All things being equal, underwriting type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes really hinge on the same issues. So, why is it that type 1 seems to incur a heavier hit than type 2?

Remember that with type 2 diabetes, underwriting focuses on age of onset, control and other risk factors. The real swing factor is age of onset. After age 50 is the best possible benchmark. 40 to 50 takes a swing into being rated even with good control and other risk factors being well controlled. Onset prior to age 40 will be treated almost the same as type 1.

The reason that age of onset is such a large factor is that, the longer the disease works on a person’s body, the higher the risk of collateral health issues such as heart disease and kidney disease. This is the primary factor in why early onset type 2  and type 1, which is almost always early onset, are underwritten basically the same.

With most type 1 diabetes onset is prior to age 30. Remember, the longer your body has to deal with the stress that diabetes puts on your systems, the harder it is for your body to keep other associated health issues at bay.  That is the reality of the way underwriters are currently looking at the two issues.

I am working with underwriters from several companies to review this logic. The truth is that there seems to be a substantial difference in favor of type 1, compared to early onset type 2. Generally speaking, if you have someone with type 1 at age 35, onset age 15, that is exhibiting good control over the disease, they are also someone who has adopted a healthy  lifestyle. If they continue to maintain that control, they should have a normal or at least near normal mortality experience.

On the other hand, if someone is diagnosed type 2 at age 35, it is generally because of some poor lifestyle choices, often poor eating habits leading to obesity. At this point the two are starting at the same age and statistics I’ve seen would indicate the person with type 2 is less likely to gain control before suffering collateral health issues. It is my contention, and unfortunately not the contention of the underwriters, that these two are on equal ground. We’re working on that.

Bottom line. Early onset is a problem, a real challenge, no matter which type of diabetes a person is dealing with. Control and a healthy lifestyle are going to win the best life insurance prices available, and for now at least, those prices are higher than later onset.