Since life insurance policies pay out a lump sum if you die during the policy term, when insurers consider your application, what they’re really doing is weighing up how likely it is that you will die in that time. Not the nicest thing to think about, but helpful when trying to understand how your condition might affect you when applying yourself.

Having diabetes will definitely cause insurers to consider this likelihood more carefully during the ‘underwriting’ process that all applications go through. In simple cases, a decision about your application can be reached automatically, after asking a set of health and lifestyle questions. In more complex cases – e.g. for someone with an existing condition like diabetes – it’s likely be handed over to a (human) underwriter for review.

Depending on how well controlled your diabetes is, you might find it more difficult or more expensive to get insured. This is because insurers may consider you higher risk to insure (so they’ll charge more to carry that risk) or too high risk (so they won’t be willing to insure you at all).

Can I buy life insurance if I’ve got diabetes?

Yes, you can apply for (and often buy) life insurance if you’ve got diabetes. Anyone who applies for life insurance has to answer questions about their health and lifestyle, which includes questions about their:

  • Personal health history
  • Family health history
  • Height and weight (BMI)
  • Smoking status

All of this will be taken into account during the underwriting process, as the insurer evaluates how much of a ‘risk’ you are to insure and how much you should pay to be covered. Your diabetes may affect what happens next, in terms of the insurer's decision, but you can always apply and, more often than not, buy cover. Getting help from an adviser can really help, as they’ll quickly be able to filter out the insurers most likely to accept your application, who offer the best terms for you and your circumstances.

Anorak tip: Everyone wants to protect their family's financial future – even (and especially) if they've got a health condition. Having diabetes might make it tricky to get health-related cover in place, like income protection and critical illness cover, but you should still be able to buy life cover to protect your family in case the worst happens.

At Anorak, our team of advisers is here to help you find the most suitable insurers and policies for you – whatever your circumstances. If you’ve got diabetes, they’ll guide you to getting the right cover in place.

What will insurers need to know about my diabetes?

If you’ve got diabetes, it’s likely you’ll be required to provide the following info during the underwriting process:

  • If you’ve ever been diagnosed with with type 1 or type 2 diabetes
  • When your last diabetic review was
  • What treatment you have
  • Details of any hospital admissions (besides regular reviews)
  • The result of your latest HbA1c test
  • And any other complications – e.g. eye problems, kidney problems, abnormal urine test results, or any tingling or numbness in the fingers, toes or feet
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How will my diabetes affect my life insurance application?

Typically, there are a few possible outcomes when you apply for life insurance but disclose a pre-existing health condition. These include:

  1. Your application being accepted as normal, with standard pricing rates (i.e. the same as they’d be for someone without diabetes)
  2. Your application being accepted but with a ‘loading’ on the price (i.e. your rates will be between 50% and 150% higher than they would be for someone without diabetes)
  3. Your application being accepted but with an exclusion in the policy conditions (i.e. relating to your specific condition)
  4. Your application decision being postponed (this happens if the insurer thinks your diabetes poses too much of a risk right now, but has the potential to improve in the future)
  5. Your application being declined (this happens if the insurer thinks your diabetes makes you too high risk to insure)

With diabetes, it’s often about how well controlled your condition is. Some insurers might charge more to insure you or not be willing to insure you at all if your answers indicate that you have poor control of your condition – e.g. because of your latest HbA1c test result; because you also smoke a certain number of cigarettes a day; or your condition has caused other complications.

Other insurers might choose to postpone the decision – e.g. if you’re under a certain age; you haven’t had a diabetic review recently enough; you haven’t had your HbA1c measured; or if you’ve been recently hospitalised due to your condition.

Buying life insurance if you've got diabetes: key facts

In general, it’s safe to assume that:

  • Insurers will add a higher ‘loading’ to the price of life insurance for type 1 diabetes than for type 2 diabetes
  • Life insurance applications for people with type 1 diabetes are declined more often than they are for people with type 2 diabetes
  • Having type 2 diabetes will be looked on less favourably if you have it when you're younger rather than older
  • The longer you've had diabetes, the more likely it is that you'll have a higher loading on the price or be declined
  • You’re unlikely to be able to get life insurance cover if you have a HbA1c level above 10%
  • Any life insurance underwriting outcome for someone with diabetes will always be highly dependent on their BMI, blood pressure and cholesterol levels
Anorak tip:

If you have diabetes, insurers will be very interested in seeing how well you're controlling your condition. The best way to show evidence of well-controlled diabetes is to:

  • Keep your HbA1c level under control as best you can (preferably under 6.5%-8%)
  • Have regular catch-ups with your doctor (your most recent appointment should ideally have been within the last year)
  • Stick to your doctor’s medication plan

Why you should always disclose your diabetes

When applying for life insurance, it’s extremely important to answer all the health questions honestly. If you don’t disclose that you’ve got diabetes when you have, regardless of how well controlled it is, you risk invalidating your policy and it not paying out in the future (this is the most common reason for claims not being paid out by insurers).

  • You can apply for life insurance even if you have an existing health condition like diabetes
  • If you have diabetes, you must disclose it during the application process, otherwise you risk invalidating your policy in the future
  • If you disclose your diabetes while applying for life insurance, extra medical information may be required from you during the underwriting process
  • Depending on how well controlled your diabetes is, insurers may accept your application as normal; accept it but charge a higher premium; add an exclusion; or postpone or decline it
  • What is life insurance?
    An insurance policy that pays out a tax-free lump sum to your partner or family if you die. It’s designed to make sure your loved ones would be financially secure without you and your income.
    Who needs life insurance?
    Anyone who has financial dependents. In other words: other people who rely on your income. If you have a partner or children who’d be financially affected by you dying, you should consider having some life insurance in place.
    How much does life insurance cost?
    Life insurance is often very affordable, but the cost will be different per person. This is because it depends on the cover you buy and how much of a risk you are to insure (based on your age, health and lifestyle). Generally speaking, it's cheapest when you’re young, fit and healthy.
    Does life insurance always pay out?
    Life insurance will pay out if you die while you’re insured and you were honest about your health when you applied. It won’t pay out if you die after your policy runs out or you cancel it – and might not if you meet an exclusion (e.g. many insurers exclude death by suicide within the first year).
    Is it easy to claim?
    Claiming on a life insurance policy is straightforward – your partner or family simply claim directly with your insurance company. Making sure they know about your policy and have the details in case the worst happens can be helpful.

    This post is intended for informative purposes only and does not constitute advice.