Life Insurance and Diabetes

  1. Life Insurance and Diabetes: Background
  2. Can you get life insurance with diabetes?
  3. Diabetes and life insurance coverage: What’s possible?
  4. Life Insurance with Diabetes Type 1
  5. Life Insurance with Diabetes Type 2
  6. Life insurance for seniors with diabetes
  7. Does prediabetes affect life insurance?

Life Insurance and Diabetes: Background

Diabetes in Canada is on the rise. The 2019 data from the Diabetes Canada Cost Model show that currently, one in three Canadians have diabetes or are prediabetic. Around 90 per cent of those cases are type 2 diabetes. The difference between type 1 and type 2 is this: with type 1 your body does not produce insulin. With type 2, your body does not respond to or produce enough insulin.

So, what about life insurance and diabetes? Can you have diabetes and still qualify for a policy? The answer is yes and, depending on your condition, there are even several options available to you: from traditional life insurance to no medical life insurance.

  • Traditional life insurance assumes full underwriting (i.e. a long list of questions and lower premiums) plus, in some cases, an in-person medical exam.
  • No medical life insurance comes without a medical exam and has either a short questionnaire (simplified issue life insurance) or no questionnaire at all (guaranteed life insurance).

Further below we will look in detail at which factors determine your ability to qualify for life insurance with diabetes and what types of insurance best suits your situation.

Can you get life insurance with diabetes?

Yes, you can get life insurance with diabetes and, depending on your condition, there are multiple options available to you. The following factors will typically determine which life insurance policy you can qualify for:

  1. Are you dependent on insulin?
  2. What is your diabetes history (e.g. how long did you have this condition)?
  3. How well are you able to control your blood sugar?
  4. What is your age, weight and height?
  5. Are you a smoker or non-smoker?
  6. Are you experiencing kidney damage (also called renal failure)?
  7. Are you experiencing multiple conditions (e.g. diabetes and overweight)?

The more health pre-conditions you are experiencing, the higher the chance that you will not be able to qualify for traditional life insurance.

Luckily, in most cases, you still will be able to qualify for non-medical life insurance with diabetes.

Diabetes and life insurance coverage: What’s possible?

Depending on your particular situation, if you have diabetes, you will be able to apply for one out of four insurance types. Each of them comes with their own coverage limits. Below we list the typical scenarios.

Insurance Type Typical Scenario Maximum Coverage Limit Coverage Cost (based on the same coverage amount)
Traditional life insurance with medical exam Pre-diabetes or initial stage of diabetes, w/o other health conditions, stable insulin levels Up to several millions Very low
Traditional life insurance without medical exam Pre-diabetes or initial stage of diabetes, w/o other health conditions, stable insulin levels Typically, up to $1,000,000 for select customer groups Very low
No medical life insurance, simplified issue More complicated diabetes cases, long history of diabetes, inability to control insulin levels, combination of a few pre-conditions Typically, up to $250,000 – $350,000 Medium
No medical life insurance, guaranteed issue Very heavy condition, uncontrollable insulin levels, extensive renal damages or failure, combination with multiple other pre-conditions (e.g. overweight, history of heart attack, cancer etc.) Typically, up to $25,000 – $30,000 High

It is important to mention that working with an experienced life insurance broker who has access to life insurance policies from different providers and who knows how each provider treats diabetes cases can be crucial when looking for the best life insurance policy.

Various insurance companies treat health preconditions (e.g. diabetes) and different customer segments (e.g. young people, middle-aged people, seniors) differently.

Life Insurance with Diabetes Type 1

Type 1 diabetes is considered more severe than diabetes type 2. Type 1 usually begins in childhood and is, in some cases, genetic. It can also be due to issues with the pancreas. Type 1 treatment usually means the injection of insulin on an ongoing basis. Since type 1 is more severe and requires more intervention than type 2, no medical life insurance (simplified issue) is the best solution. Simplified issue combines coverages of $250,000 – $350,000 with policy costs that are lower than guaranteed issue insurance.

In some cases, such as, if you are able to control blood sugar levels through diet and exercise only, you can still access a traditional life insurance policy (i.e. higher coverage levels) but it might be on a rated basis. Rated means that your life insurance rates will be higher (between 75% and 150% higher rates) than for somebody who does not have diabetes.

Life Insurance with Diabetes Type 2

Diabetes type 2 is considered less severe than diabetes type 1 and approximately 90% of all diabetes cases in Canada fall into this category.

Type 2 is a growing issue in Canada, largely among young people, due to lifestyle factors. In many cases, maintaining a healthy diet, exercising and keeping a proper weight is enough to regulate blood sugar.

Given that this diabetes type is less severe than type 1, a wider range of life insurance policies are available to people with type 2. These policies include:

  • Traditional life insurance policies would be a good fit for people who are non-insulin-dependent, have no long diabetes history and when blood sugar is well under control. Not having other health preconditions (e.g. overweight) will help to qualify for this insurance. It has higher coverage limits and low costs.
  • Rated life insurance policies can be either standard or rated. Rated means that policy features are still the same e.g. coverage limits but the costs are higher (in some cases twice the rate) – e.g. for a type 2 diabetic with 40 pounds overweight.
  • No medical life insurance policies are a better choice for people with type 2 if they have serious other health pre-conditions, struggle to maintain proper blood sugar levels, and have a history of renal damage or renal failure.

Life insurance for seniors with diabetes

Actually, diabetes is more favourable for seniors than for younger people as it is much more common among people over 60 than people who are 35. So a 60-year-old with diabetes is way more likely to get standard rates on a traditional plan than a 35-year-old. The reason for that is that there are very few 35-years-olds who are diabetic.

Working with an experienced life insurance broker will allow you to have access to a wide array of life insurance policies and companies that could be a potential choice for your situation.

Does prediabetes affect life insurance?

Prediabetes is when your blood sugar is higher than it should be but not high enough for your doctor to diagnose diabetes. This precondition is less severe than diabetes and you should be able to get standard life insurance rates if you have prediabetes under control.

Whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes or a concern about a pre-diabetic condition, work with a life insurance broker. Brokers shop the market on your behalf and have access to a range of policies so they can find the best coverage within your budget. Similar coverage varies among providers, so having a broker on your side that knows the policies and their application questions (where applicable) is your best bet to getting the level of coverage you need.

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