Life Insurance with Sleep Apnea

Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

Do you have sleep apnea? If so, you may wonder if you are eligible for life insurance. The good news is that many life insurance companies offer policies to people who have sleep apnea. In this guide, we will discuss the eligibility requirements for life insurance with sleep apnea and provide tips on getting the best rates possible.

Can I Get Life Insurance If I Have Sleep Apnea?

Some life insurance companies may not cover you if you have this condition. Your rates may also go up. It all depends on your situation and the life insurance company.

Since life insurance companies insure your life, they consider any factors that could lead to an early death. That’s why they carefully consider your health and medical history during the application process. If a health condition makes you more likely to die young, it increases the insurer’s risk.

Life insurance companies look at each applicant on a case-by-case basis. So, if you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, the company will consider all the factors involved, such as how severe your condition is and what treatment options are available. Your age, height, weight, occupation, and hobbies will also be considered. In many cases, people who have sleep apnea can still get life insurance coverage.

What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is common and underdiagnosed. Symptoms often include excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) and loud snoring. Also, the sleep partner may report cessation of breathing. Complete cessation of breathing is known as apnea, while hypopnea is the partial cessation of breathing.

Obesity is strongly associated with OSA because excess tissue in the throat leads to airway collapse (thereby causing the lying position’s obstruction and resulting apnea).

Severity is determined by overnight polysomnography (sleep study or PSG).

The success of the treatment is documented by follow-up PSG.

Dangers associated with untreated sleep apnea include:

  • hypertension
  • lung damage
  • right heart failure
  • heart rhythm irregularities

It may exacerbate the mortality risk of co-existing cardiovascular disorders (such as cardiac, cerebrovascular, or pulmonary diseases).

There may be depression and dulling of memory and intellect. In addition, there is a high risk of motor vehicle accidents.

Medical Treatment

Basic treatment includes weight loss, avoiding stimulants and alcohol before bedtime, adjusting sleep position to avoid sleeping on the back, and so on.

Unfortunately, significant weight loss is seldom maintained long term, so these simple treatment methods often fail.

CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) or BiPAP (bilevel positive airway pressure) may be needed. These mechanical devices prevent airway collapse by pumping airflow during inhalation (by face mask or nose cushions).

Successful treatment depends on the individual’s compliance in using the device every night for several hours, but some people cannot tolerate the device and the noise.

A surgical procedure known as uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) involves removing excess soft palate tissue and effectively, in only 50% of patients relieving sleep apnea.

Oral devices for the mouth also reduce snoring, but often neither UPPP nor devices prevent apnea.

A more aggressive surgical treatment may be necessary. Tracheotomy, which is curative, involves the permanent placement of a tube into the neck. Surgery to change the shape of the jaw or the tongue sometimes helps.

Underwriting for Life Insurance with Sleep Apnea

Rating for sleep apnea is determined by the severity of the disease as measured by the number of apnea and hypopnea episodes per hour (apnea-hypopnea index or AHI) and by the degree of hypoxia (low blood oxygen level).

Favorable features include mild disease (low AHI and minimal hypoxia), consistent CPAP/BiPAP, controlled blood pressure, no risky driving events, and no co-existing heart or lung disease.

Favorable cases are generally not rated for life insurance.

For example, a client compliant with CPAP and normal blood pressure would not be rated and eligible for preferred classifications.

What Insurance Companies Look For With Sleep Apnea

  • Age of applicant
  • Type of sleep apnea: central or obstructive
  • Treatment
  • Severity and duration of symptoms
  • Sleep study results
  • Compliance and frequency of CPAP or Bi-PAP use

Getting Life Insurance Coverage With Sleep Apnea

  • Effective treatment of mild to moderate sleep apnea can be considered for coverage.
  • Severe sleep apnea that is effectively treated can be considered in most cases. However, untreated severe sleep apnea cases could be declined in some cases.

Life Insurance Companies (We Recommend)

American General is one of the top-rated life insurance companies in the United States. The company was founded in 1919 and had an excellent rating. American General is very favorable to applicants with sleep apnea who comply with treatment recommendations. AG can consider preferred rates for those who are consistent with treatment, making it an excellent option for those with sleep apnea.

Disclaimer: We are licensed life insurance agents for AIG. If you need a quote or want to apply, contact us below. There is no charge for the service. However, we strongly discourage applying without the assistance of an agent because if you apply on your own and get declined coverage, for whatever reason, no other life insurance company will consider you for coverage for approximately two years.

What If I’m Declined?

Even if an insurer declined your life insurance application, you could still purchase life insurance through a guaranteed policy.

What Is A Guaranteed Issue Policy?

A guaranteed issue policy is life insurance that does not depend on your health. This means you can get life insurance even if you have had a stroke and have been declined. However, there are a few drawbacks that you should consider before getting this type of policy.

Many insurers that offer guaranteed issue life insurance policies have a limit on the death benefit. This amount is usually between $25,000 and $30,000, depending on your age.

If you die from natural causes, your family will have to wait for two or three years before the company will pay the full death benefit. Most companies, however, will pay a benefit equal to the total premiums paid plus 5 to 10 percent.

Since the insurer is unsure how healthy you are, they will charge you more for your life insurance policy than someone healthier.

Although there are some disadvantages to guaranteed issue life insurance, it is still a better option than asking your loved ones to pay your final expenses.

Need Help Getting Life Insurance Coverage?

If you have a preexisting medical condition and want to buy life insurance, you will need help from an expert. This person can help ensure you get coverage so you don’t get declined.

Warning: Applying for life insurance without a medical exam can be risky. If you are declined coverage, it could be at least two years before you can get any life insurance.

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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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