If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, finding the right life insurance policy can be complicated. Life insurance companies take many factors into account when determining rates, including age, medical conditions and medical history. Although it is relatively common in the U.S., affecting more than 22 million Americans, sleep apnea is often viewed as a risk by insurance companies.

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Sleep apnea can contribute to other serious health risks such as cardiovascular issues, type 2 diabetes and liver problems. If left untreated, sleep apnea can become more dangerous. For that reason, if you think you might have sleep apnea, it could be a good idea to see a doctor, even if that diagnosis might make it more difficult to obtain life insurance.

Sleep apnea and life insurance

Because life insurance companies view sleep apnea as a risk, the type of sleep apnea and its severity may impact your life insurance premiums. In some situations, an insurer may even decline to offer coverage.

There are several types of sleep apnea, and each type can have mild, moderate or severe symptoms. Cases with more extreme symptoms can lead to higher premiums than milder cases. Generally, the more severe your sleep apnea symptoms, the more expensive life insurance will be. Your life insurance premiums may also be affected by how closely you adhere to your treatment plan and how effectively your symptoms are controlled.

Types of sleep apnea

There are several different types of sleep apnea, each with its own unique cause:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea: This type of sleep apnea occurs when specific throat muscles relax too much and cause the airway to shrink or constrict. As a result, the lungs have a hard time drawing in enough air.
  • Central sleep apnea: Central sleep apnea involves the brain not sending the right signals to the rest of the body. When these signals are not sent, the muscles related to breathing cease doing their work and the body is deprived of oxygen.
  • Complex sleep apnea syndrome: This diagnosis is for cases that present with symptoms of both obstructive and central sleep apnea.

If you suspect that you have sleep apnea, talking to a doctor can help you to obtain a diagnosis and treatment plan.

Types of life insurance for those with sleep apnea

Although finding life insurance with sleep apnea may be a bit more difficult, you do have options. Before seeking coverage, you should know what type of sleep apnea you have and how severe it is. Once you have that information, decide what type of life insurance policy is best suited to your needs.

Term life insurance

Term life insurance policies only cover you for a specified period of time, commonly 5 to 30 years. These policies may offer patients with sleep apnea more reasonable rates than other types of life insurance. However, if you wish to keep your life insurance when the specified term is up, you will need to renew it based on your current age. This can often result in higher premiums.

Whole life insurance

Whole life insurance policies are a type of permanent life insurance that offers consistent premiums and growth rates with a cash value or investment component. These policies last for the life of the insured. The consistent premiums can be helpful for those with health conditions, like sleep apnea, that may cause their health to worsen over time.

Universal life insurance

Universal life insurance is another type of permanent life insurance. Universal life policies do not offer fixed rates or guaranteed cash value growth, but do have a cash value component. What makes universal life a good option for those with sleep apnea is its flexibility. During the life of the policy, customers may be able to adjust their premiums and the amount of the death benefit.

Life insurance riders for those with sleep apnea

Many life insurance companies allow customers to add additional options to their policies, known as policy riders. There are some policy riders that could be of particular interest to policyholders with sleep apnea.

  • Waiver of premium: This rider will waive the premium of a life insurance policy if you become permanently disabled. This can be beneficial for customers with sleep apnea who are concerned that their condition may result in a loss of income.
  • Accelerated death benefit: If you are diagnosed with a terminal illness and have a shortened life expectancy, this rider allows you to access a portion of the policy death benefit while you are still alive. This can be beneficial to policyholders with sleep apnea who are concerned that they may develop a terminal condition.
  • Guaranteed insurability: This rider ensures that the insurance company will provide coverage without a new medical exam. These riders are only good for a set, predetermined amount of time before they expire. This rider can help customers with sleep apnea by providing them an extra window to extend their coverage without worrying about their condition leading to a denial of coverage.

Sleep apnea may contribute to increased premiums or a denial of coverage. If you have sleep apnea and are seeking life insurance, you may want to speak with your doctor to gather as much information as possible. You could then determine which type of life insurance you are most interested in. Once you have a policy type in mind, it is a good practice to obtain quotes from multiple companies to compare coverage options and price.

Frequently asked questions

What is the best life insurance company?

The best life insurance company varies for different individuals based on health, lifestyle, budget and needs. When considering policies, you might want to shop around and compare quotes from a few different companies.

What is the best life insurance policy for sleep apnea?

The best policy type for individuals with sleep apnea will depend on each individual’s health situation, preferred policy options and death benefit amount. Some may choose term life insurance for its simplicity and relatively cheap premiums. Others may prefer finding a permanent life insurance policy with fixed rates, like whole life.

Does sleep apnea increase life insurance rates?

In general, life insurance companies calculate premium costs based on the health risks of their customers. While sleep apnea is not a terminal illness, it is associated with an increased risk for some severe health issues. As a result, life insurance companies are likely to charge an increased premium for those customers with more severe or untreated sleep apnea.