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Can You Get Life Insurance If You’re Overweight?

Dec 15, 2022 | Insurance, Life Insurance

Life insurance for overweight people is more complicated, but only in extreme cases will a provider deny coverage solely for this reason. A reputable life insurance company considers several factors that determine your eligibility, including weight, body mass, and overall health. 

Read on to learn the factors key to obtaining life insurance for overweight individuals and how to qualify.

You Will Not Be Denied Coverage Based on Your Weight Alone

Insurance companies use advanced metrics and projections to determine your eligibility for life insurance. If you are overweight but otherwise healthy, chances are good that your life insurance application will be approved. 

However, being overweight combined with other health issues such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep apnea, or heart disease, may result in denial of life insurance coverage.

What Is BMI?

BMI stands for Body Mass Index, which is the ratio of your weight and height. Insurance companies consider individuals with a higher BMI as a greater risk for more serious medical conditions. While insurers may assess risk through BMI, body mass index does not reflect the full scope of an individual’s physical makeup, such as muscle mass, gender, ethnicity, and age. Therefore, the BMI metric can classify a healthy muscular individual as overweight when their physique actually falls within the normal range.

In Canada, the four BMI categories include the following ranges:

BMI CATEGORYBMI RANGE
Normal RangeBMI between 18.5 and 24.9
UnderweightBMI below 18.5
OverweightBMI between 25 and 29.9
Obese Class IBMI between 30.0 and 34.9
Obese Class IIBMI between 35.0 and 39.9
Obese Class IIIBMI 40.0 and over

Despite the flaws of the BMI system, life insurance providers rely on the body mass index to gauge your risk level. Providers review your height and weight ratio, and if your BMI falls within the normal range, the company rates you as an average risk.

However, if your BMI falls within the overweight or obese categories, the insurance company sees you at a higher risk of passing away at a young age, increasing their likelihood of paying out death benefits.

Insurers in Canada also take into consideration the average height for both men and women when making the determination of BMI and how it relates to insurance premiums.

Does BMI Impact Life Insurance Rates?

Yes, BMI impacts life insurance rates. Your rate will be lower if your BMI falls within the normal healthy range. Depending on where your weight falls within the BMI metric, the cost of life insurance for overweight people increases incrementally from 150% up to as much as 350%.

The underwriting process for overweight applicants may take longer, as the provider flags the life insurance application because of the BMI. Applicants with a high BMI may pay a higher rate for life insurance, or the provider may postpone the rating for 6 to 12 months with the understanding that the applicant loses a prescribed amount of weight and maintains it for a specific time frame.

Is There a Maximum Weight Limit to Qualify for Life Insurance?

Maximum weight limits for life insurance eligibility vary by the insurance company. Individuals whose BMI falls within the overweight range may still receive approval but pay a higher premium. Obese people may still qualify for life insurance, depending on their BMI class of obesity, and pay the maximum premium (up to 350% of the normal-range BMI premium).

If you cannot get life insurance through traditional means because you are overweight, consider the following options to obtain coverage:

Apply for a No-Medical Insurance Policy

A no-medical policy does not require a health questionnaire or medical exam, making it easier for overweight people to get life insurance. This policy is more expensive than their traditional counterparts and provide limited coverage. However, the only restriction for a no-medical policy is age. 

One of the easiest ways to secure a no-medical insurance policy is to simply complete an online application. Companies like Insurdinary.ca have developed a method which enables a person to simplify the insurance purchasing process by applying online. Not only can one purchase a policy from the comfort of their home or device, but they can complete a self-assessment which helps to determine exactly how much insurance is required based on individual financial situations.

Consult with an Insurance Broker to Find a Policy

A life insurance broker can provide options to people having difficulty obtaining life insurance. Not only can they help streamline your search based on your needs and circumstances, but an insurance broker can also help you to get the lowest possible premium.

A knowledgeable insurance broker understands the intricacies of the insurance business. For example, some insurers use separate BMI charts for men and women. This means that your BMI could get a more favourable rating, depending on the insurance company’s BMI metrics. For women, finding an insurance company that works with the unisex BMI chart may be advantageous because it gives females a broader margin for a permissible weight within a higher weight category.

Some insurance companies consider your lifestyle and build when determining eligibility. For example, a bodybuilder with a high body mass could get a better rating than someone of the same height and weight who practices an unhealthy lifestyle.

Lose Weight and Reapply

If your insurance company denied coverage due to your BMI, consider making permanent lifestyle changes to help you qualify. Most insurance companies will work with you to devise a timeline to lose a set amount of weight and keep it off before reapplying for life insurance.

Losing Weight May Lower the Cost of Your Life Insurance

There are numerous benefits to losing weight: improved health, more confidence, and a greater sense of well-being. There are also financial benefits to weight loss. If you currently have life insurance and pay a high premium because you are overweight, you may be able to lower your rate by losing weight through a process known as reconsideration. 

You will likely need to lose a set amount of weight and keep it off for 6 to 12 months before your insurer reassesses your case. You may need to follow this up with another medical exam to verify the weight loss and ensure that there are no other health issues on the horizon. If the doctor detects any new health issues, do not worry about your insurance company raising your premium; your current rate remains the same.

Bariatric Surgery for Weight Management

Bariatric surgery refers to a weight loss surgery designed to manage obesity when changes in diet and exercise alone do not result in a healthy weight and can help reduce potentially fatal weight-related health issues, including the following:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Sleep apnea
  • Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH)
  • Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)

Some bariatric surgeries limit the amount of food you can comfortably eat; other procedures reduce the ability of the body to absorb nutrients. Some surgeries do both.

The four main types of bariatric surgeries include the following:

  • Roux-en-Y gastric bypass
  • Adjustable gastric banding
  • Sleeve gastrectomy
  • Biliopancreatic diversion.

Roux-en-Y gastric bypass is the most common type of weight loss surgery, but most patients cannot choose which procedure they get. Candidates must meet specific medical criteria to qualify for weight-loss surgery and undergo comprehensive screening to determine eligibility. In addition, bariatric patients must be willing to embrace permanent dietary and lifestyle changes and participate in a follow-up program that includes monitoring weight, nutrition, behaviour, and lifestyle. 

How Does Weight Loss Surgery Impact Life Insurance?

Life insurance companies have different provisions for each type of surgery and different post-surgical wait periods before applying for coverage. Generally speaking, recipients of gastric bypass need to wait for six months before applying, whereas gastric banding patients may apply for coverage as early as three months after surgery. Both gastric banding and sleeve gastrectomy surgeries have a waiting period of 6 to 12 months post-surgery.

Conclusion: You Can Still Obtain Life Insurance If You are Overweight 

Providing for your family should you pass away unexpectedly is important for all Canadians. While life insurance companies use the body mass index to determine your risk factor, do not assume that you will not qualify for life insurance if you are overweight, even if an insurance provider has denied you coverage in the past. 

While obtaining life insurance for overweight people presents challenges, our team here at Alliance Income Service Corporation has tools to help you to compare insurers and find the best company for your needs. 

Our team of expert insurance brokers has the experience and resources to find the best life insurance plan for your needs and budget. By comparing the rates of the top companies, we will find you the most stable, reliable provider with the most comprehensive benefits. Do not let your weight prevent you from protecting your family in the event of your passing. Fill out our quote form to compare free life insurance quotes from top Canadian insurance providers.

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