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Does BMI affect life insurance rates?

Nov 23, 2020 4 Minute Read

Your health is one of the biggest factors life insurance companies consider when you apply for a policy – and that includes measuring your body weight and body mass index (BMI). So can you get life insurance with a high BMI?

If you have a BMI that’s higher than normal, the good news is there are still life insurance options available. In some cases, though, being overweight may mean higher life insurance rates, paying higher premiums, or not qualifying for certain plans. Here’s what to know about life insurance for high BMI individuals, and how to find a plan that works for your needs.

Does BMI affect life insurance?

BMI is a simple calculation of your body fat based on your height and weight. The scale is the same for men and women, and applies regardless of factors like your build. You can use a basic online calculator to plug in your height and weight and find your BMI.

Based on your number, you’ll fall into one of these categories:

  • Underweight = <18.5
  • Normal weight = 18.5-24.9
  • Overweight = 25-29.9
  • Obesity = 30 or greater

In the United States, two in three adults are considered to be overweight or obese. The higher your BMI, the higher your risk for certain diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, gallstones, breathing problems, and certain cancers. According to the CDC, being in the obese range can also triple your risk of hospitalization because of a COVID-19 infection.

Since being overweight means greater health risks and shorter overall life expectancy, life insurance companies look at your BMI when determining your eligibility and the price you’ll pay. The insurance company will ask you about your height and weight when you apply, and you may need to take a medical exam that will verify that information later.

Each insurance company has its own “build” table with height-to-weight ratios that determine your rates for their insurance policies. While BMI is just one part of the puzzle, it’s an important factor in influencing whether you qualify for life insurance and how much you’ll pay for coverage.

Life insurance for high BMI individuals

Maintaining a healthy BMI is important not only for your life insurance rates, but also your overall health. That said, it’s not a perfect system.

For example, BMI can overestimate body fat for people who are especially muscular, or who are especially short or tall. If your BMI is high, considering other risk factors – like blood pressure or cholesterol readings – can give you and your life insurance company a better picture of your health.

If you’re overweight, it shouldn’t stop you from shopping for life insurance. Here are some tips to get started:

  • Shop around. Companies maintain their own height and weight charts, which means you may get better rates and options at one versus another. eFinancial can help you compare quotes from multiple companies to find the right fit, like a term life or permanent life insurance policy.
  • Don’t wait to get covered. Don’t put off getting life insurance because you need to lose weight. It’s risky, because it means your family isn’t covered if something happens to you. Additionally, you’ll need to keep weight off for a certain period of time before the company will give you credit for that weight loss – often a year or more.
  • Consider no-exam options. If you’re concerned that your BMI will make life insurance prohibitively expensive, look at options that don’t require a medical exam. You’ll typically still need to answer health questions, but you might get more leniency with this option if you have a high BMI when you apply.
  • Prioritize your health. It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor about diet and exercise choices that could improve your health and lower your BMI. Not only can it help you qualify for life insurance, it can also help your overall well-being and lifespan. Prioritizing your health now can help you enjoy a longer, healthier life with your loved ones.

Still have questions?

We’re here to help. Get in touch with one of our agents today.


At eFinancial, our goal is to make life insurance simple, affordable, and understandable for everyday families. This content is intended for educational purposes only. Each post is carefully fact-checked, reviewed and updated regularly to ensure the information is as relevant as possible.