By Liran Hirschkorn
Living with diabetes doesn’t simply mean changing your diet or taking medicine; it can also affect other important aspects of your life, such as obtaining life insurance.
In the eyes of an insurance company, diabetes is a health complication that makes it harder to predict life expectancy. That makes it difficult to appropriately price life insurance for diabetics, so oftentimes, companies will decline diabetic applicants altogether.
But living with diabetes doesn’t have to mean living without life insurance. To improve your chances, you need to understand the reasoning behind your insurance company’s hesitancy so you can take the necessary steps to become an appealing applicant.
How Life Insurance Companies View Diabetes
At the end of the day, insurance companies are in the business of making money, and for life insurance companies, the longer you live, the longer they get to collect premiums without paying a death benefit claim.
So for every application they receive, they have to weigh the risks (e.g., chronic conditions and dangerous habits) with the benefits (i.e., how much money they can make off of you throughout your life) to determine whether they’ll accept the policy.
However, the potential health complications associated with diabetes — vision loss, kidney failure, amputations, cardiovascular disease, and stroke — put diabetics at a high risk of early death, which lowers their financial value to life insurance companies.
That’s why it’s important to do everything you can to increase your chances before applying.
How to Improve Your Chances
Before filling out application after application, work through these steps to increase your chances of approval:
1. Get your health in order. It’ll be easier to obtain a life insurance policy if your diabetes is under control — whether that’s through diet, exercise, or medication. Insurance companies are more likely to approve applicants who have a history of well-controlled diabetes, don’t have other major health issues, and are of normal height and weight. Seek regular wellness checkups, and halt any harmful habits (e.g., smoking) to demonstrate that you’re serious about staying healthy.
2. Gather the necessary information. Knowing your key stats up front can help move the application process along. For example, insurance companies will want to look at your HbA1c levels. Anything more than 10 is considered not well controlled, with the ideal reading between six and eight A1c.
They’ll also request a copy of your medical records, ask about your medications and dosages, and set up an exam of their own to get a glimpse into your health.
3. Find a qualified insurance agent. Independent agents who have experience working with diabetic applicants know which companies commonly accept diabetic applicants and the expectations they have. Finding an agent to help with your application process can save you a lot of time, frustration, and heartache.
4. Look into alternative policies. There are guaranteed-issue or guaranteed-acceptance policies available to those who have previously been denied coverage. They can have some downsides, such as limited coverage, high premiums, and waiting periods for death benefits. However, they’re usually better than no policy at all.
5. Don’t give up. Just because one company denied your application, it doesn’t mean everyone else will. It’s worthwhile to look into why your application was declined because it might help you understand what changes you can make.
A diabetes diagnosis can change so many aspects of your life, but it shouldn’t mean forgoing life insurance. Simply knowing what insurance companies want in a diabetic applicant and making positive changes can significantly increase your chances of policy acceptance.
About the Author: Liran Hirschkorn is an independent life insurance agent and founder of BestLifeQuote.com, a national life insurance agency. His mission is to help individuals across the U.S. find the best rates on life insurance, specializing in helping those who have previously been declined coverage. Liran’s expertise is in high-risk life insurance and understanding the unique underwriting guidelines of more than 30 life insurance companies.