Life Insurance for Overweight People

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ByMelissa Wylie
Edited byVictoria Copans
ByMelissa Wylie
Edited byVictoria Copans

Updated: May 22, 2024

Advertising & Editorial Disclosure

Insurance companies tend to perceive overweight people as high risk due to possible associated health conditions. This can lead to higher premiums or even policy denial.

Understanding how your weight could impact life insurance and the coverage options available can help you find the right policy and secure better rates.

How Weight Impacts Life Insurance

Insurance companies assess risk when determining policy premiums. Weight, among other health factors, plays a significant role in this assessment. Overweight individuals often face higher premiums due to the potential health risks associated with excess weight, such as heart disease and diabetes. This risk assessment process, known as underwriting, helps insurance companies manage their risk.

Being denied life insurance due to weight is a concern for many. Applicants may need to seek insurers specializing in providing life insurance for overweight applicants.

BMI and Life Insurance

Body Mass Index (BMI) is a common measure used to determine whether a person has a healthy body weight. It's a ratio of your weight to your height.

Life insurance companies often use BMI as a key factor in determining policy premiums. A higher BMI may indicate potential health risks, which can lead to higher premiums.

Life insurance companies typically classify applicants into several rating categories based on their BMI and other health factors. These categories often include:

Preferred Plus

This is the best rating category, typically reserved for individuals with a low BMI and no significant health issues.


This category is for generally healthy individuals with a slightly higher BMI.

Standard Plus

Individuals with a moderate BMI and minor health issues often fall into this category.


This category typically includes individuals with a higher BMI and some health concerns.

Substandard or Table Rating

Individuals with a significantly high BMI or serious health issues may fall into this category, leading to higher premiums.

When insurance companies refer to health concerns, they typically mean medical conditions or lifestyle factors that could impact an individual's life expectancy. These can range from minor health issues, such as elevated cholesterol levels, controlled high blood pressure, mild asthma and being slightly overweight, to severe conditions like heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity.

Understanding these categories and how BMI and life insurance premiums correlate is essential for applicants, especially those seeking life insurance for overweight adults.

Additional Factors Impacting Life Insurance Cost

While BMI plays a significant role in determining life insurance premiums, it's not the only factor. Weight-related health conditions, lifestyle habits and family medical history also contribute to overall life insurance rates.

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    Weight-Related Conditions

    Beyond BMI, insurance companies also consider weight-related health conditions when determining life insurance premiums. Conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and sleep apnea, often associated with being overweight, can lead to higher premiums.

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    Lifestyle Habits

    Lifestyle habits significantly influence life insurance costs. Habits such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, drug use and engaging in high-risk activities like extreme sports or dangerous occupations can result in higher premiums. Conversely, a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise and a balanced diet can potentially lower your premiums.

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    Family Medical History

    Your family medical history is another factor that insurance companies consider. If your family has a history of certain genetic diseases like cancer, heart disease or diabetes, you may face higher premiums.

Each insurance company weighs these factors differently, so shopping around for the best rates may be worthwhile.

Life Insurance Options for Overweight People

Despite the potential for higher premiums, overweight individuals have various life insurance options. Each type of policy has its own features and considerations.

Types of Policies

Standard Life Insurance Policies

Standard life insurance policies typically require a medical exam, including weight and BMI measurements. These policies can be further categorized into:

Term Life Insurance: This policy provides coverage for a specified term, typically 10–30 years. Term life insurance is often the most affordable option, but premiums may be higher for overweight individuals. Whole Life Insurance: This policy provides lifelong coverage and includes a cash value component. Whole life insurance is typically more expensive than term life insurance, and overweight individuals may face higher premiums. Universal Life Insurance: This policy also provides lifelong coverage and has a cash value component, but it offers more flexibility in premium payments and death benefits. Overweight individuals getting universal life insurance may face higher premiums than the average policyholder.

Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance

This type of policy does not require a medical exam or health questionnaire. They offer guaranteed acceptance, making them a good option for those with significant health concerns, including being overweight. This usually comes at the cost of higher premiums.

Simplified Issue Life Insurance

This is a type of policy that does not require a full medical exam but does involve a health questionnaire. The questionnaire typically includes questions about your weight, lifestyle habits and medical history.

While it's easier to qualify for simplified issue life insurance than standard life insurance, premiums may be higher, especially for overweight applicants. It can be a good option for those who want to avoid a medical exam but are in relatively good health.

Annual Renewable Life Insurance

Annual renewable life insurance is a type of term life insurance that allows you to renew your policy annually without undergoing a medical exam. The premium starts low and increases each year as you age. While overweight individuals can benefit from the no-exam feature, the increasing premiums can become costly over time.

Group Life Insurance

Many employers offer group life insurance as part of their benefits package. These policies typically do not require a medical exam, making them a viable option for overweight people.

The coverage amount in group life insurance may be lower than what you could get through an individual policy. But you may lose coverage if you change jobs.

How to Find the Best Life Insurance for Overweight People

The best life insurance policy varies per person. For overweight individuals, finding the right coverage is entirely achievable with the right approach.

Here's a step-by-step guide to help you navigate the process and find a policy that suits both your coverage needs and financial situation:

Understand Your Needs

Before you start shopping for life insurance for overweight people, take the time to understand your coverage needs. Consider factors like your financial obligations, dependents and future plans. This will help you determine how much coverage you need and for how long.

Evaluate Your Health

Get a clear picture of your health status. This includes your weight, BMI and any weight-related health conditions. Knowing this information can help you anticipate potential challenges in the life insurance application process, especially critical for life insurance for overweight applicants.

Research Your Options

Familiarize yourself with the different types of life insurance policies available to overweight individuals. This includes standard life insurance, guaranteed issue life insurance, annual renewable life insurance, group life insurance and simplified issue life insurance. Awareness of the life insurance BMI chart will also be key here.

Compare Quotes

Once you understand your needs and the available options, start comparing quotes from different insurance companies. Each company has its own underwriting guidelines, so premiums can vary significantly. Some insurers may also have a maximum BMI for life insurance. This step is vital for people navigating the complexities of obesity and life insurance or those who have been denied life insurance due to weight before.

Apply for Coverage

Once you've found a policy that fits your needs, it's time to apply. Be honest and thorough when filling out your application to avoid any issues down the line.

How to Secure Better Life Insurance Rates

Despite the challenges, there are ways for overweight people to get better life insurance rates:

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    Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

    Adopting a healthy lifestyle is one of the most effective ways to improve your life insurance rates. Regular exercise and a balanced diet can help manage weight and improve overall health. Reducing weight and maintaining a healthy BMI can lower your life insurance premiums. Additionally, a healthy lifestyle can help manage or prevent weight-related health conditions, improving your insurability.

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    Regular Medical Check-Ups

    Regular health screenings help in the early detection and management of health conditions. By proactively managing your health, you demonstrate to insurance companies that you're committed to maintaining good health, which can positively impact your life insurance rates. Regular check-ups provide documented proof of your health status and show that any health conditions are being managed effectively.

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    Consult With an Insurance Professional

    Consulting with an insurance professional may help you find better life insurance rates. They can guide you through the process, help you understand the nuances of different policies and assist you in finding the best policy for your needs and budget. An insurance professional can also provide advice on how to improve your insurability and potentially lower your rates.

FAQ About Life Insurance for Overweight People

Below are answers to some commonly asked questions to help you understand your life insurance options as an overweight individual and make informed decisions.

Should I lose weight before getting life insurance?
What BMI do you need for life insurance?
Can you be denied life insurance due to your weight?
How much does BMI affect life insurance?

About Melissa Wylie

Melissa Wylie headshot

Melissa Wylie is a Content and SEO Manager at MoneyGeek. Melissa has worked in the financial content space since 2018 and has spent much of that time focused on all things small business.

Prior to joining MoneyGeek, Melissa held SEO positions at Bankrate and LendingTree. Melissa’s work has also appeared on LendingTree-owned websites ValuePenguin and MagnifyMoney.

Melissa began her career at American City Business Journals in 2015 as a reporter for the company’s women-focused publication Bizwomen. Melissa has a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of North Texas. Melissa relies on her foundation in journalism to craft content that simplifies complex financial topics to help everyone feel confident when making decisions with their money.

Melissa's other work can be read on LendingTree and Bizwomen.