How to Get Term Life Insurance With Diabetes

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Tim is a licensed life insurance agent with 23 years of experience helping people protect their families and businesses with term life insurance. He writes and creates stuff for QuickQuote and other insurance and financial websites. You can find him on Twitter.

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UPDATED: Aug 6, 2020

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Thousands of people with diabetes will apply for term life insurance this year. And for those people, the outcomes of their applications will vary widely. If you are one of them, you can improve your chances of being approved for the best rating class with the lowest premium possible. How? You first need to understand how life insurance companies handle applicants with diabetes. What do they look for? How can you prepare? What is the likely outcome?

Before we answer those questions, let’s take a closer look at diabetes.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes mellitus is the clinical term for diabetes. It is a group of metabolic diseases that occurs when the pancreas does not produce sufficient insulin or the cells of the body to not respond properly to the insulin produced. This results in high blood sugar in the affected individual.

There are three main types of diabetes:

Type 1 – Insulin-Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (IDDM) or Juvenile-Onset Diabetes

  • The pancreas is not capable of producing insulin.
  • The body’s immune system destroys the pancreas’ beta cells, which are needed to make insulin.
  • Insulin must be injected into the body by a pump or manual injection.

Type 2 – Non-Insulin-Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (NIDDM) or Adult-Onset Diabetes

  • This is caused by a resistance to insulin in which the body’s cells fail to use insulin properly.
  • As a result, the pancreas gradually loses its ability to make insulin.
  • This is the most common form of diabetes. 90-95 % of all adult diabetes cases are type 2.

Gestational – Glucose intolerance during pregnancy

  • This is usually temporary and resolves after the pregnancy ends.
  • The high glucose levels during pregnancy may cause the actual development of permanent type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes Statistics

As of 2012, the following numbers show the significance of diabetes:

  • An estimated 29.1 million Americans have been diagnosed with diabetes.
  • 1.4 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes every year.
  • Another 57 million have prediabetes, which means they are at risk of developing the condition.
  • It is estimated that 65 percent of those with diabetes will die of a heart attack or stroke.

The Impact on Your Term Life Insurance Policy

When you apply for a term life insurance policy, you will have to take a medical exam. During this exam, you will be asked questions about your family history, medical history, lifestyle, and smoking and alcohol usage. The person administering the exam will measure your height, weight, pulse and blood pressure.

What Life Insurance Companies Look For

Life insurance companies are concerned that those who have diabetes are taking the proper precautions to keep it under control. A medical history of regular physician checkups is important to the company.

The life insurance company you apply with will be looking specifically at:

  • When you were diagnosed
  • What your diagnosis was
  • Age at diagnosis
  • Course of disease
  • Response to treatment
  • What steps you have taken since your diagnosis
  • The degree of control as illustrated by medical records, height/weight and lab test results
  • What type of treatment
  • Any other medical conditions present
  • Whether you are a tobacco user

How to Prepare for Your Term Life Insurance Application

There are important measures you can take to prepare yourself before applying for term life insurance. Doing so will help your chances of getting approved for the best rating class possible. Use the following tips to put yourself in the best position to win:

  • Have all doctors’ name/address/phone available.
  • Make sure your doctor(s) has copies of all records regarding the cancer treatment, pathology reports, and follow-up reports.
  • Have a list of all medications and their dosages available.
  • Do not skip any follow-up visits with your doctor.

What Our Experience has Shown

We’ve helped thousands of people apply for term life insurance, and many of those people had diabetes. Here are a few things we’ve learned:

  • Premiums are lower for those who diet and exercise or keep their diabetes under control with medication.
  • Premiums are higher for those who do not follow up with a doctor regularly.
  • We recommend getting a policy in force first at a premium rate you can afford. You can then focus on improving the rating class through better control or lab results.

Real Examples From Real Customers

Good Outcome

Don applied for term life insurance when he was 56 years old.

  • Diagnosed at age 50
  • A1C level 6
  • Condition kept stable through diet
  • Positive results from follow-up appointments with doctor
  • No other medical conditions
  • Outcome: Approved at a Standard rating class
  • Premium: $509.00 annually

Not So Good Outcome

Sara applied for term life insurance when she was 45 years old.

  • Diagnosed at age 42
  • A1C level 7
  • Condition kept stable with medication
  • Positive results from follow-up appointments with doctor
  • No other medical conditions
  • Outcome: Approved at a Table 4 rating class
  • Premium: $1,303.00 annually

Poor Outcome

Jerry applied for term life insurance when he was 38 years old.

  • Diagnosed at age 34
  • A1C level 10
  • No treatment as Jerry did not believe he had diabetes
  • Has not seen her doctor in over two years
  • No other medical conditions
  • Outcome: Declined

You can see Don had the best outcome, due to a low A1c level that was caught early and treated. Being over age forty and having regular follow-up appointments with his doctor also helped. Sara’s diabetes is more severe and, although she had no other medical conditions and good follow up appointments, her disease being slightly less under control gave her a slightly worse prognosis. Finally, Jerry was the youngest of the group when he was diagnosed. However, his lack of routine follow-ups resulted in his application being declined.

What This All Means to You

The good news about applying for term life insurance when you have diabetes is — yes, you can qualify for coverage! The bad news is the approval, and rating class can be very unpredictable and subjective. However, if you follow the advice we’ve provided and, more importantly, discuss your situation with your life insurance agent or broker, you can have a positive outcome.

And remember, if you are not pleased with the offer you receive, you can always try with another company or put the policy in force and work on improving the rating class through better control and lab results.

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