The life insurance industry doesn’t have a standardized approach to coverage for transgender people. Instead, each insurer follows its own set of guidelines when issuing and pricing policies. Most will accept your gender, but you can expect to be asked for details about your transition.
Can I get life insurance if I’m transgender?
Yes, but the application process might be more rigid than it is for cisgender people in similar health. The good news is you won’t be charged a higher rate purely for being transgender.
When you apply for life insurance, you have to disclose your gender — and that’s where things can get tricky.
Some insurers ask for your assigned sex at birth, but most are okay with using the gender you identify with for underwriting. If you haven’t undergone any medical or physical transition, you may need to apply using your assigned sex at birth — even if it’s different from your gender.
What happens if I don’t name a gender on my life insurance application?
If you don’t declare a gender on your life insurance application, the insurer will assess your medical records, driver’s license and the other information you provide to find it.
However, most insurers will accept your actual gender, not necessarily the one you were assigned at birth. But this practice isn’t codified, so your experience may be different between insurance companies.
If you’re nonbinary, you’ll unfortunately need to align with one gender on your application. And if you’re not comfortable doing that, your insurer will scan your records and choose one for you.
Life insurance underwriting questions for transgender applicants
If you’ve transitioned or are in the process of transitioning, your insurer will ask additional questions to determine your risk levels. These may include whether:
- You’ve had gender reassignment surgery
- You’re using hormonal drug therapies — if they’re experimental, the insurer may take possible side effects into account
- Your surgery or medication has led to other health issues
How the law protects transgender life insurance rights
Some states across the US have moved to more inclusive definitions of gender, including California, Connecticut, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Vermont and Washington, according to the Transgender Law Center.
For example, California codified a law saying gender “includes a person’s gender identity and gender-related appearance and behavior whether or not stereotypically associated with the person’s assigned sex at birth.”
In these states, it’s illegal to discriminate based on gender identity — which means insurers must price policies for transgender applicants fairly. It also means they can’t assign you to a higher risk class if you match the criteria of a lower risk class.
Why gender influences life insurance rates
To determine your rates, insurers look at a range of personal, health and lifestyle factors — and gender is a big one.
This is because underwriters rely on decades of data to guess your mortality rate — and this data is usually tied to gender. Insurance is a game of risk, and from the industry’s perspective, there isn’t enough information to lean on for transgender people.
As a result, insurers look at gender through a male versus female lens. The reason isn’t subtle: Men have a lower life expectancy than women, so insurers charge them more because there’s a higher chance of having to pay out the policy.
Has life insurance underwriting changed for transgender applicants?
While the life insurance industry can be slow to change, it is making strides towards inclusivity.
Previously, life insurance applications asked for your “sex,” an outdated term compared with the more fluid “gender.” And some insurers — like Haven Life — are developing applications that are inclusive of transgender and nonbinary people.
Other factors that affect life insurance rates
Along with gender, insurers assess the following factors to set your rate:
- Age. The younger you are, the less you’ll pay.
- Health. If you have pre-existing conditions, a high BMI or elevated blood pressure or cholesterol levels, you might be charged a higher rate. But if you struggle with depression, it probably won’t affect your premium.
- Family medical history. If your parents or siblings suffer from serious health conditions like diabetes, stroke or heart disease, you might be charged a higher premium.
- Smoking status. Since a host of health issues are linked to smoking, smokers typically pay two to three times more for coverage.
- Driving record. If your driving record is free of DUIs and major traffic violations, you’ll likely get a cheaper rate.
- Occupation. An office worker can expect to pay less than someone who works in a dangerous environment every day, like loggers, roofers and war journalists.
- Alcohol and substance use. To reach a cheaper rate class, you’ll need to prove you haven’t abused drugs or alcohol.
Do I need to take a medical exam?
Yes — if you’re applying for a traditional policy. The medical exam icludes a basic physical, and the technician will come to your home or office at a time that’s convenient for you, or you’ll be asked to make an appointment at a nearby clinic.
They’ll record your height, weight and blood pressure, and request a urine and blood sample. You typically won’t need to undress.
If you don’t want to take a medical exam, you have options. Simplified issue policies skip the medical exam but require you to fill out a health questionnaire, while guaranteed issue policies are open to anyone — no questions asked.
Compare life insurance companies for transgender people
As a healthy transgender individual, you should be able to access life insurance at a fair rate. While you’ll likely need to answer questions about your transition and declare a gender, most insurers will accept your gender over your assigned sex at birth.
Since underwriting standards vary, it’s worth comparing life insurance companies to get the best coverage for the lowest price.