UPDATED: Apr 21, 2022
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Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes disruptions in breathing while sleeping. Aside from snoring, disrupted sleep, and fatigue during the day, sleep apnea can have more seriouse health consequences.
With so many people affected by even mild sleep apnea symptoms, its important to learn how to get term life insurance with sleep apnea.
It’s important to understand how sleep apnea not only affects your health but can affect outcomes in finding affordable life insurance. If you are looking for affordable term life insurance quotes, understanding how to get term life insurance with sleep apnea can save you time and expense.
Before learning how to get term life insurance with sleep apnea, take a second to arm yourself with a real rate to compare.
Read on to learn about getting term life insurance with sleep apnea.
Can I get term life insurance if I have sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea alone is not a life threatening condition, so a common sense question is why is there any connection between sleep apnea and life insurance at all?
The problem is that life insurance companies are very good with managing risk and, according to John Hopkins Medicine, people diagnosed with sleep apnea are more likely to develop more critical issues with type-2 diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
So, in order for you to not only qualify for life insurance with sleep apnea, but to qualify for preferred rates, you will have to work with your doctor to manage your symptoms as well as manage your overall health.
Finding life insurance with sleep apnea and qualifying for preferred rates shouldn’t be too difficult if you can demonstrate that you keep up with your health and any treatments your doctors recommend.
For instance, if you are able to keep your weight, cholesterol, and blood sugar within healthy ranges, you can likely get through the underwriting process without issue.
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Sleep Apnea and Term Life Insurance Rates
If you took a moment to use our free quote tool, you already have a good sense of what you might expect to pay for life insurance.
Depending on how aggressive your sleep apnea symptoms are, you might not qualify for preferred rates. The rate chart below provides average preferred plus rates from top insurers.
However, as we all know, when it comes to insurance, qualifying for the preferred plus rates can be an uphill climb. To get a better sense of where you might stand, let’s compare with some real life scenarios.
Real Examples from Actual Customers
Juan applied for life insurance at age 52.
- Juan was diagnosed with sleep apnea at the age of 46
- He was diagnosed via a sleep study and was prescribed nightly use of a CPAP machine
- He uses the CPAP machine every night and visits his doctor twice per year to follow up on his sleep apnea
- His medical records clearly document his continued use and successful treatment, and they also show a post-treatment sleep study that supports this
- Juan is a non-smoker
- Outcome: Approved at a Preferred rating class
- Premium: $219 annually
Don applied for term life insurance at age 45.
- Don was diagnosed with moderate sleep apnea when he was 43 years old
- His doctor prescribed nightly use of a CPAP machine and smoking cessation
- He tried using the CPAP but didn’t like it, so he discontinued use
- Has not returned to see a doctor regarding the sleep apnea
- The insurance company postponed his application until he has completed a current sleep study to prove that his sleep apnea is no longer a concern
- Outcome: Declined
With sleep apnea, life insurance companies look for compliance of medical guidance and proof of successful treatment. Almost all of the problems that arise trying to get approved for life insurance with sleep apnea are due to non-compliance or lack of follow up with the treating physician.
The Best Life Insurance Companies for People With Sleep Apnea
There are times when it pays to shop around. Life insurance for those with sleep apnea is no exception. Some insurance companies are willing to still provide better rates if they assess your individual risk as moderate to low.
In order to get an idea for which companies to start with, you should start with top insurers like John Hancock, Prudential, or Mutual Omaha. Why?
Bigger insurers have more customers and that means the insurance pools they use to assess risk are bigger. In some cases, more people with milder conditions can indicate a lower risk profile which underwriters can use to determine a better risk pool for you.
If that doesn’t work, shop with more localized independent insurers. Why? In some cases, smaller insurers are willing to take on some additional risk to compete with the big insurers.
If your symptoms are well managed, working with an insurer that takes time to know you individually can pay off.
Buying Life Insurance with Sleep Apnea
Aside from shopping around for a great rate, there are a few other important items to consider when you are about to purchase a life insurance policy.
You’ve likely qualified for a term policy of a specific length, whether its 5, 10, 15, or 20 years. Thinking about what you will do when the policy expires is important right now.
If you are 20 years older and your policy expires, it will be even more difficult to qualify for any insurance.
Speak to your insurer now about options to convert your policy to a permanent insurance option. Its important to think about and clearly understand what happens when your term life insurance reaches the end of term. Having a convertible option now will save you a lot of headaches in the long run.
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What Life Insurance Companies Look For
Life insurance companies are concerned that those with sleep apnea are taking the proper precautions to keep it under control. The life insurance company will be looking specifically at:
- Current, favorable sleep study to prove that treatment is working
- Consistent use of the C-PAP machine (if prescribed)
- Good response to treatment
- Regular follow-ups with the doctor to be sure the C-PAP is working
- Associated medical diagnosis or risk factor, such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, depression, stroke or obesity
- No sleep-related accidents while driving
The rating class offered by insurance companies on applicants with sleep apnea will depend on the severity of the disorder, results of sleep studies, symptoms, treatment, response and compliance with treatment, number of years since last symptoms, and the overall health and mortality risk of the applicant.
Untreated sleep apnea is often rated poorly or may even be declined for coverage, as are patients who have sleep apnea but do not comply with the doctor’s treatment recommendations. The insurance company will be looking for proof in the medical records that treatment advice is followed and is successful.
How to Prepare for Your Term Life Insurance Application
To qualify for most affordable insurance offers, you will have to take a medical exam. There is really no way to “trick” your medical exam. The best way to prepare for your term life insurance medical exam is to maintain good health practices with diet and exercise.
- Follow your doctor’s treatment recommendations.
- Complete a post-treatment sleep study as proof that the treatment is working.
- Attend regular follow-up visits with your doctor and request up to date treatment notes to verify your compliance and success with the treatment.
Understanding Sleep Apnea
There are a few types of sleep apnea to watch out for.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
- The air passage is squeezed by an obstruction, such as swollen tonsils, a large tongue, or simply the closing of the soft tissue of the throat as the muscles relax.
- Can also be caused by excess weight or by anatomical proportions of the jaw.
Central Sleep Apnea
- The brain fails to signal to the muscles that control breathing.
- Heart disease is a contributing factor.
Complex Sleep Apnea
- A combination of obstructive and central sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea may occur if you’re young or old, male or female. Even children can have sleep apnea. But certain factors put you at increased risk:
- Being overweight
- Neck circumference greater than 17 inches
- Naturally having a narrow airway
- Being male, or over age 65
- Family history
- Use of tranquilizers, sedatives or alcohol
- Prolonged sitting
- Heart disease
- Stroke or brain disorders
As of 2016, the following numbers show the significance of sleep apnea:
- 42 million American adults have sleep apnea
- 9% of middle-aged women have sleep apnea
- 25% of middle-aged men have sleep apnea
Treatment and Prevention
Listed below are several ways to treat and prevent sleep apnea:
- Many people with sleep apnea are treated successfully with a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine. A CPAP is a device that is worn during sleep that maintains positive airflow by preventing a collapse of the throat.
- Lifestyle changes, such as weight loss, cessation of tobacco/alcohol use, and avoidance of caffeine or sedatives may help.
- Some patients undergo surgery to remove excess tissue from the soft palate to try to relieve symptoms.
- Sleeping on the side of the body rather than the back is helpful for some.
How to Get Term Life Insurance with Sleep Apnea: The Bottom Line
The good news about applying for term life insurance when you have sleep apnea is — yes, you can qualify for coverage. The bad news is the approval, and rating class can be very unpredictable and subjective.
However, if you follow the advice we’ve provided and, more importantly, discuss your situation with your life insurance agent or broker, you can have a positive outcome.
And remember, if you are not pleased with the offer you receive, you can always try with another company or put the policy in force and work on improving the rating class through better control and lab results.
Are you ready to buy term life insurance with sleep apnea?
Sources: American College of Physicians, Mayo Clinic