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Body Mass Index - Life Insurance Cost

Everyone believes they should get the preferred plus rates that are advertised everywhere. “Did you know that John can have $500,000 of term life insurance for just $12 per month?”. The truth is that many qualify for those rates and get them, but for the average person with average health issues, we don’t.

Probably the quickest group to rebuff anything but a best rate approval on life insurance are those folks that are overweight and know they’re overweight, but simply don’t see it as an issue. It has been my experience that this group, more than any other, seems to have a firmer grasp on denial than most. They, in spite of knowing the link between obesity and other health issues, don’t believe it is fair for them to be charged more for life insurance than someone who is fit and taking care of themselves.
If you're worried about your chances of getting low cost life insurance because of your weight, you're certainly not alone. According to a 2009 report by the Trust for America's Health, adult obesity rates exceed 25 percent of the population in 31 states. Worst off is Mississippi, which breaks the 32 percent mark for adult obesity.
If you're about 10 pounds over your "ideal" weight, your life insurance quotes won't be affected. But if you're obese, and especially if you have additional medical conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure, you could have difficulty getting approved for life insurance.

Your weight is judged by how much body fat you're carrying, which is calculated using your height and weight to determine your Body Mass Index (BMI). You are an overweight adult if your BMI is between 25 and 29.9. You are obese if your BMI is 30 or higher, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The Mayo Clinic has an online BMI calculator that makes it easy to find out your number.

Before we get too far into how BMI will affect your life insurance premiums, and even it’s capacity to affect your ability to qualify, let’s discuss what BMI is, and how it’s calculated.

BMI, or body mass index, is a ratio used to compare your height and weight as a rough estimate of fat content in your body. This is useful for many reasons, but especially good to know when offering someone life insurance. This is because your BMI can affect your overall risk for long term disease and health conditions. When you’re buying life insurance and BMI falls outside of normal ranges, this can cause marginal to large increases in premiums. If your BMI is too far out of range, typically on the overweight side, you can even be declined be some companies, although most get sub-standard rates.

Something a carrier is worried about for someone who is underweight is malnutrition, while obese risks are high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes and other health issues. Most fit individuals have nothing to worry about, although plenty of studies show someone who holds themselves to a strict diet and exercise routine can still get these disorders.

How BMI Affects Life Insurance Rates

So I’m sure you understand your height and weight affects life insurance premiums. It’s time we got into the numbers a little further. While you don’t need to know your actual BMI number when you submit your application, you will be asked for your height and weight. Your measurements will be confirmed when you complete your medical exam by your examiner as well.
Inside these ranges, a carrier will also have even more specific ranges per rating class, usually to award discounts to those with exceptional levels, or more specific ones for the higher ranges of obese applicants. As an example, maybe one company will only insure someone up to a BMI of 36, while another might consider someone up to 40.

The BMI measurement doesn’t stand alone. Let’s take, for example, two men who are identical in BMI. Should they get the same rating? Suppose one is 6’2″ and 185 pounds of raw muscle like athletes and bodybuilders, and the other is 6’2″ and 185 of raw fat, who would be more deserving of a healthy rating? The percentage of height to weight is the same, although one weighs as much as the other due to an unhealthy lifestyle.

Here’s another scenario: let’s take a man and a woman who are identical in height and weight. Should they be looked at in a similar way?

Your age and gender can make a difference when considering life insurance and BMI. An older person might actually get a worse rating for having a low BMI, because it could prove to be a sign of being frail, not just in shape. As mentioned above, your gender could also play a role because men and women have different body frames, and therefore BMI’s. Your frame alone can alter your-body mass index if you’re super tall, or super short.

What To Expect When Applying for Life Insurance

If you fall between normal ranges, you can probably expect to not hear another thing about your BMI when you apply. Frankly, it’s not usually a huge determining factor if you aren’t on one side of the spectrum or the other. If your BMI is on the outside of normal ranges, you’ll need to contact an independent agent first to find out how much of an impact your BMI will have, and also what carrier would probably be willing to give you the best coverage. Life insurance and BMI can be heavily dependent on each other if your number is on one extreme.

Also, if you feel you’ve been unfairly rated because of your body type if you’re a runner, athlete or a bodybuilder, we can find a company willing to offer you what you deserve; maybe you were just a pound off and you’ve lost weight since your last medical exam. Someone with obesity can still qualify, as long as their health is otherwise good.