More people than ever have diabetes in the UK and more people than ever are at risk of type 2 diabetes.
It’s also estimated that by 2025 that there will be more than 5 million people with the disease – and that’s a lot of people – so how does this affect life insurance?
It’s a global epidemic of monolithic proportions and finding life insurance when you’re diabetic can be somewhat of a conundrum at best – particularly if you’re looking for a rate from a company that’s even remotely indicative of someone that sympathises with your diagnosis.
In this article I will endeavour to answer all the questions you may have surrounding life insurance if you’re diagnosed with diabetes and perhaps this can help put your mind at ease a little because I assure you, you’re not alone and life insurance is still very much an option (I promise)
So, let’s start.
Can you actually get life insurance if you’re diabetic?
Yes. In more or less every case (whether be-it type 1 or type 2 diabetes) you will be able to obtain life insurance. However, the caveat here is that, as with many pre-existing conditions, diabetics may find their premiums a little more expensive. Says Matt Schmidt of Diabetes Life Solutions “Life insurance for diabetics is easily obtainable. However, people need to realize that their premiums will be higher compared to those who live without Diabetes. With this being said, life insurance companies have made changes to their underwriting guidelines over the recent years, and rates for the Diabetes community are at an all-time low.”
Why are life insurance premiums higher if you’re diabetic?
Premiums are often higher because of the liability factor spurred from potential complications that may arise as a direct result from having diabetes. Diabetics often have higher blood sugar levels which can cause a myriad of illnesses including:
- Eye-related diseases
- Foot problems (such as ulcers)
- Kidney disease
- Cardiovascular disease
- Nerve damage
- Dermatological issues (skin)
The culmination of these risk factors automatically positions diabetics into a higher risk category when it comes to cover, and the higher the risk, the higher the premium. However, a strong mitigating factor that can bring down your premiums are things like providing evidence that you’re managing your condition efficiently (more on that later).
What factors are taken into account when applying for life insurance as a diabetic?
Each provider will be different, but we know from experience that there are six key areas underwriters will scrutinise before providing you with your quote – let’s run through these. Melissa Thompson of Diabetes 365 states “Every life insurance company will have their own underwriting guidelines. Thus your health profile will be viewed differently by each insurance company. It’s important to work with an agent proficient in the diabetes life insurance market place to help you locate the best offer of coverage.”
Age of Diagnosis
The more recent your diagnosis, the less of an impact it’ll have on your premium. It’s always advised that you take out a policy sooner rather than later to avoid hefty quotes. You want to pay the lowest possible rate, and this is an important factor to consider when applying.
Insurers will always ask you what type of diabetes you have with the options being gestational, type 2 or type 1. Naturally this question will have the most profound impact on your quote as it assesses your immediate risk level. Typically, people with type 1 diabetes will pay higher premiums whereas gestational should see no real impact on their quote providing your blood sugar levels return to normal.
Be open and honest with insurers, in most cases they’ll sympathise and make suggestions on different things you can do to eventually lower your premiums (just ask).
BMI or Body Mass Index is a value derived from the mass and height of a particular person. If you’re BMI is high, then insurers interpret that as you’re more susceptible to further health problems which can again boost premiums. You’ll want to be in the range of between 17-30 to see little to no impact on your insurance quote.
Treatments you’re using
Insurers want to see how you’re treating your diabetes in a bid to ascertain how well you’re controlling your condition. People who are fundamentally reliant on things like insulin to regulate their blood sugar levels will typically pay a higher premium than those that can control it through diet alone or through oral medication. Studies show that diet has an extraordinary effect on diabetes, so you should seek to speak to a medical nutritionist to find out what you should add (or indeed reduce) from your everyday diet.
As with the above, HbA1c readings help the insurer determine how well you’re controlling your condition. These readings will show an insurer how well you can regulate your blood sugar levels. Recent readings that reflect levels between 4.5 – 8% will generally mean that you shouldn’t have much of an issue in obtaining a reasonably priced quote. However, when readings surge above 9%, insurers may increase your premiums and, in the worst-case scenario (extreme cases), decline cover altogether.
It’s worth noting that it is generally only in extreme cases where an application is declined, but it is feasible if your diabetes is beyond control.
Analysing your medical history
Have you recently suffered from any health conditions that have arisen as a direct result of your diabetes? If so, your insurer will want to know this before providing you with a quote – this a critical part of their assessment.
Examples of things they’re looking for would be:
- Cardiovascular conditions
- Circulatory issues
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Tingling or numb sensations
- Hypoglycaemic attacks
- High cholesterol
- Ulcers on the legs or feet
- Diabetic retinopathy (damage to the retina as a direct result of your diabetes)
How to reduce your life insurance premiums when you have diabetes
So now we’ve gone through the factors that insurance companies take into account when putting forth a quote for cover, the next question is naturally what can you do to ensure your premiums are kept to a minimum?
There are a number of changes that you can start making right now that can help bring down your premiums and I’m going to help you out by giving you some top tips; –
Improve the way you manage your diabetes
Control is an integral factor that decides how much you pay when being given a quote by life insurance companies. If the underwriters know that you’re controlling your blood sugar levels, you will pay less of a premium. Healthline have provided a good list of healthy foods that can help control your diabetes – this is a great step to take to getting your levels under control.
Weight control and reducing your BMI
Losing weight is proven to have a profound impact on tackling diabetes. If you’re BMI is currently above 30 you should seek to go on a diet to bring those premiums down.
Give up smoking
We have irrefutable proof that smoking causes diabetes. If you’re smoking you need to stop. Stopping smoking is a great step forward to begin taking control of your condition. You can seek help from the NHS here
How much will I be paying?
As you can probably tell from reading this article, there’s an abundance of different factors that are taken into account when deciding what premium you may pay but let me end this article on a message from me to you. You’ll notice I mention control throughout this article and for good reason – at the end of the day you will pay premiums based on how well you manage your diabetes and the life choices you make can have an extraordinary impact on this.
Take a deep breath, step back for a moment and identify what different things you know you could change in your life to achieve a lower premium and essentially increase your quality of life in the long-run – trust me, it’ll be worth it.