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As we’ve reviewed the underwriting criteria for life insurance when it involves diabetes over the years, I’ve beat the need to know your hbA1c to death. I would guess that more than 50% of diabetics I have spoken with don’t even know what I’m talking about, which in my mind heaps shame on their doctors for not educating their patients properly.

The hbA1c is a lab test that the doctor that is managing your diabetes will typically run every three months. This test is extremely relevant to them as it is the most accurate indicator of how your treatment is working. It tells them if you have achieved control and average glucose levels are low enough that no collateral issues should occur.

Life insurance underwriters are very interested in the same information. They take with a grain of salt what your fasting glucose level is. The proof comes when all the highs and lows are averaged. Control isn’t measured by your ability to fast and artificially lower your glucose, but rather by averaging those fasting periods with the more frequent real life periods when you aren’t minding the shop and your glucose rises.

Another relevant issue to underwriters when it comes to diabetes is the age of onset. Diabetes has potential impacts on other health issues such as heart disease and kidney health. The longer a person has diabetes, the greater the chances of complications and the greater possibility of a negative impact on mortality. From an underwriting standpoint, onset prior to age 40 is substantially different than after age 50.

Also important to underwriters are those health issues that, in combination with diabetes, make it harder for a person to avoid complications. Probably the two most important are obesity and high blood pressure. With obesity being one of the primary causes on diabetes onset, trying to control diabetes with unchecked obesity is problematic at best.

The good news is that for many with onset after age 50 and well controlled diabetes, standard or better rates are available.

Bottom line. Make sure you educate yourself on what diabetes means in your life. Don’t expect that your doctor will provide answers to questions you don’t ask. Seek out a knowledgeable independent agent to help you seek out the best rates and be ahead of the curve when you do by having your most recent set of labs available.