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Diabetes and life insurance

Does having diabetes affect your ability to take out a life insurance policy? Find out what Australian insurers say.

Diabetes affects the lives of thousands of Australians. As many as 60% of Australian adults are at risk of developing diabetes in their lives, which has led experts to predict that as many as 3.1 million Australians could suffer type 2 diabetes by 2031.

Can I get cover?

It's possible for people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes to take out life cover in Australia. However, the increased risks associated with diabetes mean that cover may come with a premium loading. This guide will provide you with some insight into getting cover with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, limitations you may face and more.

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What do insurers look at when assessing people with diabetes?

An insurance underwriter will assess how controlled your diabetes and also the type of diabetes, how it is treated, age of diagnosis and any medical complications that could impact your level of risk.

How does the type of diabetes affect my life insurance?

If you have type 1 diabetics then you may pose an increased risk to life insurers, as type 1 diabetes can be more serious over a long term and more difficult to treat than type 2 diabetes.

Age you were diagnosed with diabetes

The age that the applicant was diagnosed with diabetes can also be a contributing factor to the premium payable. Someone that was diagnosed at a younger age is more likely to suffer complications later in life. Type 1 diabetes is more prevalent among young people.

Alcohol consumption

An underwriter will take into account if there is a presence of excessive alcohol intake.

Family history

If a member of the applicants family have died before the age of 60 as a result of cardiovascular-renal disease, an additional loading will be applied.

Control

The control of the applicants glucose levels will also be assessed. If it is not satisfactory the diabetic rating may be increased.

Complications

Diabetes can cause many medical complications including blindness, kidney dysfunction and peripheral vascular problems. An underwriter will assess additional conditions suffered by the applicant and will require evidence of this from a treating doctor.

Questions asked during the application process

As a longtime diabetic Jason applied for life insurance anyway. Some of the questions Jason had to undergo included:

  • What type of diabetes were you diagnosed with? Is it type 1 or 2, gestational diabetes, diabetes insipidus, glucose intolerance or insulin resistance?
  • When was the diagnosis made?
  • How is the condition treated? Is it treated with diet, insulin injections, oral medications or other? What is the medication and dosage amount, if applicable?
  • Have you experienced any complications including kidney or nerve problems, high blood pressure, vision impairment or reduced blood circulation as a result of diabetes? Have you ever experienced a diabetic or insulin coma or required hospitalisation because of the condition?
  • When was the condition last checked and what were the results of the tests?
  • What were the results of your most recent Glycosylated Haemoglobin test?
  • Provide the contact information for your doctor or doctors.

What information will your insurer require?

  • Medical attendants report will be required for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes
  • Diabetic questionnaire required from applicant to determine if they understand the condition and has been cooperative with a certified medical practitioner
  • Questionnaire will usually be required from the applicants medical attendant
  • The applicant may also be required to undertake an ECG and chest X-Ray if the sum-insured is substantial

Diabetes in Australia

Diabetes in Australia is on the rise and affects roughly 1.7 million Australians. Diabetes costs Australians an estimated $14.6bn per year.

According to Diabetes Australia, 280 Australians develop diabetes everyday, which is one person every five minutes. And the trend doesn't show any signs of slowing. New cases of type 2 diabetes steadily increased between the year 2000 and 2009.

In 2013, there were 2,323 new cases of type 1 diabetes in Australia, equating to 11 cases per 100,000 population.

The incidence rate for type 1 diabetes:

  • Is higher in males than females (12 compared with 9 per 100,000 population)
  • More than half (52%) of all new cases were for people under 18 years of age
  • Peaked at age 10–14 years (33 per 100,000 population)

Trauma insurance and diabetes

Most comprehensive trauma cover policies will offer coverage for applicants that suffer from diabetes. As with life cover, the insurance provider will assess each applicant against their criteria to determine the level of risk they carry. Premiums will depend on the age of the persons diagnosis and the level of control of the condition.

Trauma cover can provide great financial support if a policyholder is diagnosed with diabetes and it meets the conditions as defined by the provider. Trauma cover will pay out as a lump sum benefit that can be used to help cover medical expenses, mortgage repayments and any reduction of income that may occur.

What exactly is diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition that can affect many parts of the body. It stems from the body producing an insufficient level of insulin, which allows the body to transform glucose into energy. The inability to regulate blood glucose levels can result in a dangerous overload of sugar in the person's blood stream.
This means that when people with diabetes eat foods that contain glucose their bodies can't convert it into energy. Foods include:

  • Yoghurts and sweets
  • Milk
  • Fruit and starchy vegetables
  • Cereals
  • Breads
  • Legumes
  • Egg

How is Type 1 diabetes different to type 2 diabetes?

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is where the pancreas is unable to continue making insulin, making blood cells unable to turn glucose into energy. This in turn can lead to an accumulation of dangerous chemical substances within their blood from the burning of fat. If not treated appropriately this can lead to a condition known as ketoacidosis that can be fatal.

Type 1 diabetes accounts for roughly 10-15% of all cases of diabetes. In order to prevent ketoacidosis, people with type 1 diabetes are required to take up to four insulin injections every day. The condition typically occurs in people under the age of 30.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 Diabetes is more common among older adults and makes up roughly 85-90% of all people with diabetes. In comparison to type 1, the pancreas is able to produce some insulin but it is an inefficient amount to enable the body to work effectively.

While type 2 diabetes is a result of genetic makeup it is largely associated with lifestyle factors that can result in high blood pressure and obesity, usually a result of poor diet and a lack of physical activity. Luckily for this group, it can usually be managed via healthy eating and regular exercise. However, most people with this condition will still need to take tablets or insulin when required.

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*The life insurance products compared on this page are chosen from a range of products, finder.com.au has access to track details from and is not representative of all the products available in the market. You should consider seeking financial advice and consider your own personal financial circumstances when comparing life insurance products.

Picture: Shutterstock

Richard Laycock

Richard is the insurance editor at finder.com.au. He is on a mission to make insurance easier to understand.

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