If you’re shopping around for life insurance, you’ve probably heard that obesity and other health factors can affect your premium price. It’s true – life insurance companies do consider your health when determining the price of your life insurance, and obesity is a part of that. However, if you’re overweight or obese, you can still get a life insurance plan, and in many cases you can get a reasonably priced one. Here’s what you need to know about obesity and life insurance rates.

Health Is A Factor

Insurance companies want to see that you are healthy when taking you on as a customer. This is because the healthier you are, the less at risk they are for having to pay out a claim. You’ll not only have to report some health information when you apply, but you may also have to get a physical.

Here’s what insurance companies look at when determining your premium prices.

BMI: This is your body mass index, or your height to weight ratio. If two people are the same height but one weighs significantly more, they will have a higher BMI. However, two people of different heights but the same weight will have different BMIs.

Chronic health conditions: Insurers also consider any chronic health conditions you have, included ones that are caused by obesity. Chronic health conditions usually result in higher premiums.

High cholesterol & blood pressure: Many people who are overweight or obese have high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure, and insurance companies do factor this into premium prices as well.

Smoking: Although they aren’t directly related to obesity, smoking, heavy alcohol use, or drug use can all affect the cost of your insurance premiums because they are considered to be very risky health behaviors.  If you do smoke, be sure to read our life insurance for smokers page.

Keep in mind that every insurer is unique. Each company has their own BMI charts, so what’s considered ‘overweight’ to one company might be considered within the normal range for another. Even if you are considered slightly ‘overweight’, your premium might only be a few dollars higher than if you were in the ‘normal’ range. You will still be able to get life insurance easily. It’s only in cases of extreme obesity that you might be rejected for health insurance because of your weight, or face unreasonably high premiums for it.

How Can I Get Insurance If I’m Overweight?

If you are struggling to get affordable insurance because you are overweight, don’t get discouraged. The life insurance market offers many different choices, and you might just need to shop around to find an option that works for you. Since every life insurance company has a different definition of what’s overweight, it will be worth it to take your time and really look into what each company can offer you. You should also make it clear that you are shopping around – life insurance companies are always looking for new business, so they might be willing to lower their rates to get you to sign up.

Another good option if your weight is affecting your ability to get life insurance, see if your employer offers group life insurance policies. Although these policies are not as comprehensive as a personal policy from a life insurance company, they still will give you some coverage at an affordable price. You can also take steps to lose weight and live healthier in an effort to see if life insurance policies will lower their rates. If you show them that you are taking steps to be healthier, they will likely consider you less of a risk.

If you are on the edge of being considered ‘overweight’, losing just a few pounds could make a big difference in the cost of your life insurance plan. Talk to your doctor about the best strategies for losing weight and maintaining a healthier lifestyle. Often you will only need to make small changes to notice a big difference. For example, just cutting down your portion sizes and swapping out unhealthy snacks for healthier substitutes can make a big difference not only in your weight, but also how you feel. You can also try looking for easy opportunities to exercise. For example, you could try to walk or bike to work instead of driving. You can also play casual sports and games with your kids or your friends. If you don’t have much time, you can also follow yoga, pilates, or cardio videos at home to get a quick workout in.

If you Already Own Life Insurance, Your Health Rating Can’t get Worse

Many people who already own a life insurance policy may be worried about the life insurance company finding out about their weight gain.  Do not worry about this!  Once you are issued a policy, your health rating can get better if you apply for reconsideration, but it can not get worse.  Insurance companies price in the odds that you will gain weight over the lifetime of the policy and they are powerless to go up on your rates once the policy is issued.  This is a benefit to locking in life insurance coverage when you are young.  If your health deteriorates after you buy the policy, your rates will stay the same.  The life insurance company can not cancel your policy either, no matter how bad your health gets.  They can only cancel for nonpayment of premiums or the term expiring.

While your weight can affect the cost of your life insurance premium, it’s not the only factor that companies consider. If you are concerned about high premiums due to obesity, be sure to shop around – you might be surprised by which companies can offer you more affordable options.

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