19 Jan Life Assurance for Diabetics: What providers are looking for
What is diabetes? Diabetes is an increasingly common condition that develops when the body is unable to process glucose (which comes from digesting carbohydrates) resulting in high levels of blood sugar.
Glucose can only be processed by the body if there are sufficient amounts of insulin being produced by the pancreas. If you have diabetes, your pancreas is either:
- not producing any insulin (Type 1 diabetes); or
- not producing enough insulin or producing insulin that doesn’t work properly (Type 2 diabetes).
Who is at risk?
The chances of developing diabetes may depend on a mix of things including genes, lifestyle and environmental factors. The risk factors are different for Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes develops when the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas have been destroyed. It accounts for about 10% of all adults with diabetes and is treated by daily insulin injections, a healthy diet and regular physical activity. Type 1 diabetes can develop at any age, but usually appears before the age of 40 and is the most common type of diabetes found in children.
Type 2 diabetes affects 90% of people with diabetes. It can come on slowly, usually over the age of 40. Key risk factors include being overweight, being of African-Caribbean, Black African, Chinese or South Asian origin, having a family history of diabetes and having a history of high blood pressure, a heart attack or stroke.
There is still no cure for diabetes and, once diagnosed, there is no easy way to treat this life-changing condition. Diabetics must keep to a strict diet, take tablets and/or inject themselves regularly with the correct amount of insulin. Even the amount of insulin injected is vitally important as too much can result in unconsciousness and too little can lead to the onset of complications, such as nerve damage, kidney failure, stroke, heart and eye problems.
Applying for life insurance when you have diabetes
It’s a commonly held opinion that if you suffer from diabetes, you will not be able to get life insurance. This is not necessarily the case – a lot will depend on whether or not the applicant is managing their condition well, whether they have other conditions in addition to diabetes and whether or not they are having regular check-ups with their GP.
Diabetes is one of the most commonly disclosed conditions in the applications we receive, and so we regularly underwrite people with the condition. Most applications from those with diabetes will require extra medical evidence (e.g. a targeted medical report) before a decision can be made. You can help your application to be processed quicker if you can provide complete and detailed information about when you were diagnosed with diabetes, how you control it and the more usual information such as height, weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels and your medical history.
One key factor we look for when underwriting diabetics are the results of the customer’s latest HBa1c test, which can tell us how well the condition has been managed over the last two to three months. You may know this result from your regular check-ups.
We are usually able to offer life cover to customers with diabetes but premiums will generally be higher. In a best case scenario, where a customer has been diagnosed later in life (over age 60), has the condition under control, is not experiencing complications or other medical conditions, we might even be able to offer standard terms.
Diabetics who control their condition well are likely to have a lower risk or at least delay the onset of any complications. It is only diabetics who have more serious complications or are having problems managing their treatment and diet where we cannot offer cover. We are only able to consider diabetics for life cover. To improve your chances of being accepted for life cover, take a look at your lifestyle and management of the condition and see if there’s anything you can do to improve it – such as stopping smoking, drinking less and exercising regularly.
To find out more about life assurance products, contact a Wren Sterling adviser near you.
John Downes, Head of Underwriting, Ageas Protect
This article was provided by Ageas Protect, a provider of life assurance and other protection products. The view expressed in this article are those of Ageas Protect, and not necessarily those of Wren Sterling. This article is for information only and does not constitute advice. Please obtain professional advice before making financial decisions.
Sources: Diabetes Facts and Stats, April 2014 https://www.diabetes.org.uk/Documents/About%20Us/Statistics/Diabetes-key-stats-guidelines-April2014.pdf
Diabetes Prevalence http://www.diabetes.co.uk/diabetes-prevalence.html
Diabetes Risk Factors http://www.diabetes.org.uk/Guide-to-diabetes/What-is-diabetes/Know-your-risk-of-Type-2-diabetes/Diabetes-risk-factors/