Life Insurance with Sleep Apnea….Everything you need to know

Life Insurance with Sleep Apnea….Everything you need to know

Looking for life insurance with sleep apnea? interested in knowing how to get the best rates available?

You are in the right place to research life insurance with obstructive sleep apnea. However, if  you need to find life insurance for Mixed Sleep Apnea, or Central Sleep Apnea please click here

If you or a loved have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA),  you are aware of how challenging the condition can be on a day to day basis.

What you may not be aware of is how sleep apnea can affect your application for life insurance.

If you already know what you are looking for, you can click on the quick navigation and skip to any portion of this article.

Fast Facts on Sleep Apnea 

life insurance with sleep apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form of sleep apnea and is suffered by 4 percent of the middle aged male population. Middle aged women suffer sleep apnea at about half the rate as men. most sleep apnea conditions are never treated.

Sleep apnea is a condition that causes the stopping of breathing repeatedly during sleep. This happens because the airway collapses, causing a disruption in sleep patterns and daytime sleepiness.

Sleep apnea is not easily diagnosed with a simple doctors visit or blood test. If sleep apnea is suspected, an overnight sleep study is required.

If the results of sleep study are positive, a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure)machine is recommended.  

While using a CPAP machine ( and mask) is inconvenient, the risks of not treating sleep apnea are worse. Sleep apnea is correlated with constant tiredness,  high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. 

Several well known celebrities have suffered from sleep apnea  over the years. Among them are Basketball star Shaq O'neal, comedienne  Rosie O'donnell , musician Quincy Jones, and Texas Governor Rick Perry

life insurance with sleep apnea

What Life Insurers Will Take Into Consideration

When seeking life insurance with Sleep Apnea or any other condition, life insurance underwriters will ususally  be interested in a few basic questions that spur more specific questions. The basics:

  • 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 (follow up & compliance)
  • What is your health like apart from the condition/history in question

While the outline above is general in form , the questions will 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 take a look how each of these questions  in relation to obstructive sleep apnea

Do you "fit" into the usual risk factors for Sleep Apnea

While children can suffer from sleep apnea, the risk profile overwhelmingly points to overweight adults.

Obesity- People who are overweight appear to be at a t higher risk of developing sleep apnea, this is particularly the case in men diagnosed with the disease when they were 50 or older.

For a more detailed discussion of the potential causes of sleep apnea you can visit the Cleveland Clinic.

What are/were your symptoms

Underwriting will want to know the symptoms you had (if any) and how long you had them before the diagnosis.

​The symptoms of sleep apnea are numerous and varied. The Mayo Clinic has provided the following list:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Loud snoring
  • Observed episodes of breathing cessation during sleep
  • Abrupt awakenings accompanied by gasping or choking
  • Awakening with a dry mouth or sore throat
  • Morning headache
  • Difficulty concentrating during the day
  • Experiencing mood changes, such as depression or irritability
  • High blood pressure
  • Nighttime sweating
  • Decreased libido

Key Take Aways

  • Sleep apnea is common but often untreated.
  • Sleep apnea is associated with High blood pressure, Heart attack and stroke.
  • Symptoms include heavy snoring, awaking with dry mouth and excessive tiredness.

Your Diagnosis and Treatments

​Life insurance underwriters will want to know the date of first diagnosis​ and of any subsequent major symptoms. Underwriting will also want to know what your sleep study showed and any lifestyle change/CPAP you have been prescribed for Your sleep apnea.

Below is a list of the more common options provided to obstructive sleep apnea sufferers. Mild cases of sleep apnea can often be treated by life style changes:

  • Lose weight if you're overweight.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Drink alcohol moderately, if at all, and don't drink several hours before bedtime.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Use a nasal decongestant or allergy medications.
  • Don't sleep on your back.

​More severe cases of sleep apnea require either  CPAP therapy or surgery to repair the obstruction.

Your Follow Up Care for Sleep Apnea

Because sleep apnea is so positively correlated with heart disease , underwriting will be interested in your compliance and follow up. Specifically, this means wanting to know if have you've been using a  CPAP machine and attending regularly scheduled follow up appointments with your physician.

Additionally, underwriting will be interested in knowing if you are undertaking any dietary/lifestyle steps to treat the condition. For a full discussion of this see the Mayo Clinic.

Your Over all Health (and any related conditions)

While any application for life insurance will take into consideration your overall health including conditions like high cholesterol and gout, underwriters in sleep apnea cases will specifically look for certain related conditions.

​The conditions most commonly related to sleep apnea are: 

  • High blood pressure or heart disease
  • Daytime fatigue 
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Metabolic syndrome 
  • Complications with medications and surgery. 
  • Liver problems 
  • Sleep-deprived partners

Obtaining Life Insurance with Sleep Apnea

With a couple of caveats, the process of obtaining life insurance is essentially the same for everyone regardless of health.

The primary caveats with sleep apnea are that no exam or so called non-med” policies will only be available in very small face amounts and an attending physician's statement (APS) will be requested on fully underwritten cases.

The APS can slow the process as doctors are in no hurry to respond to requests from life insurance companies.

The information that you will be required to provide in order to get the most accurate quote is as follows:

  • Date of Diagnosis
  • Age at Diagnosis
  • Treatments Undergone
  • Dates of Treatments
  • Severity of Symptoms
  • Any other Health issures

Possible Underwriting Ratings with OSA

Because Life insurance applications are evaluated on a case by case basis, your story matters.

That is to say two people with the same age and condition may get vastly different offers from the same carrier based on age of diagnosis and patient compliance.

Because each case is different, the following pricing scenarios are the best estimates for life insurance with sleep apnea based on experience.

Best Level – If OSA is  under excellent control demonstrated by a follow-up sleep study, some cases have a chance for a preferred rating. Simply use the quoter on the left for a preferred quote.

Mid Level –If your OSA is under control via CPAP compliance and lifestyle changes. You may qualify for a standard rate. Simply use the "standard" selection on the quoter 

To learn about how table ratings work click here.

Severe Level – If your OSA symptoms are severe and you have a need for treatment beyond CPAP and lifestyle changes requiring surgery, you will be postponed until a period following the surgery.

Alternately, if you are not so severe as to require surgery, but are non compliant, the best you will do is a mid to severe substandard rate. ​See Table 6/Table 8 

* 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 happens 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 with Sleep Apnea

Now you already know that your story matters, and that two people in similar situations can get very different life insurance offers from the same carrier.

What you might not know is that different insurance companies will also treat each case differently.

For example Prudential Financial may have more of an appetite for the risk that OSA presents than say Banner. 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 sad like the puppy or mad at the agent or yourself or both. So it’s important that your Agent represent multiple carriers.

In fact most good independent agents will have access to over 40 carriers. This ensures the best chance at the best rate.

Note that if he doesn’t, he likely won't be in a hurry to let you in on this info.

life insurance with sleep apnea

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.
  • 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 with OSA

So, I have been bleating on about the importance of using an independent Agent and you may think that sounds a bit self serving coming from me - an independent agent.

You’d be are right, it is. However, it is also the demonstrated fact.

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 with sleep apnea  or any other impairment.

Gender: Male age 50

$500000 20 Year Term

Tobacco: No

Moderate OSA. Positive lifestyle changes but sporadic CPAP compliance due to mask discomfort. Diagnosed Age 47

Standard Rates - Table 2 Rates - Table 4 Rates

lincoln financial$77.31banner97.78banner128.62
mutual omaha88.99mutual omaha130.77mutual omaha172.55
prudential logo94.73prudential logo143.49prudential logo193.12

This table which shows only a few of the major life insurance companies available illustrates the difference in rates. For standard rates Prudential is 20% more expensive than Lincoln.

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 suffer from OSA or any other serious diagnosis, it gets much more complicated.

Because life insurers manage their appetite for various risks by being more lenient or more strict with underwriting scores, you need to know which company will grade you a preferred plus risk and which ones will grade you as standard.

In the case above Prudential (the most expensive standard rate) is likely to be the best deal because the more competitively priced carriers will likely rate the risk Table 2 while Pru might well go Standard

This is something you can’t know by simply looking at the lowest price. In this hypothetical using an independent agent could save you 50% (the difference between Prudential @ Standard and Lincoln @ Table 2 ($170.29)

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).

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 choosing the Life Insurance Help Desk to research life insurance with sleep apnea. Should you have any question, please do not hesitate to give us a call or contact us via email. 

Life insurance with Sleep Apnea ...Everything you need to know
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Life insurance with Sleep Apnea ...Everything you need to know
How to get the best possible rates on life insurance with sleep apnea, CPAP, underwriting rules and possible rates. Call 203 424-1100
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Life Insurance Help Desk
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James Tobin, CFP

Jim Tobin is the owner of Life Insurance Help Desk, a Fairfield County, CT. life insurance agency. You can find him on Google + 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..