What to Know About Life Insurance for the Obese Overweight People

Life insurance companies collect enormous mountains of data on the human lifespan. Everything from hazard rates of hobbies to BMI gets calculated into expected longevity.

Life insurance companies employ statisticians that crunch all this data into mortality tables. It’s an extremely detailed system on how long someone will likely live with specific sets of characteristics. These mortality tables determine your rates.

How BMI Impacts Life Insurance Rates

In almost all cases, a higher BMI will mean higher rates. Each company has height/weight charts listing the maximum weight for each health class. Some companies separate men and women into different categories. The male weight limits for each health class tend to be a little higher than the women. Some companies have unisex charts. These offer advantages for heavier women who might otherwise fall into a higher category in female-only charts.

There are other factors aside from BMI and gender that play into how BMI impacts life insurance. Your age is a big one. Your build is the other.

Studies show that seniors carrying a little extra weight tend to be healthier and live longer than their thinner counterparts. This has to do with frailty. Insurance companies worry that seniors with a lower BMI may be frail instead of lean.

Your build is another factor. Insurance companies err on the side of caution until proven otherwise. On paper, your weight might look high to insurance companies. They will assume it’s obesity until you can get to your health exam and prove your extra weight is from muscle. Professional athletes encounter this problem. People with athletic hobbies like bodybuilding or obstacle races can also face this issue.

If your body composition is muscle instead of fat, make sure to talk with your insurance agent about it. They can let you know what sort of things you need from your doctor to get exceptions from the insurance company.

Why Being Obese Makes Your Insurance Rates Go Up

Insurance companies don’t assign rates willy-nilly. They meticulously collect data to support their pricing.

The Center for Disease Control and the National Health Institute both reference studies correlating life-threatening diseases with higher BMI.

These health risks of being obese include:

  • Heart disease
  • Increased risk of stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Increased likelihood of gallstones
  • Sleep apnea
  • Asthma
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Gout
  • Fatty Liver Disease
  • Kidney Disease
  • Pregnancy problems
  • Cancer

An increased risk of disease translates to life insurance companies charging higher premiums. (Premiums are what you pay each month or year for your policy.)

Because obesity is directly linked to several health complications, insurance companies charge more to compensate for the extra risk of someone passing away earlier than their expected lifespan.

Can Obese People Get Life Insurance?

Yes. There are always options, even if you’ve been turned down before.

Normal life insurance has between 12 and 16 health classes. Usually 4 standard, 8 substandard, then a set of smoker classes. Your BMI will initially put you into one of those classes. Other health complications and medical history will impact that initial health class assessment.

Once you get through the top 4 (preferred plus, preferred, standard plus, standard) then you get into the table ratings. Table ratings are also called substandard classes. Table ratings typically range from Table 1 to Table 8 (sometimes Table A thru Table H.)

What if You Can’t Afford Life Insurance Because of Your Weight?

If the premiums are completely unreasonable for your budget, try a final expense or guaranteed issue policy. They have much lower benefits but will cover end-of-life expenses. Because their benefits are lower, the premiums are much lower too.

A guaranteed issue policy is best for people who either exceed the maximum weight limits or have medical complications combined with a high BMI. These policies have no medical exam, no medical questions, and automatically approve anyone who applies.

Each increase in table rating is an extra 25% added to your premiums.

Like a final expense policy, guaranteed issue policies have lower death benefits. They also often have graded benefits. Graded benefits mean that you must survive for several years after you buy the policy before it will pay your beneficiaries 100% of the death benefit.

But don’t worry. If you pass away before those 3 to 5 years are up, your beneficiaries will still receive some amount. Usually, this is either 110% of premiums paid or 80% of the death benefit.

What Health Rating Will You Get for Being Obese?

That depends on the company. Which is why it is crucial to work with an independent agent. Independent agents can work with a variety of companies, choosing the one that offers you the best health class. Captive agents (the other type) are only allowed to sell the products of the company they work for. Even though there may be multiple products, they only use one height/weight chart for their underwriting.

Below is a sample build chart showing weight limits for each table ratings. The weight limits will vary between companies. Companies also change their underwriting guidelines regularly as new research comes out. This reflects an average life insurance company’s unisex table.

HeightTable 1Table 2Table 3Table 4Table 5Table 6Table 7Table 8
5’ 0”165185200210220230240250
5’ 1”170190205215225240250260
5’ 2”175195215225235245255270
5’ 3”180200220230240255265275
5’ 4”185210225240250260275285
5’ 5”190215235245260270280295
5’ 6”200220240255265280290300
5’ 7”205230250260275285300310
5’ 8”210235255270280295310320
5’ 9”215240265280290305320335
5’ 10”220250270285300310320240
5’ 11”230260280290310320330345
6’ 0”235265290300320330340355
6’ 1”240270295310325335350360
6’ 2”250280300320330345355370
6’3”255290310325340355365380

How Much More Does Life Insurance Cost for Obese People?

This depends on how obese you are. Each health class increases premiums by 25%.

For example, the average man in the US is 5’ 9” tall. If he takes out a $250,000 policy for a 30-year term at 45 years old and is in standard health (one above table ratings), he is looking at $87.29 each month.

If you look at this same man, same policy amount based on a 25% increase for every additional table rating, his rates might look something like this.

Health ClassSample Premium
Standard (+0%)$87.29 / month
Table 1 (+25%)$109.12 / month
Table 2 (+50%)$130.94 / month
Table 3 (+75%)$152.76 / month
Table 4 (+100%)$174.58 / month
Table 5 (+125%)$196.41 / month
Table 6 (+150%)$218.23 / month
Table 7 (+175%)$240.05 / month
Table 8 (+200%)$261.87 / month

You can also use an instant quotes tool with your potential health class to see what your rates may look like.

Life Insurance Companies that are the Best for Obese People

Out of the many companies we looked at, there are dozens of competitive companies offering people life insurance with a high BMI. There are options for you. Make sure you shop around, it’s one of the best ways to save money.

Here are our top 3 favorite companies for people with a high BMI. We based these decisions on the financial strength of the company, quality of customer service, and higher-than-most limits on standard and substandard rate classes.

Top 3 Best Life Insurance Companies for Obese People

Before we get into discussing why they are the best, let’s take a minute to briefly introduce our top 3 best life insurance companies for obese people:

CompanyJ.D. Power RatingCustomer Satisfaction
Principal Life7894.1 / 5
Banner Life7484.2 / 5
MetLife7774.3 / 5

Principal

Principal Life Insurance Company has an A+ from AM Best for superior financial strength. They offer an enormous range of insurance products. Plus, their staff is quick to help with any questions.

Principal uses unisex build charts, an advantage for heavier women. They also split their charts into three age categories: 20 – 44, 45 – 64, and 65+. This coincides with studies that correlate a little more weight in older people with improved health and longevity.

Banner Life

Banner Life is one of the best life insurance companies for obese people because of the superior rates they are able to offer for people in health classes that are less than standard.

Across 10, 20, and 30-year term policies, and whole life policies, Banner Life consistently has some of the best life insurance rates for obese people. Banner life insurance reviews also have a history of being outstanding in the industry.

MetLife

MetLife (officially Metropolitan Life) is a big player in the insurance world. They have a stadium named after them and the rights to use Snoopy in their advertising. Like the other two companies on our favorites list, AM Best gives them an A+ for superior financial stability.

MetLife tries to do everything. And they succeed at it. They split their build chart into male and female for the best rate classes, but switch to unisex in Standard and Table health classes. Their weight limits are not quite as generous as Principal, but still some of the best you will find.

MetLife life insurance reviews also speak for themselves, constantly keeping them as one of the best life insurance companies for obese people and many other health classifications.

How We Chose Our Top 3 Best Life Insurance Companies for Obese People

When it comes to finding the best life insurance rates for obese people, there are a number of factors that should be taken into account in order to find the best provider for you and your family’s needs:

  • Financial History
  • Claims History
  • Life Insurance Customer Reviews
  • Best Life Insurance Rates for Obese People

While some of the companies might lack in some of these categories when compared to all others, for the most part, each one of them have a very healthy combination of dependability, low rates, customer satisfaction, and good claims history.

Saving Money on Life Insurance if You’re Morbidly Obese

The best way to save money is by working with an independent life insurance agent who can shop the market for you. They have access to all the otherwise difficult to get information like build charts and specific underwriting guidelines.

More than half of adults in the country are overweight. A large percentage are also obese. An independent agent will have experience finding the company who will put you in the best health class possible.

The other way to save money is to work with your doctor to lose some weight. Even 10 or 15 pounds can make the difference between health classes. Most life insurance companies will reevaluate your health class if you ask. So taking out a policy now can lock in lower age rates. Coming back in a year or two can get you a better health class, further lowering your rates.

Where to Get Life Insurance for Obese People 

If you or a loved one are obese and are considering getting a life insurance policy, and are obese, you should speak to a life insurance agent before making a decision.

Our independent life insurance agents work with dozens of insurance providers to help find the best coverage for our clients’ specific situation.  We explain all of your options and get to understand your specific financial needs in order to help protect your family in the event of your death.

The best part? We speak with you for free, on your time!

Secure a life insurance quote today, and speak with one of our agents to get more information on what your options are for life insurance for obese people.

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About Jeff Root

is the owner of rootfin.com. He's an independent life insurance agent who has helped 1,000's of consumers purchase life insurance online and over the phone.

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