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Life insurance for diabetics

There are lots of good options out there for diabetes life insurance and several things to avoid which we’ll cover in this guide

A photo of Daniel Sharpe-Szunko, the author

By Daniel Sharpe-Szunko

Published on: 22 May 2022

10 min read

Life insurance for diabetics

Getting affordable and simple life insurance for diabetics can be confusing for some because there are so many options available. We’ve heard lots of different stories from people looking for life insurance with diabetes. 

Diabetes facts and figures UK

It is a well-known fact that more people in the UK are being diagnosed with diabetes, and especially with type 2 diabetes. According to diabetes.org.uk, there are nearly 5 million people living with diabetes in the UK in a report posted in 2021. 

Type 2 diabetes is by far the most prevalent of the variations of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes accounts for 90% of all diabetics in the UK. Of the remaining 10%, approximately 8% have type 1 diabetes and 2% have more rare types of the condition. 

Currently the risks of type 2 diabetes are higher than they have ever been. This is mainly due to diet and lifestyles in the UK. It is estimated that by 2030 there will be 5.5 million diabetics in the UK, if things continue at the same rate. 

Note: people with diabetes will almost always be able to get life insurance and premiums can vary dramatically between different insurers. It’s often better to speak to an expert or a specialist when looking for life insurance with diabetes or any other medical condition. 

Life insurance for diabetics type 1 

Type 1 diabetes usually means that you would have been diagnosed earlier in life and that you would be taking insulin. This is generally not an issue when thinking about taking out life insurance to protect your loved ones. 

What are the main points about type 1 diabetes life insurance?

  1. Your Hba1c reading: most insurance providers will base your premiums on your current or recent Hba1c readings (read our guide to Hba1c readings for life insurance). You will also need to have had an up to date reading taken by a diabetic nurse or GP within the last 12 to 18 months. Also, generally Hba1c readings below 10 are easier to get cover for. 
  2. Date of diagnosis (approximate age): it is more common for people with type 1 diabetes to be diagnosed when they are young. This is also known as juvenile diabetes. Insurers will want to know when you were diagnosed, this can be approximate for people diagnosed as a child. 
  3. Diabetic complications: you should speak to a specialist if you have any diabetic complications such as retinopathy, neuropathy or nephropathy. People with any of these issues or complications may need to get advice from an expert. Cover may be available from a specialist insurer in some cases. 
  4. Health and lifestyle: most people with diabetes will be well aware of the potential risks and other factors on your lifestyle. Some other considerations will be smoking or using nicotine products, Body Mass Index (BMI) and alcohol consumption. Some other common elements can be high cholesterol and high blood pressure. 

Life insurance for diabetics type 2

The most common form of diabetes is type 2 which is generally known as a medical conditions based on lifestyle. This isn’t necessarily the case, but there are numerous links with type 2 diabetes and diet or lifestyle. 

Generally you should be able to get affordable life insurance for type 2 diabetes through most of the high street insurers. It is however advisable to speak to a diabetes specialist such as iam|INSURED to find the lowest premiums more quickly. 

Most people with type 2 diabetes might not understand what their options are for life insurance. They may also be unsure of what prices are good or bad. Life insurance premiums for type 2 diabetes can vary significantly from one insurer to another. 

What are the main factors for type 2 diabetes life insurance? 

  1. Blood sugar (Hba1c/Mmol) readings: one of the main factors that will be assessed with any life insurance application for a type 2 diabetic is your latest blood sugar reading. You can read our guide to Hba1c readings for life insurance for more information. Similarly to type 1 diabetes, if you have type 2 diabetes and your reading is over 10 then you should speak to a specialist. 
  2. Body Mass Index (BMI): one of the most common elements to type 2 diabetes is diagnosis due to your height and weight (or BMI). People with a high BMI are generally considered to be a higher risk of diagnosis. This is compared to people with a BMI in a normal range. For more information read our guide to BMI for life insurance
  3. Smoking or nicotine replacement: it is a common fact that people who smoke, vape or those using nicotine replacement products will pay higher premiums for life insurance. This is especially relevant for people who have type 2 diabetes, as it is considered to be a higher risk factor. 
  4. Diabetic complications: people who have type 2 diabetes are at risk of developing several common complications. These complications can affect the eyes, nerves and certain organs. Some of the main diabetic complications are retinopathy, neuropathy and nephropathy. This can have a significant impact on your premiums so you should speak to a specialist. 

About life insurance for diabetics UK

We’ve seen some massive changes in life insurance for diabetics in the UK in recent years and some innovation. Life insurance companies have launched specific products for diabetics because of how common this condition is currently. 

People living with diabetes in the UK will now have far more options than they might have had previously, but there’s still work to be done. We have strong links to insurers and underwriters so we are constantly working with them to improve terms and premiums. 

Some of the main developments with life insurance for diabetics UK 

  • Critical illness cover for diabetics: this has been something that has changed over the years and still changes regularly with life insurance providers. This type of cover is still not available to as many diabetics as it should be, but things are improving. Currently you can still only get critical illness for diabetics with type 2 (not available for type 1 diabetics). You will also need no diabetic complications and your condition need to be well managed. 

  • Income protection insurance for diabetics: until very recently, income protection insurance was not available for diabetics. In the past 12 to 24 months, several insurers will now consider offering income protection insurance to someone with diabetes. This is only available for type 2 diabetics and the diabetes must be well controlled with no complications. 

  • Diabetic life insurance products: there have been several life insurance products that have been specifically developed for diabetics. The most common of these is a product developed by Royal London for people with diabetes. 

  • Diabetic life insurance underwriting: life insurance is a policy that is underwritten when you apply for it. Most of the insurance providers regularly review their underwriting guidelines which is based on complicated calculations and statistics. Life insurance underwriting for diabetics has improved gradually over the past decade. This is due to improved claims statistics, better medical care and more data. 

What is the best term life insurance for diabetics? 

Term life insurance is another phrase that is often used by insurers. This describes cover that has an expiry for the period of cover. 

The best term life insurance for diabetics can also mean things like, how long should someone with diabetes take life insurance for. This for most people means the age that they should take life insurance up to. Deciding what age you would like to be covered until should be an easier question to answer. 

Factors for the best term life insurance for diabetics: 

  • Age of your dependants (children) and how old would you like to protect your children up to. 
  • Mortgage term remaining to make sure that your mortgage is fully protected up to the point that it is paid. 
  • Retirement age is also another key element that people often use to determine how long they need life insurance for. 

Otherwise, there are two main options for term life insurance, which are: 

  • Level term life insurance (family protection) which is designed specifically to protect your loved ones if you die. This pays out a level lump sum on death to your beneficiaries over a set period of time (term). 
  • Decreasing term life insurance (mortgage protection) is specifically designed to payout a reducing amount of cover. This is designed to protect your mortgage and cover reduces as your mortgage balance reduces. 

Everyone will have their own idea about what affordable is for them. It’s often advisable to have a budget in mind before you apply. 

One of the best ways to get affordable life insurance for diabetics is to speak to a specialist like iam|INSURED. An expert advisor for diabetes will be able to help you to find the lowest premiums.

You will often find that insurance providers will charge very different premiums to each other. This even applies to the same person and the same cover. Everyone with diabetes will have a slightly different medical history, which means the cost of each person’s policy will vary.

Some insurers can charge more than double what another insurer would charge for a diabetic. This is purely based on their underwriting and pricing models. 

Top tips to get affordable life insurance for diabetics: 

  1. Speak to a specialist: an insurance broker or advisor who has experience and expertise specifically with diabetes will understand the condition and should know which insurers are cheapest. We have identified that iam|INSURED is one of the top diabetes life insurance experts and worth contacting. 
  2. Get an up to date blood sugar reading: if you have a recent or up to date blood sugar (Hba1c/Mmol) reading then you should at least be able to find out how much life cover will be. For more information, read our guide to Hba1c readings for life insurance
  3. Smoking and Weight (BMI): ther are two other key elements that you can influence and that can have a significant impact on your life insurance premiums. These are, smoking or vaping, and your weight (BMI) will also affect costs. Giving up smoking can reduce your life insurance premiums by up to 50%. Losing weight (if you are overweight) can also have a significant impact on your premiums. 
  4. Your age (at application): life insurance is generally cheaper for younger people in most cases, sometimes not always true for diabetics. As a rule, you should apply for life insurance when you are younger (ideally healthier). Then you would have a higher chance of getting affordable life insurance for diabetics. 

There are currently around 10 to 15 major life insurance providers in the UK offering personal and business life policies. 

It can sometimes seem quite confusing to identify which insurers might be the best for you. This is especially true if you have diabetes. Premiums from one insurer can be very different to another. Some insurance providers may not even offer life insurance for diabetics. 

Another element is that underwriting guidance changes regularly and you might also find that an insurer can change dramatically over time. We’ve seen huge shifts in diabetic life insurance underwriting over the past 20 years, and some almost unbelievable changes. 

It’s also very difficult to say which are the best life insurance companies for diabetics. This is purely because of how many variables there are with diabetes. 

For example, an insurance company for a 45 year old type 1 diabetic with no complications or other health factors, will be very different to a type 2 diabetic with high BMI, smoker and with retinopathy. 

Some of the best life insurance companies for diabetics: 

These insurers have consistently shown that they offer lower life insurance premiums and better terms for diabetes. However, they do have certain areas where they are strong and other areas where they might not be quite as good. 

Life insurance and critical illness insurance for diabetics 

Another very popular life insurance product is critical illness insurance or critical illness cover. This pays out a lump sum on diagnosis of certain serious illnesses including cancer, strokes and heart attacks. 

Until recently, critical illness insurance for people with health conditions like diabetes was extremely limited due to underwriting restrictions. There are an increasing number of insurance providers offering life insurance and critical illness insurance for diabetics. 

Criteria for diabetic critical illness insurance: 

  • Available to Type 2 diabetics only (not currently available for type 1 diabetes) 
  • Blood sugar levels must be controlled 
  • No diabetic complications (e.g. retinopathy, neuropathy or nephropathy) 
  • Non-smokers (not available to smokers with diabetes) 
  • Low to moderate BMI 
  • No other medical conditions 

As you can see from the list above, life insurance and critical illness insurance for diabetics is still quite limited. We hope that underwriting rules will continue to relax and that we will see more innovation in this space. 

For more information about life insurance and critical illness cover for diabetics you can speak to iam|INSURED.  

Life insurance for over 50s with diabetes 

Over 50s life insurance is another common type of life cover. This is intended to help older people to pay for funeral expenses and other related costs. 

When you hit 50, you might have different priorities at this point. You may want to think about the costs of passing away for your family. Life insurance for over 50s with diabetes can provide your family with a lump sum benefit to pay for funeral costs and to leave something behind for them. 

Many insurance providers will be able to offer over 50s life insurance for type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Advantages of over 50s life insurance for diabetics: 

  • No medical underwriting 
  • Quick and simple to apply 
  • Same premiums for diabetics as non-diabetics 
  • Can be more cost-effective 
  • Guaranteed to pay out 

Disadvantages of over 50s life insurance for diabetics: 

  • Maximum cover amount (sum assured) 
  • Can be more expensive than traditional life insurance 
  • Less product options 
  • Difficult to change insurance provider 
  • Qualification periods (usually 1 or 2 years) 

No medical exam life insurance for diabetics 

Another option for cover to protect your family is no medical exam life insurance for diabetics. 

In recent years, there have been several insurers offering guaranteed life insurance to people in the UK. This type of life insurance cover is usually available to people up to a certain age (usually under 60). This cover will exclude any pre-existing medical conditions. 

There are also several variations of this type of cover which are accidental death cover and guaranteed life insurance. 

Advantages of no medical exam life insurance for diabetics: 

  • No medical underwriting 
  • Simple and quick application form 
  • Lower premiums than traditional diabetic life insurance 
  • Available from 18 to 60 years generally 

Disadvantages of no medical exam life insurance for diabetics: 

  • Pre-existing conditions not covered 
  • Won’t pay out for conditions linked to pre-existing condition 
  • Usually has a set amount of cover (e.g. £100,000) 
  • Fewer cover options 
  • Reviewable premiums (can increase over time) 
  • Only a handful of insurers to choose from 

Read our guide to guaranteed life insurance for more information. You can also speak to iam|INSURED for advice about this policy and help with comparing life insurance quotes. 

Resources

Diabetes UK – How we help

NHS – Finding help and support (Type 2 diabetes)

NHS – Get support (Type 1 diabetes) 

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