Gestational diabetes is diagnosed in about 7 out of 100 pregnancies.1 The effect on life insurance is significant. I wanted to share a few quick truths, and a few answers to common questions, because this comes up a lot.
The good news is that there are options, and here at AboveBoard we take pride in helping women navigate their life insurance choices well.
A Few Quick Truths About Gestational Diabetes & Life Insurance
- If you had gestational diabetes in the last several years, your pricing will almost certainly be higher than what it would have been without gestational diabetes. This is true even if your gestational diabetes completely went away after delivery. How much higher depends on the specifics, but a general rule of thumb is that recent gestational diabetes will roughly double your rates. (Take a deep breath, keep reading, there are smart ways to manage this.) This is not the case for everyone - sometimes people have health profiles where we're able to do better than that, but I want to be honest with you about what's typical.
- If you've had gestational diabetes in the last several years and if you thought "maybe I wait a few years before getting life insurance", please allow me to tell you: that is seriously a terrible idea. I say that with total kindness and empathy, but you need to know the truth. And there are much better approaches to this situation, which I discuss below.
- If you're currently pregnant with gestational diabetes, most (but not all) companies will refuse to offer coverage until after delivery. I still recommend getting a quote because some people can still get coverage, but don't take it personally if you get deferred until after delivery!
- If you found your way here prior to a gestational diabetes diagnosis, please read Pregnant or planning to be? Don't wait to get life insurance.
Why Does Past Gestational Diabetes Raise Life Insurance Rates, Even If Everything Cleared Up At Delivery?
Insurance companies are all about data, and the data generally show that people who have gestational diabetes are statistically more likely to get Type 2 diabetes later in life. That doesn't mean you, as one individual who has or had gestational diabetes, will get Type 2 diabetes, but it means carriers price people in that group higher.
A good life insurance broker can (and SHOULD) advocate on your behalf - we’ve been able to get best pricing even when a client had gestational diabetes in the past year but fully recovered upon delivery. However, that is truly a best-case scenario and frankly quite rare.
Depending on the specifics of your health profile, it is possible that you might have great options available. Jolene*, age 38, came to us 6 months after having her second child. She'd had gestational diabetes that required insulin during pregnancy, but thankfully her blood sugar levels had been normal since delivery. She had also had pregnancies without gestational diabetes. A fit, healthy individual on no prescription meds who would have qualified for best pricing from any carrier prior to her pregnancy complications, she'd received a sky-high offer from another carrier due to her diagnosis.
AboveBoard got to work sussing out her best options, and while most carriers wanted to charge nearly double what she could have qualified for before gestational diabetes, we found a single carrier open to considering her for best pricing. We were delighted to find this glimmer of hope, and successfully helped her score that best pricing!
How Much Does A Past Gestational Diabetes Diagnosis Raise My Life Insurance Pricing?
The answer to this varies a lot by the specifics, but assuming your rates would double is a good starting assumption. Some people do better than that, others do worse.
Someone who would previously have qualified for the Best rating from any carrier would generally find themselves qualifying for the 3rd or 4th-best price rating. (We love transparency, and are big insurance nerds ourselves, so if you'd like to learn more about how insurance pricing works, we've got that here.) Someone who would have previously gotten 3rd-best might now be looking at 6th-best, etc.
As I mentioned above, our unique smart & ethical approach has been able to suss out Best rates for some women who had gestational diabetes recently, but that is rare. To find out what you qualify for, get a quote (it's super helpful if you have your A1C readings from during pregnancy, but it's not a requirement).
How Much Does A Current Gestational Diabetes Diagnosis Raise My Life Insurance Pricing?
When you have a current diagnosis, many carriers will require you to wait until after delivery; coverage is not available at any price. However, we can sometimes identify at least one carrier willing to offer coverage.
When Sylvia*, age 35 and the family breadwinner, came to AboveBoard for life insurance, she was expecting twins and had gestational diabetes that she was managing with diet and exercise, a mild case by any measure. Sylvia had always been a healthy person with a larger frame, and would have easily qualified for the best pricing from a carrier that's receptive to healthy people with higher BMIs.
A high-earning professional, Sylvia was seeking $3 million of 30 year term coverage; she wanted to support her kids through graduate school, and also cover her entire expected working life. Prior to pregnancy, that coverage would have been $151 / month.
But given her current gestational diabetes diagnosis, over 90% of the carriers we polled declined to even consider her application until after delivery. The best response came from a carrier willing to consider her application for her desired $3 million of 30 year term at $585 / month, nearly 4x the rate she would have otherwise qualified for! Sylvia couldn't risk not having any coverage, as her options might get worse if she experienced serious complications on delivery (or worse, the uncommon but horrific possibility of maternal mortality). We ultimately helped Sylvia craft a strategy that pared back her desired coverage to the bare minimum to avert disaster if she died anytime soon, and we hope she enjoys good health for the next couple years, and then we can help her get the coverage she wants at better rates!
Definitely get an instant quote from us and we can advise on whether any carriers are willing to offer life insurance coverage prior to delivery while you have a current diagnosis of gestational diabetes or gestational hypertension.
What Should I Do If The Pricing of Life Insurance Just Isn't Workable for Me?
The first step - and AboveBoard is always happy to help you with this - is to define your "MAC", your Minimum Acceptable Coverage. Your MAC is not the amount of insurance you'd like to have, it's the minimum amount your loved ones would need to keep their lives going in a way you would all feel OK about. Here's an example:
Continuing Sylvia's story from above, she'd wanted $3 million 30 year term. Instead, she went with $2 million 20 year term. It wasn't her first choice, but neither was $585 / month for the coverage she really wanted. This reduced her premiums by 55%, while ensuring that her kids would be at least 20 by the time she had no coverage.
Her hope, and ours, is that with a few more years of continued good health she can replace her coverage at improved rates and get the coverage she wanted at a price that fits her budget, but we've taken the disaster scenarios off the table:
- There's no scenario where Sylvia's husband and young children are left without coverage if she dies prematurely
- There's no scenario where Sylvia's husband and young children are left without coverage if she receives a serious health diagnosis (e.g. breast cancer, MS, etc.) while she's waiting for her gestational diabetes to be further in the past
With term life insurance, you can take a new policy and drop the old one without penalty. But if your health profile does not improve, you’re safe - you’ve already locked in your rate!
Once you get a life insurance policy, you’ve locked in your rate and can never do worse.
At AboveBoard we have a unique, ethical approach to advising people in tough insurance situations, and we can help you craft a strategy that considers your budget and protection goals. Resist the urge to "ostrich it", do not put your head in the sand! You incubate a potentially much bigger problem by not taking action. We're here to help you.
(1) Estimated using data from CDC https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/gestational.html; March of Dimes https://www.marchofdimes.org/complications/gestational-diabetes.aspx
*Client names and identifying details have been changed to preserve privacy.