Eating Disorders And Life Insurance Coverage

Eating disorders are looked at during life insurance underwriting and may change the premiums you are offered for life insurance coverage.

Eating disorders are psychiatric disorders characterized by a disturbed body image and a morbid fear of obesity. Thousands of people across the US are struggling with the severity of eating disorders and can bring life threatening consequences without life insurance. While there is hope and recovery is possible, many do not know where to begin in recognizing that they need help and even doctors are not readily aware of all the signs.

Lynn Grefe, president and CEO of the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) said, “What you don’t know can hurt you … or someone you love. It is time to get the conversation going in communities across the country. We need to educate ourselves to recognize the signs of eating disorders, which kill more people than any other mental disorder. But there is hope and there is help, particularly with early intervention.”

Last month, NEDA held its first Weight Stigma Awareness Week September 23-27, 2019.  The organization encouraged people to join in the conversation about poor body image, weight discrimination, stigmas circling society about underweight or overweight people. Essentially the week was to spotlight eating disorders of all kinds.

How can eating disorders affect the ability to qualify for life insurance?

First, talking to a qualified insurance specialist is always the best option because now there is guaranteed life insurance available for those who do not want to submit to a medical exam, though medical history questions are asked. Many highly-rated life insurers now offer no-exam underwriting, which is available with initial rate guarantees of 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 years and even lifetime coverage depending upon the applicant’s age, state and health profile. But traditional life insurance is not out of the ball park either, depending on the length of the recovery process.

Underwriting considerations for life insurance include the following questions when an eating disorder is present:

  • What was the date of the diagnosis?
  • How many episodes have occurred and what is the date of the last episode/recovery?
  • What is your current height and weight?
  • Has weight remained stable for at least a year?
  • Are you on any medications?
  • Have you been hospitalized for treatment of an eating disorder?
  • Does your client have a history of substance abuse, psychotic disorder, depression, suicide, or anxiety disorder?
  • Have you smoked cigarettes in the last 12 months?
  • Do you have any other major health issues?

NEDA presents an online screening for eating disorders. This anonymous online screening, developed by Screening for Mental Health, Inc., takes only a few minutes and consists of a series of questions developed by treatment professionals in the eating disorders field, which are designed to indicate whether clinical help is needed. The availability of such a low-pressure, first step towards recovery is a vital tool. After completing a screening, participants (if indicated) receive referral information for local agencies for personal evaluation by a medical professional and treatment. There are two screenings available, one for college students – a particularly vulnerable demographic for the development of eating disorders – and a standard screening for other adult populations.

If you are suspect that you have an eating disorder, participate in a variety of  NEDA events throughout the country to learn more and become involved and utilize an online screening.  If you are thinking about securing life insurance with an eating disorder, to avoid unwanted declines, take the necessary step to protect your future and speak with a trusted specialist.

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