Life Insurance and the Body Mass Index: How Will It Affect My Rates?

Most of us are familiar with the term body mass index or BMI. This simple calculation determines a person’s weight to height ratio. This is a common clinical tool used in the healthcare profession to estimate body fat and determine if someone is underweight, overweight, or normal weight.

What you might not know, is that your BMI can affect your ability to qualify for life insurance. The question is:

What relationship do life insurance and the body mass index have with each other?

We’ll get to that soon, but first, let’s take a look at how BMI affects your health. The first thing to know is how someone’s weight is classified based on BMI.

BMIWeight Status
under 18.5underweight
18.5 to 24.9normal
25.0 to 29.9overweight
30.0 or higherobese

When applying for life insurance, you want to pay attention to BMI extremes the most, Underweight and Obese. Life insurance underwriting is the business of assessing risk based on the collective data of millions of people. Those that fall in the extremes are more likely to have additional health concerns. Those are just the facts and what the data says.

Obesity is associated with increased risk of developing certain medical conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Likewise, being underweight carries its own health risks such as malnutrition including vitamin deficiencies.

How Does BMI Affect Life Insurance Premiums?

Many companies will charge higher premiums for individuals who are outside the normal weight range for BMI. The further out of range someone falls, the higher the premiums they will likely face.

warningThose who fall in the Obese category can expect to pay roughly twice as much in premiums as people in the Normal category. (all other factors being equal)

Some life insurance companies may even deny an application for individuals with BMI extremes. An example would be someone who is morbidly obese with a BMI of 40 or greater.

That’s not to say that morbidly obese individuals are uninsurable all together, but they may be in the eyes of some policy underwriters. That’s why it’s so important to shop around and explore different options.

Seeking the services of a knowledgeable independent life insurance professional can be indispensable in this type of situation. Contact our office if you need any help on where to apply to get the best rate for your situation.

Calculating Your BMI

The body mass index is not perfect as an estimator of weight and body fat. For example, someone with an athletic build may have higher than average muscle composition. This can result in a higher body weight and BMI that may fall within the overweight range.

Clearly this person would not actually be considered overweight and unhealthy.

The good news is that it’s not ALWAYS black and white pure numbers with the underwriters. Life insurance companies are aware that flaws like this exist with the BMI calculation. What’s important is to approach the insurance company in the right manner in order to make sure they understand what is going with a particular individual.

Supplied by BMI Calculator USA

Life Insurance and the Body Mass Index, Just One of Many Factors

By itself, the BMI probably doesn’t carry too much weight (see what I did there)?

When considering your application, life insurance companies will be assessing many other factors relating to your health.

  • They will evaluate for the presence of other co-morbid health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, or cancer.
  • They will want to know if you use tobacco products or consume alcohol in significant quantities.
  • They will ask about your family’s medical history, in particular, that of your parents.
  • Your age and gender will come into play as well.
  • A number of other factors related to you lifestyle and habits.

The point is, there are many factors that life insurance companies consider when evaluating applications. While important, BMI is just 1 of these factors.

That’s why unless your BMI falls at either extreme, you probably don’t have to worry about your premiums being affected significantly.

Premiums May Still Vary

Life insurance companies can and do vary in how they view certain health conditions or factors like the body mass index. One company may only issue slightly increased rates for an overweight individual while another insurer may issue much higher, sub-standard rates.

That’s why doing your homework will pay off in the long run, potentially saving you a lot of money.

“Homework” may not be the best choice of words….after all, who likes doing homework?

At Simple Life Insure, we do everything that we can to make the process of shopping for life insurance easy and free of stress. Start with our powerful quote engine and let us know what questions you may have.

Preparation for Application

To speed up the application process, it’s a good idea to come in prepared from the beginning. You’ll want to have a good understanding of your medical history and that of your family. If you’re unsure about something, don’t be afraid to reach out to your family doctor for a copy of your medical records.

Know your current BMI before you start applying. Even though most applications will only ask for your height and weight, knowing your BMI will give you an idea if you might receive a sub-standard rate.

The Good News: You Can Always Change your BMI

Although we can’t change our height (and no, wearing heels doesn’t count), we always have the ability to safely lose or gain weight, thus changing our BMI.

If you change your BMI for the better, you can always reapply for a lower life insurance premium. Some companies may even issue discounts for getting your BMI into the healthy range.

Making some simple lifestyle changes to your diet and physical activity can be all it takes to save a significant amount of money on your life insurance policy.

Let Us Take Care of This for You

How BMI affects life insurance premiums may appear straightforward, but confusion can easily crop up on an application.

Our quoting engine is a powerful tool for generating quotes from reputable companies, but having so many options to choose from can be intimidating at times.

That’s where we come in. Our job is to make sure we find you the life insurance coverage you need at a price you can afford. This is our specialty, and we pride ourselves on making this a quick and painless process.

So give us a call today at 1-866-226-2155 to set up a complimentary consultation. There is never any charge to use our services. We have helped many people all over the country get the life insurance coverage they need, and we can help you too.


  • Ty Stewart

    Ty Stewart is a founder and contributor of He started researching and studying about life insurance when he got his first policy for his own family. He has been featured as a life insurance expert speaker at agent conventions and in top publications. As an independent licensed life insurance agent he has helped clients nationwide to secure affordable coverage while making the process simple. Stewart Ty
  • Bennett Bier

    I’m Bennett Bier, owner, author and fact checker of Simple Life Insure. I believe working with a small independent broker offers consumers more personal attention and superior customer service. As an independent agent licensed in all 50 states and the District of Columbia I have access to many of the top A+ rated life insurance carriers. This lets me locate a plan that you will qualify for while saving you money at the same time. Over the years I have mastered the art of underwriting, getting approvals even for my highest risk clients. I’m also likely the person that will answer the phone when you call. Bier Bennett