While not overly common, some women develop pre-diabetes or diabetes during pregnancy. It’s called gestational diabetes.
However, it’s not exactly the same as the other forms of diabetes. For this reason, obtaining life insurance with gestational diabetes isn’t the same, either.
Let’s talk about what gestational diabetes is (and isn’t), and why it may only make a slight difference in your chances of approval.
Fact: You Can Still Get Life Insurance With Gestational Diabetes
Truthfully, it’s even easier than if you are diagnosed with a type 1 or type 2 condition.
This is because gestational diabetes can go away, though it may only be temporary.
Approximately 1 in 10 women will get gestational diabetes, and, of those, half will develop type 2 diabetes right away or at some point in the future.
It’s these statistics right here which make the process of buying a life insurance policy during or after your pregnancy which makes such a big difference. An underwriter is going to understand the risks of having a diabetic condition during pregnancy, but they also have proof it could be a one-time thing. If so, your premiums will be less.
But if you wait too long and develop type 2 diabetes, your rates will go up.
The absolute most key factors to securing the lowest rates after a bout with gestational diabetes are:
- Diet & Exercise Regimen
- Medication (Type and Dosage)
All things considered, there will obviously be a large variation from one woman to the next, so your experience could be vastly different than the next person. We also consider this in our own process, and do our best to help you set realistic expectations.
Why Does Gestational Diabetes Affect Life Insurance?
In cases of gestational diabetes, high blood sugar develops during a woman’s pregnancy.
Gestational diabetes usually develops and is diagnosed during the latter half of pregnancy. The condition is only considered to be the gestational form of the disease if the problems with blood sugar showed up during pregnancy, and were not present before.
NOTE: Women with type 1 or type 2 diabetes who become pregnant after already having these conditions represent a separate issue with different treatments and concerns, and one requiring a different approach to life insurance.
Unlike in type 1, or juvenile diabetes, where the body fails to produce enough insulin, or type 2, where the body becomes resistant to insulin over time, the changes in the body are not usually permanent in gestational diabetes.
It is thought gestational diabetes develops when hormones in the placenta supporting the baby cause the mother to become insulin resistant. Insulin is a hormone which helps the body move and regulate the use of sugar or glucose.
When the body does not respond to insulin properly, blood sugar levels can increase. Increased blood sugar levels have the potential to cause problems for both mother and baby.
Gestational diabetes is usually manageable with steps like monitoring of the blood sugar, a healthy diet, exercise, and medication. But complications are possible and may arise.
- In the baby, gestational diabetes may lead to complications like increased birth weight, an increased risk of early or premature birth, and low blood sugar levels in the newborn after birth.
- In the mother, it can lead to issues like high blood pressure and preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a serious complication which can arise during pregnancy and cause high blood pressure and organ damage, posing a serious risk to both mother and baby.
Did You Know? While gestational diabetes typically goes away after birth, women who have had gestational diabetes during one pregnancy are more likely to have it in future pregnancies.
What’s more, women with gestational diabetes are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes down the road.
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition with potentially serious complications affecting multiple organs in the body, including the nerves, the kidneys, the blood vessels, and the eyes.
Because of the potential for complications which may arise during pregnancy, life insurers may shy away from insuring pregnant women with gestational diabetes. And perhaps more important for women seeking long term coverage, life insurance agencies may see gestational diabetes as a warning sign of a likely future case of type 2 diabetes or of potential health problems.
This doesn’t mean life insurance coverage is unavailable! It just means you need to be educated and informed of the options and strategies you should take.
Save yourself the trouble, and get a quote with someone who knows what to do.
What You Can Expect When Applying
When you apply for life insurance with a pre-existing condition like gestational diabetes, it is likely you’ll have to provide some detailed information about your medical history, as well as undergo a medical exam.
A wide variety of questions about your condition are sure to be involved, and on the physical side, blood and urine samples will be a part of the medical exam.
NOTE: You might need to submit recent lab results as a part of this process, including a history of tests providing insight into both your current blood sugar levels and your history of blood sugar management.
And even if you are not currently dealing with gestational diabetes, but were diagnosed in the past, it is likely you will face questions about your last endocrinologist visit and any recent lab work.
Questions related to lab results are likely to be confirmed or updated with testing and sampling during your pre-approval medical exam.
You can expect questions about your diabetes diagnosis, including its timing and whether you have ever experienced any related conditions, especially pre-diabetes.
They will ask whether or not you are currently pregnant, and any pregnancy complications you may have experienced in the past, or any you may be dealing with currently. It’s okay if you have, the underwriters are just looking for resolution.
You will need to report any medications prescribed for your gestational diabetes, at what dosage, and how long you took the medications. (see also, Humalog, Metformin)
Plus, you will have to report other medications you take, even if you’re not taking them to treat diabetes.
The process also involves questions about how frequently you visit your doctor. And if your gestational diabetes is still an issue, you can expect to be asked what you are doing to manage it. Again, it’s a positive sign you are seeing someone regularly, not a knock against your rates.
These topics are more gestational diabetes specific, but you will, of course, go through a more general screening process common to anyone applying for life insurance.
This aspect might involve questions about your family medical history (there may be special interest in your family history of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, etc.). You’ll also likely need to let them know your weight and height, as this factor (including any losses or gains) might be confirmed or dealt with in the physical exam process.
A typical life insurance application also includes questions about your exposure to potentially dangerous environments, whether that’s through a risky work environment or high-risk hobbies, or through habits like smoking or heavy alcohol use.
What Kind of Coverage Can You Get?
Many women with gestational diabetes and otherwise good health will receive a Standard rating for their health insurance.
A Standard rating means your policy won’t be the most expensive, but it also won’t be the cheapest. It’s an average rating, one which most people get.
Another way of looking at it? You are likely to fare better than people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, but worse than people without any health problems or conditions at all.
But, your rate could go below, or even above, depending on how well managed your condition is after giving birth. In other words, continue to take care of yourself.
If in a few months, your blood sugar levels return to normal and you are able to return to your normal weight and are otherwise healthy, you might be able to get a lower monthly life insurance rate. This would be a Standard Plus or Preferred rating.
Plus, maintaining an active, healthy lifestyle after gestational diabetes means you’re less likely to develop type 2 diabetes down the road. This is good news for both you and your insurance company, and they are sure to recognize this!
If on the other hand, your symptoms and trouble with blood sugar levels persist, and your doctor is worried about pre-diabetes or development of type 2 diabetes, you are unlikely to see a rate drop. In fact, it may go just the opposite.
It is important to note, like all health conditions, different insurance companies will take a different approach to gestational diabetes. Being offered a high rate from one company doesn’t mean it’s what you can expect across the board!
Pro Tip: Use an agency like ours, because we shop the top 40 companies in the U.S., all at once!
However, you don’t want to apply all over the place and risk racking up a lot of denials. Some companies may automatically charge high premiums to gestational diabetes patients or flat out deny anyone with any form of diabetes.
(Don’t worry, we’ll have a great idea of who to apply to first, and can even shop informally, without a signed application!)
Applying to these companies is not only a waste of your time, it could hurt your future chances of finding coverage. Being denied for life insurance from one company can increase the risk you are denied from others.
If you’re not sure who to use, check out our list of top life insurance carriers for diabetics.
Considering the Timing of Your Coverage
If you are not currently pregnant, but had gestational diabetes during a previous pregnancy, you are likely to have fewer problems finding affordable life insurance.
This is especially true if, as mentioned earlier, you are otherwise healthy and have not had any lasting symptoms after your pregnancy.
If your case of gestational diabetes occurred more than five years ago and you have had no lasting health issues related to it, it is likely that the condition won’t affect your life insurance search at all. This means you’re eligible for up to Preferred Plus, all else being equal.
The condition becomes more of an issue if you have ongoing health issues or have had reoccurring cases of gestational diabetes in multiple pregnancies.
If, however, you are currently pregnant and dealing with gestational diabetes, the hunt for life insurance might be a slightly more difficult (though by no means impossible) process.
It is typically harder for women who are currently pregnant and have gestational diabetes to receive traditional coverage.
Because of this, some women may opt to wait until after their child is born to seek coverage. At this point, it will be easier to get approved and, likely, cheaper.
However, some women will want coverage while pregnant, even if it is harder to come by. For these women, seeking a short term, no medical exam policy might be a great option. These policies are more expensive, but easier to qualify for.
You can also begin receiving coverage much more quickly than with a policy which does require an exam. If you would like coverage as soon as possible, this is something to consider.
The monthly premium for a short term, no exam policy will be higher than normal, but it will provide you coverage during the period of your pregnancy. And, if this coverage extends a few months past your pregnancy, it will allow you to reevaluate your options after your body has had some time to hopefully, recover and readjust after gestational diabetes.
Understanding Life Insurance Rating Tables
There are several different tiers of coverage you may be placed in by an insurance company, including:
- Preferred Plus
- Standard Plus
- Sub-Standard rates (Table Rated)
If you fall into the group with a gestational diabetes diagnosis in the past but had a quick return to excellent health, you might be able to qualify for Preferred rates.
These are the rates given to people with above average health – they have no other conditions, maintain an active and healthy lifestyle, and a healthy Body Mass Index, or BMI (a ratio of height to weight).
People given a Preferred rate will have to pay less per month for their life insurance, and the savings can be significant. These are obviously the goal rates to receive, but they are somewhat hard to qualify for – the standards for preferred rates are high, and your health must be excellent.
If on the other hand, you have a history of gestational diabetes and more average health, you can likely expect to receive Standard monthly rates.
Perhaps you, like many Americans, are slightly overweight and maybe you weren’t able to bounce back from your gestational diabetes to healthy blood sugar levels quite so quickly. Or, for many companies, a history of gestational diabetes alone is enough to put you in the category of Standard rates.
Generally speaking, Standard rates are the rates most women with gestational diabetes can expect to receive. However, this is only true if you don’t have any other health issues.
The presence of other significant risk factors or any other conditions is likely to bump you up into the next group, Sub-Standard rates.
To calculate these rates, life insurers weigh all your potential risks and assign you a percentage increase on the Standard rate, depending on your total perceived risk. (Because a table or chart is often used to determine these ratings, the name “table rating” is often used to describe these sub-standard rates.)
Each additional table rating is equivalent to a 25% increase (non-cumulative).
Where to Begin Shopping for Life Insurance
If you’re overwhelmed by the thought of life insurance, take a breather and know we have plenty of resources available to you.
It is also crucial that you devote some time to thinking about your motivation behind purchasing life insurance. What are your needs? More importantly, what are the needs of those who depend on you?
This is really the most important fact to consider when thinking about life insurance – it’s what all of this is for! You need to think of how the people who depend on you will need a financial safety net if something were to happen to you.
It’s not a fun thought, but a needed financial safety net.
You may simply want coverage at a level that will take care of funeral costs or remaining minor debts.
Or, you might want to leave behind a policy payout which could go towards college expenses or an inheritance. The possibilities are varied, as will be the options and rates available to individual women with gestational diabetes.
Whatever your requirements, responsibilities, and desires are, you will surely be able to find a plan which fits your needs despite a history of gestational diabetes.
And we’ll help you do it.