Life Insurance with Sleep Apnea

Find out about what life insurance with sleep apnea looks like. Talk to one of our experienced advisors, today!

8 minute read

Originally Published: February 17, 2022

Updated: October 7, 2022

Getting life insurance with sleep apnea in Canada is definitely possible, but there are some things to look out for.

Life Insurance with Sleep Apnea in Canada

Find out about what life insurance with sleep apnea looks like. Talk to one of our experienced advisors, today!

8 Minute read

Originally Published: February 17, 2022

Updated: October 7, 2022

Getting life insurance with sleep apnea in Canada is definitely possible, but there are some things to look out for.

Getting life insurance with Sleep Apnea is possible, there are many types of insurance, affordable prices, and different packages. Sleep apnea is a sleep-related medical condition that is rising in diagnosis and becoming more prevalent amongst even young people. Statistics show that in Canada the rate of patients who are being diagnosed with sleep apnea by medical professionals is growing. Luckily, there are plenty of life insurance companies that are happy to provide coverage to those who are diagnosed with sleep apnea. There are also certain things that you should know if you or a loved one is diagnosed with sleep apnea and are looking to get a life insurance policy. 

Two outcomes of sleep apnea are disturbing a partner with loud snoring, and being exhausted during the day. While these may seem trivial to some, sleep apnea is serious, and ignoring it can result in hypertension, lung damage, heart difficulties, a loss of focus, and an increased risk of car accidents. This has led many of our clients with this condition to worry that they won’t qualify for affordable rates for life insurance. A common question we get is “can I get life insurance with sleep apnea?”

you can get life insurance if you have sleep apnea

Yes! You can get life insurance with sleep apnea and the sooner the better. As mentioned, sleep apnea can lead to more serious health consequences which may complicate your application process if you delay your coverage. 

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a chronic sleep-related breathing condition that affects both males and females. Patients affected with sleep apnea experience a decrease in their breathing or completely stop breathing for a short period of time while they sleep. These short periods of breathing difficulties are called apneas, and sleep apnea leads to repetitive apneas throughout the night. 

The other health issues that sleep apnea can increase the risk of and be related to are: cardiovascular, coronary artery disease and other cardiac-related conditions, such as heart failure and cardiac arrhythmia. This condition can be potentially serious and it is listed as a condition that life insurance companies use to determine your life insurance coverage while underwriting. 

To learn more about what underwriting is and how it relates to your life insurance read our complete guide about the different kinds of underwriting that exist.

Did you know? 6% of Canadians have reported that they have been diagnosed with Sleep Apnea

How Common is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep Apnea is common and it is actually growing amongst Canadians. Statistics show that it is also popular in Canada as 6% of Canadians have reported that they have been diagnosed with sleep apnea by a medical professional. There are also a large number of Canadians who are self-reporting their sleep apnea, though they are not officially diagnosed, it does make sense with how popular it is. People are urged to get sleep exams and try to find out if they are really suffering from sleep apnea.

Types of Sleep Apnea

There are 3 different types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea, and mixed sleep apnea. The type of sleep apnea that you suffer from is extremely important to know because life insurance companies will need to know about the type of sleep apnea you are suffering from. 

Here are the different types of sleep apnea:

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

When the muscles and support your tissues in your throat and airways relax temporarily, causing an obstruction.

Central Sleep Apnea

When your breathing is not signaled to function by the brain, this causes a lack of oxygen due to a lack of breathing effort.

Mixed Sleep Apnea

A combination of central and obstructive sleep apnea.

How does sleep apnea affects life insurance coverage

Fortunately, sleep apnea is not an uncommon condition and insurance companies usually have favourable rates for those diagnosed with it and they are likely to be approved. There are always no medical exam life insurance policies as well which can greatly benefit someone who does not want to get a medical exam. Sleep apnea will not always impact the type of life insurance you can purchase as well as the amount of coverage you can have. This means that sleep apnea is treated like any other medical condition, you can still pay a standard rate and secure safe coverage as someone without any medical conditions; this generally is determined by the severity of the sleep apnea. Usually the severity of it is rated by being either mild, moderate or severe.

What life insurance companies look for when you apply with sleep apnea

There are a number of things that life insurance companies look out for during the underwriting stage of rating someone. People are typically rated even if they are in good health and don’t have any medical conditions. For someone who suffers from sleep apnea, there is an additional list of things that the underwriter will need to know to determine your life insurance coverage. 

This list includes but is not limited to: 

  • The type of sleep apnea you have: obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea, or mixed sleep apnea
  • Smoking status 
  • Frequency of Alcohol use 
  • Medication for your sleep apnea
  • Compliance with the medication for your sleep apnea
  • Date of diagnosis
  • Severity and frequency of your apneas 
  • History of sleep studies  
  • Any treatments for your sleep apnea
  • Compliance with your treatments 
  • Duration of apneas
  • Motor vehicle accidents caused by drowsiness 
  • Other possible health issues related to your sleep apnea

Most insurance companies will also require you to fill out a sleep apnea-related questionnaire and will need you to get an attending physician statement. Again, these underwriting questions will decide your rating and alter the price of your coverage. There are always other options available that will guarantee you life insurance coverage without medical examination, find out the difference between Guaranteed Issue vs Simplified vs Fully Underwritten Life Insurance Policies.

Best life insurance policies if you have sleep apnea

There are different severities of sleep apnea therefore there are also different types of life insurance that would be better for you based on the severity of your sleep apnea. People who have sleep apnea have a high chance of getting the same kind of insurance as anyone, both term life policies, and whole life policies are available for those who are diagnosed with sleep apnea. Most insurance companies will offer rates that will vary depending on both the severity of your sleep apnea and if you want a fully underwritten policy or if you want a no medical exam policy. Keep in mind that fully underwritten policies do have a higher coverage amount, and more features available when compared to guaranteed no medical exam policies.

Fully Underwritten Policy

To get a fully underwritten policy this will require you to take a medical exam and get an evaluation from a certified physician. There are benefits to this evaluation because depending on your results, you can get a preferred rate and the cost of your life insurance might be the same as someone without sleep apnea, or just slightly more. This will allow you to have a higher coverage amount and will allow you to have access to different kinds of life insurance policies that have great benefits and features that might better suit your needs and wants.

No Medical Exam/Guaranteed-issue Policy

Sleep apnea can also decide to purchase a no medical exam policy. This can benefit those who do not want to go through a medical evaluation. This would be ideal for those who have an extremely severe case of sleep apnea, but keep in mind that there are many insurance companies that will allow you to get an underwritten policy even if you have severe sleep apnea. A no medical exam can limit the amount of coverage you can receive for your policy. For example, most no medical exam term life insurance policies will only provide you with $500,000 coverage and no medical exam whole life insurance policies will only offer you $50,000 or less in coverage. These policies typically cost more monthly and they have fewer coverage features than the underwritten policies. No medical life insurance is also offered by most Canadian insurance companies.

Simplified Issue Policy

Simplified policies are a form of no medical policy that is available from many different life insurance companies for people who are diagnosed with sleep apnea. These simplified policies have a mixture of traits from fully underwritten policies and guaranteed policies. This is an attractive policy for those who want a higher coverage amount and more features. These kinds of policies will require you to answer limited medical questions, but don’t require you to visit a doctor and get an examination. These policies also can offer up to $1 million in coverage, depending on your health, age, smoking status and a few other factors.

The cost of life insurance with sleep apnea

The cost of life insurance can range depending on your choice of a no medical exam policy, simplified policy or fully underwritten policy and also for term life insurance policies or whole life insurance policies. At Protect Your Wealth we firmly believe that you should make an informed decision when shopping for life insurance therefore we offer a free consultation with  our professional insurance advisors to find the best insurance company and coverage for your needs and wants. There are a number of different factors that can vary the cost of life insurance for those with sleep apnea but the most important to know about is the rating. 

A rating is a percentage that a life insurance company will charge you for your policy. For example, a standard rating for life insurance will be for someone who has no health conditions, if you have severe sleep apnea and you get a 200% rating, this means you will pay 2x more than someone with no health condition. 

This rating is based on the questions mentioned above about your condition, and also on your medical exam or if you opt-out of the exam. Life insurance companies specifically base this percentage rating on the severity of your sleep condition. Here is a list of some life insurance companies in Canada and what they will rate you based on the severity of your sleep apnea and if you are treatment compliant (fully underwritten policies):

Life insurance company ratings based on the severity of your sleep apnea and if you are compliant to your treatment. This ranges from company to company but notice that it is possible to be insured if you have sleep apnea.

What happens if you get diagnosed with sleep apnea while having life insurance

If you already have a life insurance policy and you become newly diagnosed with sleep apnea, you don’t need to worry about your life insurance coverage. Canadian life insurance companies cannot revoke or change your life insurance coverage or policy once it is effective. This gives you peace of mind in the case of this diagnosis or other health conditions.

Frequently Asked Questions About Sleep Apnea and Life Insurance

Yes, having sleep apnea might affect how much you pay for life insurance. Any pre-existing condition while applying for life insurance could increase the cost of your monthly premiums. Life insurance companies take on more risk to cover your life because sleep apnea can reduce your lifespan. 

However, even if you have sleep apnea, you might be able to acquire standard or preferred rates. You may be eligible for affordable life insurance rates if you actively participate in your sleep apnea treatment plan, you don’t experience any other negative effects, and your condition remains stable.

Yes, you can get life insurance if you have sleep apnea. Since life insurance companies protect your life, they evaluate any risk factors.  During the application process, they thoroughly analyse your health and medical history. If a health problem raises the likelihood of premature death, it increases the insurer’s risk.

Life insurance companies evaluate each application individually. Therefore, if you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, the company will analyse all relevant criteria, such as the severity of your disease and the available treatment alternatives. Additionally, your age, height, weight, occupation, and interests will be considered. In many instances, people with sleep apnea can still obtain life insurance.

If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea but have not followed your treatment plan advised by your doctor, your life insurance premiums could increase by up to 50 percent. 

Sleep apnea increases your insurance risk because, if left untreated, the sleep and breathing disturbances can lead to daytime drowsiness and, consequently, injuries or accidents and other potentially dangerous disorders, such as high blood pressure and heart disease.

The type of sleep apnea you have may not have an effect on your rates, but the underlying reason may. If your sleep apnea is caused by heart illness, for instance, your heart condition will also affect your rates. The underwriting procedure is used by life insurance companies to determine the risk of insuring you. Alternatively, if your sleep apnea is well-controlled, your illness may have little to no impact on your life insurance premiums, depending on your overall health.

As a preexisting condition, sleep apnea affects your ability to get life insurance. There are various things you can do right now.

Concentrate on Handling Your Condition: There are a variety of treatment options available for many individuals with this illness. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) may be one therapy option for eliminating or minimizing sleep apnea-related problems. Oral appliances may also be a therapy option. If you can demonstrate to your insurance company that you are actively treating your illness, your chances of obtaining life insurance with sleep apnea will increase.

Wait and Apply Again: If your doctor believes that your sleep apnea can be improved with treatment, your best option may be to wait six months before reapplying for life insurance. This does imply that you will be without life insurance coverage for a little longer, which could put your family at risk. However, if treatment will remove or substantially minimize your health difficulties, this may be a preferable approach to obtain better coverage options or reduced premiums.

Consider a No Medical Exam Policy: If you’ve been denied coverage due to sleep apnea or other medical conditions, no-exam life insurance is typically the best option. 

Finding the right life insurance for you

If you’re diagnosed with a health condition you can still find affordable life insurance for your situation! Working with a life insurance advisor can help you create the perfect life insurance plan and package for your needs.

At Protect Your Wealth, we work with and compare policies and quotes from the best life insurance companies in Canada to create the best solution for you and your needs. We’ve also been providing expert financial planning solutions since 2007, including retirement planning such as opening LIRA, and RRSP or investing with TFSA.

Contact Protect Your Wealth 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, Alberta, and British Columbia, including areas such as Kingston, Nanaimo, and Lethbridge

Talk to an advisor today.

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