By James Tobin
LIHD Difficulty Rating
Every applicant for life insurance after weight loss surgery can be approved for a policy.
However, the type of policy that can be approved, and the rates charged, will depend on the nature of your weight loss surgery, the time elapsed, if there are any complications, and your overall health.
Because the underwriting standards are different for each type of policy, this review of life insurance options after weight loss surgery is broken into three sections: (click button to go directly to section)
In order to underwrite your application life insurance carriers will need to know the complications that you have experienced, the treatment undergone, including any prescription drugs used, and any medical follow up. For a more exhaustive discussion of the underwriting of weight loss surgery applications please scroll to What Insurers Will Want to Know
In order to get the best rates possible you may need to take an exam. Applicant's with no complications after 2 years will be eligible for no-exam underwriting. However, applications with complications will likely require an exam.
The exam is a para-medical exam that collects blood and urine samples. The exam is administered at no cost by a travelling nurse and can be done at your choice of location.
If it turns out that simplified issue or guaranteed issue policies are the best fit for your application, no exam will be required. See How Term Life Insurance Works for more on the exam.
The rates you pay for tem insurance are dependent on the underwriting class you are graded by the carrier. Weight loss surgery applications are generally going to be rated as standard or lower. This issue is discussed using rating guides and pricing samples. Sample pricing for simplified issue and guaranteed issue policies is provided in the corresponding links.
The quotes you receive from the quote tool on this site are 100% accurate for the information inputted. That is to say, if you get the rate class correct- your rate will be correct. The problem with online tools is that people generally think they are inn better or worse shape than is reality.
If you are unsure about rate class you should choose a range and hope to be pleasantly surprised. Alternatively, you can fill out the customized quote form and we will get in touch with you as soon as possible.
The most effective ways to improve your life insurance rating are to use an agent that has access to the companies that will view you most favorably and to take care of your health.
See Why to use Independent Agent when Shopping for Life Insurance after Weight Loss Surgery to better understand the reason to use an independent agent.
As far as lifestyle goes, if you take diet and exercise seriously along with limiting alcohol and quitting smoking (if you smoke), it should be reflected in your blood markers.
If you have had weight loss surgery, documenting compliance with medical advise and any medications is very important. Obtaining a physicians letter stating that you have been compliant and improving is helpful.
Do these things and you can't help but improve your health and your life insurance rating.
Life insurance companies have differing appetites for specific risks. These appetites are reflected in underwriting and ultimately pricing. Simplified issue carriers will be state dependent and three of the better known term carriers for dealing with weight loss surgery are Prudential, American General (AIG), and Banner.
However, risk appetite can, and does, change and the only way to guarantee the best possible deal is to work with an experienced independent agent. see the case study here to get a clear understanding.
Regardless of your pre existing condition, the application process is largely the same. The life insurance application process is an eight step process that includes choosing your terms, picking a carrier, submitting to the exam, and signing documents (digital signatures accepted). The entire 8 step process is laid out for you here.
While standard rates are possible, it's not uncommon for applicants to receive substandard or "table rated" offers. The severity of the health rating, and corresponding price, can vary significantly.
Therefore, it's important that you use an agent that is experienced with weight loss surgery cases, and has access to the carriers most likely to be receptive.
Primarily, term life insurance is available for lengths ranging from 5 years to 30 years with 20-year terms being the most popular. Term policies usually have a minimum face amount of $50000, and the policies terminate at the end of the term period or can be renewed annually at a vastly increased rate.
Because Life insurance applications are evaluated on a case by case basis, your story always matters.
That is to say two people with the same age and condition may get significantly different offers from the same company based on age of diagnosis and patient compliance. Because each case is different, the following pricing scenarios are the best estimates based on experience.
Best Case – If mare than a year has passed and there are no complications and excellent follow up and compliance, some cases have a chance for a standard. Simply use the quoter on the left for a standard quote.
Mid Case –If more than a year has passed and you have very mild complications such as bloating and diarrhea, you may be looking at a mid substandard rate. You calculate this rate by multiplying the standard rate by 1.5 (Table 2/B) or 2 (Table 4/D).
To learn about how table ratings work click here.
Severe Case –If complications are more severe, such as leaking. you will either be postponed, declined, or offed a severe substandard rate such as table 6/8. You calculate this rate by multiplying the standard rate by 2.5 (Table 6/F or 3 (Table 8/H).
* while expensive this is still a very good outcome for the circumstances
Decline– For a severe case you may be declined for traditional coverage. If this is the case you may be eligible for a smaller face amount policy. These policies are referred to as Guaranteed issue or simplified issue. If you have been declined please contact us.
At the top of this article we stated that any body can be approved for affordable life insurance after weight loss surgery. Note, however, we mention “affordable” rather than "inexpensive" or “low cost". The reason for the distinction is that all too often, life insurance after weight loss surgery is not cheap life insurance.
In fact, because the coverage can be expensive on a per benefit dollar basis, the benefit is reduced to make the life insurance affordable. While this is often not an ideal situation, the truth is we all have to live within our budgets, and sometimes the way to make life insurance after weight loss surgery affordable is to reduce either the term of coverage or the benefit amount.
The difficult part of term life insurance with weight loss surgery is finding the best deal. This is because different carriers have differing appetites for certain kinds of risks. As a result navigating this process is not as easy as using a quote tool or the sample rates below. This is discussed in greater detail in the case study.
$500000 20 Year Term
$250000 10 Year Term
$100000 10 Year Term
$200000 20 Year Term
Regardless of the condition being considered , life insurance underwriters will generally be concerned with the details that emerge from 5 general questions
While the outline above is general in form , the questions will be multiple and require specific answers. These answers will be gathered from your application, a telephone interview, the Medical Information Bureau, a Script Check, and an attending physicians statement (APS).
Lets look at the general areas of inquiry one at a time.
The reason underwriters are more comfortable with making offers when an applicant fits into the usual patterns is because if they don't fit, there as a real possibility that something else is at play. When this is the case, underwriters will try to allay their fears by taking a harder look at the file.
In the case of bariatric surgery, the only real common "risk factor range" is obesity. However, underwriters will want to know about underlying causes such as thyroid issues.
With most conditions, an underwriter will want to know the symptoms you had (if any) and how long you had them before the diagnosis. With weight loss surgery, the questions will center on weight , BMI, and blood work prior to your surgery.
Underwriting will need to know the following info about your surgery:
While information that is "foggy" will be taken from your medical records, knowing the dates of diagnosis and treatments is necessary to get an accurate quote.
Life insurance underwriters will want to see that there have been no serious complications and that you have been compliant with any after care follow up requirements.
Common follow up consists of monthly doctor visits for the first year and annually indefinitely. Dietary advice is centered around avoiding hard to digest foods as well as sugar. Keeping a food journal is highly encouraged.
Because post surgery diets are not very caloric due to reduced stomach size, vitamin supplements are encouraged. For a full discussion visit UC-San Francisco Medical Center.
There are several conditions listed below that are linked with obesity that are often cured by bariatric surgery. However, if these conditions persist post surgery, underwriting will be sure to scrutinize the situation.
With a couple of caveats, the process of obtaining life insurance is essentially the same for everyone regardless of health.
The primary caveats with a weight loss surgery history are that no exam or so called “non-med” policies may only be available in limited face amounts and an attending physician's statement (APS) is often required.
The APS will likely slow the process as doctors are in no hurry to respond to requests from life insurance companies.
As discussed earlier, the information that you will be required to provide in order to get the most accurate quote is as follows:
Date of Surgery
Follow up history
Any complications or other Health Issues
The term life insurance market is quickly adopting accelerated underwriting programs that do not require a medical exam as part of the application process. However, these no exam or non-med policies may not be available if you have had weight loss surgery with complications.
Without the no exam option, you will be required to take a para-medical exam. The exam is usually a 15-20 minute meeting with a nurse. Your exam will consist of a blood draw, a urine sample, and height and weight recorded.
Most term carriers will have the underwriting department do a telephone interview with you. The In the case of weight loss surgery the conversation will be wide-ranging, and last about 20 minutes.
The purpose of the interview will be to flesh out the information that it has from your exam, medical information, and driving history. Questions will often revolve around diet and lifestyle. Answer as honestly as possible, but never "offer" unrequested information.
In addition to the period of insurance, it is essential to understand the available policy riders. Riders are additional benefits that, often for an additional cost, are included in your policy.
The five most prominent riders are listed below with links to in-depth descriptions.
While there is no waiting period for the insurance to go into effect, the insurance company has a two-year window from the policy start in which they can contest a benefit for material misrepresentation on the initial application. So, honesty is the best policy.
You can dive deep into the ins and outs of term life insurance, learning about available term lengths, riders, financial ratings, and rates. The Life Insurance Help Desk works with the top term life insurance carriers.
So, I have been droning on about the importance of using an independent Agent and you may think that sounds a bit self serving coming from an independent agent.
You’d be are right, it is. However, it is also the (provable) truth.
Please see the case study below . it will show why it is in your interest to have as many options as possible available when shopping for life insurance after bariatric surgery or any impairment.
Gender: Male Age: 48
$250000 20 Year Term
Gastric Sleeve - mild bloating , Surgery @ age 46 (2 years)
OTC use of anti diarrhea medications
No Other Health Concerns
This looks like a best case scenario that would be either standard or Table 2/B or 4/D depending on the insurers appetite for a mild complication weight loss surgery risk. Let’s take a look at the rates.
Standard Smoker - Table 2/B Rates - Table 4/D Rates
This table which shows only a few of the major life insurance companies available illustrates the difference in rates. For standard rates Prudential is 33% more expensive than Protective.
On it’s face this seems like a pretty straight forward choice and if underwriting grades between carriers is the same, it really can be that simple.
This kind of easy price shopping is particularly useful for younger folks in good health and demonstrates why you want to use an independent Agent.
For people who have had weight loss surgery or suffer from any serious diagnosis, it gets much more complicated.
Because life insurers manage their appetite for specific risks by being more lenient or more stringent with underwriting grades, you need to know which company will grade you a standard or table 2 risk and which ones will grade you as table 4-6.
In the case above Prudential (the second most expensive standard smoker rate) is likely to be the best deal because the more competitively priced carriers will likely rate the risk table 2-4 while Pru might well go standard.
This is something you can’t know by simply looking at the lowest price. In this case using an independent agent could save you 22% (the difference between Prudential @ standard and North American @ Table2).
That’s a really big difference when you consider that over the life of the policy it adds up to over $13,400.
Wouldn’t you rather have that money (or spend it on an elaborate vacation) , rather than pay too much for insurance because your Agent didn’t have the options or experience?
Silly question, of course you would!
Bariatric, lap-band, or gastric bypass surgery may not stop you from obtaining life insurance offers, but it will cause underwriters to scrutinize you more carefully. The reason, simply put, is that those who have had weight loss surgery face the risk of complications that impact mortality risk.
With a history that includes weight loss surgery, life insurance carriers will want to know as much as they can about the risk they are being asked to insure.
The purpose of this article is to provide a brief background on what life insurers will look for, and answer any questions you may have about how to obtain life insurance at the best price possible.
Now that you know the information you will need to receive the most accurate post weight loss surgery term life insurance quote possible, it's time to begin the application process. The term process is outlined "step by step for you in the Life Insurance Buying Guide.
The Help Desk is committed to transparent pricing (we'll even share our computer screen with you if you'd like) and making the application process as painless as possible.
Approved!That was Easy.
Some final expense or "burial insurance carriers are not concerned with weight loss surgery. In fact, most don't even ask! These "no-exam needed" burial policies are the next best choice for anyone who will not get through traditional underwriting.
The "final expense" market serves differing consumer needs. There is the need that is made obvious by the name "final expense". This term refers to a funeral, burial and miscellaneous cost tied to the rituals surrounding life's end.
Many of the buyers of these end of life policies simply want to remove any financial burden their funeral and burial would cause to their loved ones, while others want to leave a legacy.
Alternatively, the simplified issue marketplace serves as a safe harbor for people who need some life insurance, but cannot qualify for traditional term underwriting. The lenient underwriting standards of this market allow for people with severe weight loss surgery complications to get coverage.
How the policy works will be dictated by the type of final expense or burial policy it is:
With death benefit face amounts that range from $5000-$100000, the simplified issue or "final expense " life insurance market is mostly made up of whole life insurance products. However, there several policies that have components of term policies starting to emerge. Make sure you know what you are buying!
Whether term or whole life, the calculation of the death benefit depends on if the policy is first-day coverage or graded
First day policies are straightforward, and provide a full death benefit from day 1 of the policy.
Graded policies use a two or three year period in which the benefit increases to the face amount over the contractual time period.
These policies commonly pay premiums plus interest if you die in the first year of the policy; 50% if you die after one year but before two; and full face amount after two years.
The carriers offer graded policies based on the applicant's health. These provisions are a way for the carriers to provide coverage while limiting their risk.
Graded or not, a whole life policy has a fixed premium that cannot increase and the policy stays in force until the premiums stop being paid or the insured dies.
In addition to different underwriting standards, final expense pricing is complicated by the fact that a lot of providers only operate in certain states.
As a result the samples below are of limited value. You should use the final expense quote tool found here.
$25000 "Final Expense" Whole Life 1st Day Coverage
$15000 "Final Expense" Whole Life 1st Day Coverage
$15000 Final Expense" Whole Life Graded Coverage
$10000 "Final Expense" Whole Life Graded Coverage
Many burial policy insurers will have 10-15 minute home office interviews using the telephone. They are looking for the use of prescriptions that do not come up on their prescription check and assessing cognitive function.Be alert!
There are fewer riders associated with simplified issue policies than traditional term, but living benefits such as the accelerated benefit for terminal illness, and chronic illness are fairly common. Additionally, some final expense policies have a small cash component and have loan provisions.
The contestability laws are the same for all types of life insurance policies. That is, the carrier has two years from the origination of the policy to contest the benefit payout on policy where the application contained material misstatements.
As stated before, simplified underwriting is seldom concerned with weight loss surgery. Unlike traditional underwriting that grades on a scale, "final expense" is a yes or no proposition.
Note that "yes" is divided into first-day coverage and "graded" categories. Weight loss surgery offers are generally not "graded". So, full coverage would begin on day 1.
Final expense policies contain "knockout" questions and prescriptions. Since weight loss surgery is not a question on many these policies, the only way to get ‘knocked out" is if you answer yes to a different "knockout" question....or complications of your surgery require a drug that is associated with a "knock-out" disease. This is a circumstance that your agent can help with.
Knockout questions tend to revolve around organ transplant, heart attack, stroke, cognitive function, insulin use, amputations and some of the heavy drugs these conditions require for treatment.
Because most final expense underwriting rules differ wildly, it's unusual that you can just go to the final expense quote tool and start. However, unless you have other conditions, that is exactly how to start.
Because weight loss surgery is not a decline or "knockout" with most all simplified issue carriers, the best price may actually win. Remember to use the quote tool on the "final expense" page. The quote tool on this page is limited to term quotes.
Upon receiving your quote request, we will be in touch as soon as possible (often in minutes), and we will help you through the process. The whole process shouldn't take more than 30-40 minutes.
We are committed to a transparent pricing process and are happy to share a computer screen with you or send a video of the method used to get your rate. If you have any questions, please contact us.
As a stand-alone condition, weight loss surgery does not require the use of guaranteed life insurance. The only time that an applicant would need to go the guaranteed route is if the weight loss surgery was paired with a condition that could not qualify for graded a final expense policy.
If this describes your situation, keep reading.
Guaranteed policies should only be used as a last resort. In addition to the benefit grading provisions that make the policies toothless during the two or three year grading period, they are the most expensive policies sold.
With only the requirement of age (50) and citizenship, guaranteed issue life insurance policies have a death benefit that ranges from $5000-$50000. Such plans are exclusively whole life insurance.
However, all guaranteed issue policies are "graded". Generally, the grading represents a 2 or 3 year period that the policy must be in force before a full death benefit will be paid.
Like "final expense" policies, guaranteed policies use a two or three year period in which the benefit increases to the face amount over the contractual time period. These policies commonly pay premiums plus interest if you die if you die after one year but before two; and full face amount after two years.
Also, like the "final expense" write up says, these provisions are a way for the carriers to provide coverage while limiting their risk.
There is no exam for guaranteed life insurance. After all, it's guaranteed to be issued regardless of your health.
Although the contestability laws are the same as other policies, beyond age and citizenship, it's difficult to see where contestability may arise in a guaranteed issue case.
The guaranteed issue process is lightning fast and can be handled over the telephone in a matter of minutes. Give us a call or email us.
Now you already understand that your story matters, and that two people in similar situations can get very different offers from the same carrier.
What you might not know is that different insurance companies will also treat each case differently.
For example TransAmerica may have more of an appetite for the risk weight loss surgery presents than say Protective. In this case the underwriting grade will reflect this increased appetite.
So, if your Agent only represented one carrier and you found out later that that you could have gotten a rate 35% or 45% better, how would you feel?
You’d probably be pretty peeved either at the agent or yourself or both. So it’s important that your Agent represent multiple carriers.
In fact a good independent agent will have access to over 50 carriers. This ensures the best chance at a good rate.
Note that if he doesn’t, he probably won’t be in a hurry to let you in on this information.
Key Take Aways
Now that you know the information you will need to receive the most accurate quote possible, it’s time to gather the information and speak to an independent Agent (raising my hand).
Simply give us a call or shoot an email over and we can get you started.
We are committed to totally transparent pricing (we’ll even share our computer screen with you if you’d like), and making the application process as painless as possible.
Thank you for reading this article about life insurance after weight loss surgery, if you have any questions,we’d like to hear them.
According to the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, just under 200,000 bariatric surgeries were performed in the US in 2015.
While bariatric surgeries are performed disproportionately for women patients, a study by the University of California -San Diego School of Medicine shows men have a significantly higher rate of complications.
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Jim Tobin is the owner of Life Insurance Help Desk, a Fairfield County, CT. life insurance agency. You can find him on LinkedIn and Facebook. Over the past 10 years, Jim has used his CFP-financial planning designation to help individuals with their life insurance needs. In addition to working with life insurance clients, Jim teaches ESL classes in his spare time. He resides with his beautiful wife Nicole and the 3 cats that rule their lives..
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