Life Insurance & BMI (Body Mass Index)

Written by Jack Davis

Life insurance is one of the best security blankets you will ever purchase for the future safety and financial security of your loved ones. We know that sometimes finding the perfect life insurance policy can be a long and frustrating process, but it doesn’t have to be.

Something not many people consider when considering a life insurance purchase is their BMI, (Body Mass Index). 

Life Insurance and BMI

Life insurance and BMI may seem like a non issue for someone that is healthy and is an average weight, though it affects everyone.

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If you feel your health would be an issue, there are companies who offer insurance policies with no medical exam required.  However, a no medical exam application will still review your current and past medical history.

Whether you believe you are in excellent health and should receive the best rate class available, or you’re struggling to find affordable coverage because you’re overweight, both sides of the spectrum are affected by BMI.

If you want to know who will give you the lowest premiums considering your current BMI, we can help.

How is BMI Calculated?

Before we get too far into how BMI will affect your life insurance premiums, and even its capacity to affect your ability to qualify, let’s discuss what BMI is, and how it’s calculated.

BMI, or body mass index, according to Wikipedia, is a ratio used to compare your height and weight as a rough estimate of fat content in your body. This is useful for many reasons but especially good to know when offering someone life insurance. This is because your BMI can affect your overall risk for long term disease and health conditions. If you want to know if you can buy high risk life insurance, we can help.

bmi formula

When you’re buying life insurance and your BMI falls outside of normal ranges, this can cause marginal to large increases in premiums. If your BMI is too far out of range, typically on the overweight side, you may even be declined by some companies, although you more than likely will be rated which will result in higher premiums.

Something carriers are worried about for someone being underweight is malnutrition, while obesity risks may include:

Most fit individuals generally do not see these health problems, although many studies show someone who holds themselves to a strict diet and consistent exercise routine may still get these disorders.

How BMI Affects Life Insurance Rates

It is helpful for you to understand clearly why your height and weight affect your life insurance premiums. It will help if we investigate the numbers a bit deeper. While you don’t need to know your actual BMI number when you submit your application, you will be asked for your height and weight. Your measurements will be confirmed when (if) you complete your medical exam by your examiner as well.

Life Insurance Weight Chart

This chart is reflective of what most underwriters will use to be a part of determining your rate class; although a company’s exact stance on each range varies.

Life Insurance And BMI

*Common Table of BMI per the CDC

Inside of these ranges, a carrier will also have even more specific ranges per rating class, usually to determine lower rates based on exceptional health levels, or more specific ones for the higher ranges for obese applicants. As an example, one company may only insure someone with a BMI up to 36, while another might consider someone up to 40.

Let’s recognize that BMI isn’t perfect. For example, two men who are identical in BMI. Should they get the same rating? Well if one is 6’2″ and 185 pounds of raw muscle (like athletes and bodybuilders), and the other is 6’2″ and 185 of raw fat, who would be more deserving of a healthy rating? The percentage of height to weight is the same, although one weighs as much as the other due to an unhealthy lifestyle.

Here’s another scenario: let’s take a man and a woman who are identical in height and weight. Should they be looked at in a similar way or different?

Your age and gender can make a difference when considering life insurance and BMI. An older person might receive a worse life insurance rating for having a low BMI, because it could prove to be a sign of being frail, not just for being in great shape. As mentioned above, your gender could also play a role because men and women have different body frames, and therefore varying BMI’s. Your frame alone can alter your-body mass index if you’re very tall, or super short.

Tips for Getting Affordable Life Insurance Coverage

When you apply for life insurance coverage, your BMI is only one factor that the life insurance company is going to review to calculate your premiums. There are dozens of other factors the underwriter will account for when reviewing your application. Making a few simple lifestyle changes can often make a huge impact on your premiums.

Stop Smoking

Eliminate tobacco you currently use. If you’re a smoker, you can expect to pay much higher rates for your insurance plan. Smokers will pay double for life insurance than what a non-smoker will pay for the same amount of coverage. If you want to get the most affordable life insurance, you’ll need to kick your tobacco usage once and for all. The good news is your health will improve and you can use the money you save for your life insurance premiums. This is a win win for sure!


Start an exercise program and enjoy the benefits of a healthy diet.

It can be as simple as purchasing a treadmill to work out at home while watching your favorite TV show!

These suggestions may help you lose weight, lower your cholesterol, reduce your blood pressure, and much more. An exercise program and no tobacco usage will help you get lower rates from the insurance company.

Work With An Independent Agent

Work with an independent broker. Unlike a traditional insurance agent, independent insurance agents represent dozens of different companies across the nation. That means that you can get dozens of quotes instantly, instead of having to spend hours on the phone with numerous agents.

All companies are different, and every one of them is going to view BMI differently. That means that you could receive drastically different rates depending upon which company you get a quote from. Finding the right company for you could save you hundreds of dollars on your life insurance plan. You can immediately receive a life insurance quote by filling out the quoting form on this page. It is easy and fast.

How Important is BMI When Applying for Life Insurance?

Life Insurance And BMI

If you fall between normal ranges, you can probably expect to not hear another thing about your BMI when you apply. Frankly, it’s not usually a huge determining factor if you aren’t on one side of the spectrum or the other.

If your BMI is in one of the outside ranges, you’ll need to contact an independent agent first to find out how much of an impact your BMI will have on your life insurance rates. It is at this time that you would want to ask your agent for the best carrier for your situation.  Life insurance and BMI can be heavily dependent on each other if your BMI number is on one extreme or the other.

Also, if you feel you’ve been unfairly rated because of your body type (maybe you’re an athlete or bodybuilder), you should immediately explain to your agent more details about your body type.  Sometimes a client of mine may be off by just a pound. Imagine saving hundreds of dollars in premium simply be losing a handful of pounds? I am certain you will agree, that is powerful motivation.

Bottom line?

Even if you are obese there is still life insurance available to you.

A Personal Message from the Author

Having been helping individuals with their life insurance needs for over three decades, I cannot express to you enough to purchase life insurance while your health is good.

It seems like almost daily I receive a call like the following:

Caller: “Hi Jack, I just left the doctor’s office with my husband. He has cancer. I know we need life insurance. Just been putting it off. Well Jack, what can you do for me?”

Jack’s reply: “I am very sorry to hear your news. Your husband will qualify for a guaranteed issue life insurance policy. The maximum coverage is $25.000 and there are restrictions if he passes away due to a sickness during the first 24 months.”

Caller: “Only $25,000? Jack, I need at least $250,000 to cover my mortgage and other debts…”

I cannot overstate how critical it is to purchase life insurance when you are healthy. Your rates will be MUCH lower which allows you to purchase more coverage.

I always ask people: “Would you rather have your cell phone at your spouse’s funeral or a check for $100,000 tax-free?”  If you can afford a fancy cellphone then you can certainly budget money for a life insurance policy.

Insure your good health today as tomorrow is promised to no one.

Your questions are welcomed at any time.

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1 Comment

Kevin Dang

Awesome article Jack! BMI index is a significant indication of metabolic process rate and bodyweight problems. The United States is a nation filled with the issue of weight problems, and at the very same time, it has fewer individuals with insurance coverage.

June 14, 2020 at 12:18 am
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