No Exam Life Insurance for Diabetics

September 16, 2020
Jonathan Fritz
B.A. Risk Management
Life Insurance Agent

Diabetes is an increasingly prevalent condition. In fact, it's estimated that 34.2 million Americans have diabetes. That's around 10.5 percent of the total population. An even larger number of people have prediabetes and are at a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Many people assume they won't be able to get a life insurance policy with diabetes. It's a common misconception, but it's not actually the case. While life insurance companies do consider people with diabetes to be a higher risk, you can still find a policy. You might even be able to secure a policy without taking an exam.

How no exam life insurance works

Traditionally, applying for life insurance required taking a medical exam. This is no longer always the case. No exam policies are issued by dozens of insurance companies. Instead of relying on the data from your exam and lab results, companies rely on your application and the information pulled from databases. The information pulled will depend on the company, but many companies use a combination of date from sources that include: 

  • The Medical Information Bureau (MIB) — The MIB has information about any past life insurance applications you've made, including any past exam results.
  • Your motor vehicle record (MVR) — Your MVR includes information on any past accidents or traffic violations.
  • The national prescription database — The database keeps track of prescriptions for controlled substances, like opioids.
  • Consumer reports — Consumer reporting agencies include credit bureaus like Experian, Equifax, and Transunion, along with agencies like LexisNexis that provide even more information.
Companies that offer no exam policies then use this information to approve or deny your policy and assign you a rate. This can often be done quickly, without leaving your home. You can usually sign all the documents you need completely online.

Why are many people with diabetes choosing to buy a no exam policy?

People with diabetes are always a higher risk of infections. High blood sugar levels can weaken your immune system and slow down your body's ability to heal. If your diabetes has led to nerve damage, it can weaken your immune system even further making it difficult to fight infection.

This includes the infection risk of the current Covid-19 pandemic. The United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that people with type 2 diabetes are at a higher risk for serious infection from Covid-19 and that people with type 1 or gestational diabetes might be at higher risk as well.  Diabetics are urged to take extra precautions right now to reduce their risk.

One way to reduce risk is to only go out if it is necessary. Reducing unnecessary trips out of your home can reduce your risk of contracting Covid-19. So, if you have diabetes and are shopping for life insurance, consider a no exam policy. With a no exam policy you can get life insurance coverage without leaving the house. Modern life insurance underwriting and new technology allow companies to validate your medical records electronically. You can get coverage without any added exposure risk.

How do life insurance companies view diabetes?

The life insurance company will want to know how controlled your diabetes is. To figure this out, the application will ask you questions to get some details about your diabetes. You'll likely need to provide information like: 

  • What type of diabetes you have — Type 1, Type 2, Gestational, or Prediabetes
  • How old you were when you were diagnosed — People diagnosed younger tend to be at higher risk for complications later in life
  • What medications you're currently taking for your diabetes — You're likely to get a better rate if you have diabetes that is controlled with oral medications rather than by insulin injections.
  • Any complications you have — Complications like neuropathy can increase your rate or result in denial
  • How often you test your blood sugar — Most companies will want to know your recent blood sugar readings
  • Your recent A1C levels — Your diabetes is considered well-controlled if your A1C is less than 7 percent
  • Any other health issues you have — Other health issues could result in raised rates or denial
  • Your height and weight — Obesity is a major risk factor for diabetes and diabetic complications and can raise your rate
  • Whether you use any tobacco products — Tobacco use will almost always increase your life insurance rates and can result in a denial for diabetic applicants

This information will help the insurance company assess your condition. The type of diabetes you have and how well-controlled it is can make a big difference in your approval odds and rate. For example, people with type 1 diabetes will almost always get a higher rate. This is because type 1 diabetes is insulin-dependent and less able to be controlled by lifestyle factors. However, if your overall health is good, you have a healthy lifestyle, and your diabetes is well controlled with medications, you might only see a slight increase in rates.

Conversely, people with type 2 diabetes might be able to qualify for standard rates.  Type 2 diabetes can look very different in different people, and their insurance rates will reflect that. For example, let's say applicant A and applicant B both are 55 and have type 2 diabetes. Applicant A has uncontrolled blood sugar, is overweight, and has developed neuropathy as a complication of their diabetes. Applicant B has well-controlled blood sugar, is at a healthy weight, and has no other health conditions. Applicant B should be able to secure a good rate for their policy. Applicant A might be denied a policy at all or might only be able to find one with a high rate.

If you have gestational diabetes, it shouldn't last beyond your pregnancy. However, you'll be at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later. You'll need to show the insurance company that you're taking steps to prevent type 2 diabetes, like exercising and maintaining a healthy weight.

This also applies if you have prediabetes. The insurance company will want to see that you're taking the steps your doctor has discussed with you to prevent your prediabetes from progressing any further.  You'll want to show that you're keeping your A1C under 7 percent.

In general, no matter what type of diabetes you have, you'll get a better rate if your condition is well-controlled. Diabetic applicants with A1C readings under 7 percent can often qualify for standard rates. You'll pay slightly more with a reading between 7 and 7.9 percent. If your A1C is over 8 percent you'll be considered high risk, no matter what type of diabetes you have. Even if you're otherwise healthy, a reading of over 8 percent will put you in the high-risk rate class.

Companies that offer no exam term life insurance for diabetics

You can get a no exam term policy if you have diabetes. Some companies that offer coverage are discussed below. You'll need to meet their criteria to qualify.

  • Sagicor — You can get a policy of up to $500,000 if you were diagnosed after age 50 and your diabetes is well controlled with oral medication. You'll be declined if you were diagnosed before you turned 50, haven't checked your blood sugar in the past 6 months, have had uncontrolled blood sugars in the past 12 months, or have had any complications from your diabetes. Complications include unintended weight loss, neuropathy, amputation, retinopathy, and diabetic coma.
  • Fidelity — You can get a term policy of up to $1,000,000 that blends accidental death and all-cause death coverage. The company allows you to get coverage 24 to 48 hours after underwriting and gives you the option to take an exam within the first 6 months of your policy to possibly improve your benefits. You won't qualify if you're insulin-dependent and use tobacco.
  • Mutual of Omaha Term Life Express — You can get a term policy of up to $300,000 from this company. People with diabetes are normally accepted for this policy. However, you might be denied if you have diabetes along with another risk factor like tobacco use, obesity, or vascular disease.

Check rates for these companies here.

Options to consider if you are declined for the above products

You still have options if you're denied coverage from a no exam company. You can consider taking out a guaranteed issue life insurance policy.  When you apply for a guaranteed issue life insurance policy you can't be denied for any reason. You won't need to take a medical exam to get coverage. These policies often have higher premiums than other policies. However, if you're having trouble securing a standard policy, guaranteed issue policies can be a great idea.

You might still have to meet some requirements. For example, you might need to be in a set age-range. Many guaranteed issue life insurance policies are only available to people between 45 and 80. 

You should also know that guaranteed issue policies have a two-year waiting period. If you die of natural causes in the first two years of your policy, your benefit won't be paid out. Instead, your beneficiary will receive a refund of all the premiums you'd already paid. However, your policy will pay out the full benefit amount if you die of accidental causes in the first two years.

Consider taking the exam

Another option is to consider taking a life insurance medical exam. You won't be able to do everything completely online, but you might have more coverage options from more life insurance companies. Having more coverage options increases your chance of approval. During the exam you can expect:

  • To have your height and weight taken
  • To have your blood pressure and pulse taken
  • To submit a urine sample
  • To have blood drawn
  • To answer some questions about your medical history
  • To answer some questions about your family's medical history
  • To provide information about your current primary care doctor including how often you see them and contact information

A life insurance exam is usually a very quick process of around a half hour. Companies can often work with you to find a timeslot that fits your schedule. In some cases, a company might even be able to send someone to your home to give you the exam. 

It's a good idea to shop around for companies with the best rates for diabetics. Some companies that often offer good rates for diabetics include:

  • AIG
  • Banner Life
  • John Hancock
  • Lincoln financial
  • Mutual of Omaha
  • Protective
  • Prudential
  • SBLI
  • Transamerica

Final word

If you're having trouble finding or securing a policy, we can help. We can get quotes to you from top companies so you can see what your options really are. You can apply now, or call 888-407-0714 to speak to one of our agents.