1 mn people in the UK are now too overweight for life insurance

Even if an UK life insurer is willing to cover them, obese policyholders face paying up to two and a half times as much a year when compared to customers with a healthy weight, according to The Telegraph.

Expert analysis revealed that some life insurers refuse to cover customers with a Body Mass Index of 38 or more, which qualifies as obese but is below the threshold for “severe” or “morbid” obesity.

Britain’s obesity rates have risen steadily over the past decade, according to the NHS. A health survey conducted in 2021 found 25pc of adults in England were classed as obese, having a BMI of more than 30 – equivalent to roughly 17 million people (see about Life Insurance Value Chain).

The NHS has not published data on the number of people with a BMI above 40 since 2018, but 1.4 million were classified as “severely obese” at that time.

This means that more than a million people are likely to struggle to get life insurance, often a requirement when taking out a mortgage.

Alan Lakey, of CIExpert

More often than not someone with a BMI of 35 will have comorbidities such as high cholesterol, raised blood pressure or Type 2 Diabetes

Alan Lakey, of CIExpert

Obese people are also at increased risk of developing coronary heart disease, which can lead to heart attacks (see Global Life Insurance Industry is Facing an Inflection Point).

A spokesman for Aviva said it considers BMI as part of its underwriting process and that “this may result in a further adjustment to the customer’s premium or in certain scenarios mean we are unable to offer cover”.

1 mn people in the UK are now too overweight for life insurance

Being overweight or underweight brings an increased risk of developing a range of different health conditions.

As such, for some customers outwith a defined range we may charge additional premiums or for the most significant risks we may be unable to offer cover (se abot Cancer Health Insurance. What Factors Should You Consider Before Buy Policy?).

Other insurers could also charge people more or deny them cover based on their BMI.

AIG declines anyone with a BMI above 39, and charges a 100pc higher premium for policyholders with a BMI of between 35 and 37.

HSBC automatically declines policyholders with a BMI above 42, while LV= rejects applicants with a BMI over 38 if they are younger than 39.

Royal London rejects any applicant with a BMI over 40, regardless of age, while Vitality also rejects applicants with a BMI of 40.5 or higher.

By Tom Haynes – The Telegraph