Underweight Life Insurance

Health conditions high risk insurance underweight

We know that finding life insurance when you are underweight can be difficult, but we can help to make the process a little simpler with a clear jargon-free approach.

When considering your application for life insurance things the insurer will need to know about you are:

  • Your BMI and possibly your clothes size or waist circumference?
  • How long you have been underweight and when you first became so?
  • If you have been diagnosed with any specific disorder such Anorexia or Bulimia?
  • If there has been any sudden weight loss?
  • Whether you have experienced any mental health concerns?

You're typically considered underweight if your BMI is below 17. If you fall into this category, then most insurers will probably want to obtain a report from your GP to establish more about the causes and your overall health. Insurers will determine any terms to be offered once they've seen this report.

The terms that you may be offered for life insurance will vary from insurer to insurer, it mainly comes down to the reason for your weight being so low.

If the cause of your being underweight is a recent history of bulimia or anorexia, it's likely that you some insurers providers will refuse your application for life insurance. But please do not let this put you off looking for insurance, it happens a lot more than you would think, and this is where our knowledge and experience stands out.

You can find out more about how bulimia and anorexia might affect your application by using our health condition finder to view those pages.

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Underweight Critical Illness Cover

Again, being underweight can have an impact on an application for critical illness cover, in the standard insurance market. Being underweight, in the insurance world tends to cause concern when your BMI is below 17. And if you do fall into that category, critical illness cover providers will want to clarify the causes of your weight being so low, with your GP. They basically want to rule out that there is anything happening with your health, that puts you at a higher risk of making a claim.

This means they'll probably want to seek a report from your doctor (they cover the cost of this) and will make any decisions around the terms they can offer you, based on that.

If you've got a BMI of 17 or over then some insurers can immediately accept your application at standard terms, assuming there are no other significant medical conditions to disclose. There are some insurers that will increase the monthly premiums of your policy, once your BMI starts moving above 30, so it is very important to choose the best insurer for you.

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Underweight Income Protection

If you're applying for income protection and you have a BMI under 17, your application will be assessed by most insurers, once they have sight of a report from your GP.

The main things that any prospective insurer will be concerned with will be:

  • Why are you underweight? Is it caused by any other conditions (e.g. anorexia or bulimia)?
  • Has your weight resulted in any time off work?

If your BMI currently falls between 17 and 36 and you have no other significant medical conditions, then you'll find many insurers able to offer normal terms of cover.

However, if you have other underlying conditions, these will need to be assessed by the insurer too. You can find out more about how other conditions might impact an income protection application by using our health condition finder to visit the relevant page for that condition.

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Underweight Travel Insurance

Having a BMI of 16 or under means you're technically classed as underweight and this is something you'll need to disclose on any travel insurance application too. Don't let that ruin your holiday plans though! Let us take the hassle away and speak to a specialist travel insurance broker who can help you to get the right cover based on your condition. Find out more by visiting our travel page here.

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You can view a transcript for this CuraVision BMI video here.

What is considered Underweight

People are considered to have a low BMI if their height to weight ratio averages 18.5 or lower. A low BMI can be the result of genetics, a secondary illness or following the loss of one or more limbs.

Also: Low BMI

Linked with: Anorexia nervosa, bulimia, osteoporosis, anaemia, body dysmorphic disorder, hyperthyroidism, depression, cancer, Addison's disease, diabetes, coeliac disease, body integrity identity disorder (BIID), apotemnophilia, xenomelia

Possible Effects on Lifestyle

Some people may experience some or all of the following symptoms and problems:

  • Fertility problems
  • Painful joints
  • Low self esteem
  • Brittle nails and hair
  • Mood swings
  • Tooth decay
  • Muscle wastage
  • Low bone density
  • Tiredness
  • Low immunity
  • Unbalanced diet
  • Obsessive exercise

Medications and Treatments

  • Counselling
  • Balanced diet
  • Medications for secondary conditions e.g. diabetes etc

Further Reading and Research

Common Questions

1. I have a BMI of 16 and suffer anorexia. Can I still get life insurance?

Given that your being underweight is due to you having anorexia, the insurer will be primarily assessing your application with this condition in mind. You can find out more about applying for life insurance with anorexia on this page.

Recent anorexia combined with a low weight could result in your being refused life insurance at some insurers. We have years of experience finding insurance for people that are considered to be ‘high risk' to insurers. Our advisers are here to help you anytime that you need.

2. I used to have bulimia and a BMI of 15 but my body weight is normal now. Can I get life insurance?

In these cases, you'll find the most relevant advice on our bulimia page. But if your BMI is now between 17 and 36, some time has passed since you were at your lowest weight and your condition is well managed, you could still find suitable life insurance policies on the standard market.

If your weight was quite low recently, or you still have bulimia you may find that your application for life insurance is declined. But please do not worry, we do have options for life insurance for you if this is the case.

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Author

Kathryn Knowles, Managing Director

Dr Kathryn Knowles Phd

This page was written by Dr Kathryn Knowles Phd, an award-winning insurance adviser. To read more about Kathryn please see her bio here.