Updated: July 30, 2019

Critical Illness Cover for High or Low BMI

Looking for critical illness cover but have a high or low BMI? We'll look at how your BMI affects premiums, and how to find the right cover for your lifestyle

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Pete Mugleston

Author: Pete Mugleston - Mortgage Expert

Updated: July 30, 2019

Critical illness cover is a popular insurance product for those who want the peace of mind that their loved ones receive financial support in the event of you falling ill and being unable to work.

There are a number of circumstances which put you at higher risk of developing a critical illness, including being a smoker if you drink or take drugs regularly, and your weight..

We’re often asked whether it’s possible to take out critical illness cover if you’re classified as being overweight or underweight, and the answer to this will depend on the specific provider, how high your body mass index (BMI) score is and other personal factors.

Can I get cover with a high BMI?

When you apply for critical illness insurance, overweight individuals can typically get approved for cover provided their BMI does not exceed 45. However, age and other lifestyle factors will also impact eligibility.

If you have a BMI of 45 or over, critical illness cover is not usually available from the majority of standard insurance providers. However, the experts we work with have access to a number of niche or specialist insurers.

What’s more, providers regularly change their guidelines so it’s also worth getting in touch to see if any eligibility criteria has changed if you’ve been declined by a particular provider in the past.

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How do insurers calculate my cover if I’m overweight?

Insurers calculate your BMI by dividing a person’s weight in pounds by height in inches squared and multiplying by a conversion factor of 703.

Any figure between 18.5 and 25 is deemed healthy by the NHS, whereas between 25 and 30 is overweight. 30+ is classified as obese, and under 18.5 is considered underweight.

All insurers set different limits, so if your BMI is within their requirements it is unlikely to affect your application. If your BMI is higher or lower than these levels, they may increase the price to compensate for the additional risk.

If the weight is considerably higher or lower, the insurer may decline to offer you critical illness cover because you pose too great a risk.

Is it right for me?

Generally speaking, critical illness cover is a good idea if you don’t have sufficient savings to fall back on in the event of you receiving a diagnosis.

This is especially prevalent for those with a high BMI, when you consider the fact that overweight people are at a far greater risk of developing certain cancers, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

When deciding whether to take out critical illness cover, it’s important to consider any dependents you have which rely on your income to live, as well as if you have a mortgage which needs paying and any other outstanding debts.

If you need assistance calculating how much cover you’ll need to look after you and your loved ones, get in touch and we’ll refer you to one of the health insurance experts we work with for advice.

What if I have a high BMI but am healthy?

Many insurers neglect to differentiate between fat and muscle when assessing your critical illness application. This can be problematic for those in certain professions or who follow particular lifestyles.

For example, bodybuilders, boxers and rugby players are often ‘technically’ classed as obsese but are actually well-built and healthy. So don’t get disheartened if you’re declined by one provider, or settle for the first quote you receive.

If you have a high BMI but consider yourself healthy, speak to a financial advisor who can assess your individual situation and find you willing insurers. It may transpire that cover may not be necessary if you’re below a certain age and healthy.

Can I get cover if I have a low BMI?

Being underweight can also have an impact on whether you are approved for life insurance, and likewise critical illness cover.

As mentioned, if your BMI is below 17 it tends to cause concern from the majority of insurers, some of whom may decide to decline your application on that basis alone.

However, many will want to clarify the causes of low weight before making a decision. Essentially, they want to ascertain whether there is anything specifically that is impacting your health and putting you at higher risk of making a claim.

Insurers are likely to want to seek a report from your GP to establish more about the conditions of your overall health, which will then determine whether they are willing to insure you and / or any terms they will attach to your cover as a result.

What factors will insurers consider if I have a low BMI?

When reviewing your critical illness insurance application, providers may want to know about the following if you are underweight:

  • What your BMI is.
  • Your waist circumference and / or your clothes size.
  • How long you have been underweight and when you first became so.
  • If you have been diagnosed with any eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa.
  • If there has been any sudden weight loss.
  • Whether you suffer with any mental health conditions.

The terms you’re offered will vary significantly by provider, so if you’ve been declined previously, don’t lose hope; it’s very much a case-by-case basis, and your specific circumstances will play a key role in determining your eligibility.

Get it touch to speak to a specialist for further advice.

How much will cover cost if I have a high BMI?

As with all types of insurance products, the more likely you are to make a claim, the greater the premium. So, the higher your BMI figure, the more at risk you are of suffering from ill health, and the more you can expect your cover to cost.

Although there are a number of other factors that will impact the cost of critical illness cover, weight plays a significant role. When your figure exceeds the ‘healthy’ threshold, insurance companies may add half the premium again to a quote, or even double it.

As an example, a 40-year-old with a healthy BMI and £150,000 of health insurance may pay as little as £15 a month for 25 years. However, if someone has a BMI which is above the accepted level, they could end up paying £22.50 a month, best case scenario.

A similar plan with critical illness cover on top (as is usually the case) would cost the healthy individual around £78 a month, but potentially twice as much for obese customers—a huge difference of £23,400 over the 25 years.

As with any type of insurance, there’s no ‘one size fits all’ answer to exactly how much you can expect to pay for critical illness cover if you have a high BMI, so contact a specialist for quotes tailored to your unique circumstances.

Speak to an expert

For more information on critical illness cover and if it’s right for you, get in touch with us.

The specialists we work with will assess your individual situation and requirements to provide you with bespoke advice on the most suitable type of cover, with your budget and needs in mind.

You can submit an online enquiry or give us a call on 0808 189 0463. We only work with experienced, 5* accredited advisors, we don’t charge a fee, and there’s no obligation on your part.

Ask a quick question

We can help! We know everyone's circumstances are different, that's why we work with brokers who are experts in critical illness cover. Ask us a question and we'll get the best expert to help.

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Pete Mugleston

Pete Mugleston

Mortgage Expert

About the author

Pete, an expert in all things mortgages, cut his teeth right in the middle of the credit crunch. With plenty of people needing help and few mortgage providers lending, Pete found great success in going the extra mile to find mortgages for people whom many others considered lost causes. The experience he gained, coupled with his love of helping people reach their goals, led him to establish Online Mortgage Advisor, with one clear vision – to help as many customers as possible get the right advice, regardless of need or background.

Pete’s presence in the industry as the ‘go-to’ for specialist finance continues to grow, and he is regularly cited in and writes for both local and national press, as well as trade publications, with a regular column in Mortgage Introducer and being the exclusive mortgage expert for LOVEMoney. Pete also writes for OMA of course!

FCA Disclaimer

*Based on our research, the content contained in this article is accurate as of the most recent time of writing. Lender criteria and policies change regularly so speak to one of the advisors we work with to confirm the most accurate up to date information. The information on the site is not tailored advice to each individual reader, and as such does not constitute financial advice. All advisors working with us are fully qualified to provide mortgage advice and work only for firms that are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. They will offer any advice specific to you and your needs.

Some types of buy to let mortgages are not regulated by the FCA. Think carefully before securing other debts against your home. As a mortgage is secured against your home, it may be repossessed if you do not keep up with repayments on your mortgage. Equity released from your home will also be secured against it.

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