Qualifying for Life Insurance with Sleep Apnea (Including Underwriting Questions)

Written by ChoiceLifeQuote

In working with clients, we routinely run across common medical conditions. Sleep apnea is one such diagnosis that often concerns life insurance applicants. So, can you get affordable life insurance with sleep apnea?

This question is understandable given the potential health effects and complications associated with sleep apnea and other similar disorders.

questions life insurance with sleep apnea

Luckily, the short answer is YES in many instances. This article provides information related to life insurance with sleep apnea, underwriting requirements, potential impact on premium rates, and best companies for life insurance with medical conditions.

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Understanding Your Sleep Apnea Diagnosis

Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that affects millions of Americans, many of whom may be unaware of their condition.

According to the Mayo Clinic, "sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts.” Symptoms of this disorder may go unrecognized for months or even years before a positive diagnosis is made.

diagnosis - life insurance with sleep apnea

If your spouse or others have complained of loud snoring, and/or you often feel exhausted after what you thought was a good night’s sleep you may have sleep apnea. Based on causes of onset sleep apnea is divided into three different categories or types.

3 Types of Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea – The most common type of sleep apnea, this occurs when the muscles of the throat relax causing a complete or partial airway obstruction.

Central Sleep Apnea – This less common type of sleep apnea occurs when the brain does not appropriately signal the muscles that control breathing.

Complex Sleep Apnea – This combined type of sleep apnea presents when an individual has both obstructive and central sleep apnea.

Common Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

According to the Mayo Clinic, common symptoms associated with both obstructive and central sleep apnea may include but are not limited to the following. If you are currently experiencing these or other sleep related symptoms, please consult a medical professional for advice.

  • Frequent loud snoring
  • Stop breathing when sleeping
  • Gasping for air while asleep
  • Awakening with dry mouth
  • Difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
  • Daytime sleepiness (hypersomnia)
  • Challenges paying attention
  • Frequent irritability

Treatment for Sleep Apnea

Treatments for sleep apnea will vary depending on the severity of your condition, but may include: appropriate weight loss, limiting alcohol intake, altered sleep habits or positions, using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device, using a bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP) device, or in certain circumstances airway surgery.

national sleep foundation logo

According to the National Sleep Foundation, “about one-third of the adults in a primary care clinic population noted that they had obstructive sleep apnea syndrome symptoms.”

Qualifying for Life Insurance with Sleep Apnea

In qualifying for life insurance with sleep apnea, as with other medical conditions, it is important to consider how your specific diagnosis potentially affects your general health and/or mortality.

In addition to sleep apnea, other associated conditions or complications may have an impact on policy approval and premium rates.

family - life insurance with sleep apnea

When applying for life insurance with sleep apnea underwriters will request information related to your general health and lifestyle, as well as about your diagnosis, current symptoms, ongoing treatment, and any sleep studies or related tests. Underwriting questions that you can expect related to sleep apnea may include the following.

Underwriting Questions for Sleep Apnea

  • Date of sleep apnea diagnosis?
  • Type and severity of sleep apnea?
  • Type of treatment received?
  • Are you compliant with treatment?
  • Results of pre and post sleep studies?
  • Apnea index and hypopnea index?
  • Oxygen saturation levels?
  • Current height and weight?
  • Any daytime sleepiness?
  • Any motor vehicle incidents?
  • Heart condition or arrhythmias?
  • Blood (hemoglobin) abnormalities?
  • Use of alcohol or other sedatives?
  • Current medications and dosages?

In addition to underwriting implications directly related to sleep apnea there are several complications that may occur because of this condition that can also influence underwriting and policy approval. Potential complications associated with sleep apnea can include conditions such as high blood pressure, heart problems, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, liver problems, medication issues, surgical complications, and others.

Cost of Life Insurance with Sleep Apnea

The rates that you pay for life insurance are based on several factors including your age, sex, build, lifestyle, family history, medical conditions, and other considerations.

Since sleep apnea, and associated complications, can have a potentially negative impact on your overall health and mortality it stands to reason that this diagnosis can affected the premiums that you pay for life insurance coverage.

dollar sign - life nsurance with sleep apnea

Provided your policy is approved, premium rates will be based on the underwriting class assigned. An insurer's underwriting classes can range from "preferred plus" (best possible rates) to "standard" (standard rates), or even be assigned a "table rating" (additional charges). There is also the possibility that an application for coverage may be declined all together. The following are examples of potential underwriting classes based on mild, moderate, and severe sleep apnea. Please note that life insurance company underwriting makes the final decision regarding rates and/or policy approval.

Possible Underwriting Classes for Sleep Apnea

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    Mild Sleep Apnea – Standard Plus
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    Moderate Sleep Apnea – Standard
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    Moderate Untreated – Table 2
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    Moderately Severe (CPAP) – Standard to Table 2
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    Severe (non-compliant) - Decline

Sample Rates – Life Insurance with Sleep Apnea

Sample Standard Plus Rates

50 y/o Male Non-smoker

The rates for life insurance with sleep apnea illustrated below are for a $250,000 10 year level term life insurance policy on a 50 year old male non-smoker qualifying for a standard plus underwriting class based on overall health status.

life inusrance with sleep apnea standard plus rates

Note: Insurance company underwriting makes the final decision concerning rate class and/or policy approval.  

Sample Standard Rates

50 y/o Male Non-smoker

The rates for life insurance with sleep apnea illustrated below are for a $250,000 10 year level term life insurance policy on a 50 year old male non-smoker qualifying for a standard underwriting class based on overall health status.

life inusrance with sleep apnea standard rates

Note: Insurance company underwriting makes the final decision concerning rate class and/or policy approval.  

Sample Table 2 Rates

50 y/o Male Non-smoker

The rates for life insurance with sleep apnea illustrated below are for a $250,000 10 year level term life insurance policy on a 50 year old male non-smoker qualifying for a table 2 underwriting class based on overall health status.

life inusrance with sleep apnea table 2 rates

Note: Insurance company underwriting makes the final decision concerning rate class and/or policy approval.  

Best Companies for Life Insurance with Sleep Apnea

There are several top-rated life insurance carriers that will offer life insurance with sleep apnea history. In comparing insurers, it is important to compare premium rates, but you should also consider company ratings, policy offerings, underwriting standards, and other relevant factors. If you have a history of sleep apnea, or other medical conditions, even minor differences in underwriting policies can have a significant impact on policy approval, underwriting class, and premium rates. In our experience the following companies are recommended for individuals with a history of sleep apnea.

Case Study – Life Insurance with Sleep Apnea

Case Study

Life Insurance with Sleep Apnea


Eric is a 55 year old business executive with a wife (Lindsey) and three young children (Christian, Caleb, and Christina). Since his salary provides the family’s only source of income, Eric is considering purchasing a life insurance policy for income replacement. However, due to a recent sleep apnea diagnosis he is concerned about qualifying for coverage. In speaking with an independent insurance agent Eric learns that since his sleep apnea is moderate and well controlled he can likely qualify for affordable life insurance coverage with several “A” rated companies. After considering his family’s coverage needs, Eric applies and is approved for a $1 million 15 year level term policy at standard rates. In this case, Eric was able to get affordable life insurance with sleep apnea in his medical history.

beach family life insurance with sleep apnea
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    $1 million life insurance policy
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    15 year level premium term
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    Income replacement protection
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    In the event of Eric’s untimely death his family would receive the policy’s death benefit replacing future income.

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