Heidi works with top-rated life insurance carriers to bring her clients the highest quality protection at the most competitive prices. She is a wife, mom, and former school teacher, specializing in helping families. As parents, it's our responsibility to ensure our family is financially sound, regardless of what life brings. Her goal is to make the process of obtaining life insurance as simp...

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Benjamin Carr was a licensed insurance agent in Georgia and has two years' experience in life, health, property and casualty coverage. He has worked with State Farm and other risk management firms. He is also a strategic writer and editor with a background in branding, marketing, and quality assurance. He has been in military newsrooms — literally on the frontline of journalism.

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Reviewed by Benji Carr
Former Licensed Life Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Oct 17, 2020

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Protecting your family with life insurance is one of the smartest investments you can make. It means that your family’s financial future is safe, regardless of what life brings.

Many people simply overlook the importance of life insurance. It doesn’t appear to be something they need and it can be viewed as an added expense. But take a second to stop and consider all the important people in your life. If you weren’t there, how would they be impacted financially? It’s not fun to think about, but by “playing dead” you can begin to understand that life insurance is a critical tool to ensuring your family feels financially supported should anything happen to you. –Jacob Gold, Huffington Post, 5 Most Common Mistakes People Make With Life Insurance

And, here’s the good news: you can secure life insurance even if you’re overweight or obese.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:

  • More than 1 in 3 adults are considered to be overweight.
  • More than 2 in 3 adults are considered to be overweight or have obesity.
  • More than 1 in 3 adults are considered to have obesity.
  • About 1 in 13 adults are considered to have extreme obesity.

It’s incredibly common to be overweight.

Ted Ed, an educational division of Ted Talks, put together a quick informative video on the topic. The five minute video explains what it means to be overweight or obese and just how prevalent it is:

Bottom Line: You’re not alone and the best time to purchase life insurance is now.*

*If, down the road, you lose weight, it’s always possible to reapply for better rates with a life insurance company. However, there’s no better time than today to financially protect your loved ones.

In order to get the best life insurance rates when you are overweight (or obese), there are two things you need to read:

1. 5 Things To Know About Weight And Life Insurance

chart with 5 things to know about weight and life insurance

There are 5 things to know about how your weight relates to life insurance:

1. Height/Weight Ratio

There’s a measurement called the Body Mass Index (BMI) that most life insurance companies use during underwriting (process of assessing a person’s risk for life insurance). You’ve likely heard of the BMI before:

Essentially, the BMI is the ratio of your height and weight. The Mayo Clinic has an excellent BMI calculator that includes your age and gender: page that above link takes you to. BMI calculator

Often, life insurance companies use height/weight guidelines based on the BMI’s ranges for underweight, normal weight, overweight and obese classifications. Each carrier uses its own weight guidelines.

Here’s a general example for preferred and standard rates: height/weight chart for life insurance

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Keep in mind that you can also qualify for life insurance if you weigh more than the limits listed. Some life insurance carriers offer more generous limits.

Or, you can purchase life insurance with a Rated Approval – meaning that you still qualify for life insurance, but you will pay a surcharge on your premium payments.

Here’s a general example of table rates:substandard height/weight chart for life insurance

What This Means: Table Rates allow you to still qualify for traditional life insurance. However, you will pay a surcharge on your premiums (the amount you pay for life insurance).

Surcharge you can expect to pay:

      1. Table 1 (A): +25%
      2. Table 2 (B): +50%
      3. Table 3 (C): +75%
      4. Table 4 (D) +100%
      5. Table 5 (E) +125%
      6. Table 6 (F) +150%
      7. Table 7 (G) +175%
      8. Table 8 (H) +200%

Bottom Line: Life insurance companies have different weight limits. A decline with one company could be an approval with another.

2. Health Complications

Obesity is often associated with health complications. If you experience a negative health consequence as a result of your weight, life insurance companies will want to know about it.

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), health risks of being overweight include:

    1. type 2 diabetes
    2. high blood pressure
    3. heart disease or stroke
    4. certain types of cancer
    5. sleep apnea
    6. osteoarthritis
    7. fatty liver disease
    8. kidney disease
    9. pregnancy problems

If you experience a health complication(s), you’re not alone. Life insurance underwriters may order your medical records and ask clarifying questions about your health during the interview process.

3. Age

Your date of birth is taken into account when considering your BMI.

Here’s Why: If you are elderly, and have a low BMI, it could be an indication of frailty, not fitness.

4. Gender

Most life insurance carriers have separate weight charts for males and females.

Here’s Why: At a genetic level, males and females have different body frames. Of course, there are exceptions. But, generally speaking, males tend to have a larger body frame and weigh more.

Most weight charts allow for a few more pounds for males than females (sorry, ladies!).

Note: There are a handful of life insurance carriers that have unisex weight charts – often an advantage for females who are over the weight limits for traditional male/female height/weight charts because they tend to accept higher weights.

5. Build

If you are working with an expert life insurance agent, your build can easily be communicated to the life insurance company during the application process.

Cover Letter attached to applications is commonplace and additional information about the applicant is explained.

Let’s look at an example: Joey competes in Crossfit competitions. He is 5’9″ and weighs 227 lb. That’s outside the Standard limits for life insurance approval.

However, his body fat percentage is 7%, far below the average body fat percentage for males. His life insurance agent explains his weight and body fat details in a Cover Letter included with his life insurance application.

The underwriter has a better understanding of the applicant and makes an exception.

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2. How To Apply For Life Insurance If You’re Overweight

Decide How Much Life Insurance You Need

Generally, agents will recommend you purchase at least 10 times the amount of your annual income in life insurance. The length (i.e. 10, 20 years) of your term policy should be as long as your financial needs will last.

Yet, it’s not always that simple. To make a wise decision, it helps to plan for the following:

  • Your funeral expenses
  • How long until your loved ones have finished college or are living independently
  • Outstanding debt (mortgage, loans, etc.)
  • Your living costs
  • Future needs (college tuition)
  • Family business costs

In Other Words: ask yourself three basic questions:

  1. How much debt do I have?
  2. How much money do I spend every month?
  3. What are my longterm financial goals?

If your life insurance proceeds can handle those three questions, give yourself a pat on the back!

Work With An Independent Agent

Not all life insurance carriers view weight in the same light. That’s why it’s essential to partner with an independent life insurance agent who has experience in helping clients who are overweight find high qualify life insurance at a competitive price.

Independent agents are not held captive to a particular carrier and have your best interest at heart.

You will receive multiple quotes from multiple carriers to find the best policy for you.