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Well, duh! Of course you do, but the good news is that you don’t have to be breathing all the time. After all, sleep apnea could be loosely described as periods of not breathing during sleep.

Sleep apnea is one of those health issues that life insurance underwriters, from company to company, vary wildly on. Some companies treat sleep apnea as if you’ll never start breathing again, instant decline. They act as if the risk is somewhere between stage 4 colon cancer and sky diving without a parachute.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have been very successful at getting best rate class approvals for people with mild to moderate sleep apnea if there aren’t any other risk factors involved. Even severe sleep apnea is getting placed at better than standard rates.

So, are underwriters really concerned that someone will stop breathing and not start again? Well, no! The truth that drives sleep apnea underwriting really revolves around the fact that during those periods of apnea, the blood oxygen level drops and sometimes blood pressure increases. These strains on the heart can lead to cardiovascular issues and possibly a heart attack.

There is also the very real risk that a spouse may strangle you because, to put it gently, there is snoring and than there is sleep apnea snoring. The difference is not subtle and with sleep apnea, especially severe sleep apnea, there is very little break from the onslaught.

Underwriting becomes more difficult when there are already risk factors involved such as obesity or high blood pressure. The more risk factors you pile on that all sort of lead in the same cardiac related direction, the tougher it is to get the best rates. In most cases though, with a good independent agent, life insurance can be found and approved.

Bottom line. As with all health issues, life insurance underwriting of sleep apnea is all about compliance with treatment, control of the problem and if you have confined the problem to just one issue.