When I was 37 years old, I made a mistake. I went to a sleep doctor to see if he could do something about my snoring. He ran a bunch of tests to help run up what he could bill my health insurance company and then diagnosed me with sleep apnea.
Because of my sleep apnea diagnosis, when I applied to see what it would cost to extend my term life insurance, the cost jumped by several multiples! Lesson learned, before you see your doctor for any non-life-threatening health issues, lock down a life insurance policy first.
I highly recommend getting a free, competitive life insurance quote on PolicyGenius. They are the best life insurance marketplace that has qualified life insurance carriers competing for your business.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
If you are a regular, loud snorer, there's a good chance you have sleep apnea. If you wake up in the morning not feeling as rested as you should, you may have sleep apnea. If you are overweight or obese, like 60%+ of America, there's a higher chance you have sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. In a minute, a sleep apnea sufferer can stop breathing over five times. It is estimated that roughly 80% of sleep apnea suffers are undiagnosed.
The main types of sleep apnea are:
- Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), the more common form that occurs when throat muscles relax
- Central sleep apnea, which occurs when your brain doesn't send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing
- Complex sleep apnea syndrome, also known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea, which occurs when someone has both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea
Sleep Apnea Symptoms
The most common signs and symptoms of obstructive and central sleep apneas include:
- Loud and constant snoring
- Episodes in which you stop breathing during sleep — which would be reported by another person
- Gasping for air during sleep
- Awakening with a dry mouth
- Morning headache
- Difficulty staying asleep (insomnia)
- Excessive daytime sleepiness (hypersomnia)
- Difficulty paying attention while awake
One of the best ways to test yourself for sleep apnea is by downloading a snoring app on your phone called SnoreLab. You just switch it on before you go to bed and it will record your snoring and any pauses in breathing.
Another great way to test for sleep apnea is to have your partner stay awake while you sleep for a couple hours. This is what my wife did for me.
Getting Life Insurance With Sleep Apnea And Snoring
It is estimated that 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, with 80 percent of the cases of moderate and severe obstructive sleep apnea undiagnosed. Given the preponderance of sleep apnea, life insurance companies would be foolish not to find a way to offer life insurance at the right price.
Whenever you apply for life insurance when you have sleep apnea, you'll be asked a series of basic questions.
- What type of medication are you taking?
- How is your overall health?
- What is your job occupation?
- Do you do any high risk activities?
- How much do you weigh?
- Do you smoke?
- Do exercise?
- Do you have a family history of sleep apnea and other hereditary diseases?
Being able to properly answer these questions is important before you apply for life insurance. You want to be honest, but also prepared. A lot of these questions can be subjectively answered as well.
Life Insurance Ratings For Sleep Apnea Patients
Life insurance companies will classify you into various rating categories based on your health. Unfortunately, if you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, the highest you will qualify for is a Preferred Rate.
Here are the life insurance ratings:
- Preferred Plus Rates: The top rating. People with MS will not get this rating.
- Preferred Rates: Second best rating. People with MS will unlikely get this rating.
- Standard Rates: Likely the best rate a person with MS can hope for.
- Table Rates: The lowest rating, and unfortunately the most common rating.
At the end of the day, you want to get life insurance that is affordable based on your sleep apnea. If the life insurance premiums are simply too high each month, then you may simply opt out and focusing on building more wealth or reducing as much debt as possible.
During the time that I was diagnosed with sleep apnea and the time that I found out my life insurance premiums would go up, I made it my mission to: eat better, exercise more, pay down mortgage debt, and grow my wealth as much as possible BEFORE my $1 million term life insurance policy runs out in 2023.
Thankfully, I've done just that by growing my net worth by more than $1 million so that I'm able to self-insure just in case I pass prematurely.
Recommended Life Insurance For Those With Sleep Apnea
Cost is very important when it comes to getting life insurance. Chances are high you won't die a premature death, which is why life insurance is relatively affordable and life insurance companies have been around for so long and are so big in size.
I recommend everyone first consider a term life insurance policy. A term life insurance policy is the cheapest option that covers your life for a specified term and amount. Think about term life like paying rent. For the premiums you pay you get life insurance and nothing more.
If you want to build wealth through a life insurance policy and you have the excess cash flow to do so, then you can consider a permanent life insurance policy. A permanent life insurance policy lasts your entire life until you pass away.
With a permanent life insurance policy, you pay for the death benefit and a cash value amount. The cash value amount is like a savings/investment account that grows tax-free over time time. There are several permanent life insurance types, such as whole life and variable life to choose from.
To save money, one strategy I do recommend is to get a term life insurance policy first. Make sure the term is long enough to cover you until you pay off your debt and/or until your children finish college and become independent adults.
If at any point during the term life insurance term you feel like you want a permanent life insurance policy, you can CONVERT the policy into a permanent policy. Just make sure you ask your life insurance carrier whether you can do so. Usually you can because a permanent life insurance policy is more profitable for insurance companies.
Life Insurance Cost For Those With Sleep Apnea
The cost of life insurance for those with sleep apnea will depend on your age, severity of sleep apnea, term duration, death benefit amount, and overall health.
The easiest way to get a free and real life insurance quote with sleep apnea is through PolicyGenius.
Below is just an example of life insurance costs for those with sleep apnea.
- $200/month. A 10-year Term Life Insurance policy, $500,000 coverage for a 41-year-old male with sleep apnea. If the male did not have sleep apnea, the premium would be closer to $40 – $80/month.
- $830/month. Converting a term life insurance policy to a Whole Life Insurance policy for a 42-year-old male who is overweight and has sleep apnea. The rating is a Preferred Plus, or a top rating. 10 years after getting the term life insurance policy, the man gained 100 lbs and developed sleep apnea. But given this is a conversion, he gets to keep his Preferred Plus rating. However, as you can see from the chart below, whole life insurance, a type of permanent life insurance, is a lot more expensive. At least there's a nice cash value benefit that is being built.
How To Get Life Insurance When You Have Sleep Apnea
I won't lie. Your life insurance premium will be higher than a healthy person without sleep apnea. If the premium is unaffordable, I recommend making a commitment to eating right, exercising, and losing a lot of weight to try and clear yourself of sleep apnea before applying for life insurance again.
But if you absolutely feel like you should get life insurance now, the most efficient way to get competitive life insurance quotes is to check online with PolicyGenius, the #1 life insurance marketplace where qualified insurers compete for your business. You just fill out the application to the best of your ability and insurance companies will determine whether they want to cover you or not, and for how much.
At the end of the day, life insurance is a business, and there will be quality life insurance carriers who will want to cover you. Once you get the quotes back from PolicyGenius, you can make the proper comparison.
About the Author: Sam worked in finance for 13 years. He received his undergraduate degree in Economics from The College of William & Mary and got his MBA from UC Berkeley. In 2012, Sam was able to retire at the age of 34 largely due to his investments that now generate roughly $250,000 a year in passive income. He spends time playing tennis, taking care of his family, and writing online to help others achieve financial freedom too.
Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 and has grown it to be one of the largest independently owned personal finance sites in the world. You can sign up for his private newsletter here.