Being overweight can drive up your premiums, but insurance isn’t out of reach.
Obesity is one of the leading causes of premature death and illness worldwide, which means insurers will be cautious about offering a policy to someone who is overweight. Proving that you’re healthy can go a long way in keeping your premiums down.
Benefits of life insurance
Injuries, illness and even death can happen to anyone at any time. Insurance plans such as life insurance and critical illness insurance can provide you with the peace of mind, knowing that no matter what happens to you, your loved ones will be financially taken care of.
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Obesity and the associated health risks
A greater awareness of the health issues associated with obesity has placed a spotlight on the dangers of being at an unhealthy weight. Medical conditions that can stem from being overweight include joint and bone problems, increased risks of diabetes, sleep apnea, heart attack, cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease and more.
If you have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or over, the chances of health problems as a result of excessive weight will increase significantly. Life insurance companies factor this increased risk into the price of your premium.
Life insurance and obesity
Life insurance provides a lump sum payment to your financial dependents should you pass away unexpectedly. It can provide support for your family’s financial obligations in times of needs, particularly to cover their daily living expenses and any specific commitments for the future, such as mortgage payments and your children’s education expenses.
Underwriters may account for the additional risk that someone with a high BMI may carry by applying a premium loading, or percentage increase, on the policy. Typically, insurance providers consider individuals that are overweight to pose much higher risk due to associated health risks and the increased likelihood of a claim.
Critical illness insurance and obesity
Critical illness insurance will pay out a lump sum if you become unable to work because of a serious illness or injury. You can use the benefit payment to cover your everyday living expenses and any short-term or long-term debts, such as rent, mortgage payments and bills.
Critical illness insurance will likely cost more if you’re overweight, and may be difficult to get at all if you’re considered morbidly obese or if you’ve been diagnosed with another health risk. Each insurer will assess applicants differently, so it’s in your best interest to compare different providers. One provider may consider weight a more important factor than another.
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How will I be assessed by an underwriter if I’m overweight?
Life insurance providers and their team of underwriters typically use BMI as a guide to assess and determine whether an applicant is overweight or not. Your BMI is calculated based on the following formula:
Your score will then determine whether you have an ideal weight, underweight or overweight, from the following classification:
- <15: Very severely underweight
- 15-16: Severely underweight
- 16-18: Underweight
- 18.5-25: Normal (healthy weight)
- 25-30: Overweight
- 30-35: Obese Class I (moderately obese)
- 35-40: Obese Class II (severely obese)
- 40+: Obese Class III (very severely obese)
I have a high BMI, but I’m healthy. How will I be assessed?
BMI can be misleading, particularly for muscular people. It doesn’t take into account how much of your weight is muscle vs. fat, which makes it a faulty measuring system for many athletic people. People with a high BMI that feel they are in good condition can get a report from a certified practitioner to have their application assessed.
It’s also important to understand that BMI is not the only factor that is considered by an insurer to determine risk. Additional questionnaires, blood tests and a medical checkup may be required by your insurer to further assess your overall health and any other relevant conditions that may lead to an increase in mortality.
Life insurance and critical illness insurance can be more difficult to qualify for if you’re overweight and obese, and you’ll likely have to pay a higher premium than someone with a lower BMI. Taking the time to compare different providers can help you save — especially if one insurer considers you a lower risk than another.
Frequently asked questions
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