Life Insurance With Sleep Apnea

By James Tobin, CFP®

Critical Takeaways

  • Rate Impact Minor to Significant
  •  Pricing  Based on Severity, Sleep Stucy
  • CPAP Compliance & Metrics
  • Table Ratings Possible

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Expert Review Of  Life Insurance With Sleep Apnea

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Reviewed by

Jim Tobin, CFP®

Why you can have confidence in this review

At Bequest Mutual Life Insurance we value our editorial independence. We keep our reviews strictly factual so you can use them to make informed decisions. Life insurance carriers referred to on this site do not approve reviews. 

Can I Be Approved For Life Insurance With Sleep Apnea?

Every applicant for life insurance with sleep apnea can be approved for a policy.

However, the type of policy that can be approved, and the rates charged, will depend on the nature of your sleep apnea, how long ago it was diagnosed, the severity, and your overall health.

Because the underwriting standards are different for each type of policy, this review of  life insurance options with sleep apnea is broken into  three sections:   (click link to go directly to section)

Best Price

Strict Underwriting

Exam - Yes

Good Price

Strict Underwriting

Exam - No

More Expensive

Easy Underwriting

Exam - No

What Information Will Life Insurance Companies Want To Know?

In order to underwrite your application life insurance carriers will need to know the symptoms that you  have experienced, the treatment undergone, including sleep study, any  prescription drugs used, and any medical follow up. For a more exhaustive discussion of the underwriting of stroke applications please scroll to What Insurers Will Want to Know 

Will I Need To Take An Exam For Sleep Apnea Life Insurance?

In order to get the best rates possible you may need to take an exam. Very well controlled cases of sleep apnea may be eligible for no-exam underwriting. However, applications seen as more serious cases will require an exam. 

The exam is a paramedical exam that collects blood and urine samples. The exam is administered at no cost by a travelling nurse and can be done at your choice of location.

If it turns out that simplified issue or guaranteed issue policies are the best fit for your application, no exam will be required. Click here for more on the exam

How Much Will My Life Insurance Cost And How Exactly Are My Rates Affected By My Sleep Apnea Diagnosis?

The rates you pay for term insurance are dependent on the underwriting class you are graded by the carrier. Lupus applications are generally going to be rated as standard (rare) or lower. This issue is discussed using rating guides and  pricing samples.  Sample pricing for simplified issue and  guaranteed issue policies is provided in the corresponding links.

How Accurate Are The Quotes I Get From Your Quote Tool?

The quotes you receive from the quote tool on this site are 100% accurate for the information inputted. That is to say, if you get the rate class correct- your rate will be correct. The problem with online tools is that people generally think they are inn better or worse shape than is reality.   

If you are unsure about rate class you should choose a range and hope to be pleasantly surprised. Alternatively, you can fill out the customized quote form and we will get in touch with you as soon as possible..

What Are The Best Life Insurance Companies For Sleep Apnea Sufferers? 

Life insurance companies have differing appetites for specific risks. These appetites are reflected in underwriting and ultimately pricing. Simplified issue carriers will be state dependent and  three of the better known term carriers for dealing with Sleep Apnea are Prudential, American General (AIG), and Banner.

 However, risk appetite can, and does, change and the only way to guarantee the best possible deal is to work with an experienced independent agent. see the case study here to get a clear understanding.

What Is The Application Process For Life Insurance Sleep Apnea?

Regardless of your pre existing condition, the application process is largely the same. The life insurance application process is an eight step process that includes choosing your terms, picking a carrier, submitting to the exam,  and signing documents (digital signatures accepted). The entire 8 step process is laid out for you here

How Can I Improve My Underwriting Rating And Lower My Life Insurance Cost?

The most effective ways to improve your life insurance rating are to use an agent that has access to the companies that will view you most favorably and to take care of your health. 

See Why to use Independent Agent when Shopping for Life Insurance   to better understand the reason to use an independent agent.

As far as lifestyle goes, if you take diet and exercise seriously along with limiting alcohol and quitting smoking (if you smoke), it should be reflected in your blood markers. 

If you have a auto immune medical condition like Lupus, documenting compliance with medical advise and any medications is very important. Obtaining Having a physicians letter stating that you have been compliant and improving is helpful.

Term Life Insurance With Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)  is eligible for term insurance depending on the severity of the case.

Generally, life insurance is available for lengths ranging from 5 years to 30 years with 20-year terms being the most popular. Term policies usually have a minimum face amount of $50000, and the policies terminate at the end of the term period or can be renewed annually at a vastly increased rate.

The basic mechanics of term life insurance are pretty straightforward. As long as the policy premium is paid by (or for) the insured, and the policy is in force, the beneficiary will receive the death benefit upon the insured's death. 

The trickiest part of term life insurance with a health condition like sleep apnea is finding the best deal. This is because different carriers have differing appetites for certain kinds of risks. As a result 

navigating this process is not as easy as using a quote tool and picking the lowest price. This is discussed in detail in the case study below.

Possible Term Underwriting Ratings With OSA

Because Life insurance applications are evaluated on a case by case basis, your story matters .That is to say two people with the same age and condition may get vastly different offers from the same carrier-based on the age of diagnosis and patient compliance.

Because each case is different, the following pricing scenarios are the best estimates for life insurance with sleep apnea based on experience.

Best Case - If OSA is under excellent control demonstrated by a follow-up sleep study, some (rare) cases have a chance for a preferred rating.

Mid Level -If your OSA is under control via CPAP compliance and lifestyle changes. You may qualify for a standard rate. Rated Case- If your sleep apnea is being treated using a CPAP, but you have made no lifestyle changes, or you have correlated issues such as obesity, you will likely get a table rated policy. Tables usually run between 2/B and 8/H.

Learn more about how table rated offers work.

Case Study Of Life Insurance With OSA

Gender: Male age 50 


20 Year Term  

Tobacco: No                                                  

Moderate OSA.                                                                                  

Positive lifestyle changes but sporadic CPAP compliance due to mask discomfort.    

Diagnosed Age 47

  • Standard
  • Table 2/B
  • Table 4/D 

This table which shows only a few of the major life insurance companies available illustrates the difference in rates. For standard rates, Prudential is 20% more expensive than Lincoln.

On its' face this seems like a pretty straightforward choice, and if underwriting grades between carriers are the same, it really can be that simple. This kind of easy price shopping is particularly useful for younger folks in good health and demonstrates why you want to use an independent Agent with multiple carrier options.

For people who suffer from OSA or any other serious diagnosis, the process is more complicated.

Because life insurers manage their appetite for various risks by being more lenient or more strict with underwriting scores, you need to know which company will grade you a preferred plus risk and which ones will grade you as standard.

In the case above, Prudential (the most expensive standard rate), is likely to be the best deal because the more competitively priced carriers will likely rate the risk Table 2 while Pru might well issue a  standard rate class.

This is something you can't know by simply looking at the lowest price. In this case, using an independent agent could save you 50% (the difference between Prudential @ Standard and Lincoln @ Table 2 ($170.29).

 That's more than $22,000 over the life of the policy.

Not exactly couch cushion change!

Why You Should Use An Independent Agent When Shopping For Life Insurance With Sleep Apnea

In addition to reassuring you that life insurance is attainable with sleep apnea, this article pointed out that insurance companies have different pricing and underwriting standards from one another.

Furthermore, these underwriting differences are a reflection of the company's appetite for a specific health risk. For example, Prudential Financial may have more of an appetite for the risk that OSA presents than say, Banner.

In this case, the underwriting grade will reflect this increased appetite. So, if your Agent only represented one carrier and you found out later that you could have gotten a rate 35% or 45% better, how would you feel? You'd probably be sad like the puppy or mad at the agent or yourself or both.

So it's crucial that your Agent represent multiple carriers. In fact, most good independent agents will have access to over 40 or 50 carriers. This ensures the best chance at the best rate.

Next Step

Thank you for choosing Bequest Mutual Life Insurance to research life insurance with sleep apnea. We are committed to a totally transparent process (we'll even share our computer screen with you if you'd like), and making the application process as painless as possible.

Should you have any question, please do not hesitate to give us a call or contact us via email.

Fast Facts About Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form of sleep apnea and is suffered by about 4 percent of the adult middle aged male population. Middle aged women suffer from sleep apnea at about half the rate of men. Most cases of sleep apnea go untreated.

Sleep apnea is a condition that causes the stopping of breathing repeatedly during sleep. This happens because the airway collapses, causing a disruption in sleep patterns and daytime sleepiness.

Sleep apnea is not easily diagnosed with a simple doctors visit or blood test. If sleep apnea is suspected, an overnight sleep study is required.

If the results of sleep study are positive, a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure)machine is recommended.  

While using a CPAP machine ( and mask) is inconvenient, the risks of not treating sleep apnea are worse. Sleep apnea is correlated with constant tiredness, high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. 

Several well known celebrities have suffered from sleep apnea  over the years. Among them are Basketball star Shaq O'neal, comedienne  Rosie O'donnell , musician Quincy Jones, and Texas Governor Rick Perry

shaq o neal
Rick Perry

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