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Read the Spanish version:

Adquirir un seguro de vida si sufres de diabetes

diabetes tester

Diabetes can affect what you pay for life insurance, and even make it difficult to get a policy, depending on your health and how well your diabetes is controlled. 

Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the American Diabetes Association, and is also a major cause of heart disease and strokes. For these reasons, life insurance companies consider diabetics more risky to insure .

Below, we’ll cover how diabetes affects life insurance rates and how to get affordable coverage as a diabetic.

Key Takeaways

  • Chronic illnesses such as diabetes are considered risky by life insurance companies.
  • You can still get life insurance with diabetes, but may have to pay more.
  • Your rates will depend on how well your diabetes is controlled, how long you’ve had it and a number of other factors.

How to get life insurance with diabetes

Getting life insurance with diabetes depends on the type of diabetes you have, how well it’s controlled, and your general health.

Most people with diabetes can get some type of life insurance, but will likely pay more for the coverage.

Gestational diabetes, which is caused by pregnancy, can also affect life insurance rates. Although it is usually a temporary condition, it might be best to wait to apply for life insurance after your lab work has normalized.

Type 1 and 2 diabetes have different impacts on life insurance.

Life insurance with type 1 diabetes

Patients with type 1 diabetes will likely have a tough time finding traditional, medically underwritten life insurance. A person who has had diabetes for some time already — say, someone diagnosed five, 10 or 15 years ago with juvenile-onset diabetes — is much more likely to suffer “end organ” diseases brought on by a lifetime of diabetes. This makes life insurance more expensive.

In the best scenarios, type 1 diabetics may be quoted premiums in a “high substandard” rating class, no matter what their level of control of the disease — and that’s going to be expensive.

Life insurance with type 2 diabetes

How insurance companies rate someone with type 2 diabetes comes down to age of onset, compliance with treatment and control of the disease as measured by their A1c measurement on regular labs,” says Ed Hinerman of the Hinerman Group in Nathrop, Colorado. “Because diabetes is a progressive disease, more favorable rates are given to those whose onset is after age 50. Someone over 50 with great compliance and A1c’s consistently in the mid 6’s or below can get as good as a standard plus rate from a few companies. Earlier onset or higher average A1c’s can lead to higher rates, generally in the low to moderate table range.”

People with type 2 diabetes account for 90 to 95% of all diagnosed cases, according to the CDC. Type 2 diabetes can be treated by adjustments to diet and exercise, oral medications or insulin therapy, and insurers tend to focus on how well you are responding to your treatments.

The company is certainly going to look at labs,” Hinerman says. “A high A1c or kidney functions out of normal are signs or poor control. The length of time someone has had diabetes is definitely a factor since it’s a progressive disease. The longer someone has type 2, the better the chance they will develop collateral health issues.” These issues can include organ damage, cardiovascular disease, limb amputation among other things.

This all factors into the life insurance company’s decision on whether or not to approve you and what risk class to put you in.

Type 2 diabetes, once considered rare in young people, used to be referred to as adult-onset diabetes. But Hinerman says there has been an uptick of type 2 diabetes cases in children, teens and folks in their 20s.

“Obesity and poor diet has contributed to this problem in younger folks,” says Hinerman.

If you can show your type 2 diabetes is under control, you will likely fall in a “standard” rating class for life insurance pricing, or even slightly better with some life insurers who are more aggressive in writing policies for diabetics. Many life insurers have a rating class that falls between standard and preferred, called standard plus, which is where the ideal type 2 diabetic applicant might end up.

“Most people with type 2 diabetes are insurable at some rate,” says Christopher Graham, vice president and chief underwriter for Hartford Life. “And many are able to get ‘standard’ rates once the diabetes is under control.”

Six months may be enough of a history for a newly diagnosed case of diabetes, or for someone who has changed treatments, to show he is responding better. But if you have had poor control in the past you will have to establish a longer history of good control — perhaps a year — to get a better price for your life insurance policy.

The savings you can realize by improving your control of the disease can be substantial.

How much is life insurance for diabetics?

Because life insurance rates are very personal and depend on a lot of factors, it’s difficult to say how much you’ll pay. Life insurance companies determine your premium by evaluating your medical conditions and deciding which ratings classification you fall into. The higher the rating class, the lower the premium. The typical rating classes are:

  • Super Preferred (sometimes called Preferred Plus)
  • Preferred
  • Standard
  • Substandard

As a general rule, the older you are at the onset of diabetes, the easier it will be to buy a life insurance policy.

How to get affordable life insurance for diabetics

The key to buying affordable life insurance if you have diabetes is control. If you are controlling your diabetes by visiting your doctor regularly, taking your medications and responding well to your treatments, you may still be able to get a good rate on life insurance. (Find out how much insurance you need by using our life insurance calculator).

Your best strategy is to show a history of effective treatment, including yearly eye exams, and that your other risk factors — such as weight and blood pressure — are in normal ranges.

There are other life insurance options out there for people with a chronic illness,  but they tend to be more expensive and often have less of a payout upon your death. You can look into:

Finally, shop around. Not all life insurance companies see diabetes the same way, so one may offer much lower rates than another.

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Penny Gusner


Penny is an expert on insurance procedures, rates, policies and claims. She has extensive knowledge of all major insurance lines -- auto, homeowners, life and health insurance. She has been answering consumers’ questions as an analyst for more than 15 years and has been featured in numerous major media outlets, including the Washington Post and Kiplinger’s.