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Life Insurance when Overweight or Obese

We’re not going to beat around the bush, being obese doesn’t exactly scream “low risk” to insurance companies.  This means that if you are able to qualify for a traditional life insurance policy, you’re probably going to have to pay more for your coverage than your average “Jo”.

But here’s the deal, you’re also probably going to have to pay more for your insurance today, than you would have a year ago, had you decided to purchase your policy then.  And there’s a really good chance that you’ll pay more for your insurance next year if you decide to keep on procreating!

Especially if you decide to wait long enough that other health conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, etc. enter into the picture.  So, if you can’t tell, what we’re getting is that it’s probably in your best interest to take advantage of your current state and lock in the best rate possible.

So, the bottom line is: don’t wait, cause qualifying for life insurance isn’t a given!


Now that we got the tough love out of the way, let’s lighten the mood a little bit and go through some of the most common questions we get from applicants who are worried that their weight may prevent them from qualifying for a traditional life insurance policy.

And we promise, from here on out, we’re not going to yell, threaten or try and scare anyone.  We’re just going to share our experiences with trying to help clients who technically qualify as obese qualify for the insurance they need to protect their loved ones.

Can you get life insurance if you are obese?

The first thing that you’re going to need to accept is that just because you may be a little “big-boned” doesn’t mean you’re automatically going to be considered uninsurable.

In fact, you may even qualify for a “Bigger Than Average Policy” And the truth is, even if you’re considered “overweight” or “obese” by standard metrics, some life insurance companies choose to be quite “liberal” when it comes to determining what an ideal height and weight ratio should look like, choosing instead to focus on other factors such as one’s current health and lifestyle choices (tobacco vs non-tobacco use).

So, remember, life insurance isn’t just for skinny minnies, it’s for everyone who wants to make sure their loved ones are taken care of in case of the unexpected. So don’t be shy, if you have a need for insurance, but you’re worried you won’t be able to qualify, the worst thing that can happen is you’ll be denied.  The best thing that can happen is that you’re loved ones would be financially protected.  And that’s a risk vs reward scenario that you would be a fool not to take advantage of.

Can you be denied insurance for being overweight?

Of course you can.  But you can also be denied a policy if you’ve suffered from a heart attack, been diagnosed with diabetes, depression or anxiety, or  maybe because you like to go bungee jumping or hang gliding or perhaps you enjoy travel to certain exotic countries, or you have too many speeding tickets.  Do you like to use marijuana, that can get you denied sometimes as well!

Heck, when you really think about it, there are probably 10’s of thousands of reasons why someone can get denied a life insurance policy, but that in no way should prevent you from trying!  Or getting all self-conscious about giving it a shot either!

What if I lie about my weight on life insurance?

Two things can generally happen if you choose to lie about your weight during an application process.  The first thing that can happen is if you’re applying for a fully underwritten life insurance policy that’s going to require a medical exam, your medical examiner might not be able to recognize you!  Or in other words, when he or she meets you to perform the exam, your little subterfuge will be figured out.

The second thing that can happen is if you’re applying for a simplified issue life insurance policy that won’t require you to take a medical exam, you purposeful misrepresentation could put your entire life insurance policy at risk should you pass away later on.

You see, a life insurance policy is a legal contract, and like all contracts, it’s a binding agreement between two parties: you and the insurance company. It’s kind of like getting married, except instead of promising to love, honor, and cherish each other ’til death do you part, you’re promising to pay the insurance company a bunch of money now in exchange for them paying your loved ones a bunch of money later on when you die (assuming your policy is in force).

You can say “it’s like a prenup for death.”

And while we’re discussing how a life insurance policy is a legal contract, it’s never a bad thing to always remind folks to always to read the fine print and make sure they fully understand what you’re getting yourself into before you sign on the dotted line.

Why do life insurance companies make such a big deal about one’s weight? 

Since we’re not doctors, and we’re not in charge of setting up any underwriting guidelines with the insurance companies, all we can tell you is that “most experts” are in agreement that obesity can take a significant number of years off someone’s lifespan. In other words, it’s like being in a time machine, but instead of traveling to the past or future, you’re just fast-forwarding through your own life at an alarming rate.

But in all seriousness, it’s important to note that obesity significantly increases the risk of multiple chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer, and these conditions can shorten life expectancy. And when your entire business model is designed to provide a benefit to someone that you hope they never use, it’s easy to see why life insurance companies use one’s body mass index to determine whom they will and won’t insure.

Frequently Asked Questions

Ok, so not that we’ve covered the basics in detail, and hopefully reduced your stress levels, let’s now shift gears a bit and quickly answer some of the most common questions we get without getting too “detailed”.

Q: “How many years does obesity take off lifespan?”

A:  Since nobody knows when or how they’re going to leave this planet, it’s impossible to say how many years obesity can take off of one’s lifespan.  But one thing for sure is that obesity can significantly increase the risk of chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease, which can shorten lifespan not to mention decrease the quality of one’s life as well.

Q: “What is class 3 obesity?”

A: “Class 3 obesity, also known as severe obesity, is defined as having a BMI of 40 or higher. This is the most severe classification of obesity and is associated with the greatest health risks.”

Q: “Can you get SSI for obesity?”

A: “Obesity alone typically doesn’t qualify for SSI (Supplemental Security Income) benefits. However, if obesity is the cause of other medical conditions that result in a person’s inability to work, they may be eligible for SSI benefits.”  We should note that most fully underwritten life insurance applications will ask about whether or not one is receiving SSI benefits, in which case it will be much more difficult to qualify for coverage.

Q: “What weight counts as a disability?”

A: “Weight alone is not considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). However, obesity can lead to a number of health problems that may qualify as disabilities, such as heart disease, diabetes, and respiratory issues.”

Q: “What BMI qualifies for disability?”

A: “A BMI (Body Mass Index) alone does not automatically qualify for disability. However, a BMI of 40 or higher, also known as class 3 obesity, is associated with the greatest health risks, including the potential for disability.”

Q: “What disqualifies life insurance payout?”

A: “Life insurance payouts may be denied if the policyholder has failed to disclose important information on their application, such as a pre-existing medical condition, or if they engage in activities that increase the risk of death.  Also, if the policyholder lies or misrepresents any information in the application the insurer can void the contract.”  Most policies will limit how long an insurer can “contest” the information provided by the insured (typically 2 years).

Q: “Why is it so hard to get life insurance?”

A: “Life insurance can be difficult to get for some individuals due to high-risk factors, such as severe obesity or a history of certain illnesses. However, it’s also important to keep in mind that different insurance companies have different underwriting guidelines and some may be more willing to insure high-risk individuals than others.”

Q: “What should you not do before a life insurance test?”

A: “There are several things you should avoid doing before a life insurance test, such as eating a large meal, consuming alcohol, or engaging in any strenuous physical activity, as these can all skew test results. Also, do not lie or misrepresent any information in the application, they may void the contract. It is important to provide accurate information to ensure that you are getting the right policy that fits you best.”

Q: “How often do people get denied life insurance?”

A: “The rate of denial for life insurance can vary depending on the insurance company and the individual’s specific circumstances. However, certain high-risk factors, such as severe obesity or a history of certain illnesses, can increase the likelihood of denial.”