How much will life insurance cost if I am overweight?

5 min Read Published: 04 Jan 2024

How much will life insurance cost if I am overweight?Being overweight or obese can affect your ability to get life insurance and how much you pay for life cover.

In this article, we explain how life insurance companies assess your height-to-weight ratio which is commonly referred to as your body mass index (BMI), how much you can expect to pay for life insurance if you are overweight or obese as well as how to find life insurance with the fairest insurance company.

Insurance companies aren't all the same when it comes to assessing life insurance applicants who are overweight and we explain how to ensure that you are not paying more than you need to for life insurance.

How much does life insurance cost if you are overweight?

The cost of your life insurance cover is determined initially by your age and whether you smoke or not, but this is only a quotation and the real price that you will pay is determined once you complete the life insurance application and you are offered life cover.

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 monthly premium costs, 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 and illness are increased significantly. 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 healthy-weight person.

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How do life insurance companies set the price for overweight individuals?

When setting the monthly premium cost for a life insurance policy, insurers will consider a number of factors including

  • age
  • health history
  • smoker-status
  • lifestyle
  • height to weight ratio.

With regards to weight, the increase in what you pay for your life insurance will link directly to how overweight you are 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 price of your life insurance policy based on your height and weight, here are some examples.

Height/weight ratio limits for standard life insurance price with no increase

Gender BMI^ Height - Feet & inches Height - metric Weight - lbs Weight - Stones & lbs Weight - Kgs
Male 35 5 ft 08 in 172 cm 231 lbs 16 stone 7 lbs 104.78 kg
Male 35 5 ft 10 in 178 cm 243 lbs 17 stone 5 lbs 110.22 kg
Male 35 6 ft 00 in 183 cm 257 lbs 18 stone 5 lbs 116.57 kg

^BMI calculators vary so you may find that your BMI is different depending on which calculator is used - we have used the NHS BMI calculator for the purposes of these examples

Female applicants would have lower weight limits than the above examples before the cost of life insurance is increased.

If your height to weight ratio (BMI) exceeds 35 then you may have to pay more for life insurance - the more you exceed it by, the larger the increase to your monthly premium.

You may also find that significant weight loss over a short period of time may be viewed cautiously by a life insurance company in case you were to regain the weight so it can be helpful to wait until you have maintained your reduced weight for at least a year before applying for life insurance to get the best outcome.

However, some insurance companies may increase your life insurance premium even if your BMI is less than 35 as the point at which the price of life cover is increased varies from one life insurance company to another. You will need to speak to a specialist life insurance adviser* to ensure you select the fairest life insurance provider for your specific BMI.

If an individual is dramatically over these weight guidelines or morbidly obese then their premiums could be doubled or their application could be declined.

Height-to-weight ratio isn't always the perfect guide to understanding 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 carry less body fat. As a result, insurance companies will often ask for 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.

Can I get critical illness cover if I am overweight?

If you want to add critical illness insurance to your application, then the guidelines are a little more strict because being overweight creates a greater risk for illness 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.

How to get the best and cheapest life insurance policy if you are overweight

When it comes to finding life insurance for a high BMI, 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 considering everything, 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 for life insurance is the risk posed to their cardiovascular system. Also there is an increase in the risk of developing other illnesses such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol which can affect an individual's lifespan. However, weight is only one factor that insurance companies use when assessing an individual's risk for claims - other factors that are considered are:

  • Build
  • Health conditions
  • Lifestyle choices including smoking and alcohol consumption

If I am overweight is there anything I can do to reduce my premiums?

  • 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 have a small waist size because for instance, you do bodybuilding or have a stocky build you should highlight this
  • Speak to the 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

Further reading


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