Can You Get Life Insurance If You Have Diabetes?

Girl with diabetes can get life insurance

Affordable Life Insurance for People with Diabetes

An estimated 2.3 million Canadians have diabetes and many more do not know they have it according to the latest figures from Canadian Diabetes Society. Many more have “pre-diabetes,” which increases the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. The American Diabetes Association estimates that 65 percent of people with diabetes die of a heart attack or stroke.

The key to buying affordable life insurance if you have diabetes is this: “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 an affordable life insurance policy.

Insurers look primarily at your blood-sugar levels and your hemoglobin A1C count to determine how well you are responding to your treatment over time. According to Genworth Life Insurance and Annuities, A1C levels are normal for non-diabetics when they are under 6. If A1C levels are between 6 and 7, this generally means a diabetic has good control of his condition and may be offered a policy with “standard” rates. But if A1C levels peak into the double digits, this shows that the diabetic has poor control of his/her condition and will likely be offered a more expensive policy. If an insurer finds that the person applying for a life insurance policy has A1C levels that are more than 12, it will likely postpone offering a policy until the applicant gets the condition under control, or the application could be declined.

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.

So how much will life insurance cost for someone with Diabetes?

Insurance companies price life insurance policies based on the risk of someone dying earlier or later than the average normal healthy Canadian using standard mortality tables. I have attended and presented at Diabetic Association Meetings and found that most expect to either pay a lot for coverage or not even qualify for coverage due to their diabetes. This is not the case for many diabetics applying for life insurance.

First, let’s consider those with Type 2 diabetes as they represent most of the people we talk with.

Life Insurance for People w/ Type 2 Diabetes

People with Type 2 diabetes account for 90 to 95 percent of all diagnosed cases according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control. Type 2 diabetics can be treated by adjustments to diet and exercise, oral medications or insulin therapy, and insurers tend to focus on how well they are responding to their treatments.

If a Type 2 diabetic was:

  • Diagnosed after age 50
  • Treated by diet or oral medication
  • Has excellent compliance & blood sugar control with no complications and
  • No co-morbid factors – related illnesses such as, hyperlipidemia, obesity, smoking, alcohol excess, family history of medical issues.

They will likely fall in a “standard” rating class for life insurance pricing. If it was diagnosed between age 40 and 50 there could be a modest rating.

Here is a table that summarizes how Life insurance underwriters rate people with Diabetes – it is all about control and compliance.

Diabetes Control/Compliance

Good6.1 – 8.06.7 – 8.0CompliantNo+0
Fair8.1 – 9.58.1 – 11.0Occasional
lapse with
Poor9.6 – 11.011.1 – 16.8Frequent
lapse with
Heavy+125 –

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.

Here are examples of what a policy might cost for various amounts of life insurance. If you were diagnosed between ages 40 and 50 you will be in the higher range but after age 50 you have a good chance of getting standard rates if everything else is controlled. An example of everything else being controlled is if you have high blood pressure or cholesterol and it is controlled through medication.

Term Life Insurance Monthly Cost Comparison

Prices are for a male with Type 2 Diabetes in otherwise good health:

AgePolicy AmountTen Year TermTwenty Year Term
Excellent to Good
Good to Fair
Excellent to Good
Good to Fair

*Prices as at September 2014

The rate you do get will depend on the underwriting at the time of the application. Any medical issues will move you from the first towards the second column but we have found that most people with diabetes are pleased if they can get coverage anywhere in this range.

Type 1 Diabetes & Life Insurance

Traditionally, 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.

Having said that, we have one company that will offer up to $150,000 of coverage providing your diabetes is controlled and there are no other related medical issues. Many will be on medication for blood pressure and cholesterol but that is only an issue if the dosage for blood pressure medication has changed in the past three months. Another company will provide mortgage insurance up to $500,000 of coverage provided that there are no additional related illnesses.

$150,000 of Term Life Insurance

Monthly Premiums



























































An effective strategy we use is to apply for this type of guaranteed life insurance and get it in place and then see if we can find a traditionally underwritten policy that is cheaper. If we can replace it with a cheaper rate, that is great but at least we have something that is affordable in place first. Once you are rated one of these options is no longer available.

While not everyone with diabetes will qualify for life insurance, many will and the overwhelming problem we have seen at association meetings is that people with diabetes incorrectly assume that they cannot qualify for life insurance or that it will be too expensive. Take a few minutes to see if you can protect your family with affordable life insurance.

Take action today by completing the following form. We have an expert who would love to have a conversation with you to see how we can help you get some coverage for your family.

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All product names, trademarks, and trade names are the property of their respective owners. The Insurance Council (BC, AB, SK, MB), Financial Services Commission (ON), Chambre de la Sécurité Financière (QC), The Superintendent of Insurance (NB, NL, PE, NS) are the provincial and federal authorities that regulate, supervise and enforce standards for life insurance professionals. IDC member websites include: Life Insurance Newspaper, Employee Benefits Newspaper

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