How To Get The Best Life Insurance With Sleep Apnea
Life insurance is one of the most important safety nets you can purchase for your loved ones – but finding an affordable policy can be a little tricky when you have a pre-existing condition like sleep apnea.
According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, over 22 million Americans suffer from a lack of restorative sleep because of their condition. If untreated, this sleep disorder can disrupt the flow of daily life and contribute to the risk of heart disease or diabetes. Because of this, life insurance carriers can be particularly wary of applicants that are diagnosed with sleep apnea – but that doesn’t mean life insurance is impossible to get.
To address the confusion around sleep apnea and insurance, this guide explores three things. Namely, the risks associated with sleep apnea and why these matter to folks in the life insurance industry, what your life insurance company looks at, and how you can get life insurance with sleep apnea.
Sleep Apnea: What It Is And How It Affects Your Life Insurance
Sleep apnea can significantly impact your life insurance rates – but how exactly? This section delves into what sleep apnea is and how it can affect your life policies.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a medical condition that causes breathing disturbances while you’re sleeping. People with sleep apnea may generally stop breathing from a few seconds to several minutes, causing them to come out of deep “restorative” sleep. This disruption in restorative sleep can cause daytime drowsiness and general feelings of fatigue.
Furthermore, many people with sleep apnea generally aren’t aware of their condition until a family member or loved one brings it to their attention. This results in many people remaining untreated for this potentially dangerous health condition.
Given this, some cases of sleep apnea are more severe than others. There are three types of sleep apnea, each with different risks and possible causes:
Central Sleep Apnea: When a person has Central Sleep Apnea, their brain doesn't send proper signals to the muscles that control their breathing. Heart complications are generally considered a contributing factor.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea: An individual with Obstructive Sleep Apnea experiences an obstruction in their air passages while sleeping. This is usually caused by the patient having a large tongue, swollen tonsils, or the general contraction of soft tissue in the throat.
Complex Sleep Apnea: Complex Sleep Apnea is a combination of symptoms from both Central Sleep Apnea and Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
How Sleep Apnea Affects Your Life Insurance Rates
When you apply for life insurance with sleep apnea, you’ll be required to provide health records, complete a medical exam, and provide any pertinent information about your lifestyle, hobbies, and occupation.
Life insurance companies want to see your medical records and exam results to form a statistically-informed opinion of how “risky” it would be to insure you. Once your life insurance company understands how risky you are as an individual, you’ll be assigned to a risk class.
Risk Class And Life Insurance Costs
While no two individuals are exactly alike, many applicants share traits that allow them to be assigned to different risk classes. The assignment is based on your personal information and expected exam results. In descending order of risk and overall cost, the possible risks life insurance carriers may assign are as follows:
Preferred Plus: The lowest-risk category. This includes most younger applicants and individuals in excellent health with no significant health issues. This risk class is awarded the most affordable life insurance rates.
Preferred: A small step down from Preferred Plus. Individuals in this category are in excellent health but may have minor health issues like high cholesterol or blood pressure.
Standard Plus: The below-average risk category. Candidates in this risk class are usually in above-average health but may have a high BMI.
Standard: Applicants in this risk class have an average life expectancy. This is usually because of pre-existing medical conditions from years ago or a history of significant medical complications in the family.
Being diagnosed with sleep apnea is likely to raise a few red flags with your life insurance agent. However, insurance companies usually make sure to run a routine sleep study to determine how severe the condition is. Specifically, they’ll look into your Apnea hypopnea index (AHI), which is the number of pauses in breathing per hour of sleep, and your Oxygen saturation, which measures your blood oxygen levels.
Even mild to moderate sleep apnea cases can result in an elevated risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and liver issues. Therefore, your diagnosis may signal your life insurance broker to assign a risk class that may result in higher overall costs for your life insurance coverage.
What Insurance Companies Look At
Generally speaking, life insurance companies make sure to conduct thorough tests and interviews to get a good idea of who you are. Everything from your gender, age, height, weight, past health insurance applications, car accident history, pre-existing health conditions, and even hobbies can affect your life insurance.
However, life insurance companies may require people with a sleep apnea diagnosis to undergo a sleep study to better understand how they’re handling their condition. Beyond this, a life insurance company may look at the following factors when dealing with an applicant with sleep apnea:
When were they diagnosed with sleep apnea?
Do the results of the sleep study indicate that the existing treatment is working as planned? (ex. oxygen saturation, oxygen levels, and apnea-hypopnea index)
Does the applicant demonstrate consistent use of a bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP) machine or continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine?
Do they go for regular follow-ups with a physician to ensure that the CPAP machine is working?
Do they respond well to treatment?
Do they have any associated medical diagnosis or risk factors such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, depression, or obesity?
Have there been any sleep-related driving accidents?
How To Get Life Insurance For People With Sleep Apnea: Tips For The Best Rates
Getting desirable life insurance quotes when you have sleep apnea depends on your condition's severity, but other factors may influence policy costs. This section explains how making adjustments to your lifestyle and investing in your health can ease the financial strain of purchasing a life insurance policy.
Keep Your Medical Records Updated
Regular trips to the doctor can benefit just about anyone – but when you’re looking to buy life insurance with sleep apnea, it’s especially important.
Earlier, it was established that providers determine your life insurance quotes based on risk. Therefore, if you’ve made significant progress with your CPAP treatment and have the sleep study results to prove it, then you’re likely to receive lower rates overall. But if a medical professional didn’t record this progress, then insurers may question the integrity of your claim and rate you based on inaccurate readings.
Follow Your Treatment Plan
The primary factor behind getting the best life insurance rates possible is treatment. Untreated sleep apnea is often seen to be very high risk, leading many insurance providers to decline your application outright. That’s because, without CPAP or BiPAP treatment, people with sleep apnea have a much higher mortality risk than individuals that seek treatment.
Consider Term Life Insurance
If cost is a major deciding factor for you, then you may want to consider buying term life insurance instead of whole life insurance. Term life insurance rates are relatively low compared to more permanent options while still offering the security of a death benefit. However, there is one major trade-off that you should be aware of.
Specifically, term life policies have an expiration date. That means if you outlive your policy, you also outlive the possibility of your beneficiaries receiving any money.
Bring Down Your Body Weight
CPAP treatments are effective, but not as effective as weight loss. If a person with sleep apnea loses even 10% of their body weight, they’re less likely to experience their condition's adverse effects. In some cases, weight loss may even cure the disease altogether.
However, weight management has the potential to impact your policy rates twofold. That’s because insurance providers often use weight as a determining factor when computing policy quotes, and aiming for a healthy BMI lowers your overall mortality. If your weight management also successfully eases your sleep apnea, you may even be eligible for Preferred risk class rates.
Quit Smoking And Alcohol Consumption
It’s common knowledge that alcohol and tobacco consumption impacts your insurance rates, and this applies regardless of any medical conditions. Therefore, even if it seems completely unrelated at first, you may want to consider quitting smoking and drinking alcohol to qualify for better rates on your life insurance policy.
However, do note that simply saying you’ve quit isn’t enough. Insurers require their applicants to have no history of tobacco use within the last 12 months for a non-smoker rating.
The Bottom Line
Sleep apnea may seem benign at first, but it can impact your health and your likelihood of qualifying for life insurance. However, with CPAP treatments and due diligence, applicants may get more affordable quotes for the coverage they need.
Contact us at Wesley Insurance, LLC so we can help you find the best possible insurance setup for you!