Top 10 health hazards for life insurers

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Weight problems
Weight problems © bikeriderlondon/

Weight problems

One health hazard on our top 10 list can, in one way or another, contribute to most of the other nine: obesity.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics indicate that more than one-third of adult Americans are overweight and another third are clinically obese. Overweight or obese people face a higher risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, stroke, arthritis and gynecological maladies.

Goldstein says insurance companies calculate an applicant's body mass index, or BMI, when determining their risk class.

"We certainly consider obesity as a health condition," she says. "Some individuals who get very, very heavy could end up having rated (substandard) policies. Individuals who are very morbidly obese might not even be insurable."

Obesity isn't the only weight-related health concern. "Likewise, people who are underweight, malnourished, that is also a health condition," Goldstein says.

How might anorexia affect an applicant's rate class?

"If they're in remission and their weight is more ideal, they can definitely get underwritten," says Goldstein. "But individuals who currently have active anorexia nervosa, those would be concerns."


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