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Obesity has always been a life insurance underwriting challenge. Companies are keenly aware that while weight may not kill you, it dramatically increases your risk of everything from heart disease to cancer.

The explosion in type 2 diabetes worldwide can be directly linked to the epidemic of obesity that has swept so many countries, with the US near the top of the list because, well face it, we have more money to spend on more ways to pack on pounds than most countries. Below is a list of the top 10 countries and the percentage of people that are considered obese (BMI over 30).

Rank Countries Amount
# 1 United States: 30.6%
# 2 Mexico: 24.2%
# 3 United Kingdom: 23%
# 4 Slovakia: 22.4%
# 5 Greece: 21.9%
# 6 Australia: 21.7%
# 7 New Zealand: 20.9%
# 8 Hungary: 18.8%
# 9 Luxembourg: 18.4%
# 10 Czech Republic: 14.8%

So, with a direct, unquestionable link between mortality and obesity, is there a way for the overweight to get a fair shake on life insurance rates? The good news is that most companies don’t take a real exception to those that fall in the overweight, BMI 25-29, category. It’s the obesity range between BMI 30-40 where companies start jumping ship and either offering highly rated policies or declining to offer coverage at all.

It’s at this point where there are a few companies that, in the absence of any current health issues related to weight, will step forward and offer policies where no other companies will go. Is it going to be more expensive than someone who isn’t overweight? Well, yah! It’s possible you may not be able to get as much as you want or you may have to go with a shorter term without breaking the budget, but it’s a wise person that understands that with life insurance, something is always, always better than nothing. In almost all cases I’ve run into we can at least get coverage. Some sample approved builds with Prudential would be 5’10, 380, 5’4, 320 or 6’2 425. At age 40 $500,000 at those builds would run $3165.00 annual for a 20 year term, $2550.00 for a 10 year term.

Those would be rated policies, but with most companies they would be a decline. Again, something is always better than nothing and approved is always better than declined. Even if you had to cut that coverage in half, just to be able to tell your spouse that you had life insurance in force with a guaranteed level premium is a good feeling for both of you.

For the less altidutinally challenged the best value at a standard rate would be 5’10, 260, 5’4, 220 and 6’2, 290, again for a 40 year old male with no other health issues, $500,000 20 year term at $1085 annually.

So, which company will stretch the furthest and still give their very competitive best rate class? That would be Genworth Life and Annuity who for the same guy above would only run $359 annually with these builds. 5’10, 209, 5’4, 174 and 6’2, 233.

Bottom line. If you think you are being mistreated because of your build, more than likely you are. Seek out an independent agent who will show you Prudential’s or Genworth’s build charts.