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Diabetes and Life Insurance Underwriting


When the pancreas secretes insufficient quantities of insulin, a chronic disease called diabetes may ensue. As such, the body's ability to absorb carbohydrates and breakdown fats is reduced. Sugars then build up in the blood and urine. When diabetes is present, secondary issues such as smoking or overweight may influence the insurance underwriting decision, the process that establishes the cost of insurance. Age of onset is of particular concern as is the impact on other vital organs, type of medication, family history and especially control are further factors in the underwriting decision.

Best Classification

Insurance company underwriting standards will vary significantly. Certain brand name companies may have little experience underwriting special risk applicants. Others may have the skill to underwrite but either elect not to or surcharge the special risk heavily. Use of a knowledgeable independent insurance agent/brokers skilled in placing special risks should result in the offer of most competitively priced policies.

Diabetics and the Underwriting Process

Individuals with Diabetes will not receive a preferred classification with any company i.e., their lowest premium. At best, highly controlled diabetics will be offered a "standard" premium. Some companies just do not want special risks and surcharge heavily. They find special risk applicants disruptive to their primary objective of underwriting individuals without major health issues. Underwriting time with companies in this category may be inordinately lengthy and the consequence can be an excessively high premium or rejection. Those classified as "uncontrolled diabetics" may find that only policies called "guaranteed issue" are available until the diabetes is under control (look up "life insurance, guarantee issue" on the Web).

Newly diagnosed diabetics typically will find that even special risk insurance companies will seek a postponement until tracking of the diabetes is available — typically 3 to 6 months after diagnosis. Diabetics who were declined or postponed may find that selected companies will provide insurance at competitive premium given good control of the diabetes. A rejection by one insurance company does not mean that all companies will reject your application. More shopping can be fruitful. Heavy surcharges imposed by one company may not be introduced by an insurance company with extensive experience with special risks — all companies are not created equal. And, premiums could vary as much as 100 — 200%....

Ask the all agent/brokers if their primarily business is working with special risks. The response should be an indication of expertise and availability of markets. Re-shop any surcharged offer to confirm its appropriateness.

About Internet Shopping

Quote engines cannot accurately classify the special risk, e.g., the diabetic. It's because the decision-making model does not have the capacity to quantify all the variables that must be evaluated to quote a premium. Consequently, the incidence of misquotes or under quotes is rampant for individuals in the special risk category.

Equally as damaging is the quote service that has a paperless process wherein the individual's health history is not review by an underwriting specialist prior to submission of an application. In either case, the special risk may be initially mislead into believing that they will be accepted at a low premium when, in fact, a higher premium or even a rejection will result when the automated process selects an inappropriate insurance company as a option.

Underwriting typically takes six weeks from the receipt of the application and insurance company-paid examination. When you have the final offer from the insurance company, you will have a no obligation 30-day free-look of to accept the offer or reject the offer. This approach saves you time and money plus there is usually no charge for these services.


Use an independent broker, to find the best options for you. It only takes a five minute phone interview, typically, to confirm your classification and to quote the expected premium. Phone visits are necessary to ensure that all the health variables are considered when quoting.