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Life Insurance with a High BMI in Canada 2024

Life Insurance with a High BMI in Canada 2024
Life Insurance with a High BMI in Canada 2024

Getting life insurance with a high body mass index (BMI) can seem daunting. Insurers use BMI, based on height and weight, to assess overall health risks. The higher your BMI, the more it impacts your eligibility for coverage and the premiums you’ll pay.

But having a BMI in the overweight, obese or even morbidly obese ranges doesn’t make getting life insurance impossible. With the right approach tailored to Canada’s underwriting practices, you can secure quality, affordable coverage even if your weight exceeds insurers’ preferred ranges.

This article provides everything you need to know as a Canadian to successfully navigate getting life insurance with a high BMI.

How Canadian Insurers Use BMI in Underwriting

Life insurance companies in Canada use your BMI and other health and lifestyle factors to determine your risk class for underwriting. This, in turn, affects the policy types you qualify for and the premiums you’ll pay.

Calculating Your BMI

BMI stands for body mass index. It is calculated by taking your weight in kilograms and dividing it by your height in square meters.

The formula looks like this: BMI = kg/m2

For example, if you weigh 185 pounds (84 kg) and are 5’10” (1.78 meters) tall, your BMI would be:

84 / ((1.78)^2) = 26.5

Health Risk Classification According to Body Mass Index (BMI) is as follows:

  • Underweight: Below 18.5
  • Normal Weight: 18.5 to 24.9
  • Overweight: 25 to 29.9
  • Obese: 30 or greater

(source: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/food-nutrition/healthy-eating/healthy-weights/canadian-guidelines-body-weight-classification-adults/body-mass-index-nomogram.html)

The higher your BMI, the more excellent mortality risk insurers associate with you being more likely to develop weight-related conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea and certain cancers. These negatively impact life expectancy.

BMI Weight Charts and Limits

Each life insurance company uses its proprietary height/weight chart with ranges to assign risk classes and rating categories.

They want to see BMIs in the normal overweight ranges for standard or preferred premiums. Exceeding the maximum weight limit for your height will result in rating increases.

Rating Up for Higher BMIs

Insurers apply additional premium loadings called “ratings” based on how much your BMI exceeds their normal weight range for your height.

The table below demonstrates an example of the relationship between BMIs and premium ratings in Canada:

BMI RangeRatingSample Premium Increase
18.5 – 24.9Standardstandard premium
25 – 27.4Table A+25%
27.5 – 29.9Table B+50%
30 – 34.9Table C+75%
35 – 39.9Table D+100%
40+Table E+150%+

For example, a BMI of 28 (5’10”, 195 Ib) falls in the overweight range, but is not yet obese. Being overweight typically results in a rating class of Table A or B with Canadian insurers. So, for a BMI of 28, an applicant would likely receive a rating in Table A or Table B range, assuming no other major health issues are present. This equates to paying approximately 25% to 50% more in premiums compared to an individual with a BMI in the standard range.

Obese applicants in the higher BMI ranges may see high ratings of +75% up to +150% above standard premium rates before hitting the decline limit.

Securing Affordable Life Insurance with a High BMI in Canada

Securing Affordable Life Insurance with a High BMI in Canada
Securing Affordable Life Insurance with a High BMI in Canada

Just because you have a few extra pounds doesn’t mean you can’t get quality, affordable life insurance in Canada. Follow these tips to find policies with premiums you can live with:

Work with an Independent Broker

It is key to have an experienced independent broker who represents multiple top Canadian life insurers. They understand how each company assesses BMI and use their own build height/weight charts.

For example, if you get declined by Manulife due to your BMI, the broker can pivot and submit your application to Canada Life, which has a more lenient weight range.

A broker’s ability to shop the market and find you the most competitive rates for your situation is invaluable.

Apply for Simplified Issue Policies

Simplified issue life insurance available from many Canadian insurers doesn’t require a full medical exam – just answering some health history questions.

Their BMI weight limits before rating you into higher premiums are also more flexible compared to fully underwritten policies.

This makes the simplified issues a smart first step for overweight applicants before exploring regular coverage.

Lose Some Weight to Improve Your Rating

Being approved for life insurance with a high BMI is possible. But even shedding 10 or 15 pounds can bring your BMI down just enough to qualify you for a better premium rate class.

If you’ve lost weight recently, let your insurer know. Maintaining a lower weight for 6-12 months often allows them to re-rate you at a lower BMI.

Consider Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance

If declined for traditional policies, guaranteed issue life insurance available from specialized Canadian providers approves applicants regardless of health or BMI.

The trade-off is that these guaranteed acceptance plans offer more limited death benefit amounts and higher costs. However, they provide a fallback option if your BMI or other factors mean you don’t qualify for regular coverage.

Applying with Obesity and Morbid Obesity BMIs

For applicants with more severe obesity and extremely high BMIs in the morbidly obese ranges, securing life insurance in Canada may be more difficult, but is still very possible:

  • Approval remains common up to BMI 45-50, but ratings like Table D/E (+100 to 150% extra) are expected.
  • Over a BMI of 50, outright declines start becoming more likely, especially if other health issues are present.
  • At BMIs approaching 60+, most regular life insurance applicants get declined. Guaranteed issues or final expense policies become the better route.
  • Insurers usually set a cutoff BMI of between 60 to 70 for declining any applicants. Anyone over must pursue a guaranteed acceptance plan.

If you’ve had bariatric surgery for obesity, like gastric bypass or sleeve gastrectomy, you can apply for life insurance 6 to 12 months afterwards once your weight stabilizes.

Policy Types of Life Insurance with a High BMI

All the significant forms of life insurance are attainable in Canada even if you have a BMI in the overweight or obese ranges:

Term Life Insurance

Term life insurance provides temporary coverage from 10 to 30 years. Premiums start low but increase over time. High BMI shortens expected lifespan, raising term costs.

Permanent Life Insurance

Whole life, universal life and other permanent policies provide lifelong coverage and savings that grow tax-deferred. Higher BMI leads to increased premiums.

Simplified Issue

Simplified issue life insurance involves limited underwriting, usually just health questions. Flexible BMI limits make getting coverage easier for overweight applicants.

Guaranteed Issue

Guaranteed issue life insurance approves Canadians regardless of health or BMI. Maximum coverage amounts are lower, but approval is assured.

Group Life Insurance

Many Canadian employers offer group life benefits. Limited underwriting helps higher BMI employees qualify during initial enrolment, and portability allows conversion to individual policies if you change jobs later.

How Life Insurance with a High BMI Works in Canada

How Life Insurance with a High BMI Works in Canada
life buzz quote in canada new 8 1
How Life Insurance with a High BMI Works in Canada

Gaining a solid understanding of how Canadian life insurance companies classify weight and incorporate BMI into underwriting helps demystify the process of getting coverage when you have a few extra pounds.

BMI Risk Classes

Insurers first calculate your BMI from your weight and height. Common BMI risk classes in Canada are:

ClassBMI Range
Preferred/Elite18.5 – 24.9
Standard25 – 29.9
Overweight30 – 34.9
Obese35 – 39.9
Morbidly Obese40+

These align with standard BMI definitions, where normal is up to 25, overweight is 25 to 30, and over 30 is considered obese.

Rating Increases

Next, actuaries consult mortality tables to see your projected lifespan relative to lower BMI applicants. If shorter, insurers assign rating increases to your premiums.

For example, at 5’10” and 230 lbs with a BMI of 33, you’d likely get Table B (+50% extra) or C (+75% extra). If your weight is 290+ lbs with a BMI over 40, Table D/E (+100 to 150% extra) or decline could result.

Losing weight can lead to improved ratings upon policy renewal or re-application.

Benefits, Exclusions, Claims

Apart from eligibility and premiums, having a high BMI doesn’t impact how your life insurance policy works. Your benefits, exclusions, options to customize coverage and claims process all operate the same.

Underwriting is simply stricter upfront for applicants with higher weights, driven by the increased associated mortality risks.

The Pros and Cons of Getting Life Insurance with a High BMI

There are several valuable advantages but also drawbacks to be aware of when obtaining life insurance with a higher-than-average BMI:

Pros

  • Still able to get needed coverage despite above-normal BMI
  • Multiple options exist, including guaranteed issue policies
  • Motivation to lose weight and improve health which can lead to lower premiums
  • You are able to get insurance even if you have obesity-related conditions
  • Coverage available from most top Canadian life insurance companies

Cons

  • Will pay higher premiums compared to applicants with lower BMIs
  • Could be declined for traditionally underwritten life insurance policies
  • The underwriting process often takes longer for high-BMI applicants
  • Delays in eligibility if requiring or undergoing bariatric surgery
  • Overall experience, finding affordable coverage can be more difficult

Generally, the benefits outweigh the downsides, especially when collaborating with an experienced broker who can navigate insurers’ high BMI guidelines and find you affordable rates.

Cost of Life Insurance with a High BMI in Canada

Life insurance costs more for higher BMI applicants because the increased mortality risk means shorter expected lifespans. Exact costs depend on:

  • Your specific BMI and rating category
  • Your age and gender
  • Type of insurance (term, whole life, etc)
  • Policy amount needed
  • Any other health conditions you have

To illustrate the potential impact of BMI on life insurance costs in Canada, here are sample monthly premiums for a $500,000 20-year term policy for a 40-year-old male:

  • Standard BMI: $50
  • Overweight BMI: $65
  • Obese BMI: $90
  • Morbidly Obese BMI: $250

Permanent life insurance policies like whole life or universal life would cost significantly more, likely 4 to 10 times the equivalent term insurance rates.

Overall, expect to pay anywhere from 25% up to 500%+ more compared to Canadians with BMIs in the standard ranges.

Aside from High BMI, various with pre-existing disorders impacting life insurance are Depression, Lupus, HIV/AIDS, Autoimmune Diseases, High Cholesterol, High Blood Pressure, Drug Use, etc. See these helpful guides on how to apply for life insurance with pre-existing conditions:

Comparing Life Insurance with a High BMI in Canada

If your BMI falls outside normal ranges, compare quotes from at least 5 top Canadian life insurance companies to find your best option:

Policy Type

Compare term vs. permanent and fully underwritten vs. simplified issue vs. guaranteed issue policies.

Rating Factors

Insurers’ BMI charts, categories, limits and premium loadings vary. A high rating with one company could be standard with another.

Approval Odds

Each insurer’s risk appetite for high BMI applicants differs. Apply broadly to find one that approves you.

Exclusions

Make sure to review what conditions like diabetes may exclude you from certain life insurance policies.

Premiums

Weigh the increased cost due to BMI versus your desired amount of coverage. Get quotes for multiple policy amounts.

An experienced broker simplifies comparing life insurance with a high BMI by providing multiple quotes tailored to your situation.

Who Needs Life Insurance with a High BMI in Canada?

The following groups often need life insurance but run into challenges finding affordable coverage due to having a higher BMI:

  • Overweight, obese and morbidly obese individuals according to BMI classifications. Even without other health conditions currently, above-normal weight signals higher mortality risk.
  • Applicants declined for traditionally underwritten policies due to both high BMI and related illnesses like heart disease or diabetes. Guaranteed issue life insurance becomes their option.
  • Those who have lost significant weight through bariatric surgery or lifestyle changes require coverage before the 12+ month timeframe when re-applying at their lower BMI.
  • Certain professions like truck driving, construction work and caregiving where higher BMIs are more common due to lack of time for proper diet and exercise.
  • Anyone needing life insurance now but also actively working to lose weight, with the goal of later re-applying at a lower BMI for reduced premiums.

How To Buy Life Insurance With A High BMI In Canada

How To Buy Life Insurance With A High BMI in Canada
How To Buy Life Insurance With A High BMI in Canada

Follow these steps when shopping for coverage of life insurance with a high BMI in Canada:

Calculate Your BMI

Know your current height, weight and resulting BMI number so you can shop accurately.

Work with an Independent Broker

Find a broker specializing in high BMI cases. Their expertise is key to getting preferred rates.

Explore Simplified Issue Policies First

Simplified issue plans offer more BMI leniency and require no medical exam.

Compare Quotes from At Least 5 Insurers

There can be significant differences in rating approaches between Canadian life insurance companies.

Disclose Your Complete Medical History

Don’t try to hide anything that could jeopardize your eligibility later on.

Consider Guaranteed Issue as a Backup

While benefits are more minor, guaranteed issue policies ensure high BMI applicants get coverage.

Re-Apply After Hitting Weight Loss Milestones

Insurers may improve your rating if you maintain a lower weight for 6-12 months.

Where to Buy Life Insurance with a High BMI in Canada

These Top Canadian life insurance companies offer some of the best options for purchasing policies with higher-than-average BMIs:

  • Banner Life – may offer more lenient underwriting for applicants with higher BMIs compared to some other insurers
  • AIG (American General) – Known for insuring BMIs up to 50. Specialize in high-risk life insurance.
  • Assumption Life – Flexible with simplified issue policies.
  • Mutual of Omaha – may offer life insurance policies to applicants with BMIs exceeding limits of some other insurers.
  • Canada Protection Plan – Leading provider of guaranteed issue policies for declined applicants.
  • Foresters Financial – may offer life insurance to higher-risk applicants, including those with potentially higher BMIs
  • RBC Insurance – may offer traditional life insurance policies to applicants with higher BMIs.

Conclusion: Don’t Let BMI Stop You from Getting Covered

A higher-than-normal BMI doesn’t prevent you from securing a quality, affordable life insurance coverage in Canada. With smart strategies tailored to Canada’s underwriting practices, such as working with an experienced broker and comparing quotes across multiple insurers, candidates with a few extra pounds can still find policies that meet their needs.

Be ready to pay somewhat higher premiums based on your BMI’s added risk, and don’t hesitate to consider guaranteed issue insurance if declined for traditionally underwritten options.

While obtaining life insurance with a high BMI in Canada requires some additional effort, this guide’s tips will give you everything you need to overcome challenges and get covered. Don’t let BMI concerns deter you from obtaining peace of mind and protecting your loved ones.

As Canada’s leading life insurance resource, Lifebuzz provides the news and guidance to make smart insurance decisions.

Stay current on industry changes. Learn how trends impact your policy. Access expert tips to optimize your life insurance with a high BMI.

Sign up now on Lifebuzz.ca to gain exclusive access to tools and insights that protect your financial future. We look forward to assisting you!

Frequently Asked Questions about life insurance with a high BMI

How long after bariatric surgery can you apply for life insurance with a high BMI in Canada?

Most insurers require 6-12 months after surgery for weight to stabilize before applying, but some may consider earlier applications if extensive medical records are provided. Discuss timing with your life insurance advisor.

Does smoker status make life insurance with a high BMI in Canada even costlier?

Yes, using tobacco products on top of having a higher BMI further amplifies mortality risks. Insurers apply significant additional premium increases for smokers with BMIs exceeding the standard ranges.

Can losing weight lower your rates for life insurance with a high BMI in Canada?

Losing weight and keeping it off for 6-12 months can allow insurers to improve your rating class and offer new quotes at your lower BMI, reducing premium costs.

Should you lose weight before applying for life insurance with a high BMI?

You don't need to delay getting coverage until you lose weight. Apply now to get insured, and then you can work on lifestyle changes to potentially improve your rating down the road.

Is BMI rechecked after getting life insurance with a high BMI in Canada?

Insurers evaluate your BMI when you first apply. Your rating will only be rechecked later if you lose significant weight and request that your insurer re-assess it at your new lower BMI.

How much more expensive is life insurance with a high BMI in Canada?

Expect premiums 25-500%+ higher than standard policies. Actual costs depend on your BMI class, age, gender, policy type, amount, and other medical conditions. An advisor can quote specifics.

Is no medical exam life insurance with a high BMI available in Canada?

Yes, guaranteed issue and simplified issue life insurance options do not involve medical exams or health questions about your weight. This can provide high BMI individuals with an alternative when traditional coverage is tricky.

Does life insurance with a high BMI cover less in Canada?

Your BMI does not affect the death benefit coverage amount. Only your eligibility, premiums, and application process are impacted. Your beneficiaries still receive the full death benefit payout.

Are there any bonuses for maintaining or losing weight after getting life insurance with a high BMI in Canada?

While incentives or rewards for losing weight are uncommon, improving your BMI even modestly can allow you to request a re-evaluation and potentially improve your premium rate class with most insurers after maintaining it for 6-12 months.

Does gender impact eligibility for life insurance with a high BMI differently in Canada?

Some insurers have different BMI charts for males and females. However, in general, the impact of eligibility and rating does not differ significantly by gender in Canada. All applicants see higher premiums as BMI rises.

How long should you maintain a lower weight before re-applying for life insurance with a high BMI in Canada?

Most Canadian insurers want to see you hold a new lower weight for at least 6-12 months before considering improved rating classes at the new BMI. This demonstrates sustainability.

What is the best way to disclose weight loss to your insurer when re-applying for life insurance with a high BMI for better rates in Canada?

Notify them in writing that you have maintained a lower weight for over six months and wish to have your policy rating re-evaluated. Provide updated height and weight and a doctor's confirmation of the changes.

Can I switch insurers if I lose weight after getting life insurance with a high BMI in Canada?

Yes, after maintaining a lower weight for around a year, you could re-apply with a new insurer that could potentially offer better rates for your now lower BMI. Just make sure to continue paying premiums on any existing policy until the new one is issued.

How long does qualifying for life insurance with a high BMI in Canada take?

Due to additional underwriting requirements like exams and doctor reports, the application process for high BMI applicants should take around 4-8 weeks compared to 2-4 weeks for standard BMI applicants. A simplified issue can be faster.

What medical tests do companies require for life insurance with a high BMI in Canada?

Expect requirements like a paramedical exam, blood panel testing, other lab work, and often an attending physician's report specifically addressing BMI-related health factors and risks.

How long do you have to be obese for it to impact eligibility for life insurance with a high BMI in Canada?

There is no defined period. Insurers simply look at your current BMI at the time of application. A long history of high BMI may prompt more scrutiny, but your weight matters most when applying.

Article Sources:

For a deeper look at our dedication to accuracy, transparency, and independence, please refer to the Lifebuzz.ca Editorial Policy. We take great pride in being Canada’s most trusted life insurance news source:

  1. Impact of Height and Weight on Life Insurance in Canada – https://protectyourwealth.ca/
  2. Can You Get Life Insurance if You’re Overweight? (No-Judgement Guide) – https://www.policyme.com/
  3. Life insurance with a high BMI – legalandgeneral.com
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Written by Ben Nguyen

Ben Nguyen is an award-winning insurance expert and industry veteran with over 20 years of experience. He is the chairman and director of IDC Insurance Direct Canada Inc., one of Canada's leading online insurance brokerages.

Ben is renowned for his extensive knowledge of life, health, disability, and travel insurance products. He is the prolific author of over 1,000 educational articles published on LifeBuzz, BestInsuranceOnline, and InsuranceDirectCanada. His articles provide Canadians with advice on making smart insurance decisions.

With a Bachelor's degree in Actuarial Science and a Fellow of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries (FCIA) designation, Ben is frequently interviewed by media as an insurance industry spokesperson.

He has received numerous honors including the Insurance Council of Canada’s Pivotal Leadership Award, the Canadian Insurance Hall of Fame induction, and the President’s Medal from the Canadian Institute of Actuaries.

Ben continues to shape the vision and strategy of IDC Insurance Direct as chairman. He is dedicated to advancing the insurance industry through his insightful leadership.

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