Life insurance companies use your weight and body mass index to determine your health class rating and price your life insurance policy. Shedding a few pounds before your life insurance medical exam is one way to reduce your policy premiums—but this one little known way your weight impacts your life insurance premiums might surprise you.
Your weight and body mass index are accurate indicators of your overall health. If you’re 295 pounds and five feet six inches tall you probably have a health glitch or two beyond your obesity…That’s because obesity complicates and causes other issues and chronic diseases, like diabetes. For that reason, life insurance underwriters tend to ascribe poor health class ratings to people who are overweight and obese.
Big Lou® is just like you—he’s a big guy too. Big Lou® has been through the roller coaster ride of weight loss and weight gain. He’s tried all the “latest diets” and fitness crazes…And he knows what it’s like to lose 50 pounds only to put it right back on during the holidays. That’s why Big Lou® can help you find the life insurance you need, no matter what issues you face.
How Common Are Obese Life Insurance Applicants?
Obesity in the United States is widespread. Children, adults, and the elderly all suffer from obesity. In fact, one study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) puts the obesity rate over 30% for Adults in the United States over age 20 (see graph below).
Will Being Overweight Affect Life Insurance Underwriting?
We hate to be the bearer of bad news but yes, being overweight will impact your life insurance underwriting considerably. In some cases, with some insurance companies, your application could be rejected. Other times an underwriter may ask you to submit to additional blood tests or medical exams.
How Do Life Insurance Define Adult Obesity & Overweight?
We’re asked all the time, “Big Lou, what do life insurance companies consider overweight?” While each company has different underwriting guidelines we’ve put together the most common classifications for Body Mass Index (BMI) below.
Underweight: Less than 18.5 BMI
Healthy weight: 18.5 to 24.9 BMI
Overweight: 25.0 to 29.9 BMI
Obese: 30 or more BMI
How Do Life Insurance Companies Factor Weight When Determining Your Rates?
Weight and life insurance cost is a hot topic. In fact we asked our clients what their primary concerns are—a top mention was always, “how my weight impact my life insurance rates?” And that’s a fair question, especially if you think you might be a bit on the heavy side—or even suffer from adult obesity.
Life insurance underwriters use your weight to determine a base rate on your policy premium, and to determine your health class rating. We’ve written about health class ratings before so we won’t go into too much detail on how they influence your life insurance rates, but let’s just accept that they have a tremendous impact in the final premium that you’ll pay.
Am I Too Fat To Buy Life Insurance?
Probably not. Unless you’re morbidly obese or confined to a bed or wheelchair, it’s likely you can find an insurance carrier that will write your life insurance policy—no matter how fat you are.
If you are obese then you need to be very careful about constructing a solid plan of attack when it comes to finding the right life insurance company. That’s where Big Lou can help. We’ve been helping people who are a overweight and have a few health glitches save money on their life insurance for 25 years.
Extra Pounds Means Extra Dollars
The golden rule in life insurance is that for every extra pound of body fat above the “reasonably healthy average” you’re going to pay additional money for your life insurance.
That’s because your weight and body mass index (which is your weight in kilograms over your height in centimeters squared) are used to determine your health class rating. You can calculate your body mass index using this calculator (provided in pounds and inches) from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
But I’m a Bodybuilder or Athlete—I’m Not Fat, I’m in Excellent Shape!
Many of our clients are ex-athletes or competitive bodybuilders. Bodybuilders are always trying to add mass or cut fat to get that muscle definition needed to win competitions. Because of their athletic build and attention to their health and fitness these folks think they’ll always receive a preferred health class rating…But that’s not always the case.
Take a bodybuilder that’s 5 foot 11 inches tall and weighs 230 pounds. That would place his body mass index at 32.1. That body mass index is classified as overweight as you can see in the BMI chart below. In situations like this we work with the life insurance underwriter to explain that you have a muscular build and an active, healthy lifestyle. In many cases we’re able to get our clients a preferred rating instead of a standard rating by presenting a solid case—even for bodybuilders.
I’m Thin as a Rail, Should I Be Worried?
Worried that being a skinny-miny could affect your rates? It’s true—being too thin can impact your life insurance rates as you’ll be considered under-weight. I know, I know—underweight, overweight, ya just can’t win these days. But we’re not talking five or ten pounds underweight, we mean being below a healthy Body Mass Index. Again, use the Body Mass Index Calculator and determine if you fall in the healthy range.
What If I’m Declined Because of My Weight?
If a life insurance carrier declines your application because of your weight or body mass index you still have options for obtaining life insurance. Remember, not all life insurance companies are the same. Each company looks for a specific type of person that they can profitably insure—to say this another way, life insurance companies like to specialize in targeted risk profiles. While some companies may be looking to only provide life insurance for perfectly fit 30-somethings, other life insurance carriers specialize in providing coverage for 40-50-somethings with a few extra pounds.
Agents Know Where to Look and Where to Avoid
The key to solving this problem lies in working with the right life insurance agent. The right agent will have access to the appropriate markets to place your risk…That is, they’ll have relationships with many different life insurance companies, and they’ll know which company is likely to give you an advantageous price and which aren’t. If you’re overweight and worried about your life insurance rates, finding the right agent could mean the difference between paying $50/month or paying $500/month.
Finding the right life insurance could mean the difference between paying $50 month or paying $500 per month.
You Can Always Re-apply For Life Insurance
Did you receive a life insurance quote with a super high premium? Is it because of your weight that the rates are so high? While it’s never easy to swallow an inflated insurance premium when you have other bills to pay, getting a reasonable rate on your life insurance could be as simple as re-applying at a later date.
Let’s say you weigh 295 pounds and are a 51 year old male. You apply for $500,000 in life insurance and
Weight Loss and Life Insurance
Yes, weight loss will reduce the cost of your life insurance if you suffer from adult obesity or are simply overweight. But there’s one thing you may not know…
So What’s This One Little Known Way Your Weight Impacts Life Insurance?
Many companies are going to look at your weight fluctuation over the past year. That’s because that want to ensure your weight is stable before providing a good health class rating. Let’s say you lost 50 pounds 6 months ago—that’s not going to cut it—you need to prove to the life insurance underwriters that you can keep the weight off and maintain your new lifestyle. If you’ve lost weight quickly because of a gastric bypass surgery insurance carriers might be more lenient—but it depends. Consult with your insurance broker to ensure you understand
That means if you’re thinking about a quick weight loss scheme to save money on your life insurance it probably won’t work—but a good plan and long-term approach to weight management will help you move in the right direction.
Curious to learn ways to get healthy and save on your life insurance? Check out our article on the top 8 blogs you need to read to get in shape now.