that the provider can assess your glucose levels. Generally, the better your blood test, the lower your rates.
What about complications caused by diabetes?
If your diabetes has led to complications, like kidney problems, nerve damage, diabetic neuropathy or proteinuria, it will affect your ability to qualify for life insurance. Minor problems can lead to higher premiums, and major complications can lead to a denied life insurance application.
Because an insurance underwriter considers your overall health in relation to your diabetes, you’ll typically need to take a medical exam to determine whether you’re suffering from diabetes-related complications. Your doctor may need to provide documentation on your behalf that prove any serious complications are under control.
What medical questions might I need to answer?
Depending on your diagnosis, treatment and overall health, you may be required to answer invasive medical questions that include:
- What type of diabetes do you have? You may need to be more specific than simply type 1 or type 2, indicating diabetes insipidus, glucose intolerance or insulin resistance as well.
- Do you experience diabetes-related complications? You could be asked specifically about kidney or nerve issues, high blood pressure, vision impairment or reduced blood circulation.
- Have you ever experienced a diabetic or insulin coma? If your history includes coma, you’ll likely need to provide hospitalization records that detail the outcome.
- When was your condition last checked? Your insurer could ask for test results over a series of recent appointments.
- What were the results of your most recent hemoglobin A1c test? This test reveals your average blood sugar level over several months.
- Where are you receiving ongoing treatment? You may need to provide the names and contact info for each of your doctors — even those outside of endocrinology or diabetes treatment.
How can I qualify for better rates?
If medical tests and documentation support that you’ve managed your disease well, you have a better chance for affordable rates. Which means that the best way to qualify for competitive rates is to make regular doctor’s appointments, take your medications on schedule and follow all of your doctor’s orders.
If you’re finding it difficult to get approved, consider seeking out a broker that specializes in high-risk applicants. Life insurance is a competitive industry, and many brokers maintain relationships with insurers willing to take on specific health and lifestyle risks — including diabetes.
Critical illness insurance and diabetes
Critical illness insurance is a type of life insurance policy that can ease the financial strain of a serious medical diagnosis. You can bundle critical illness insurance with your existing life insurance policy, though many providers also offer a standalone policy.
While diabetes is not commonly included in the list of medical diagnoses covered by critical illness insurance, you may be able to protect yourself from diabetes-complications that arise later in life.
You’ll need to disclose your pre-existing diabetes in your application for coverage. If your later diagnosis meets the conditions defined by your provider, you receive your benefit as a lump sum of money that you can use to cover medical costs, mortgage payments or any gaps in income that come with being unable to work.
Compare life insurance companies
While it is possible to get life insurance with diabetes, you’ll likely have to pay higher rates — especially if you’ve had other medical problems. To get the best deal on a policy, compare life insurance policies to find the best option for you.
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