Life Insurance for Overweight & Obese Applicants: 2024 Guide

When you’re overweight, life insurance may look a bit different. Learn more about life insurance for overweight people and how you can lower your rates.
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overweight life insurance

Written by Brian Greenberg
CEO / Founder & Licensed Insurance Agent

Last updated: May 13th, 2024

Reviewed by Grant Desselle
Licensed Insurance Agent

As of 2019, over 42% of American adults are classified as obese, characterized by a body mass index (BMI) exceeding 30. This represents a significant increase from 34% in 2008 and a stark contrast to the 15% recorded in 1980. Despite a multitude of public health initiatives aimed at reversing this trend, the obesity rate in the United States continues to climb, with projections suggesting it could surpass 50% by the year 2050.

Obesity is intricately linked to a variety of serious health issues, including high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, gallbladder disorders, and strokes, all of which contribute to a significantly reduced life expectancy. This spectrum of health challenges underscores why many life insurance companies factor BMI into their premium calculations. The higher the BMI, the more substantial the health risks, leading to increased life insurance costs. This pricing strategy reflects the elevated risk and potential for higher health-related claims among individuals with higher BMIs.

Life Insurance for High BMI

Level Term life insurance policies are structured in such a way that if the insured individual passes away during the term of the policy, their beneficiaries receive a death benefit. Since obesity is correlated with a shorter life span, the likelihood of the death benefit being paid out goes up and the policy requires a higher premium.

To understand how the rates for life insurance for obese individuals are calculated, we first need to understand body mass index. In theory, BMI is a measure of body fat, though the calculation only uses your height and weight rather than any measure related to body composition. It’s a fairly simple calculation that takes your weight and divides it by the square of your height. So if you weigh 100 kg and are 1.8 meters tall the formula would be:

100/(1.8*1.8) = 30.8

If you don’t want to use the metric system, you can apply a correction factor of 703. So if you weigh 200 lbs and are 72 inches tall the formula would be:

(200*703)/(72*72) = 27.12

While BMI is a reliable predictor of health, it is not without its caveats. Athletes have high BMIs even though they are usually in excellent physical health. Their increased muscle mass causes them to have a higher than average weight for their height and thus a higher BMI. Insurance companies take that into account and only use BMI as a guideline, putting much more stock into medical exams and family history.

Can You Be Denied Coverage for Being Overweight?

As with most insurance questions, the answer is “it’s complicated.” Applicants with extremely high BMIs could be denied coverage, but it’s much more likely that their obesity would simply cause their life insurance premiums to go up. However, there may be extreme cases where someone’s obesity becomes too great of a risk for the insurer to underwrite.

Lowest Cost Life Insurance for Overweight People

If you are someone with a high BMI, there are a few things you can do to get the best life insurance rates. .

Stop Smoking

If you’re a heavy smoker and overweight, life insurance premiums can be strikingly high. Life insurance for smokers pay around three times more than non-smokers for life insurance. Lower rates become available once you’ve gone a year without tobacco.

See a Doctor Regularly

Having a high BMI will increase your premiums, but this can be offset by getting regular checkups with your general practitioner. Insurance companies like to see that you’re aware of any health issues that crop up and are taking steps to reduce their ramifications.

Lose Weight

This is obviously one of the more difficult methods for lowering your life insurance premiums but it comes with the added benefit of improving your overall health. Yearly checkups with your regular doctor will record any pounds lost.

In the first year after losing weight, you’ll only be credited with half of the weight loss. Insurers want to know that the loss is sustainable and not part of a crash diet, so you won’t get the full rate reduction until after the first year.

Take a Medical Exam a Few Years After Getting the Policy

If you purchase a policy that requires a medical exam and are diagnosed with conditions like high blood pressure, obesity, or diabetes, you’re more likely to have a high premium. If you take steps to curb these conditions or at least keep them under control, you may be eligible for a lower premium after a few years. It’s always a good idea to have a second medical exam once you’re in better health.

Choose a Policy That Doesn’t Require a Medical Exam

It is possible to buy a no medical exam life insurance policy without or filling out extensive paperwork. Rates for these policies are based on your age, gender, and the amount of coverage you’re requesting. They also cost quite a bit more than policies with a medical exam since the insurer has very little data to calculate their rates from. Insurers assume you are less healthy if you’re choosing this type of policy.

Need Some Help Choosing a Policy?

Finding the right policy for your life insurance needs can be a minefield filled with intrusive medical exams, difficult-to-understand paperwork, and lengthy stints on the phone trying to get ahold of the right person. An Insurancy independent life insurance agent can work with you to find an underwriter with the best coverage for the lowest price. Insurancy agents can also talk you through any steps that’ll lower your premium throughout the life of the policy. Contact our agents today and learn more about how being overweight may impact life insurance.

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