Quick Summary: You can get approved for life insurance after a weight loss surgery such as gastric bypass. Complications will need to be minimal and typically a period of at least 6 months (often 12) must have passed.
Expect to pay more than standard rates as the insurance underwriting model does view this as a risk and prices that accordingly.
If you've chosen to undergo weight loss surgery, you should be commended for taking a positive step to improve your health. I'm sure it wasn't an easy decision.
This will affect your life insurance rates, sometimes in a good way, sometimes in a bad way.
With some help from experts who specialize in finding low rates for people with challenging medical conditions, you CAN get life insurance protection for your loved ones.
After this article, you’ll know exactly what to do. Here is what we’ll cover:
Bariatric surgery is used to reduce the size of the stomach by removing a portion of the stomach or by resecting and then re-routing the small intestine to a small stomach pouch, or by using a gastric band. Typically, patients who elect to undergo bariatric surgery have given up on traditional methods of weight loss after constantly failing to lose weight and keep it off.
4 Different Types
- Gastric Bypass
- Sleeve Gastrectomy
- Adjustable Gastric Band
- Biliopancreatic Diversion with Duodenal Switch (BPD/DS) Gastric Bypass
There are three traditional reasons for bariatric surgery:
- When the patient’s BMI (Body Mass Index) is greater than or equal to 40, or the patient is more than 100 pounds overweight.
- If the patient’s BMI is greater than or equal to 35 and the patient has a least one or more obesity-related health condition.
- If the patient is unable to achieve a healthy weight which can be sustained for a period of time after using traditional weight loss efforts.
For people who’ve undergone bariatric surgery in the past and are attempting to get approved for life insurance, especially at affordable rates, there will be some challenges during the underwriting process.
Although having had this surgery on its own will not be considered an adverse health condition, the surgery does indicate you’ve experienced some health issues that require the surgery. Typical health conditions that your underwriter will inquire about are:
- Complications from surgery
- Post-surgery weight level maintenance
Gastric bypass is a major procedure and as such, there will be concerns about any complications resulting from it such as blood clots, infection, diarrhea, or internal bleeding.
If the complications are minor such as abdominal pain or leakage, these will generally NOT be a big issue provided the symptoms are under control and there is no permanent damage.
Having had bariatric surgery will trigger various underwriting requirements so that your insurer can establish the correct rate class to properly rate your policy. There's no reason to for you to stress over the process; it is just a matter of providing complete information. When you discuss your health history with your underwriter, always be honest and forthcoming.
A knowledgeable, trusted, independent life insurance advisor will prepare you for these question so you aren't caught off guard.
Questions you can expect to provide questions to are:
- When did you undergo the bariatric surgery?
- What was your weight when you elected to have the procedure?
- Did you have a follow-up with your physician and when was it completed?
- Were there any complications during or following the surgery?
- Have you lost the desired amount of weight at each determined milestone?
- Did you experience improvement in any other health issues as a result of the procedure?
- Were you prescribed any medications following your surgery?
For a fully underwritten policy with the most favorable rates, your underwriter will also order a medical exam that will typically include a blood and urine test.
The insurance company will also inquire into your current diet and the amount of exercise you are getting. Patients who have gone through bariatric surgery and are committed to a regimented diet and exercise program are likely to be rewarded with more favorable rates than those who do not show a commitment. By all means, make sure that you document your diet and activity schedule following your surgery.
Life insurance underwriters take a look at all the information in your file, including the bariatric surgery. This allows them to assess the risk, determine eligibility, and assign the correct health rating.
People in excellent health may qualify for policies known as Preferred which is better than the average case (and will pay lower premiums)
Those who rate around the average for height, weight, health issues, will be given the Standard health class.
If your medical history, family medical history, dangerous lifestyle, or other factors lead underwriting to believe you are a greater risk than the average person, you may still qualify for life insurance, but at sub-standard rates, also known as "table ratings".
So what does this mean after a weight loss surgery?
With no complications or very mild ones that have been under control for 6-12 months, it is possible to receive a mild substandard rating from Table A-D.
Moderate complications such as persistent bloating or leaks will be looking at medium substandard, Table D or lower.
Major complications or fluctuations on weight post-surgery may result in a decline of traditional life insurance. Keep in mind, the longer it's been since the surgery, the better the chances for a favorable outcome.
Some life insurance is always better than none. If you receive a sub-standard offer, you can accept this and then "upgrade" to a cheaper policy later, once more time since the surgery has passed.
How Much Will the Premiums Cost?
You can get an idea of the Standard rates by using our quoting tool on this site. Life insurance carriers don't allow for the display of sub-standard rates so we'll need to discuss your situation to accurately quote.
As a general rule of thumb, you can expect each level below Standard to be 25% more expensive. For example: Table B (mild-substandard) would be about 50% more than Standard rates.
If this is confusing, don't worry, we can help with all of it.
Alternative Life Insurance Products
If you cannot get approved for regular, underwritten life insurance, guaranteed issue may be an option.
Guaranteed acceptance life insurance was designed for individuals who would not ordinarily qualify for traditional life insurance because of health issues or age. It is also a solution for individuals who do not wish to undergo a medical exam or answer any health questions. These policies are issued very quickly and can typically be purchased over the phone.
There are a few drawbacks to guaranteed issue life insurance, but for those who elect to buy it, it is typically a last resort.
Higher Rates – Since the insurer is not collecting any underwriting information about the applicant, rates are higher to offset the additional risk they are taking.
Lower Coverage Amounts – Most insurers that offer guaranteed issue policies will limit your death benefit to around $25,000 depending on your age.
Waiting Period - Guaranteed issue policies typically have a waiting period of two or three years depending on the insurer. If the policyholder dies from non-accident reasons during the waiting period, the company will not pay the full death benefit, or they may return any premiums paid into the policy. If, however, your death is the result of an accident, the insurer will pay the full amount from day one.
Obtaining the Most Favorable Rates
People who have elected bariatric surgery, and are concerned about obtaining life insurance at favorable rates, should contact an insurance professional with experience in placing these types of cases. Independent agents typically represent the majority of life insurers who have shown that they are willing to work through every case and attempt to make an affordable offer.
Your independent agent will also help you determine the amount of insurance to apply for based on your current financial needs and the needs of your surviving loved ones.
Although you are certainly unique, your case is not unique for an independent agent who has been in the industry for many years and has helped many others with similar health issues. In most cases, the agent will know after a brief conversation which company they represent will be able to offer the most affordable solution.
Ready to get started? Fill out a quote request form and we'll be in touch to talk through options. We specialize in helping people like you and there is NO fee for our service.