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With the percentage of Hispanics in the US being almost double what it is for Anglo Americans, the challenge of finding affordable life insurance to ensure the family heritage and legacy needs to be more focused than ever.

In most cases diabetes is ultimately insurable. Latino statistics aside, it still comes down to the same underwriting criteria. Good rates are available but those rates come with control and compliance. Life insurance underwriters don’t have a cultural mortality study that impacts rates, but they do have mortality risk studies that tell them what can be expected if a person isn’t compliant with treatment and if that ultimately leads to poor control of glucose levels.

The reason for underwriter’s concern and careful underwriting of diabetes is the host of collateral health issues that can ultimately make the disease deadly. Those with type 2 diabetes, especially poorly controlled, are at a substantially increased risk for heart disease, high blood pressure and kidney problems. If you factor in the major risk factor for diabetes being obesity, you drag along increased risk of stroke and cancer.

The good news is in good control. To put it bluntly, the good news lies with those who care enough to change their lifestyle and deal with it. Losing weight is huge in the fight with type 2 diabetes. For those who can meet that challenge through diet and exercise, it’s a home run. They have changed a life style and snapped the link that has them tied to a downward spiral with diabetes. Studies have shown that even those who need to employ a more drastic approach such as gastric bypass surgery, with the weight loss comes almost immediate improvement in their diabetes control. In many cases the drastic weight loss completely cures the diabetes.

So, what are life insurance underwriters looking at when they consider diabetes as an underwriting issue?

1. Age of onset. Type 1 diabetes is generally diagnosed between early childhood and age 30. The later the onset, the better. Children with type 1 diabetes are almost always not insurable for reasons that, while lame, are the facts of the issue. With type 2 diabetes, optimal chances for good rates would be with diagnosis after age 50. A few companies are leaning toward age 40 as long as all other risk factors are good, but prior to 40 there will be a hit with virtually all companies.
2. Compliance! Underwriters want to see people who have taken the bull by the horns and are exercising, losing weight, actively monitoring their diabetes with regular glucose checks. They also want to know that you see your doctor regularly (every three months is pretty standard) so that your doctor can monitor all the risk factors and also run blood tests that will include an A1c or hbA1c. Compliance with medications is crucial. Taking medication only when your glucose spikes isn’t compliant.
3. Control. As measured by the A1c, underwriters would consider excellent control to be an A1c of 6.5 or under, good control 6.5 to 7.5, and questionable control 7.5 to 8 and poor control over 8.
4. Education. Life insurance underwriters would like to know that you understand your diabetes probably to a higher degree than your doctor is willing to provide education for. That means self education and group diabetes education is a good idea. Don’t depend on your doctor to make you smart about your disease and what you should be doing about it.
5. Monitoring risk factors. The best rates come with good control and no other risk factors, so checking blood pressure and cholesterol, and staying ahead of any impending issues with regular checkups is imperative.

Bottom line. Diabetes is a life insurance showstopper and a life longevity demon if you allow it. Take control and the picture changes dramatically.