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How Being Overweight or Obese Affects Your Life Insurance Premiums

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I am Overweight. Now What?

Being overweight is one of the most common reasons people applying for life insurance are declined or charged higher rates. If you are obese, or even just overweight, your height/weight ratio will be a factor used by life insurance companies and their underwriters to increase the premiums for your life insurance policy.

Even though many people who are overweight remain healthy into old age, insurance underwriters primarily use mathematical statistics to determine health ratings and premium rates. Statistics show that being overweight increases an individual's death rate by roughly linear terms. So, for example, if you are 25% overweight insurance life expectancy charts say that you will have a 25% greater chance of dying at any given age than a similar, but non-overweight, individual. This increased health risk is often due to heart problems, high blood pressure, digestive ailments, and/or diabetes.

The more overweight you are, the worse you can expect your health ratings to be. Worse ratings translate into higher prices. If you are overweight you should also expect an extended application review process as the insurance company may decide to order extra medical records from your doctor. Note that unexplained rapid weight gain or loss may lead to a period of postponement since this could be the result of a serious disease.

Effect Being Overweight Has on Insurance Rates
The height/weight table below is a rough guide to life insurance health rating categories and the increased price you should expect to pay for your policy. It assumes that you have no other complications, such as EKG abnormalities, high blood pressure, poor family history, bad cholesterol ratios, etc.

There are four important notes to understanding this table:

  1. This table is based on weights for males. Therefore, a female at a listed weight should actually expect to receive worse ratings since the female body build is different than the male's body build.
  2. Age is ignored in this table. An overweight young person will receive worse ratings than an older person of the same weight since some weight gain is expected as a human ages. 
  3. This chart does not factor in the differences in BMI (Body Mass Index) that many insurance companies will factor into their ratings.
  4. This table is simply a guide and is not exact. To find out your exact rating you will have to actually apply with an insurance company. Your pricing may be positively or negatively affected by factors discovered during the application process that are unrelated to your weight.

How to use this table:

  • Find the row that shows your height.
  • Scroll across until you find the column that corresponds to your maximum weight in the last 12 months.
  • The top column headers show the approximate health rating you should receive assuming you have no other problematic health issues.
Height   Max weight to receive Preferred Rates  Max weight to receive Standard  Max weight to receive Table 2 to Table 4
Max weight to receive Table 4 to Table 6  Max weight to receive Table 6 to Table 8   Max weight to receive Table 8
to Decline  
 4'10"
  Up to 154 lbs.
 Up to  180 lbs.
 Up to 211 lbs.
 Up to 231 lbs.  
 Up to 251 lbs. 
 Up to 265 lbs. 
4'11"
158
185
216
236
256
261
5'
162
190
221
241
258
266
5'1"
166
194
226
246
261
271
5'2"
171
198
231
251
266
276
5'3"
176
205
236
256
276
281
5'4"
181
210
241
261
281
291
5'5"
186
216
246
266
286
296
5'6"
191
221
251
271
296
306
5'7'
197
226
256
281
301
311
5'8"
201
231
266
286
311
321
5'9" 206
236
271
296
321
331
5'10" 212
243
281
306
326
336
5'11"
218
252
286
311
336
346
6'
224
257
296
321
341
356
6'1"
229
264
301
326
351
361
6'2"
235
272
311
336
361
371
6'3"
241
280
321
346
366
381
6'4"
247
287
326
351
376
391
6'5"
254
294 336
361
386
401
6'6"
261
301
341
366
396
40

More Information on Being Overweight
One of the most concerning aspects of being overweight, as far as life insurance companies are concerned, are the risks posed to your cardiovascular system. Therefore, any and all information you provide that will help ease an underwriter's concern regarding your cardiovascular system could help improve your ratings by as much as a couple of tables. Underwriters want to see great family history, an exercise program, low blood pressure, good cholesterol levels, etc. These will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis so make sure you provide plenty of information.

Important Things to Know for Those Who Are Overweight

What are some of the issues that interest underwriters?

  • What is your build? This will include a Body Mass Index.
  • Do you have any related health problems?
  • Is your weight a result of a disease?
  • Has your weight fluctuated drastically for unexplained reasons?
Some Insider tips to applying
  • Keep in mind that losing weight right before applying for life insurance generally does not help because life insurance companies will average your weight over the last 12 months.
  • When the nurse comes to do your mini health exam put on your shoes when your height is measured. Then take them off when you are weighed. The extra height gained from your shoes can make all the difference in getting bumped into a better health rating. Most nurses will not mind if you do this.
  • If you are bodybuilder or just a stocky person ask the nurse to measure your chest and note your BMI on the notes that get sent to the insurance company.
  • It is absolutely imperative that you use a life insurance agent or broker who has extensive experience in working with overweight and obese clients. Some life insurance companies are more competitive for overweight males, some for females, others for the seriously obese, and others for the stocky and athletic. To complicate things further life insurance companies constantly change - a company who was competitive last month may not be competitive in the future. An experienced multi-company agent or broker can shop your specific case to two to five different companies to find the best offer.

What can I do to help the underwriting process?

Make sure you include contact information for your personal physician. If you are obese or have weight related health issues most insurance companies will order the last 3-5 years of medical records from your doctor. If you have ever visited the hospital, an emergency clinic, etc. in regards to being overweight be sure and provide specific details. Also, feel free to include a cover letter with your application.

Need Our Help?
Jon Dewar and his staff at LLG Advanced Insurance Services have extensive experience in helping maneuver the complications of buying life insurance for clients who are overweight or obese. Life insurance agents vary tremendously in their skill and experience. It is crucial that you find an independent agent who knows the proper way to word your application, who knows how to design a proper cover letter, and who knows which insurance companies are currently the most lenient on height/weight.

Please take a moment to fill out our contact form below and let us give you a free consultation over the phone. We can research your specific situation with up to 200 life insurance companies and find you the lowest priced, highest quality plan available. We know the right companies to go to and how to interact directly with the underwriters for you during the application process. Best of all our services are free to the consumer.

Complete the following form, or call us toll-free at 888-854-7526 if you would like to speak with someone or get more information.

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