Sleep Apnea is a sleep disorder for which breathing stops while you’re sleeping.
Sleep apnea may not seem like a big issue for life insurance underwriting since you’ve probably never heard of anyone dying from sleep apnea, but some of the underwriting issues for life insurance companies is that statistics show that sleep apnea is a major contributing factor in automobile accidents.
Even moderate sleep apnea has also been linked to an increase in several heart conditions including heart attacks and cardiac arrest. It also increases your likelihood of having a stroke, depression, and some types of cancer.
Offers to people with sleep apnea can vary greatly from one insurance company to another and buying insurance from the wrong company could cost you thousands of dollars more than it should.
Understanding how to get the best life insurance with sleep apnea is not always easy, but we can help you narrow down the best rates and insurance companies for you to make the process easy.
While sleep apnea is most common in overweight males, anyone can be diagnosed.
Of the three types of sleep apnea, Obstructive, Central, and Mixed, Obstructive is the most common type.
Besides for being in good health otherwise, what is most important to get the best offer of life insurance if you have Obstructive sleep apnea is the average number of apnea episodes you have per hour as determined by your sleep study results and your oxygen saturation level (i.e. how much oxygen your blood is carrying).
The severity of sleep apnea, whether it’s mild, moderate, or severe, is generally determined by the Apnea Index (AI), the Apnea-Hypopnea Index (AHI), the respiratory disturbance index (RDI), and the oxygen saturation level.
An apnea is a period of cessation of breathing, and a hypopnea is a period of shallow breathing or low respiratory rate. Respiratory disturbance is the average number of respiratory disturbances (i.e. obstructive apneas, hypopneas, and respiratory related arousals) per hour.
If you have mild sleep apnea, the AI is generally between 5 and 20, the AHI or RDI would show 10 to 30 apneas, hypopneas, and/or respiratory arousals per hour, and oxygen saturation would be greater than 80% on sleep study.
If you do have mild sleep apnea and your overall health and height/weight are good otherwise, then you could qualify for “Preferred Plus” or “Preferred” rates with some of the really aggressive insurance companies if your post-treatment sleep study shows that the sleep apnea is under control.
If you have moderate sleep apnea, the AI is generally between 21 and 40, the AHI or RDI would show 31 to 50 per hour, and oxygen saturation would be between 60% to 80%.
Furthermore, if you do have moderate sleep apnea and your overall health and height/weight are good otherwise, then you could qualify for “Preferred” or “Regular Plus” rates with some of the better insurance companies for sleep apnea. Again, as long as your overall health is pretty good otherwise and your post-treatment sleep study shows that the sleep apnea is controlled.
If your sleep study shows that you have more severe sleep apnea or an AI greater than 40, an AHI or RDI greater than 50, and oxygen saturation of less than 60%, then “Regular” or Standard rates are usually going to be best case scenario rates for you. Many insurance companies will rate you or charge you a higher than Regular rate. It is also always possible that you may be declined for life insurance by some insurance companies if you have severe sleep apnea.
If your severe sleep apnea has been well controlled for one or two years with a new sleep study that shows it’s under very good control, then you may be able to get a “Regular Plus” or possibly even a Preferred life insurance rate with a couple insurance companies if your overall health and height/weight are really good otherwise. To get a preferred rate is really tough for any severe sleep apnea cases, and your health would really have to be excellent otherwise (i.e. perfect cholesterol, blood pressure, height/weight, etc).
Acceptable treatments for sleep apnea include documented weight loss, successful tracheotomy, uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) surgery, or daily use of a CPAP or BiPAP machine to correct the sleep apnea.
A repeat sleep study after treatment has started and well-documented CPAP use in medical records for one to two years is what most life insurance companies like to see, especially for moderate to severe sleep apnea.
Mild sleep apnea cases may qualify for coverage as soon as three to six months after treatment has started with some of the really aggressive insurance companies for sleep apnea.
If your doctor recommended that you use CPAP or recommended another treatment, and you have not complied with the recommendation, then most life insurance companies would decline you. Compliance with doctor recommendation is required with even the most liberal insurance companies for sleep apnea.
Other factors which can influence the rate that you’re offered are results of follow-up sleep studies, build, hypertension, arrhythmias or other coronary issues, daytime sleepiness or fatigue resulting in motor vehicle or other accidents, cognitive problems, and/or blood abnormalities.
AXA Equitable, American General, American National, Banner Life, Genworth, Mutual of Omaha, Prudential, and John Hancock are all insurance companies that may offer preferred rates to some people with sleep apnea. Some other insurance companies may also offer preferred rates, depending on your overall health otherwise.
With over 186 quality life insurance companies in the United States, you’ll need an expert who can offer you insurance from all quality life insurance companies to get the best offer possible.
While very rare, Central sleep apnea is the result of brainstem or other neurological failure to continue breathing during sleep. The final type of sleep apnea, Mixed sleep apnea, is a combination of obstructive and central sleep apnea.
Central or Mixed sleep apnea are rare and the rating for either of these two would be based on the underlying cause of the Central sleep apnea. If the cause of the Central sleep apnea is unknown or it requires a combination of oxygen, CPAP, and medications to control it the case would most likely be declined or highly rated.
Like with most underwriting issues, there are exceptions made from time to time, and some “off the wall” insurance company that rarely makes good offers to people with sleep apnea may make best offer for you.
If your health is pretty good, you have mild or moderate sleep apnea, and don’t qualify for a Preferred rate, your agent needs to be willing to fight for a better rate.
We get Preferred offers often, and sometimes even Preferred plus on good cases, because we question every approval and won’t accept offers that are not justified.
Make sure your agent or broker is familiar with sleep apnea cases, they’ll fight to get you best offer, and that they can easily shop your case to numerous life insurance companies to get offers. Feel free to call 1-800-380-3533 and ask for G3 (Gordon III) or email me at [email protected].