Since life insurance policies pay out as 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 get your head around, but a helpful way to think about it when trying to understand how your condition might affect you when applying yourself.
Having diabetes will definitely cause insurers to consider this likelihood even 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, depending on the severity – 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.
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
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:
- Your application being accepted as normal, with standard pricing rates (i.e. the same as they’d be for someone without diabetes)
- 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)
- Your application being accepted but with an exclusion in the policy conditions (i.e. relating to your specific condition)
- 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)
- Your application being declined (this happens if the insurer thinks your diabetes makes you too high risk to insure)
When it comes to 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. 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
- You’re unlikely to be able to get life insurance cover if you have a HbA1c level above 11%
- Any underwriting outcome for someone with diabetes will always be highly dependent on their BMI, blood pressure and cholesterol levels
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).