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Life insurance for diabetics

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If you’re one of the 34.2 million Americans who has diabetes, you might think that protecting your family with a life insurance policy is an impossibility. But there’s good news: if your diabetes is controlled, you should be able to find a policy that works for you. You may pay a little more for it, but many insurers are willing to cover diabetics with term or permanent life insurance policies.

Can I get life insurance as a diabetic?

There are multiple factors that go into your insurer’s decision on diabetic life insurance. Your age, weight, general health and the type of diabetes you have all play a role. When you apply for insurance, an underwriter carefully assesses all of the factors that may put you at a higher risk of dying during the life of the policy.  The higher of a risk you are, the more you will pay for life insurance. 

You might not be able to get a policy if any of the following conditions apply:

  • Your diabetes is not under control and you require frequent medical intervention to handle it.
  • You have other health factors in addition to diabetes that increase your risk, such as heart disease.
  • You have type 1 diabetes, were diagnosed at an early age and are insulin-dependent.

Even if these conditions apply to you, however, you may still be able to get a policy, and it’s worth contacting multiple insurers to see if one is willing to work with you. You may also purchase a guaranteed issue life insurance policy, which does not require a medical exam.

What factors affect insurance costs for a diabetic?

What factors affect diabetics’ insurance? Simply put, factors include anything that increases the risk of mortality during the life of the policy. They include the following:

Your age and the age you were diagnosed

Both of these factor into your premium rate. In general, life insurance becomes more expensive the older you get. In addition, if you were diagnosed with diabetes as a child or teen, it’s likely that you have type 1, which is considered a more serious and less manageable illness. 

The type of diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is also known as insulin-dependent diabetes, and is the more complex of the two main types to manage. You may be able to find life insurance for insulin-dependent diabetes, but you will probably be classified in a lower category than someone with type 2, meaning your premiums will be higher. 

Life insurance for type 2 diabetics is easier to get, since those with this condition have a lower mortality rate and greater success at managing the disease. There is also gestational diabetes, which occurs during pregnancy. Your best bet here is to wait several months after giving birth to see if it goes away before applying for life insurance.

A1C levels and other indicators

For most types of life insurance, you’ll need to take a medical exam and answer questions about your health. One of the factors the underwriter will look at is your A1C levels, which measures your blood sugar level and can help them determine how severe your diabetes is. Anything under 7.0 is great. If it’s over that, your rates will probably go up, but you should still be able to get a policy unless you go much over 8.0. Your underwriter will also look at other indicators such as whether you have diabetic retinopathy or neuropathy, which can complicate your diabetes management plan and result in higher rates.

Your weight and exercise routine

Obesity is a factor in life insurance premium rates even if you don’t have diabetes, and with the disease it takes on an increased importance. Your underwriter is also going to want to know how you manage your weight. Even if you are overweight, the fact that you have a regular exercise routine can help lower your rates.

Your management plan

If you can control your diabetes with exercise and a good diet, you’ll be in a good place to earn low premium rates. Relying on oral medications may increase those rates, but not as much as if you are insulin-dependent. In general, your underwriter will want to know that you are compliant with all medical recommendations and that you regularly do everything possible, from eating sensibly to exercising daily, to keep your diabetes in check. If you can prove that, you’ll be eligible for lower rates.

 How do you get life insurance with diabetes?

Your search for the best life insurance for diabetics is similar to that of someone who has no health concerns — it just may take a little bit longer to find the best options at the most reasonable prices. You may find some insurers that are not willing to give you the benefit of the doubt, but don’t give up. Some insurance companies will be willing to work with you when you have a diagnosis of diabetes. Some, in fact, offer specific programs for diabetics, such as John Hancock’s Aspire policy.

  • Determine what sort of policy you’re looking for. Most life insurance falls into one of two categories: term or permanent (whole life). 
  • Contact a range of insurers for quotes. You’ll want to speak to a knowledgeable sales agent who can answer your questions about diabetic life insurance.
  • Armed with your quotes, choose an insurer, and begin the application process. You’ll need to take a medical exam and fill out an application.
  • Expect a time lag as your application goes through the underwriting process. This can take from 3-6 weeks, or more if the underwriter has questions about your health.
  • If your application is denied, consider applying for a guaranteed life policy. This may be more expensive, but does not require a medical exam.

Can you get life insurance without a medical exam?

Yes, guaranteed life is available without a medical exam. You will have to fill out a diabetic questionnaire, but you will probably not be turned down if you have type 2 diabetes, and if your type 1 diabetes is properly managed, that shouldn’t be an impediment either.

The questionnaire will ask questions about the nature and severity of your diabetes, and whether you have any complications. Even if you think it may be a cause for denial, be honest on the questionnaire. If you are approved for life insurance with an application that contains inconsistencies or lies, your insurer can refuse to pay out on claims. The two-year contestability period allows the insurer to investigate your application for its veracity, and any problems will cost you in the end.

What if you get diagnosed with diabetes when you already have a plan?

If you already have a life insurance policy in place when you are diagnosed with diabetes, rest assured that your insurer cannot cancel your policy or change the rates you are paying due to the diagnosis. There are several scenarios you may find yourself in:

You have a term life insurance policy

Your policy should continue to its stated end with no changes. If you purchased a conversion option with your policy, you should be able to turn it into permanent insurance without a medical exam, although your payments will probably increase.

You have a whole life or other permanent policy

You should be able to continue paying the same premium without any changes.

You have a group life insurance policy

You’ll want to check with your employer’s insurance rep about the conditions of your policy. If you have left your place of work (or the organization through which you purchased the policy), the policy may lapse. It may be possible to convert the policy to permanent life insurance, although this may not be the cheapest option for you.

You want to purchase more coverage on your existing policy

You could run into challenges here since increasing your policy’s payout often means more underwriting. With a diabetes diagnosis, you may not be in the same category as you were when you were healthy, which means an increased premium. Some insurers allow you to increase coverage without a new medical exam and underwriting, so check with your insurance rep to see if this option is available.

The takeaway

  • Although it may take a little work, it’s possible to find life insurance if you’re diabetic.
  • Diabetic life insurance may be more expensive, but reasonable options exist.
  • You’ll earn better rates if your diabetes is well-managed and you have no other health issues.
  • If you can’t get a regular policy, guaranteed life insurance is an option.

If you’re looking for the best life insurance for diabetics, it pays to get quotes from several insurers. Policies are available for type 1 and type 2 diabetics, although they may cost more than someone with no health issues. You can earn lower rates by managing your diabetes well, exercising regularly and eating sensibly. Guaranteed life insurance is a good last option, because there is no medical exam required.

Mary Van Keuren

After 30 years as a writer and editor in academia, Mary now writes full-time for the insurance and finance industries. Her work has appeared on Reviews.com, TheSimpleDollar.com and Bankrate.com, as well as other consumer-focused websites.

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