Most Americans struggle with weight at some point during their lifetime. As a result, we often receive questions from consumers about life insurance for overweight individuals, or how being overweight will affect their life insurance application and premium rates.
These concerns are completely understandable given the number of people who face challenges related to obesity and associated medical conditions.
However, it is often possible to qualify for affordable life insurance even if you have challenges with your weight.
The following article, Life Insurance for Overweight individuals (Getting the Best Rates Possible), provides information related to life insurance for overweight individuals, best life insurance companies for obesity, and tips for applying for life insurance with obesity and other medical conditions.
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Life Insurance for Overweight Individuals
In the United States being overweight has become an all too common occurrence.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "the prevalence of obesity was 39.8% and affected about 93.3 million of U.S. adults in 2016.” In addition to the negative health effects of obesity itself, being overweight may contribute to heart disease, diabetes, and other serious health conditions.
Based on negative health effects and associated increased mortality it is understandable that life insurance companies consider an individual’s build, or height and weight, as an integral part of the medical underwriting process.
Consumers challenged with obesity can expect to pay higher premium rates for their life insurance, or in severe instances potentially be declined for coverage altogether. However, in the majority of cases it is possible for heavier applicants to qualify for affordable life insurance for overweight individuals.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer that are some of the leading causes of preventable, premature death.”
Underwriting Considerations for Height/Weight
In considering an individual’s application for life insurance, an insurance company will traditionally ask health related questions and conduct a physical exam, as well as review medical records, medical information bureau data, and other relevant information.
In the underwriting process, one of the first physical characteristics evaluated is an applicant’s build. While being overweight is commonly the primary concern, being underweight or recent rapid weight loss can also be cause for scrutiny.
An applicant’s build falling outside of select ranges can result in increased premium rates, or potentially decline of coverage. Underwriting considerations for build routinely include height, weight, gender, age, and associated health issues. These factors allow the company’s underwriting team to holistically consider life insurance for overweight applicants.
Height/Weight – A life insurance company’s underwriting guidelines traditionally include height/weight charts which outline acceptable ranges for different underwriting classifications based on build. This consideration of ratio takes into account an applicant’s Body Mass Index (BMI), and actuarial data related to height/weight ratios. If you are interested in determining your own BMI, the National Institute of Health provides an interactive BMI Calculator for personal use.
Gender/Age – Build guidelines are often adjusted for gender taking into considering differing body types between males and females. Age is also routinely considered, providing senior applicants slightly more lenient height/weight standards to account for normal bodily changes associated with aging. The intent of these underwriting adjustments is to provide an accurate picture of the applicant’s height/weight ratio and its impact on overall health.
Health Problems – In addition to the impact of height and weight on an applicant’s mortality, associated health problems can also be a significant factor when underwriting life insurance for overweight individuals. According to the Mayo Clinic, obesity can contribute to a number of associated serious health problems including:
Sample Build Chart (Height/Weight)
The following sample build chart provides an illustration of preferred through standard underwriting classes based on height and weight from AIG American General Life insurance Company.
AIG American General Life Insurance Company
Tip #1 – Provide Accurate Height/Weight Information
In our experience applicants sometimes “shave” a few pounds off or “grow” a few inches when providing their height/weight on a life insurance application, only to have the true numbers revealed during their physical exam. Though this may seem like a good idea, it can actually be somewhat counter productive when applying for life insurance for overweight individuals. It is extremely important that you provide an accurate height/weight on your life insurance application, since even a pound or two can make a difference premium rates. Having accurate height/weight information provides your agent the data needed to select the insurance company that will be most advantageous, and to advise you of build range breakpoints. In some instances, losing a pound or two can make a substantial difference in your premium rates for years to come.
If you do have a history of being overweight, underweight, or have experienced rapid weight loss the insurance company that you select will likely ask the following or similar questions.
Tip #2 – Select the Right Life Insurance Company
It is common for different life insurance companies to have varying underwriting standards for height and weight. These variations in build standards often make a difference in premium rates from one company to another, or even whether a policy is approved or declined. When shopping for life insurance with weight challenges it is important to work with an experienced independent agent who has access to multiple insurance carriers. This independence allows the agent to recommend the company that considers your individual situation most favorably. In our experience the following companies routinely offer the best life insurance for overweight applicants, subject to individual consumer circumstances.
Tip #3 – Put Your Best Foot Forward During the Exam
If you are applying for fully underwritten coverage you will most likely be required to take a physical exam as part of the underwriting process. During this exam you will routinely be asked a series of medical questions, provide a blood and urine sample, and have your height and weight verified. Getting the best results on your life insurance exam is important in getting policy is approved, and in order to receive the best premium rates possible. If you are close to qualifying for a lower weight band it is a good idea to schedule your exam first thing in the morning when your body weight is routinely at its lowest. Also, responsibly losing a few pounds prior to your exam may be helpful in qualifying for the best rates possible.
Life Insurance for Overweight Applicant
Cecil is a 60-year-old restaurant owner who needs to purchase a $250,000 life insurance policy in order to secure a business loan through the Small Business Association (SBA). He is concerned that with a height of 5’10” and a weight of 312 pounds he will not be able to qualify for the required coverage, even though he has no other medical issues. In speaking with an independent insurance agent, Cecil learns that there are “A” rated companies that are somewhat liberal with regard to height/weight with life insurance for overweight consumers. By choosing the right insurance company and maintaining steady weight prior to his exam Cecil not only qualified for coverage but receive a standard underwriting class and premium rates. Ultimately, he was able to purchase the required life insurance policy at a much lower rate than expected and qualify for his much-needed business loan. Sample build table from a leading insurance company provided below.
Sample Build Table
Build Table 2 Male and Female – Age 60 and Over
Note: Rating classification is based on Body Mass Index (BMI), height and weight tables are presented for guidance only. Note: build requirements will vary by individual insurance company.