Life Insurance after Weight Loss Surgery …..Everything You Need to Know
If you are interested in obtaining life insurance after weight loss surgery, you are in the right place.
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 surgeryt, life insurance carriers will want to know as much as they can about the risk they are being asked to insure. This is no different than how the carriers deal with underwriting life insurance with high blood pressure and hyperthryroid or lifestyle choices like marijuana use or scuba diving.
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.
If you already know more than you ever wanted to about weight loss surgery, or you know exactly what you are looking for, you can use the quick navigation tool to skip around.
Fast Facts About Weight Loss Surgery
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.
Sore pretty famous people have had bariatric surgery. Among the better known are: singer Etta James, television personality Al Roker, novelist Ann Rice, and politician Chis Christie.
What Life Insurers Will Take Into Consideration
Regardless of the condition being considered , life insurance underwriters will generally be concerned with the details that emerge from 5 general questions
- Do you fit into the usual risk factors for the condition
- What are/were your syptoms
- What was the Diagnosis & Treatment
- What is the aftercare
- What is your health like apart from the condition/history in question
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.
Do you "fit" into the usual risk factors for Bariatric Surgery
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.
What were your symptoms
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:
- date of surgery (generally insurers want 1 year to pass before offering coverage),
- Type of surgery band,sleeve,bypass
- Pre-op weight
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.
Your Follow Up Care
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.
Your Over all Health (any related conditions)
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.
Obtaining Life Insurance after a Bariatric Surgery
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
- Amount of weight lost
Follow up history
Any complications or other Health Issues
Possible Underwriting Ratings after Weight Loss Surgery
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.
Why you Should Use an Independent Agent when Shopping for Life Insurance after Weight Loss Surgery
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
- Access to more carriers will result in better pricing.
- It may be worth paying slightly more if there is a strong permanent conversion product.
- Only independent brokers have the freedom to offer the best deal at all times.
Case Study Pricing Policies after Bariatric Surgery
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
|CARRIER||MO. PYMT||CARRIER||MO. PYMT||CARRIER||MO. PYMT|
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 ons 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!
Your Next Step
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.