Updated: April 21, 2022
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Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes disturbances in breathing during sleep. Aside from snoring, interrupted sleep, and daytime fatigue, sleep apnea can have serious health consequences.
With so many people affected by symptoms of mild sleep apnea, it is important to know how to obtain life insurance with sleep apnea.
It’s important to understand how sleep apnea not only affects your health, but can also affect outcomes in finding affordable life insurance. If you are looking for affordable life insurance quotes, understanding how to obtain life insurance with sleep apnea can save you time and expense.
Before you learn how to get lifetime insurance with sleep apnea, take a second to arm yourself with a real rate of comparison.
Read on to learn more about getting lifetime insurance with sleep apnea.
Can I get lifetime insurance if I have sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea alone is not a life-threatening condition, so the logical question is why is there any relationship between sleep apnea and life insurance at all?
The problem is that life insurance companies are very good at managing risk and according to them John Hopkins MedicinePeople diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea are more likely to have more serious problems with type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
So, in order to not only qualify for sleep apnea life insurance, 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 prove that you are keeping up with your health and any treatments your doctors recommend.
For example, if you are able to keep your weight, cholesterol, and blood sugar within healthy ranges, you will likely go through the underwriting process without problems.
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Sleep Apnea and Life Insurance Rates
If you’ve taken a minute to use our free pricing tool, you already have a pretty good idea of what you might expect to pay for life insurance.
Depending on how aggressive your sleep apnea symptoms are, you may not qualify for preferred rates. The rate chart below provides average preferred rates from the best insurance companies.
However, as we all know, when it comes to insurance, qualifying for the preferred premium rates can be an upside. To get a better idea of where you might stand, let’s compare with some real life scenarios.
Real examples from actual customers
Juan applied for life insurance at the age of 52.
- Joanne was diagnosed with sleep apnea at the age of 46
- Diagnosed by polysomnography and prescribed using CPAP at night
- He uses the CPAP machine every night and visits his doctor twice a year for sleep apnea
- His medical records clearly document his continued use and successful treatment, and a post-treatment sleep study supports this
- Juan is a non-smoker
- Result: Favorite rating category is approved
- excellent: $219 per year
Don applied for life insurance at age 45.
- Don was diagnosed with mild sleep apnea when he was 43 years old
- His doctor prescribed the nightly use of a continuous positive airway pressure device and smoking cessation
- He tried to use CPAP but he didn’t like it, so he stopped using it
- No longer seeing a doctor about sleep apnea
- The insurance company delayed his application until he had finished his current sleep study to prove that sleep apnea was no longer a concern.
- outcome: to reject
With sleep apnea, life insurance companies are looking for compliance with medical guidelines and proof of successful treatment. Almost all problems that arise when trying to obtain approval for life insurance with sleep apnea are due to non-compliance or lack of follow-up with the treating physician.
Best life insurance companies for people with sleep apnea
There are times when nearby shopping comes in handy. Life insurance for those with sleep apnea is no exception. Some insurance companies are still willing to offer better rates if they rate your individual risk as medium to low.
In order to get an idea of the companies to start with, you should start with the best insurance companies such as John Hancock, Prudential or Mutual Omaha. why?
Larger insurers have more clients, which means that the insurance groups they use to assess risk are larger. In some cases, more people with milder conditions can refer to a lower risk profile that insurance bureaus can use to determine a better risk profile for you.
If that doesn’t work, shop with more local independent insurance companies. why? In some cases, smaller insurers are willing to take some additional risk to compete with larger insurers.
If your symptoms are well managed, working with an insurance company taking time to know you individually can pay off.
Buy life insurance with sleep apnea
Aside from shopping for a great price, there are a few other important elements to consider when you are about to purchase a life insurance policy.
You likely qualify for a policy with a fixed term, whether it’s 5, 10, 15, or 20 years. Now it is important to think about what you will do when the policy expires.
If you are 20 years old and your policy expires, it will be more difficult to qualify for any insurance.
Talk to your insurance company now about options for converting your policy into a permanent insurance option. It is important to think and clearly understand what is happening when life insurance reaches the end of the term. Having a convertible option now will save you a lot of headaches in the long run.
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What are life insurance companies looking for?
Life insurers are concerned that those with sleep apnea are taking appropriate precautions to keep it under control. The life insurance company will specifically look at:
- Current sleep study favorable to demonstrate treatment success
- Consistent use of a C-PAP device (if prescribed)
- Good response to treatment
- Regular follow-up with your doctor to make sure C-PAP is working
- A medical diagnosis or an associated risk factor, such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, depression, stroke, or obesity
- No sleep-related accidents while driving
The classification category that insurance companies provide for applicants with obstructive sleep apnea is based on the severity of the disorder, results of sleep studies, symptoms, treatment, response and compliance with treatment, number of years since symptoms last, and the applicant’s overall health and death risks.
Untreated sleep apnea is often categorized as poor or may be denied coverage, as is the case for patients who have obstructive sleep apnea but do not comply with a physician’s treatment recommendations. The insurance company will look for evidence in the medical records that the treatment advice was followed and successful.
How to prepare to apply for term life insurance
To qualify for the more expensive insurance offers, you will have to undergo a medical examination. There is really no way to “fool” your medical exam. The best way to prepare for a life insurance medical exam is to maintain good health practices through diet and exercise.
- Follow your doctor’s treatment recommendations.
- Complete a polysomnography after treatment as evidence of treatment success.
- Attend regular follow-up visits with your doctor and ask for updated treatment notes to check your compliance and treatment success.
Understanding sleep apnea
There are a few types of sleep apnea to watch out for.
- The air passage is compressed by a blockage, such as a swollen tonsil, a large tongue, or simply closing off the soft tissues of the throat as the muscles relax.
- It can also be caused by excess weight or the anatomical proportions of the jaw.
Central sleep apnea
- The brain fails to send signals 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 are young or old, male or female. Even children can develop sleep apnea. But some factors put you at increased risk:
- Neck circumference greater than 17 inches
- Of course there is a narrow airway
- Be male or over 65
- family history
- Use of sedatives, tranquilizers, or alcohol
- Sitting for long periods
- heart disease
- Stroke or brain disorders
As of 2016, the following numbers show the importance of sleep apnea:
- 42 million American adults have sleep apnea
- 9% of middle-aged women suffer from sleep apnea
- 25% of middle-aged men suffer from sleep apnea
Treatment and prevention
Here are several ways to treat and prevent sleep apnea:
- Many people with sleep apnea are successfully treated with a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine. A CPAP device is a device worn during sleep that maintains positive airflow by preventing collapse of the throat.
- Lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, quitting tobacco/alcohol use, and avoiding 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 instead of the back is beneficial for some.
How to Get Life Insurance with Sleep Apnea: Conclusion
The good news about applying for life insurance when you have sleep apnea is – yes, you can qualify for coverage. The bad news is approval, and the rating category can be very unpredictable and subjective.
However, if you follow the advice we have given and, most importantly, discuss your situation with a life insurance agent or broker, you can get a positive result.
And remember, if you are not satisfied with the offer you receive, you can always try with another company or put the policy in place and work to improve the rating category with better control and lab results.
Are you ready to buy lifetime insurance with sleep apnea?
Sources: American College of Physicians, Mayo Clinic