Applying for Life Insurance With Diabetes in Canada

Discover how diabetes can impact life insurance in Canada.

17 Minute read
Originally published: June 23, 2021
Updated: April 09, 2024

Applying for Life Insurance With Diabetes in Canada Logo

Applying for Life Insurance With Diabetes in Canada

Discover how diabetes can impact life insurance in Canada.

17 Minute read
Originally published: June 23, 2021
Updated: April 09, 2024

Applying for Life Insurance With Diabetes in Canada Logo

If you are a Canadian with diabetes, there are certain challenges you might need to navigate in order to obtain life insurance coverage. In this helpful guide, we’ll delve into the specific factors insurers assess when offering coverage to individuals with diabetes, explore the types of policies available, and provide useful tips to help you find a policy that best meets your needs.

Can I get life insurance if I have diabetes?

Yes, Canadians with diabetes are still eligible for life insurance and can choose from a variety of life insurance plans the same as anyone else. That being said, depending on certain factors such as the severity of your symptoms and overall health, it can be more difficult to be approved for a traditionally underwritten policy and you may have to pay higher premiums. But even the most difficult to insure Canadians are still able to get life insurance through simplified issue and guaranteed issue life insurance policies since these policies ask limited medical questions and don’t require a medical exam to be approved.

Factors Life Insurance Providers Consider if You Have Diabetes

Whether you’ve just been diagnosed, or have been for a long time, the underwriting process for clients with diabetes varies between insurers. Medical underwriting is the examination of the applicant’s health and medical history. Fully underwritten insurance policies typically require a medical exam including a blood and urine test, an attending physician’s statement (APS), and answers to health-related questions.

The factors that life insurance providers consider if you have diabetes are as follows:

  • Type of Diabetes: You will need to inform the provider if you have type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, or gestational diabetes.
  • A1C Levels: A1C levels indicate your average blood sugar level over the past three months and show how well your diabetes is being controlled. Levels below 7.0 show more control and can lead to more favourable ratings. Levels between 7.0 and 7.9 will affect your life insurance rates but typically don’t affect policy eligibility. Levels 8.0 and above demonstrate less control over your condition and a much higher risk to insure and can lead to higher rates and even denial for traditionally underwritten policies.
  • Date of Diagnosis: The longer you’ve had diabetes, the longer it’s impacted your body and can increase the likelihood of side effects. For lower ratings, it is preferable to have had your diagnosis for less time.
  • Treatment Plan: Factors such as current diet, exercise frequency, types of medication and doses, and the number of insulin units per day, can decrease your risk to insure.

Here is a quick overview of the different factors that can determine your risk to insure if you have diabetes:

Providers Consider if You Have Diabetes

These factors can help a life insurance provider have a better understanding of the overall risk to insure you. If you were more recently diagnosed, are taking good care of your health and managing your diabetes well, don’t have other pre-existing conditions, and have lower AC1 levels you will typically be able to qualify for traditionally underwritten insurance with standard premium rates. But even if you are a high risk to insure you can still qualify for life insurance through a simplified issue or guaranteed issue life insurance policy.

How Does Diabetes Affect Your Health Rating

Life insurance companies typically attach a medical rating to your policy based on factors that can affect your health. This rating acts as a multiplier to determine the cost of premiums for the policy you apply to. In some cases, an insurer could even determine the risk is too high to offer insurance coverage for a specific policy and decline your application.

Ratings determine how much you will pay for a policy’s premiums. The premiums will increase and lower your chances of being approved for life insurance if you have poor health and don’t manage your diabetes well.

The most common factors that affect health ratings for diabetics are:

  • Poor blood sugar control
  • Obesity
  • Hypertension
  • High blood lipids
  • Heart or kidney issues
  • Sleep disorders
  • Other complications caused by diabetes (i.e., retinopathy, nephropathy)
Factors That Affect Health Ratings for Diabetics

What can affect a health rating and how much the rating is affected by specific factors can vary between companies. Typically a health rating can increase up to 150% to 200% before an insurance company will consider an applicant too risky to insure and deny an application.

Types of Life Insurance Available to Diabetics

Many Canadians with a diabetes diagnosis are able to qualify for the standard types of life insurance available to Canadians. But even diabetics who are more difficult to insure can qualify for guaranteed issue and simplified issue life insurance policies. These policies do not require medical exams and are designed for Canadians who otherwise have difficulty obtaining life insurance coverage.

Which type of life insurance is right for you will depend on your coverage needs and financial goals. The types of insurance available to Canadians with diabetes are outlined below.

Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance

Guaranteed issue life insurance is perfect for diabetic Canadians who are more difficult to insure due to factors such as high AC1 levels, other pre-existing conditions, a criminal record, hazardous occupations, and so on. Unlike traditionally underwritten policies, an attending physician’s statement (APS) or medical examination is not necessary as part of the application process. In addition, guaranteed issue life insurance policies typically don’t require applicants to answer any medical questions to qualify. However, because of the increased risk to the insurer with this type of policy, this type of coverage tends to be more costly and offers less maximum coverage than a fully underwritten policy.

Benefits of Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance

  • No medical examination, questions, or APS required
  • Shorter waiting periods for approval
  • Easier to qualify for than traditional policies
  • Simplified and more accessible application process

Simplified Issue Life Insurance

Simplified issue life insurance is another great option for Canadians with diabetes. This is because, similar to guaranteed issue life insurance, this policy type does not require a medical exam or attending physician statement (APS) to qualify. However, unlike guaranteed issue life insurance, this type of insurance requires applicants to answer limited medical questions to qualify. Because of this, simplified issue life insurance policies typically offer more maximum coverage and lower premium rates than guaranteed issue life insurance. This makes it a great option for those with diabetes who might still struggle to qualify for traditional life insurance due to their health, occupation, lifestyle, and so on.

Benefits of simplified life insurance 

  • No medical examination or APS is required
  • Medical questions are limited
  • More affordable than guaranteed issue life insurance
  • Easier to qualify for than traditional policies

Term Life Insurance

Term life insurance is a type of life insurance that offers coverage during a specified term length, often 10, 20, or 30 years. With term life insurance, you pay premiums monthly or annually so that if you pass away while the policy is still active, your beneficiaries receive a death benefit payout. Often these policies can be renewed for a new term up to a specified age and may also be convertible into permanent insurance. This type of insurance is the most popular in Canada as it allows you to gain coverage during times when you need it most and is also the most affordable option for life insurance. Term life insurance can either be traditionally underwritten or offered as a simplified issue life insurance policy with limited medical questions and no medical exam required.

Benefits of term life insurance

  • Typically the most affordable type of life insurance
  • Flexible term lengths, coverage amounts, and optional riders
  • Term lengths can align with current financial obligations
  • Potential to renew terms as needed or convert to permanent life insurance

Permanent Life Insurance

Permanent life insurance is a permanent type of life insurance that covers you for the rest of your life, as opposed to for a specified term. This type of policy also has the potential to accumulate a cash value amount through universal or whole life insurance policies. Due to the permanent nature of this type of policy, premiums tend to be more costly than term life insurance policies. Permanent policies can either be traditionally underwritten, or offered as guaranteed issue or simplified issue life insurance with limited to no medical questions asked and no medical exam required.

Benefits of permanent life insurance

  • Lifetime coverage often with level premiums
  • Flexible premium payment options
  • Potential to accumulate a cash value within the policy
  • Can be used when estate planning as a tool to offset capital gains taxes

Cost of Life Insurance for Diabetics

Typically, the cost of life insurance will depend on your health rating, factors that determine your risk to insure, as well as the policy and life insurance company you are interested in. Other factors that can affect cost include age and gender.

For Canadians with diabetes interested in simplified-issue life insurance, here is a helpful overview of monthly life insurance rates from two different insurers for simplified issue life insurance with $200,000 in coverage quoted for male and female non-smoking Canadians aged 20-70:

Monthly Simplified Issue Life Insurance Rates for Canadians 2024

Disclosing Diabetes to a Life Insurance Provider

A common question people ask is if they have to inform their insurer that they have diabetes. You should always let your life insurance provider know about your health conditions when asked to. Diabetes is considered a pre-existing health condition and while it’s fair to worry about increased costs or application denial caused by something out of your control, such as diabetes, providing inaccurate information about your current health can lead to many issues beyond application denial.

Life insurance providers collect personal and health information directly from applicants and traditionally underwritten policies will require applicants to undergo a medical exam and provide an attending physician’s statement (APS). An APS is a questionnaire that an insurance provider will require your physician to complete that offers a summary of any relevant medical information from your health records that the insurer deems important. Insurance providers can also access databases such as the MIB (Medical Information Bureau) to confirm any medical information they have or have not collected from the applicant.

It is very important to ensure the accuracy of the information you submit to a life insurance provider. If your insurance provider determines that information was inaccurately reported or omitted, they have the right to terminate your policy and refuse to pay out a death benefit to your beneficiaries. In addition to this, if it is determined that you intentionally offered significantly incorrect information it can be considered fraud and affect your ability to obtain life insurance coverage in the future.

What to Do if Your Application is Denied

Reasons Why Life Insurance Applications Are Denied and What to Do Graphic

The main reasons life insurance applications are denied are:

  • The applicant unintentionally or intentionally omitted or provided false information.
  • The applicant does not meet the specified age requirements for the policy they applied for.
  • The applicant applied for more coverage than they are deemed financially able to pay based on annual income, net worth, and credit history.
  • Medical exam, attending physician‘s statement, or answers to medical questionnaire flagged the applicant as ineligible.
  • Lifestyle factors such as obesity, smoking, hazardous occupations, or dangerous hobbies.
  • Current addiction issues such as drug addictions or alcoholism.
  • Having a criminal record or issues with your driving history such as a DUI.

If your life insurance application is denied it can make it more difficult to obtain life insurance in the future, so it’s important to ensure that you applying for a policy you are eligible for.

After an application has been denied, there are three steps you will need to take before applying again:

1. Discover the reason for your application’s rejection

After your application has been denied, the first step you should take is to contact the life insurance provider to inquire about the reason for the denial. Determining why you were denied will help you better understand what steps to take moving forward. If your application was denied due to lifestyle, health, financial reasons, etc. then you will likely need to reassess the type of life insurance you are eligible for and submit an application for a different policy.

2. Discuss your options with a licensed life insurance agent or broker

If your application was denied for reasons beyond your control, the next step you should take is to reach out and discuss your options with a licensed insurance agent or broker. While an insurance agent works directly for a specific life insurance provider and a life insurance broker represents consumers and can help you determine which policy is best from a variety of providers, either will be able to explain which policies best suit your needs from the insurance provider(s) they represent.

By speaking with an agent or broker you can get expert insight into your specific situation, receive advice on which policies you will likely qualify for, and get help with the application process to decrease the risk of another application denial. This can also be done at no cost to you, as life insurance brokers are paid a commission from the life insurance provider you decide to get a policy through.

If you are interested in discussing your situation with an expert financial advisor, you can always contact us online or give us a call at 1-877-654-6119 so that we can help you discover which policies best represent your insurance needs and help prevent any future application denials.

3. Apply for a policy that better represents you

After speaking with a life insurance agent or broker you should better understand the types of policies that represent your life insurance needs that you are eligible for. Using this new knowledge, you can apply for a policy you are more certain you will qualify for based on your age, medical history, lifestyle factors, and so on.

Case Study Examples

Here are two helpful case studies outlining the process followed by these Canadians with diabetes who are interested in life insurance.

Case Study #1: Jessica

Applying for Life Insurance With Diabetes in Canada Case Study 1

Jessica is a 40 year old woman with two sons who recently became more independent but still rely on her financially at times. She’s interested in purchasing a life insurance policy to offer financial protection to her sons but isn’t sure how her diagnosis of type 2 diabetes will affect her ability to get affordable coverage.

Here is what Jessica considers when determining her coverage needs:

  • Based on the financial support she currently offers her children, Jessica decides to leave each of her sons $20,000 so they can continue to be supported even without her income. This comes to a total of $40,000.
  • Jessica also anticipates her funeral expenses to cost around $10,000.

With all this in mind, Jessica would need $50,000 of life insurance coverage to achieve her financial goals.

Worried about how type 2 diabetes will affect her rates, Jessica discusses her current situation with a knowledgeable life insurance broker. Since she manages her diabetes with regular exercise, a healthy diet, and medications, her AC1 levels are at 6.8, and she’s in otherwise good health with no other pre-existing conditions, she is able to qualify for a traditionally underwritten life insurance plan without having to worry about increased premiums or limited coverage maximums.

With the help of her life insurance broker, Jessica gets approved for a standard term life insurance policy with a term of 10 years and a coverage amount of $50,000. This offers her the coverage she currently needs while offering a chance to reevaluate her financial goals when her term is coming to an end.

Case Study #2: Nelson

Applying for Life Insurance With Diabetes in Canada Case Study 2

Nelson is a 45 year old married man with three children. His wife is a stay-at-home parent and relies on his income to finance the household. He decides it would be worth investing in a life insurance policy to protect his family’s financial future. However, Nelson struggles with type 1 diabetes and isn’t sure how this will affect his ability to obtain affordable coverage.

Here is what Nelson considers when determining his coverage needs:

  • Nelson currently makes $90,000 per year as a firefighter, meaning that is how much coverage he would need to cover a year’s worth of income.
  • Nelson anticipates his funeral expenses to cost around $10,000.
  • Nelson anticipates his children will become financially independent in the next 10 years.

With all this in mind, Nelson would need $100,000 of life insurance coverage to achieve his financial goals.

Nelson discusses his situation with an expert financial advisor to better understand his ability to get life insurance and what type of policy is right for him. Nelson has type 1 diabetes and uses an insulin pump to improve his AC1 levels which were previously quite high. He is in good health otherwise, but his job as a firefighter is considered a dangerous occupation and also increases his risk to insure.

Considering Nelson’s health, lifestyle, and occupation his financial advisor suggests a simplified issue life insurance policy as this type of policy asks fewer medical questions and is typically easier to qualify for than traditional life insurance. Nelson applies and quickly gets approved for simplified issue term life insurance with $100,000 of coverage and a term length of 10 years. This will allow Nelson the coverage he needs and the ability to reassess his life insurance needs when his term ends.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Life Insurance for Diabetics

Several factors including the date of diagnosis, A1C levels, the type of diabetes, and any treatments or medications being taken will determine the type of life insurance available to someone with diabetes. Based on these factors as well as the financial goals and interests of the diabetic individual, the best life insurance solution will vary.

For example, someone who is seriously affected by their diabetes diagnosis among other health issues with few dependants may be interested in a guaranteed issue life insurance policy which offers lower coverage maximums than traditional life insurance but is easier to qualify for. Another diabetic individual may be in better health overall and would like more coverage as they have many dependants and financial obligations.

Which type of life insurance is right for you depends on your unique circumstances and financial interests. This is why many people choose to discuss their options with a trusted life insurance expert so that they can get advice customized to their situation.

Most traditionally underwritten life insurance policies will require applicants to complete a medical exam, get an attending physician statement (APS), an A1C level test, and a urine analysis. However, if an applicant is not interested in undergoing medical examination or testing, no medical life insurance may be a better option.

No medical life insurance includes simplified issue and guaranteed issue life insurance, neither of which require a medical exam or APS. Simplified issue life insurance plans will ask applicants limited medical questions whereas guaranteed issue life insurance plans will not require applicants to provide any health information.

When it comes to seniors with diabetes, their AC1 levels, health history, lifestyle, and other factors will still be considered when determining their life insurance rates, much like they are for younger individuals. However, seniors are generally expected to pay higher premiums on life insurance than younger individuals, regardless of their health status. This is because older individuals are at a higher risk of developing health issues. As a result, if you are a senior with health issues, your rates may be more expensive.

For more information about life insurance for seniors, check out our complete guide to life insurance for seniors in Canada.

Find a solution that’s right for you

Having diabetes doesn’t have to mean you can’t get life insurance. Regardless of the challenges you face, by working with an expert who knows the ins and outs of life insurance in Canada, you can find coverage that’s right for you.

At Protect Your Wealth, we work with and compare policies and quotes from trusted life insurance companies across Canada to ensure we can find the right solution for you and your family. We provide expert life insurance solutions, including no medical life insurance, term life insurance, and permanent life insurance.

Contact Protect Your Wealth online or call us at 1-877-654-6119 to talk to an advisor today. We’re proudly based out of Hamilton, and service clients anywhere in Ontario, British Columbia, Manitoba, and Alberta; including areas such as Vaughan, Abbotsford, Winnipeg, and Lethbridge.

Reach out to an expert advisor today!

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