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Life Insurance for overweight people

We want to help you to understand how life insurance works for overweight people and how to protect your family

A photo of Daniel Sharpe-Szunko, the author

By Daniel Sharpe-Szunko

Published on: 28 July 2022

8 min read

Life Insurance for overweight people

One of the most common disclosures on life insurance applications in the UK currently is obesity and high BMI. We’ll explain how your BMI affects life insurance for obese people and what impact it can have one your premiums. 

There’s also a number of ways to reduce your life insurance premiums if you are classed as overweight or obese. Some insurers also classify different levels of BMI as obese, so we’ll look at how this can vary between insurance providers. 

Overweight facts and figures UK 

‘Obesity’ is a medical term that is used to describe a person with an above average or recommended body mass index (BMI) and excess body fat. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), anyone with a BMI above 25 is ‘overweight’ and above 30 is ‘obese’. 

The proportion of people who are classed as obese in the UK has gradually increased since around 2000. In 2020, the United Kingdom was ranked fourth amongst all European countries for the levels of overweight and obese adults. 

According to recent statistics taken in 2020, 63% of UK adults (aged over 18) are overweight or obese. 

Note: If you’re overweight or obese then you should be able to get life insurance with most insurers but premiums can vary significantly. Your premiums will be based on a number of elements, such as your BMI, age, medical history and any other health issues. 

Can you get life insurance for overweight people? 

You should be able to get life insurance if you are overweight or obese and here’s how it works. 

When you apply for life insurance you’ll be asked a number of questions about your health and your lifestyle. You will be asked for your height and your weight very early in the application form. 

Top life insurance for obese elements: 

  • Height can be in feet and inches or metres but also must be as accurate as possible without footwear. 
  • Weight can be in Stone and Pounds or Kilograms without clothing, taken recently either by you or your GP (if you are pregnant then give your pre-pregnancy weight approximately). 
  • Waist size or dress size might also be another measurement that can be used by insurers. Give your most common or used sizing, as some clothing manufacturers may vary from time to time. 
  • Age (date of birth) is another common element that will be used to assess your Body Mass Index (BMI) as this changes as you get older. 

Once you’ve provided this information your insurer or life insurance advisor should be able to tell you where you sit on the scale of overweight or obesity. 

Most insurers will consider life insurance for obese people with a BMI of up to around 45 and some specialist insurers will consider up to around 55 BMI. You can also calculate your own BMI by using the NHS BMI healthy weight calculator

Other things that life insurance companies will look at when they are assessing an application for an overweight or obese person. 

  • Pre-existing medical conditions: do you have any other pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, or high blood pressure. 
  • Health and lifestyle: are there any other health and lifestyle factors that might be a concern, such as smoking or vaping, exercise, alcohol consumption, or drug use. 

Obesity life insurance is basically when a person who classed as obese (i.e. over 30 BMI) applies for or has life cover. 

The term obesity is a medical term that refers to someone who has a Body Mass Index over 30 according to the World Health Organisation. Some people may consider the word ‘obese’ to be a slightly offensive word, but in reality this is a medical term for a condition. 

Another tip is to review your life insurance if you lost weight since you originally took out your cover, because your premiums could be reduced. 

Does losing weight reduce my life insurance premiums? 

Often the answer will be yes, and especially if your weight has dropped considerably since you took out or applied for life cover. 

There are a couple of things that might have an impact on this but as a rule, your weight (BMI) has a direct impact on your life insurance premiums. We’ve seen many examples of this where someone has lost weight over a short period (e.g. 1 or 2 years), and their premiums have significantly reduced. 

Example 

Claire is 32 years old, non-smoker and has a BMI of 42 (Height 5ft10”and weight 21 Stone), with no other pre-existing medical conditions. She works in an office and has two children (Ben 6 and Alex 1). 

She takes out life insurance for £200,000 over 27 years (to age 60) in 2018 for £18.87 per month

Claire then loses 5 stone over the next 2 years (so is 2 years older). She now wants to reduce her life insurance premiums and keep the term to age 60 (25 years). 

Claire’s new life insurance premiums for the same amount of cover (£200,000) to age 60 years old is now £10.33 per month

*The example above is a real life example and premiums are calculated in January 2023. 

Best life insurance for overweight people 

There are several different types of life insurance products and each of them are specifically designed for a purpose. Here we’ll look at the different types of life cover and how they might work for someone who is obese. 

If you’re obese then you might need to look at life insurance slightly differently because not all products may be available to you, depending on your BMI. 

Some life insurance options for obese people and things to know about getting the best cover: 

  • Level term life insurance (family protection) is the most common type of life cover and is specifically designed to pay out to protect your family and children if you die. If you’re classed as obese then your premiums might be slightly higher for this type of policy, compared to someone with a ‘normal’ BMI. This is also available through specialist insurers if your BMI is over 45-50, for example. 
  • Decreasing term life insurance (mortgage protection) is specifically designed to cover a mortgage and reduces at a similar rate to your mortgage balance. For an obese person, this is similar to family protection and you might simply pay a higher premium for mortgage cover. Some specialist insurers don’t offer this type of cover unfortunately, so it may not be available. 
  • Whole of Life insurance is specifically designed for the purposes of Inheritance Tax planning or Legacy planning, because it is guaranteed to pay out when you die. Premiums for this type of cover can be higher than traditional because a pay-out is guaranteed. Whole of life insurance for someone who is can be expensive and this is because life expectancy is shorter and fewer premiums will be collected. 
  • Critical illness insurance is another variation of life insurance that is specifically designed to pay out a lump sum on diagnosis of a serious or critical illness, such as cancer, heart attack, stroke, and MS. If you’re obese then you might not be able to get critical illness cover, or your premiums might be higher, or you might have some exclusions applied to your policy (e.g. heart attack, heart disease etc.). 
  • Income protection insurance pays out a monthly lump sum to replace your income if you’re unable to work due to sickness or accident. Some obese people might not be able to get this type of cover if your BMI is very high, or you might have exclusions applied to your policy, or pay a higher premium. 

There are a few different ways to buy life insurance and those are the same whether you are obese or not. Some of these routes might not be as suitable for someone that is obese or there are some specialist options. 

Here are the Top 5 ways to buy life insurance for obese people: 

  • Speak to a specialist: these types of companies are brokers (advisors) that have experience in dealing with people with a high BMI. This can help you to save time and money getting life insurance, or you might be able to get cover where others might refuse or decline you. 
  • Apply for life insurance online: there are a number of companies and aggregator websites that will offer life insurance online. This can be more comfortable for someone who doesn’t want to speak to someone about their health. You might not be able to get cover online if your BMI is too high or you might pay more. 
  • Apply direct to an insurer: some insurance providers offer life insurance direct (e.g. Legal & General, Aviva, AIG and Vitality). This can be easier than speaking to an advisor or a broker but there are generally fewer options and higher chance of being refused, especially if you are obese. 
  • Apply to a mortgage broker: most mortgage brokers also provide life insurance that will generally be offered when you buy a house or remortgage. Most mortgage brokers don’t have lots of experience in dealing with pre-existing medical conditions. 
  • Speak to an Independent Financial Advisor (IFA): an independent financial advisor might be an option for buying life insurance, especially if you have an IFA already. Some IFA’s offer life insurance but again, might not have much experience in dealing with pre-existing medical conditions such as obesity. 

Can I get life insurance for morbidly obese people? 

You can get life insurance up to a BMI of around 55 and sometimes higher, if there are no other health issues. 

Technically you are classed as ‘morbidly obese’ if you have a BMI over 40 or if you are 100lbs overweight. This is also known as ‘clinically severe obesity’ according to some medical experts and specialists. 

Someone who is morbidly obese and needs life insurance to protect their family or home, can get life insurance. Many people with very high BMI levels will be put off applying for life cover because they think that is will be unaffordable or they can’t get it. 

In reality, you can get life insurance with most of the common high street brands up to BMI levels of mid-40’s and specialist insurers up to mid-50’s. 

Often we’ve seen successful life insurance applications for people with BMI levels in these ranges. There are also some other factors to consider in this area of life cover, such as related medical conditions, including: 

  • Type 2 Diabetes 
  • Stroke 
  • Coronary Heart Disease 
  • Sleep Apnea 
  • High Blood Pressure 
  • High Cholesterol 
  • Mental Health 

Life insurance premiums for morbidly obese people can still be very reasonable. This is especially true with no other health issues or if you are a non-smoker. 

Some of the best ways to get more affordable life insurance for morbidly obese:

  1. Weight loss can reduce insurance pricing 
  2. Quit smoking (for smokers) 
  3. Manage your health 
  4. Speak to an expert or specialist 
  5. Diet and exercise 

How much does being overweight affect life insurance? 

It’s sometimes difficult to say exactly how being overweight affects life insurance, but there are several common points to consider. 

Here are some of the most common things that come up on life insurance applications for obese people, and how they can affect cover. 

  • High BMI (height and weight): obviously the most common disclosure is height and weight which can affect your life insurance premiums, depending on how high your BMI is. Your premiums are likely to be higher if your BMI is over 30 and can be slightly more difficult for BMI’s over 45. 
  • Other medical disclosures: there are several common medical conditions that are closely linked with obesity, and these can also affect your life insurance application. You should still be able to get life insurance with medical conditions. This includes health conditions like Type 2 Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, or High Cholesterol. 
  • Lifestyle and health: often there are also several lifestyle and general health related disclosures on these types of life insurance applications. Some of these include smokers and alcohol consumption, that can both have an impact. 

There are several key elements to applying for life insurance for overweight and obese people and making sure that you get the right cover at the right price. 

For more information check out our Guide to BMI for Life Insurance

You can also learn more about how to save on your cover in our guide ‘Save on medical conditions life insurance’.

Resources

NHS Digital – Statistics on Obesity, Physical Activity and Diet

NHS England – The NHS Digital Weight Management Programme

NHS – Obesity overview

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