To be honest there is good news and bad news. The bad news is that those life insurance companies who are “diabetic friendly” are in fact very “Ltd”….limited. The good news is that there are a handful of companies that are very fair and very aggressive in their underwriting of diabetes.

It’s always important to kind of refresh everyone on just why diabetes is an issue when it comes to life insurance. I’ve certainly talked to my fair share of people with diabetes who feel picked on because they pay a higher rate than, say, Michael Phelps. Oh wait. Bad example. He would be bumped to standard for smoking pot.

Anyway, diabetes, and especially marginally controlled diabetes, impacts other body systems over the years. Poorly controlled diabetes has been linked to heart disease, kidney problems, high blood pressure and more obscure issues such as peripheral artery disease. neuropathy and retinopathy. So, when underwriting diabetes, life insurance companies are really giving some consideration to the potential downsides as well.

Having said that, well controlled diabetes as measured by your hbA1c doesn’t have nearly the long term implications. Consistently well controlled diabetes can end up being just one of those stand alone health problems that we just put up with for the rest of a long healthy life. So, what are underwriters wanting to see to give away some of those coveted good rates? As a person with diabetes it’s important for you to understand what factors play into the rate you get, or in some cases whether you are even approved for life insurance.

Age of onset is one factor that determines what rate you will pay. The earlier you were diagnosed the higher the rate. The best case would be a diagnosis after age 50. After age 40 can still be OK if all other risk factors are good. Underwriters have, with good reason, concern with type 2 diabetes onset prior to age 40.

Control of glucose levels is a major factor and probably the most important underwriting guideline. Life insurance companies us your hbA1c as the deciding factor. Under 6.5 is optimal. 6.5 to 7.5 can still get good rates if other factors are good (good weight, no neuropathy, no proteinuria), 7.5 to 8.5 is certainly still insurable but is getting to the point where underwriters are concerned about control. Over 8.5 is a tough sell unless all other risk factors are stellar.

Lastly, the other risk factors are an underwriting concern. With weight being a primary cause of type 2 diabetes, not dealing with the weight issue is a problem. Certainly collateral health issues such as high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, peripheral artery disease, neuropathy and retinopathy present underwriting challenges.

Bottom line. A good independent agent is going to have access to the right companies and know what questions to ask to steer you to the best company for your situation. Good rates are out there but their location is a limited edition.