Once again overweight people are in the firing line. Life insurance companies are raising premiums up to 400% for fat people. They’ve always charged more for those who clearly over-eat, but during the last year or so the penalties have got worse and more people are being affected.
In moves to tighten the belts, the life companies have lowered the limits they use to categorise peoples weight. This means that those who are merely overweight and would have previously qualified for a standard premium, now are punished with higher premiums – and the premiums rise quickly the more overweight the insurers believe you are.
How do they classify you weight? They use something called the Body Mass Index. The typical insurance company considers a BMI of between 18.5 and 24.9 to be normal. Over 25 classifies you as overweight. Above 30 and they think you’re obese.
The BMI is calculated as follows. Got your calculator ready?
Enter your weight in pounds and multiply it by 703.
Divide the result by your height measured in inches
Again divide the resulting number by your height in inches
The result displayed is your Body Mass Index
To give you a fix on what this means for you, here are the BMI’s for twelve famous people:
Pamela Anderson – ex Baywatch Actress 16.2
Victoria Beckham – Footballers Wife 17.0
Renee Zellweger – Actress 18.0
Catherine Zeta Jones – Actress 19.7
Davina McCall – TV Presenter 20.8
Alan Shearer – Newcastle Footballer 24.4
Russell Crowe – Hollywood Actor 25.6
Charlie Dimmock – Gardening Presenter 26.0
Jonah Lomu – New Zealand Rugby Player 29.2
Norman Schwarzkopf – US General 30.5
Lisa Riley – Actress 34.4
Dawn French – Comedienne 43.8
When you apply for life insurance, your weight and height are just two of the many questions you have to answer. From this, your Body Mass Index is assessed and if it exceeds the insurers acceptable limits, they might ask for a doctor’s report. In larger cases they might also ask the applicant to have a medical examination. If this confirms that your weight is of genuine concern, then you can expect to have your premium loaded by at least 50% and as much as 400% at the heaviest end. In fact around 25% of applicants will experience problems getting life cover due to their weight. In extreme cases the insurer will even refuse your application.
But sometimes the insurers are a little flexible. In acknowledgement of normal middle age spread, they will take your age into account when assessing your BMI. Wonders of wonders – they do accept that people naturally put weight on as they age! But if you’re young and overweight, they’ll certainly hit you hard. So overweight and 38 will be loaded much more than overweight and 58.
For example, a 35 year old, healthy non smoking man who asks for £150,000 level life insurance cover over 25 years will currently be quoted £18.77 by Scottish Provident – but this could easily leap to £35 if he’s overweight and up to £47 if he’s obese.
And over the last 20 years weight has been a growing problem. Today, more than 50% of women and 60% of men are judged as overweight. And looking at our children, the problem won’t improve. In youngsters aged between 2 and 15, 28% of girls and 22% of boys were found to be overweight.
So if you have a BMI over 25 it’s going to be especially important to get your life insurance with as big a discount as possible. In our experience that means you’ll have to shop on the Internet. Competition there is high and this has forced web sites to give clients very significant discounts.