Life insurance for diabetics

Here’s what you need to know if you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes and want to take out life insurance cover.

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Diabetes is one of the most common health conditions in the UK, affecting 4.7 million people. Of this number, around 1 in 10 people have Type 1 diabetes and 9 in 10 have Type 2 diabetes.

Because diabetes is a lifelong condition that can have complications that could affect your life expectancy, you might assume it is more difficult to get life insurance – but this usually isn’t the case.

In this guide, we answer the most common questions about life insurance for diabetics (type 1 and 2) and explain how you can get affordable cover.

Can I get life insurance if I have diabetes?

Usually, yes. Whether you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, there are many life insurers that will offer life insurance to people with diabetes – but your premiums are likely to be more expensive, and if you have lots of additional risk factors you may find it harder to get a quote.

Some providers will adjust their standard life insurance policies to account for the additional risks posed by your diabetes. Others, such as Royal London, have designed cover specifically aimed at people with diabetes that struggle to get competitively priced life insurance.

How does diabetes affect life insurance?

People with diabetes are seen as a higher risk by life insurance companies because diabetes can be linked to other, life-threatening conditions, such as heart disease.

However, the level of risk – and the impact on your life insurance cover – can vary depending on the type of diabetes, any diabetes-related complications you may have, and other risk factors such as whether you are overweight or a smoker.

Life insurance for people with Type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune condition that means your pancreas is unable to produce insulin. People with Type 1 diabetes have to inject insulin in order to control their blood sugar levels.

Poor blood sugar control can result in high or low blood sugar, which can cause other short and long-term health problems. If you have other health conditions associated with Type 1 diabetes, this is likely to have a greater impact on your ability to get life insurance, and how much it costs.

However, Type 1 diabetes usually occurs in younger people, and is not linked to lifestyle risks such as obesity or high cholesterol. So someone with Type 1 diabetes may have no other risk factors that would potentially push up their life insurance premiums.

Life insurance for people with Type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is usually diagnosed later in life. It is often, though not always, associated with obesity, high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol – though there may also be genetic or other causes.

The pancreases of people with Type 2 diabetes usually still produce insulin, but their bodies are unable to use it efficiently. In some cases, people with Type 2 diabetes are able to manage the condition with diet and exercise, and/or with tablets, though they may eventually need to inject insulin.

If you have Type 2 diabetes, your ability to get life insurance cover, and how much it costs, may be significantly affected by your weight and your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Is life insurance more expensive if I have diabetes?

It’s very likely, as life insurers need to take account of the higher risk of someone having diabetes.

However, if you have well-controlled diabetes and no other risk factors (such as being a smoker, being obese, or having other health issues), your premiums may not be affected as much as you might expect.

Different life insurers will rate the risks of diabetes differently, so whether you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, it’s well worth shopping around for life insurance to find the best price for your specific condition.

What happens if I don’t tell an insurer that I have diabetes?

Don’t go down this road. If a claim is made, your life insurer may ask to see your medical records, which will reveal any history of diabetes.

Lying to an insurer, or not revealing your diabetes will certainly result in a reduced payout for your loved ones if they make a claim. It could even mean they get nothing at all, and that you’ve wasted your money on life insurance premiums.

What will life insurers ask me about my diabetes?

In your application for life insurance, an insurer is likely to ask you questions including:

  • What type of diabetes you have (Type 1 or Type 2).
  • When you were diagnosed.
  • How your diabetes is treated.
  • Your most recent HbA1c reading.
  • Whether you have any diabetes-related complications.

Can I get life insurance that covers diabetes without a medical exam?

It will depend on the insurer, but many will ask to see your medical records (available from your GP) and may also ask you to complete a full medical assessment.

You can, of course, say no to these requests, but if you do so the insurer is likely to refuse to give you a quote.

How can I get cheaper life insurance if I have diabetes?

While you can’t change the fact that you have diabetes, you are likely to have more control over related risk factors. For example, you may be able to reduce your premiums by:

  • Losing weight. As well as having a positive impact on your health generally, including your ability to control your blood sugar levels, insurers are likely to charge you less if you have lower BMI.
  • Giving up smoking. Smoking alone can double the cost of life insurance, as we explain in our guide to life insurance for smokers, and in combination with diabetes it can make for a serious drain on your wallet.
  • Taking steps to keep your cholesterol and blood pressure healthy. This will help reassure insurers about your wider health.
  • Keeping your HbA1c within recommended levels. Your HbA1c is a measure of your average blood sugar levels over recent months, and is a good indicator of how effectively you are able to control your diabetes.

And, of course, you shouldn’t simply accept the first quote you receive from a life insurer. Shopping around is almost always the best way to get a good deal on any type of insurance.

What types of policy are on offer for people who have diabetes?

Most people with diabetes should be able to get the same types of insurance as people without diabetes can get, as we explain in our guides to life insurance, though you may pay more for equivalent cover if you have diabetes.

Some insurers may offer policies specifically aimed at people with diabetes that struggle to get cover, for example because of a high HbA1c level.

Royal London, for example, offers Diabetes Life Cover that may be able to reduce initial premiums by up to 40% over a number of years, if the customer supplies them with their annual HbA1c and their condition is improving.

Has COVID-19 affected life insurance for diabetics?

While there is no evidence that having diabetes makes you more likely to catch COVID-19, NHS statistics indicate that there is a link between diabetes and an increased risk of severe symptoms and death from COVID-19.

For life insurance policies taken out before the COVID-19 outbreak, cover should not be affected. Policies should pay out as usual, including for deaths linked to coronavirus.

However, since the start of the pandemic, many life insurance providers have added new questions to their application forms to reflect the new risks posed by COVID-19. If you state you have coronavirus symptoms, you may be asked to postpone your application.

There may also be delays if you need to have a medical assessment before the insurer is able to offer cover (as many people with diabetes do). This and requesting additional information from your GP is taking longer to do safely right now.

There is currently no indication that insurers are generally ramping up premiums as a result of the coronavirus. However there is a chance that those proven to be at higher risk from COVID-19, including people with diabetes, may find it harder to get life insurance cover or insurers may charge higher premiums while the pandemic continues.

Bottom line

There’s no reason to assume that getting life insurance is any more challenging for people with diabetes than for those without. However, if you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes you are likely to need to pay more for life insurance cover – how much more depends on your individual circumstances.

You can keep costs down by shopping around, and by managing any other risk factors that could affect price, such as your weight.

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