Life Insurance for Overweight and Obese People: How BMI Affects Rates

Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

If you are overweight or obese, you may be wondering how your BMI affects life insurance rates. The good news is that most life insurance companies do not discriminate against people who are overweight or obese. However, your BMI will still affect the rate that you pay for life insurance. In this guide, we will discuss how BMI affects life insurance rates and provide tips for getting the best rates possible.

How Weight Impacts Life Insurance Rates

A build chart, similar to a BMI calculation, is used to determine your rating category and therefore the rates you qualify for. The following are typical rating categories:

  • Preferred Plus: Applicants who have no medical problems and are in excellent health. You’re unlikely to receive this grade if you’re more than a few pounds over the ideal weight for your height.
  • Preferred: You might qualify for a Preferred rating if you have had a little medical problem or have a family history of modest illnesses but are otherwise in excellent health. There’s often a Preferred category for smokers who would otherwise be eligible for the greatest rates because of their smoking habits.
  • Standard Plus: Exception rates for people who are in excellent health, but have a poor family history or a single condition that prevents them from obtaining the Preferred level.
  • Standard: Applicants who are of average health with a few common but manageable problems, such as high cholesterol or blood pressure. There’s also a Standard rating for smokers. You’ll almost certainly get a Standard grade if you’re very overweight and especially obese.
  • Table Ratings: Extremely obese persons. It’s unlikely you’ll be given a table rating for life insurance just on the basis of your weight if you have a normal or low BMI.

A life insurance company will have specific height minimum and maximum weight limitations for each rating category. Your age and gender may be factors as well. Some insurers, like Lincoln, Nationwide, and Prudential, utilize a unisex weight chart that is more favorable to women who are a few pounds overweight since the acceptable height-to-weight ratios are broader for males.

Insurers take age into account, which is beneficial to younger applicants who are overweight since the ideal weight range for a person of a certain height grows wider as they grow older.

To offer you an idea of how life insurance firms evaluate your weight, consider the following examples of proper height and weight requirements for coverage. Even if you have an undesirable BMI, you may still be eligible for the highest rating category based on these samples.

Overweight applicants aren’t usually denied inexpensive life insurance because of their weight alone, but owing to other elements linked to their build.

HeightGenderPreferred PlusPreferredStandard PlusStandard

Why do life insurance companies have BMI requirements?

The rates charged by life insurance companies are based on how risky they feel an applicant is or how likely they believe you will pass away during the policy’s coverage period. Obesity-related illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure might all increase your mortality risk.

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Sleep apnea
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Fatty liver disease
  • Kidney disease

Despite the fact that you may not have any of these issues, if you fall outside their suggested weight limits, the insurer will not give you a Preferred rating since having a high BMI raises your risk of developing a medical condition later. A life insurance policy can be renewed for years or a lifetime, and the price cannot be changed, so the company assesses risk based on your current information.

How to get the best life insurance rates if you’re overweight

When applying for life insurance, you’ll be questioned about your health and lifestyle, and the company will compare your answers to those recorded by your doctor.

While you should always be truthful, one of the simplest ways to obtain the greatest life insurance rates is to include all relevant information about your health routine. You’re likely to qualify for a decent life insurance rating if you follow a strict diet and exercise routine that is regularly monitored by your doctor and has had no weight-related problems.

If you’re overweight but healthy, you may still get good rates on life insurance. Even people with a high BMI who are classified as obese can obtain a fair rating. It’s usually weight-related problems, such as diabetes or a family history of heart attacks, that result in a poor rating.

  • What’s your current weight and height: Make sure to be up-front and honest in your description, but don’t forget to include all of the relevant information. For example, if you have a high BMI despite having a low body fat percentage, the insurance company may give you credits that will raise your rating.
  • Any weight changes in the past year: A crash diet is unlikely to boost your life insurance rating since you will only be given half of any recent weight reduction, and insurers are concerned about rapid changes in weight. Make sure to disclose this information, even if the insurer doesn’t specifically ask for it, if you’ve started an exercise or diet program that has resulted in weight loss.
  • Do you smoke or vape: Non-smokers are charged significantly higher life insurance premiums, especially if you’re overweight and don’t qualify for a Preferred Tobacco rating.
  • When was your last doctor’s appointment: If you’re not receiving regular health care from a doctor, your chances of obtaining excellent ratings will be afffected. Obesity is linked to a variety of other diseases, so insurance companies want to ensure that you’re regularly checked for problems.
  • Are you mobile: If you have mobility problems or have had medical difficulties associated with being overweight, you are unlikely to qualify for the best life insurance rates.

Preparing for the life insurance medical examination is a simple method to improve your health rating. We recommend conducting your exam first thing in the morning while fasting to receive the highest possible assessment. Your weight may fluctuate several pounds throughout the day as you eat and drink, so performing the test early eliminates some of that uncertainty.

Finally, ask your insurer if you can take a new medical examination after a few years. If you’ve started a weight-loss plan, you may be able to get a higher rating and lower premiums by being reassessed and showing that you’re keeping the pounds off. Alternatively, you could compare rates from different life insurance companies to see whether another company’s policy would meet your needs at a cheaper price.

What if you’re turned down for life insurance because of your weight?

In most situations, a high BMI will not prevent you from obtaining life insurance. Even if one company refuses to cover you, it’s likely that another would. To be denied life insurance from several companies because of your weight, you must be morbidly obese. The reason you wouldn’t be offered coverage in this scenario is most likely due to both body weight and other health issues.

If you can’t obtain a typical term or permanent life insurance policy because of your weight, or if this is coupled with other reasons, we would first advise you to reduce weight before reapplying. Despite the fact that life insurance firms will only recognize a modest amount of weight loss in the previous year, you’ll be more likely to qualify for the policy of your choice as a result.

Guaranteed acceptance life insurance, on the other hand, is a good option if you need coverage right now but don’t meet the requirements of another policy. However, these policies do come with certain drawbacks:

  • Limited coverage (Up to $25,000)
  • Guaranteed acceptance policies are more expensive than regular life insurance policies.
  • If you die during the first two to three years of the policy’s term, your beneficiaries will only receive a partial payout unless the death was unintentional.

Lying about your weight on a life insurance application

Lying about your weight on a life insurance application is not advised. If the insurer ever discovered that you lied about your weight, it could be considered fraud and your policy may be canceled. Alternatively, if you pass away, the life insurance firm might deny your beneficiary’s claim if you lied about your weight when purchasing the coverage. You would lose any premiums paid as well as the benefits of coverage if you lied about your weight to obtain a policy.

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Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

I’m a licensed financial professional focusing on annuities and insurance for more than a decade. My former role was training financial advisors, including for a Fortune Global 500 insurance company. I’ve been featured in Time Magazine, Yahoo! Finance, MSN, SmartAsset, Entrepreneur, Bloomberg, The Simple Dollar, U.S. News and World Report, and Women’s Health Magazine.

The Annuity Expert is an online insurance agency servicing consumers across the United States. My goal is to help you take the guesswork out of retirement planning or find the best insurance coverage at the cheapest rates for you. 

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