Type 1 Diabetes
Life insurance companies treat people with type 1 diabetes (or anyone with diabetes who is insulin-dependent) a little unfairly when it comes to affordable life insurance. Many people who live with this condition don’t have adequate coverage because they believe it’s too expensive. While it can be challenging, it isn’t impossible to get good coverage. That’s why it’s important to work with experts like True Blue to help navigate the ins and outs of getting an approval.
The most important thing to realize is that life insurance for a person with type 1 diabetes will be more expensive than coverage for people with type 2 diabetes and those without diabetes because of how the insurance industry views type 1 diabetes and its overall risk during the underwriting process. Type 1 diabetes is a disease, and the prices are set accordingly. Some companies are willing to take more risk than others and will be more flexible in their underwriting. But, unless you’re working with a trained expert in this area, how are you going to know which of the 100+ life insurance companies are the best for people with diabetes?
Your overall condition and the way you manage your health is what will make or break your chances of getting coverage. Whether or not you follow the advice of your doctor regarding proper management of your disease is entirely your choice, but the better you handle your health, the better your chances of getting a policy that makes the most sense for you.
Type 2 Diabetes Controlled with Diet and Exercise
In our culture, where TV and video constantly beckon and fast food offers an endless variety of unhealthy options, it’s all too easy to get diabetes. Heck, even the relatively buff Tom Hanks has it.
Fortunately, the first stage of the disease is manageable without medicine. As Hanks said, “You’ve just got to lose weight and exercise a lot and change everything you eat and never ever ever ever ever have any fun whatsoever.”
But it does feel good to be slim and fit, even if getting there isn’t much fun. It’s also comforting to know that you have a wide variety of reasonably priced life insurance options.
Oftentimes, you can get a standard-rate policy if you have a nurse come to your home and do a medical exam. If you qualify for a medical-exam plan, your rate will be much cheaper and the policy value can be higher.
If you don’t want the exam, American National, Assurity, and Sagicor will still provide coverage. Sagicore is the fastest and can usually get you an answer on coverage within 48 hours. American National and Assurity write to your doctor to get records, which takes 4 to 5 weeks.
For no-medical-insurance providers, premiums will cost anywhere from 10% to 50% more than standard. But, for people who are in a hurry or don’t want someone asking them questions and drawing their blood, it may be worth the difference.
Type 2 Diabetes Controlled with Oral Medication
If you’re taking oral medication for diabetes, your life insurance coverage will be determined by your risk factors. There will be a strong emphasis on the results of your A1C test, also known as a hemoglobin A1c, HbA1c, or glycohemoglobin test. This is the primary test for diabetes management, and it measures blood glucose levels over the previous 3 months.
To be eligible for standard rates, you need good A1C results, and you can’t be overweight, smoke, or show symptoms of diabetic damage, such as kidney damage, circulatory problems, or eye problems. You can still obtain coverage if you don’t meet that standard, though rates are generally 50% higher.
Policies vary considerably.
Some companies don’t like it if you’re overweight. Others turn you away if you have nerve damage. You have to look at the whole package, with an emphasis on the A1C level, according to Gerry Scholz, national marketing director for True Blue and an agent with 25 years of experience. Table 1 below shows sample rates for no-exam term life insurance for people with diabetes who are controlling the disease through diet and exercise or pills.
Type 2 Insulin-Dependent Diabetes
If you depend on insulin to control your diabetes, getting term life insurance is very tough. Fortunately, it’s not your only option. If you do want term, acceptance depends on your risk factors. At this stage, you probably have a lot of them — even if you aren’t aware of it.
Obtaining term coverage requires a medical exam, and that’s usually not a good thing for those who are insulin-dependent.
“About 90% of the time, you’re wasting your time if you take a medical exam,” Scholz said. “They’ll almost always find risk factors — and if they do, you’re not going to get issued.”
If you are eligible, rates are lower and you can get much more coverage. But most insurers want to see an A1C level of 7.0 or less, although a few will go as high as 8.5. The best rate is about double the cost of standard insurance. Our experience has shown that Banner and American General are the best companies to work with if you try to go this route.
Another consideration if you apply for term life: The insurance company might discover risk factors you didn’t know you had, and you could be declined. Once the results of the company’s investigation are on the record, they’re available to no-exam insurers, who can use them against you. For that reason, we recommend that you get a no medical exam policy first. That way, you’re covered no matter what, and you can always switch to a term policy later if you qualify.
What if you don’t qualify for term, or know you couldn’t possibly?
Don’t despair. Whole life insurance without a medical exam is still available to you. It comes in two basic flavors: “immediate death benefit” plans, which provide full benefits to your loved ones upon your death no matter how long you’ve owned the policy, and “graded benefit” plans, which offer partial payments if you’ve held the policy for less than 2 or 3 years and provide full payment if you’ve held it longer.
As stated above, gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy and is often a temporary issue that resolves as the body recovers after childbirth. On occasion, gestational diabetes can convert to type 2 diabetes, but this is the exception and not the rule.
This type of diabetes does make you a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes later in life, which makes it vital that you maintain healthy behaviors and follow up routinely with your health care providers to ensure that you’re adhering to all preventive measures.