For people living with diabetes life insurance can be tricky. Most insurance companies will charge significantly more for policies or may even deny coverage outright. Finding an agency that understands the condition and values excellent diabetes management is the first step toward finding reasonable rates. Well-controlled blood sugar — especially coupled with healthy lifestyle choices — can greatly improve your  chances of being approved for coverage with a lower monthly premium. 

As a person with diabetes, how can I lower my life insurance premium rate?

The best way to secure lower rates on life insurance as a person with diabetes is to keep your A1C in a healthy range. A medical underwriting test will almost always require an A1C number following an HbA1C test — the blood test taken once every three months to get an average of a person’s blood sugar during that time. A good A1C number — lower than 6.5% — is the best way to prove that diabetes is being managed with a healthy lifestyle.

Can I get approved for life insurance if I have Type 2 diabetes?

Yes, it is possible to get approved and even find a competitive rates by shopping around to find the right carrier. The best way to do this is to find a non-captive and independent agent who knows which companies have more favorable rates for people  with diabetes. 

Guaranteed issue policies—policies that guarantee they will pay you regardless of health status—can remove the friction but become quite expensive because they don’t require a physical exam. On the other hand, medically underwritten policies can help secure a better rate (even for clients with diabetes), but rates can vary company to company. 

Most carriers will offer good rates to people who manage diabetes with a healthy lifestyle and don’t have many other chronic health conditions. However, carriers may reject an application for coverage if they see inconsistencies between the medical exam and application or prescription information. 

For people who do have other conditions, it’s important to be as specific as possible with an independent agent. A knowledgeable independent agent is the best way to assess multiple options for securing life insurance coverage. 

What can help lower rates for someone with Type 2 diabetes?

Testing blood sugar regularly is viewed favorably by insurance companies. Skipping regular testing will almost always increase rates. Being proactive about managing blood sugar in day-to-day life can make a big difference in how underwriters see a particular application. 

Complications like neuropathy or high blood pressure can be counted against an applicant, so as a person with diabetes, controlling secondary complications can be a great way to save money. Exercise and a healthy lifestyle tend to be the best way to control most of these complications. A low-inflammation diet, good sleep and stress management also help. The more of those practices an applicant can demonstrate in a life insurance application, the more likely approvals and rates will be favorable.

Additionally, limiting alcohol intake and losing weight are also two lifestyle changes that are typically counted very favorably on a life insurance risk calculation. These are particularly relevant, however, for people with diabetes because limiting alcohol intake and losing or maintaining a healthy weight can help manage diabetes symptoms and decrease the risk of progression.

Can I get life insurance with diabetes if I’ve been turned down before?

Having a life insurance application denied can be tough, but it doesn’t mean an applicant is uninsurable. Applying and being rejected can show up on the Medical Insurance Bureau — MIB — report forever and interfere with future applications, but it does not mean future applications for coverage will always be denied. When applying for coverage, work with an agent to make the best possible case. 

It’s not impossible to get great rates even for people who have been rejected before. Not all carriers treat diabetes the same way, so finding one who is open to accepting clients with diabetes — especially for people who can demonstrate management with healthy lifestyle choices — is possible.

Does how I control my diabetes matter?

Yes, the less medical intervention is required to manage one’s diabetes, the less expensive the rate, in many cases.

A person with Type 2 diabetes who uses insulin to control blood sugar will have a higher rate than someone who uses oral medication, and a person who uses oral medication will have a higher rate than someone who controls blood sugar with diet and exercise

For someone with diabetes life insurance companies always prefer a healthy lifestyle. Healthy choices go a long way toward looking better in an underwriter’s eyes because they show that the applicant is proactively managing his or her health. A healthier lifestyle will also lower the A1C value for the medical underwriting exam.

At Health IQ we help get people approved and help them get lower rates by proving health literacy and demonstrating healthy lifestyle choices. For example, we had a client with type 2 diabetes who had a life insurance policy with a carrier that was charging him $199/month. Our agent wrote to a carrier she knew to be more accepting of type 2 diabetes asking them if he could prove he was high in health literacy by taking our quiz and demonstrate he worked out regularly by linking the data from his Fitbit to his application. The new carrier accepted the deal and he ended up dropping to just $158/month.

Does the type of diabetes matter?

Yes, type of diabetes plays a role in how rates are calculated.

A person with Type 2 diabetes will generally have an easier time getting approved than a person with Type 1 because about 90% of people with diabetes have Type 2 and it’s considered easier to control with lifestyle, though approvals still vary by individual case. Whether an applicant has Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, the best way to ensure the lowest rate possible is to manage blood sugar with healthy lifestyle choices.

Anyone who is insulin-dependent — whether because of Type 1 diabetes or advanced Type 2 diabetes — will generally have a higher rate. However, using lifestyle choices like frequent exercise and healthy diet to help control blood sugar on a daily basis will lower life insurance rates. Requiring insulin tends to indicate a more advanced stage of the disease and greater risk of negative complications. Controlling diabetes with insulin can also be harder to manage in day-to-day life, which the insurance company interprets as a higher long term risk.

What about gestational diabetes?

For women with gestational diabetes life insurance may be something it’s better to wait on. It’s important to demonstrate that the condition has disappeared after pregnancy to get the lowest possible rate. Many carriers require at least six weeks post-pregnancy, since that tends to be when blood sugar drops back down. A history of gestational diabetes with well-managed blood sugar numbers on the medical underwriting tests later will not negatively impact rates, but a failure to control blood sugar after pregnancy could negatively impact rates.

Diabetes is not a condition that makes a life insurance application approval impossible. For someone who controls his or her blood sugar — especially with healthy lifestyle choices — there are ways to strategize for a competitive rate. Lowering the A1C value for any medical testing required for a policy, finding the right carrier and controlling blood sugar with healthy lifestyle are all great ways to lower rates.
For more information on the best ways people with Type 2 diabetes can control blood sugar with lifestyle, try this health literacy quiz here.