Of course the reason snoring is a life insurance underwriting issue is because someone may put a pillow over your head and hold it there until the noise stops.

Seriously though, if that snoring is driven by sleep apnea, depending on the company you may get a brief review of your sleep studies and their best rate class or a decline from companies that requires underwriters to adhere to reinsurance manual guidelines.

Just an aside before we get into sleep apnea. I’ve mentioned reinsurance a couple of days in a row now and want to make sure people understand what reinsurance companies are and how they impact underwriting in life insurance companies.

Every company has what is called a retention limit. That limit is how much of their own money they will put at risk on any given case. For instance, if a company has a retention limit of $1,000,000 and they are underwriting a $2,000,000 policy, half of the risk will be moved to a reinsurance company. In a case like that it’s very important that a company adhere to the reinsurance guidelines in order to ensure that the second half of that risk will be bought by reinsurance.

On the other hand, if they were writing a $250,000 policy, well within their retention limit, they might be willing to be a bit more creative in their underwriting since no one else is going to need to sign off on it.

Sleep apnea is one of those health issues that can be underwritten all over the map. There truly are some health effects that, in poorly controlled sleep apnea, can have mortality impact. Probably the two most talked about are high blood pressure and heart disease, both caused by oxygen deprivation during periods of apnea.

The most common risk factor for sleep apnea is obesity, although I’ve helped plenty of skinny guys with sleep apnea get life insurance. Each risk factor also carries its’ own mortality experience which kind of adds to the complex underwriting pile.

The good news is that for those who take the sleep apnea seriously and are compliant with their prescribed treatment, if no other risk factors over ride the opportunity, can still get life insurance at preferred plus or preferred rates. This would generally be for those diagnosed as having mild to moderate apnea, but I have seen even severe apnea get the best rate when there aren’t other risk factors and compliance is excellent.

Bottom line. If you have sleep apnea and need life insurance, make sure you shop it with a knowledgeable independent agent. If you take your chances with your friendly auto and homeowners agent you probably won’t like the results. If you happen to choose an agent that doesn’t fully understand the broad range of underwriting stances, the same disappointment will likely result.

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