Does having diabetes mean I can't get life insurance?
If you have diabetes, with good management you should continue to have a normal and healthy life. But once you’ve sorted out your health, the question of finances arises.
There are two main types of diabetes. People with type 1 diabetes can’t make any insulin, which is needed to allow the sugar in our blood to enter our cells and fuel our bodies. People with type 2 diabetes have insulin that doesn’t work effectively.
The treatments are different, with people with type 1 needing to administer insulin through pumps or injections, while type 2 is treated with medication and a strict diet. Getting treatment and advice about diabetes is easy, and prescriptions for insulin or the medicine you need is free.
Having a valid insurance policy
It’s understandable that you may think that the diagnosis may hit your life insurance cover. But if you have an existing policy it should remain valid in its existing form and price, as long as you continue to pay your premiums.
If you want to start a new policy, then it’s important that you let your insurer know about your condition. It’s possible that having diabetes may mean having to pay more for life insurance, but that varies from insurer to insurer. But it really is essential to let an insurer know about the condition, even if you are worried that it may push up the cost.
Your medical details
An insurer needs to know your medical details so it can work out how much your cover will be. If you leave out some details then your policy could be invalidated, which means there will be no payout to your beneficiaries.
Some of the lifestyle changes you introduce to help you deal with diabetes may also help cut the cost of cover. That’s because healthy choices improve your changes of living longer. By increasing your longevity, the lower the cost of life insurance is because the odds of a payout any time soon is reduced.
What can help cut insurance payments?
When assessing you for life cover, insurers look at a range of issues, such as your age, height and weight, but also your general medical health. The healthier you are, the longer you are likely to live and the cheaper life insurance will cost you. So, there are obviously things you can do to improve your health and reduce your payments.
Having diabetes puts health issues right up front, as there’s a pressing need to have more of a healthy lifestyle to be able to manage the disease. An insurer will want to know how long you’ve had diabetes and what medications you’re taking to treat it. It will also want to know about your lifestyle habits, such as smoking and drinking, as these can affect the condition.
If you’re a smoker, for instance, then a doctor will suggest you give up if you have diabetes, as it makes the condition much more difficult to control. But giving up will also improve your longevity, and mean reduced insurance payments. Cutting down on booze will also help when managing the condition and can lead to life insurance costs being cut.
More general lifestyle changes such as losing weight and lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol will improve your health and management of diabetes, as well as lowering the price of premiums.
There’s a need to look after yourself a bit more because you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes. Some insurers may encourage you to continue being as healthy as possible by asking for regular medical reports or blood sugar levels.
Showing that you’re keeping diabetes under control could help reduce the cost of having life insurance. But it also helps keep you well, which is the most important issue of all.
Simon Read was the last personal finance editor at The Independent newspaper and now reports on finance matters for the BBC, The Evening Standard, The Daily Mirror and The Sun. He champions consumer rights and is a commentator on a range of tv and radio shows, such as Watchdog on BBC1, Sky News, Channel 5 News, Radio 5 Live, LBC and Talk Radio. He was a money expert on three series of the BBC1 TV show Right On The Money and presented a BBC Radio 4 documentary on fraud as well as battling for fair treatment from companies for two years in his Moneywise Fights For Your Rights column.
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