How Will Eating Disorders Affect Your Life Insurance Application?


Eating disorders are one of the most common health-related conditions in America. They are particularly pronounced among young women, who are under extreme social pressure to attain and maintain a certain body type. This can lead to severe psychological stress, that causes unusual eating activity that can result in serious health conditions.

If you need to get a life insurance policy, a history of eating disorders will have an effect, both on your ability to be approved for the policy, and what you’ll pay in premiums. But we’re here to increase the chances of you getting approved for a life insurance policy at a rate you can afford.

What Are Eating Disorders?

According to National Eating, as many as 20 million women and 10 million men have the condition. It affects all races, but is most prevalent in non-Hispanic Whites. However, eating disorders are not just one condition but several, of which these three are the most common:

Anorexia nervosa. This is a condition that results in a reluctance to eat. Research has indicated that anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder among females between the ages of 15 and 24. It can result in the following health conditions:

  • Abnormally slow heart rate and low blood pressure increasing the risk of heart failure
  • Reduction in bone density, or osteoporosis, resulting in dry, brittle bones

  • Muscle loss and weakness
  • Severe dehydration, which can result in kidney failure
  • Fainting, fatigue and overall weakness

Bulimia. This condition results in recurrent binge-and-purge cycles, as periods of eating are followed by regurgitation and forced elimination. The condition can cause the following health problems:

  • Electrolyte imbalances that can lead to irregular heartbeat, heart failure and even death; the imbalance is caused by dehydration and loss of potassium, sodium and chloride from the body as a result of purging behaviors
  • Potential for gastric rupture during periods of binging
  • Inflammation and possible rupture of the esophagus from frequent vomiting
  • Chronic irregular bowel movements and constipation as a result of laxative abuse
  • Peptic ulcers and pancreatitis

Binge eating disorder. This is a process of eating large quantities of food in a short amount of time. It’s the opposite of anorexia nervosa and bulimia, in that it is a process over-eating, rather than radical weight reduction. It results in many of the same health risks as obesity, including:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Heart disease as a result of elevated triglyceride levels
  • Type II diabetes the mellitus
  • Gallbladder disease

Given the frequency, variety, and health risks associated with eating disorders, they are a concern to life insurance companies and can complicate the process of making application for a policy.

How Life Insurance Companies Treat Eating Disorders

Insurance companies will approve policies for people with a past history of eating disorders, but there are a variety of factors that go into both policy approval and the premium level.

Some of those factors include:

  • Which eating disorder you have had
  • When the condition began
  • When your last episode occurred
  • Treatment received for the disorder, as well as the success of those therapies
  • Ongoing treatment including the use of medications to help control the root causes of the condition
  • The stability of your weight, particularly within the past year
  • The existence of any other health related impairments, particularly mental health conditions, such as anxiety, depression, psychiatric disorders, and substance abuse

As is always the case with any health-related condition, the insurance company will be looking for assurance that the condition is well controlled, and as far into the past as possible. That means that the date of your last test episode will carry considerable weight. It will represent the best evidence that you have recovered from the disorder.

Naturally, if you are currently struggling with an eating disorder, or have had an episode within the past 12 months, a decline in your application is entirely possible. But if you get beyond one year, the chances of approval increase. And your premium rate will decline the longer that the condition has been controlled.

Applying for Life Insurance When You Have Eating Disorders

If you do have a history of eating disorders, the passage of time will be your best strategy in getting approved for a life insurance policy. It is also very important that you participate in any treatment therapies that will minimize occurrence of the condition. There are no specific therapies that will eliminate eating disorders, but medications may be prescribed to deal with depression and anxiety, which commonly occur along with eating disorders.

Psychological counseling may be the most significant therapy specifically dealing with eating disorders. If you are receiving counseling regularly, it will show that you are being proactive in controlling the condition.

You should also take steps to ensure good health overall. That will include maintaining a consistent weight, eating a proper diet, getting regular exercise, and avoiding substance abuse and tobacco use. You should also be consulting with healthcare professionals on a regular basis, so that your overall health is properly managed, and that records exist confirming your progress and overall health.

Applying to the Right Life Insurance Company Makes All the Difference

It’s important to understand when you have a history of eating disorders, or any other health-related condition, that not all life insurance companies will view your condition in the same way. Some insurance companies taking a much more positive view of applicants who have a history of eating disorders, some can go either way, and some would prefer to not provide a policy.

Knowing which companies are most likely to approve your application is one of the biggest steps in getting approval and at a rate you can afford. You never want to go into a life insurance application process under the mistaken assumption that a large, well-known company will give your application favorable consideration. A decline by one company will be a matter of record for other companies, which could hurt your chances of getting approved anywhere else.

Why Working with the Right Life Insurance Agent is So Important

Choosing the right life insurance company – one likely to take a favorable view of a history of eating disorders – is something that the general public is entirely unaware of. For this reason, it is absolutely essential that you choose the right life insurance agent.

This is critical because he will know which insurance companies are most likely to approve your policy application, and at the most attractive premium rates. This is not a do-it-yourself job! If you have a major health condition, like eating disorders, you need to go into the process with professional help working at your side. Give us a call!