Life Insurance For Overweight, or Obese, People

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Updated: 17 May 2024
Written by Bob Phillips
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If you are overweight and thinking about what life insurance options are available to you, this article will help. Insurance can be complicated, but not to worry, we can help clear things up for you. This article has been written to help demystify life insurance for the overweight, with clear, thorough information. We can guide you to make a wise choice of life insurance for your needs.

Advancements in the world of medicine plus a better understanding of being overweight have made big changes in the landscape of what overweight really means. Most insurance carriers provide both whole life and term life insurance options for those who are overweight.

We will look at these options, along with qualifications for life insurance, coverage, and more to give you an understanding about how to get the most suitable life insurance for your needs.

Key Takeaways

  • Life insurance premiums are likely to be higher for overweight people

  • Life insurance is available for those individuals who are overweight positive

  • Insurance underwriting for overweight people may be lengthier and more complicated

Can I Get Life Insurance If I Am Overweight?

Yes, you can. This wasn’t always true, but with improved medical knowledge of being overweight as well as modern strides in medicine, people who live with being overweight are able to get life insurance. Multiple leading life insurance providers, as detailed below, offer term and whole life insurance coverage for those who are overweight.

Although it’s good news that life insurance for people with a positive overweight diagnosis is available nowadays, it isn’t available from all insurance companies and some insurers may actually deny coverage to the overweight. This is not to say that life insurance is out of reach for you if you’re overweight.

Quite a few life insurance providers recognize the need for it, and provide policies that have been specially designed for those with a weight problem.

Important: If you’re overweight, life insurance is available, although the coverage may be limited and possibly more expensive.

How Does Being Overweight Affect My Life Insurance Eligibility?

Being overweight can certainly affect your eligibility for life insurance. That said, there is a gray area on the subject of weight, more so with some companies than others. Many life insurance companies use their own build charts instead of the standard BMI (Body Mass Index) chart.

These build charts may be more or less restrictive about weight than the BMI chart, depending on the company underwriting. There are no industry standards that apply to how life insurance providers use an applicant’s weight to approve or decline coverage, or to determine rates.

Other factors might come into play, also, besides a build or BMI chart. For instance, if you are overweight but otherwise healthy, your rates may not be much higher. On the other hand, if you are overweight and have underlying comorbidities such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems or other health conditions that overweight people are likely to have, you’ll probably see a significant increase in rates.

Bearing in mind that every life insurance provider might have their own underwriting policies on weight, here are the most common BMI categories according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute:

  • Underweight: Below 18.5
  • Healthy weight: 18.4–24.9
  • Overweight: 25.0–29.9
  • Obese: 30 or above

Important: Your life insurance cannot be rescinded, nor can the rates be raised if you are diagnosed as being overweight after the policy was issued.

Life Insurance Underwriting Process For Overweight Positive Individuals

A working knowledge of the life insurance underwriting process can be immensely helpful in selecting a policy that fits your needs. Below are 5 steps in the underwriting process for individuals who are overweight positive:

  1. Medical Examination: A medical exam is the first step in the process of underwriting. You will have a thorough medical examination, then the insurance provider will look at the findings and make an assessment of your health status across-the-board. The focus will be on management of your excess weight.
  2. Medical History Review: The insurance company will ask for access to your medical history. They will be especially interested in your age and BMI, which is Body Mass Index, as well as underlying health issues you have, if any. Some companies use their own height-to-weight table, called a build table, instead of the conventional BMI chart. Those applicants with none or few secondary health conditions will generally get a better rate than overweight applicants with chronic health problems. Many insurance companies have their own rating system based on someone’s medical review. The better your rating, the lower your premium.
  3. Evaluation of Lifestyle: Lifestyle habits, including alcohol consumption, smoking, and drug use all come under scrutiny by the insurer. A healthy lifestyle can positively influence your application. For instance, if you are overweight but get healthy exercise on your job or by visiting a gym, walking or running, or working out at home; this is considered a positive lifestyle habit that can save you some money on insurance premiums.
  4. Risk Assessment: Based on the data from your medical assessment, an insurance provider will determine the risk level of insuring you. This risk level will impact the cost of your coverage. For example, if you are overweight but have no other health conditions, many companies will assign you a rating of moderate risk, with a lower rate. But, if you have diabetes, hypertension or another chronic condition and are overweight, you are apt to be designated as high risk and pay a higher premium or be denied coverage altogether.
  5. Policy Issuance: Provided that you pass underwriting requirements, the insurer will then offer life insurance coverage. Your rates will depend on the results of your  risk assessment. As noted above, this risk assessment might contribute to paying higher rates or even particular exclusions.

What Do Life Insurance Companies Consider When You’re An Overweight Applicant?

When you’re an overweight applicant for life insurance, you should understand that companies will be taking a detailed look at multiple key components.

One of these factors is evidence of effective management of your condition. They’ll probably want access to your medical records in order to review your health as well as your weight. For example, if these records show that your weight is pretty stable instead of steadily increasing over time, this could lower your risk classification and your premiums. Even better, if your records show that you’re consistently losing weight, this would be a big boost to your insurability.

Your lifestyle plays a key role in underwriting life insurance, and having a healthy lifestyle can make a significant difference to whether or not your application is approved. Your height to weight ratio, gender, age, and familial medical history are also considered. If you’re thinking that it might be a great idea to go on a crash diet and lose some weight before applying for life insurance coverage….don’t.

An insurance provider will look at your medical history and see your previous weights as well as health problems. This trending of your weight is far more important to them than a one-off.

If you’ve lost more than ten pounds, for instance, in the year before you apply for life insurance coverage, you’ll get credit for only 50% of the weight loss until you’ve maintained it for a minimum of one year.

Best Type Of Life Insurance For Overweight People

If you are overweight, there are multiple types of life insurance available. Each one offers different benefits along with different drawbacks.

Whole Life Insurance

Whole life insurance is available for overweight people or even clinically obese, but it does come with a higher price tag than term life insurance. The reason for this is because it has quite a few advantages over term life.

First of all, whole life insurance builds what is called cash surrender value. This means that a part of every premium you pay goes into the cash value part of your whole life policy. This money is paid interest per the company’s rate. Some life insurance providers will actually add dividends to your cash value, usually dependent on their profits in a particular year.

Another plus of whole life insurance is that it remains in force as long as you maintain your premiums. This is in contrast to term life insurance, that ends on a specified date. Last but not least, whole life insurance premiums will never go up, no matter your age or changes to your health. Your premiums stay the same with a traditional whole life insurance policy.

Term Life Insurance

Term life insurance provides coverage for a specified period of time, generally between ten to thirty-five years. It’s less costly than whole life insurance, which makes it a good choice for overweight people who want a substantial amount of coverage on a tight budget.

There are some term life insurance policies with a guaranteed insurability option. With this type, you can convert your term life policy to a permanent type no matter what your current medical condition is, and you don’t have to prove insurability. Term life does not accrue any cash value.

Final Expense Life Insurance

Final expense life insurance, also known as funeral or burial insurance, is meant to cover end of life expenses. Typically, these final expense policies have more lenient underwriting requirements. This can be a boon to overweight people who have problems qualifying for other insurance.

Final expense insurance is a whole life insurance policy that’s intended to take care of your burial and funeral expenses, along with other end of life costs such as legal and medical bills.

Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance

Guaranteed issue life insurance is whole life insurance that will cover nearly anybody, no matter their health condition. It may be a viable choice for overweight people who have been turned down for coverage everywhere else. You should know that it almost always has lower coverage and higher premiums than traditional life insurance. In fact, it’s the highest of any other type of life insurance.

Usually, guaranteed life insurance pays smaller lump sums than most policies, although a few come with a higher death benefit. Most of these policies have what is known as a graded death benefit, which simply means that your beneficiary will only get a partial benefit if you die within the first two years the policy is in force. There are no medical questions or exams with a guaranteed issue policy.

Group Life Insurance

Group life insurance is usually provided by an employer as part of a benefit package. For overweight employees who are likely to be declined for private life insurance, being insured as part of a group might be a good way to get coverage minus health exams in most cases, or a complicated underwriting process common to individual coverage.

One of the benefits of group life insurance is its low price. The employer gets a lower rate by insuring a group, and these savings are passed on to employees. Some group policies through an employer are paid by the employer, and don’t require the covered employee to pay anything for the coverage.

On the other hand, these life insurance policies are often for smaller amounts than one would actually need. Another downside is that the employer is in control of premiums. So, they decide if your payments go up. Also, group life insurance isn’t portable. You can’t take it with you if you switch jobs or retire. In some cases, you can keep your life insurance if you pay a single, private rate as opposed to the less expensive group rate.

Important: Living benefit riders can be a life-line for overweight individuals. These optional add-ons to your life insurance policy make it possible for you to access part of your death benefit while you’re still alive to help pay medical expenses.

How to Buy Life Insurance If You Are Overweight

Following these four steps will simplify buying life insurance if you are overweight:

  1. Research Your Options: Begin by doing some research on life insurance providers that provide policies for overweight individuals. Some companies will offer both term and whole life insurance policies, so you need to know the difference between the two. Then, you can make an informed decision about which is best for you.
  2. Understand the Underwriting Process: Understand that the majority of applications for life insurance will ask you to reveal whether or not you are overweight.  If you are, you should also understand that this may complicate the underwriting and could cause you to pay a higher premium.
  3. Consider Employer or Group Coverage: If it’s available to you, think about getting life insurance through your employer’s group plan. These group policies usually provide coverage no matter your health conditions, which includes being overweight.
  4. Apply for Coverage: When you’ve selected a life insurance company and a policy to suit your needs, go ahead and complete the application. This might mean answering  health questionnaires in detail as well as having a thorough medical exam.

How Much Does Life Insurance Cost If You Are Overweight?

Below is a chart with average premiums for a twenty year, $500,000 term life policy based on a 35 year old, 5 foot 9 inch male at a variety of weights:

Weight Annual Premium
195 lbs $312.00
205 lbs $371.00
215 lbs $410.00
225 lbs $505.00
235 lbs $592.00

How to Qualify For Life insurance If You Are Overweight

In order to qualify for traditional life insurance, you will be required in most cases to fill out an application with questions about your age, health, weight, height, gender, where you work, and more. Your lifestyle will also come under scrutiny, as will your medical history.

If you aren’t in a hurry to get life insurance, you might consider going on a diet and dropping extra pounds, so that you can get a better premium rate. But if you need life insurance right away, don’t postpone applying for it. If you go on to lose a significant amount of weight after purchasing a policy, you can get a new policy to take advantage of lower premiums.

This is as opposed to trying to get a new and lower rate on an existing policy, because in most cases premiums are locked in and can’t be changed.

The flip side of this coin is that if you are not overweight when you take the life insurance policy, and later go on to become overweight, your rates can’t be raised because of it.

You can be proactive about filling out an application for life insurance coverage by making it clear that your lifestyle is healthy. For example, if you don’t smoke, consume alcohol, take drugs, have a dangerous job or engage in daredevil hobbies such as skydiving or swimming with sharks; you may get a break from the insurance company even if you are overweight.

Can Insurance Companies Deny You Coverage For Being Overweight?

Yes, they can, although it is rare. However, there may be circumstances that cause a life insurance provider to deny you coverage. For instance, this might be the result of an applicant not disclosing a health condition or that they’re overweight on the application. Or it might be that a health condition is simply deemed too high-risk for the provider to issue coverage.

Please note that advancements in the medical field have improved treatments for overweight patients. These improvements lead to an improved life expectancy and, because of this, a change in how insurance carriers look at insurability for those living with being overweight. The Affordable Care Act prevents insurance providers from denying coverage or treatment to anyone based solely on their weight. But, the premiums are almost certain to be higher.

What Will Insurers Ask About Your Condition?

When you apply for life insurance coverage, the provider will have multiple questions for you. Here are some of the basic questions you will be asked:

  • Your height
  • Your weight
  • Your prescription medications
  • Your medical diagnosis
  • Current or previous treatments received and/or expected to receive
  • History of any medical procedures you’ve had, surgeries included
  • History of stroke
  • Smoking and/or any use of tobacco
  • Use of marijuana or of other recreational drugs
  • History of diabetes

If you are overweight, you’ll be asked how long you’ve been overweight, what lifestyle changes you have made or plan to make regarding losing the extra pounds, and your family’s medical history. Specifically, you will be asked if any of your family has had various health conditions and diseases such as:

  • Liver, kidney, or heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Respiratory conditions and/or asthma
  • History of drug dependency or alcoholism
  • Diabetes 1 or 2
  • Anorexia and/or bulimia
  • Anemia
  • Immune deficiencies
  • Epilepsy
  • Alzheimer’s disease or any other type of dementia
  • Brain disorders, including migraines

Life Insurance Options If You Are Denied Coverage

The ACA made it against the law to deny an individual life insurance coverage based on their weight. However, group life insurance or private insurance taken out before 2010 can still skirt these restrictions of coverage and deny an application because of an applicant’s weight.

If you have been denied coverage due to your weight, you still have options for coverage. According to the CDC, over 73% of people living in the United States are overweight, so you can be sure that there is insurance available for you.

One option is a guaranteed issue policy with no medical exam or health questions. Another is graded death benefit coverage, which increases eligibility for increasing the death benefit over a period of time. Group life insurance is yet another possibility if you have been denied coverage because of being overweight. You aren’t asked about your weight or health since your employer pays the premiums.

Simplified issue life insurance might be an option for you as there are few health questions asked and no medical examination required. Also, you might consider specialized services like Insuranceopedia. This service is helpful in helping you find life insurance by providing you with quotes from a number of high quality insurance providers.

Important: Guaranteed issue policies are an excellent option if other companies have denied your application for whole, universal, or term life insurance policies.

Here are three tips that can shorten your search:

Know Your Needs: Understand your financial needs. Factor in debt, income replacement, and future expenses.

Explore Policy Types: Consider graded death benefit policies and guaranteed issue insurance. They’re designed for people living with being overweight. Group life insurance often covers you regardless of health conditions.

Use Specialized Services: Use services like Insuranceopedia, which provides multiple quotes to help you compare rates and find an affordable, suitable policy.

Information About Being Overweight

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) for adults, being overweight is usually defined as having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or above.  Being overweight is linked to a higher risk of developing serious health problems such as:

  • Cancer
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Heart Disease

Although BMI relates to the amount of body fat, it does have limitations when used as a measurement.

According to the CDC, elements including: gender, muscle mass, age, and ethnicity can play a pivotal role in the connection between BMI and body fat. Besides that, BMI does not differentiate between excess muscle, fat, or bone mass, and neither does it show any sign of how the excess fat is distributed among people.

For instance, an athlete might have a high BMI because muscle weighs more than fat, but he isn’t considered overweight.

Although there are several conditions that might cause someone to be overweight, the common denominator in most obese people is simple: too much food, too little exercise. If you’re overweight and want to slim down, you’ll probably have to increase your physical activity, decrease the amount of food you eat, or ideally, both.

There are medications now to address the problem of being overweight. These include drugs such as Ozempic, Mounjaro, Wegovy and other similar biologics. In more extreme cases, weight loss surgery might be an option. Here are some of the surgery techniques to assist with losing excess weight:

  • Gastric Bypass: A small pouch is created at the top of your stomach, and  connects to your small intestine. The food you eat, as well as liquids you drink. go  through the small pouch and directly into the intestine. This bypasses almost all of the stomach. This procedure is also referred to as RYBG (Roux-en-Y gastric bypass) surgery.
  • LAGB: Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Banding. LAGB works by separating the stomach into two pouches with a band.
  • Gastric Sleeve Surgery: This surgical procedure actually removes part of the stomach.
  • Biliopancreatic Diversion with Duodenal Switch: This one is a bit drastic but may be used when a patient is so obese it’s life threatening and the weight needs to come off in a hurry. This procedure removes most of the stomach.

Prior to 2018, the guideline for bariatric weight loss surgery was a BMI of 35 or higher. But, back in 2018, the recommendation from the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric was changed to a BMI of 30 to 35 when accompanied by comorbidities like diabetes, or in cases where conventional dieting to lose weight was unsuccessful.

Other Health Concerns That Can Affect Your Life Insurance

When you make an application for life insurance, providers will consider your health condition to evaluate the risk involved in insuring you. Here is a list of seventeen common health problems that can affect your life insurance:

  • Heart Disease: Heart disease often means denial of coverage or higher premiums
  • High Cholesterol: This could mean paying higher premiums if it isn’t well controlled
  • Sleep Apnea: Sleep apnea may cause higher insurance rates if it isn’t well controlled
  • Cancer: Cancer might affect insurability, depending on the stage and type
  • HIV: With medical advancements in treatment, nowadays many providers provide policies for those who are HIV positive
  • Depression: A mental health condition such as depression may impact insurance coverage
  • Obesity: A higher Body Mass Index may result in higher premiums
  • Diabetes: Premium rates may be higher for Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes
  • Alzheimer’s/Dementia: These conditions may markedly influence insurability
  • High Blood Pressure: If you are hypertensive but it is under control, high blood pressure might have less of an impact on your life insurance policy
  • Asthma: Asthma might affect insurance premiums, according to its severity
  • Liver Disease: Conditions such as cirrhosis may affect your life insurance coverage
  • Stroke: If you have had a stroke, it might mean higher premiums
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis: A chronic autoimmune disease, it can lead to higher premiums
  • Kidney Disease: CKD, chronic kidney disease, usually comes with a higher premium
  • Lung Disease: Chronic conditions like COPD can increase premiums
  • Substance Use Disorders: A history of drug or alcohol abuse can affect insurability


Do Overweight People Qualify For Life Insurance?

Most overweight people do qualify for traditional life insurance. The exception to this is if you have pre-existing health conditions along with being overweight.

What Insurance Is Best For Overweight People?

This largely depends on several factors. For example, if you have underlying health conditions along with being overweight, you might be better off with guaranteed issue life insurance that doesn’t require answering health questions or taking a medical exam. If you are basically healthy but overweight, you might well qualify for traditional whole life insurance, which is your best bet if you can qualify for it.

Is Being Overweight Classed As a Critical Illness In Insurance?

It can be, depending on your BMI, or Body Mass Index. Generally speaking, most companies consider a BMI of more than 25 to be clinically obese. This BMI predisposes a person to serious diseases such as cancer, heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, and more. The insurance company could decide that your weight makes you too high a risk, because you’re more likely to develop these health conditions if you’re overweight,


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