How much will life insurance cost if you are overweight?
If you apply for life insurance your height to weight ratio is one of the factors that will be taken into account when assessing the premiums, regardless of whether you are overweight or not. Even though many overweight or obese people live well into their old age, statistically the chances of early death are increased significantly by being overweight or obese. For instance if you are 25% overweight then you will have a 25% greater chance of dying at a given age than a similar but non-overweight person.
How do insurance companies set the premiums for overweight individuals?
When setting the premiums for a life insurance policy companies will consider a number of factors including age, health history, lifestyle as well as height to weight ratio.
With regards to weight, the increase in premiums will link directly to how overweight an individual is compared with what is considered a normal weight for an individual of the same height. They do this by calculating your Body Mass Index (BMI) which is a mathematical calculation based on your height and weight. To give you an idea of when an insurance company might increase the premiums on a life insurance policy based on your height and weight, here are some examples:
- a male 5 feet 8 inches tall will probably be charged normal premium rates if they weigh up to 231lbs (which is 16 stone 7lbs or 104.78kg)
- a male 5 feet 10 inches tall will probably be charged normal premium rates if they weigh up to 243lbs (which is 17 stone 5lbs or 110.22kg)
- a male 6 feet tall will probably be charged normal premium rates if they weigh up to 257lbs (which is 18 stone 5lbs or 116.57kg)
Female applicants would have lower weight levels than the above examples before they are considered an increased risk.
An individual weighing over the above weights is likely to be offered insurance at an increased premium. If an individual is dramatically over these weight guidelines then their premiums could be doubled or their application could be declined.
Height to weight ratio isn't always the perfect guide to understand an individual's health, for example, a rugby player with a high muscle mass may be deemed to be overweight, whereas of course, they are likely to be perfectly healthy. As a result, insurance companies will often ask your waist measurement or your dress size, as this can be used in combination with the height and weight measurements to better understand your health.
If you want to add critical illness insurance to your application, then the guidelines are a little more strict because the risks of illness are greater than death. It is worth speaking to an independent life insurance broker as they will be able to find the best value policy for your own individual circumstances. We explain more below.
The best life insurance policy if you are overweight
Each insurance company assesses your application differently and you'll find that some are harsher than others. The best way to ensure that you buy the best cover is to speak to an independent life insurance specialist*. They can search the whole market for you making sure that you apply to the company that will offer the best premiums taking everything into consideration, including your height and weight.
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Why is an individual's weight a factor in assessing life insurance premiums?
One of the most concerning factors regarding individuals being overweight or obese is the risk posed to their cardiovascular system. Also there is an increase in the risk of other illness such as diabetes which pose a risk to an individual's longevity. However, weight is only one factor that insurance companies use when assessing an individual's risk, other factors that are considered are – build, health problems and lifestyle choices including alcohol consumption.
If I am overweight is there anything I can do to reduce my premiums?
- obviously losing weight is the main action you can take but if you are currently applying for life insurance this may not be possible in the time available
- consider changing your lifestyle by reducing your alcohol consumption, stop smoking and start taking exercise
- if you are overweight but, for instance, do bodybuilding or have a stocky build, make sure this is highlighted in the health questionnaire or in any medical examination. Also use the aforementioned life insurance specialists who can help find the best and cheapest life insurance policy for your personal circumstances.
- if you have other medical issues such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol then make sure these are being treated by your GP as this will provide a level of reassurance to the life insurance company
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