7th September 2021

Nervous of applying for life insurance or mortgage protection cover because you have diabetes? Don’t be .. as life companies are far more flexible and understanding in terms of their underwriting views than you would think ...

We are not aware of what the ‘dark arts’ of underwriting are but having liaised with some experts in the underwriting field we hope this information or guidance may be helpful for those who unfortunately suffer from diabetes.

It is worth noting at this juncture that underwriting is essentially the process of assessing risks, to ascertain if the individual is eligible for the cover they have requested and to ensure they are charged a fair premium that is proportionate to the risks involved. It ensures that people with the same or similar risk profiles pay the same or similar premium rates.

Underwriters assess the information provided on the application form (hence all those health questions) and, in some circumstances, from the additional questionnaires that pop up where you answer in the affirmative to a particular question. After going through all this information the underwriters/life company may look to get further information from your doctor (GP), or ask you to attend a medical or test or, what is increasingly common in today’s virtual world, take part in a tele‑interview. Note that 90% plus of applications for life cover get accepted for cover without any further requests for information so it is in reality a very quick and straightforward process.

Let us now take a look now at how individuals with diabetes are assessed when they apply for cover.

Diabetes is unfortunately all too prevalent in Ireland with 1 in 15 people living with it and it is rising all the time. It is not a show stopper in terms of getting cover but underwriters tread warily in relation to it as there are different types and varying levels of symptoms.
Diabetes mellitus

What is it?
It is a group of disorders that cause high levels of sugar in the blood.
  • Diabetes Type 1 – Caused when the pancreas cannot produce sufficient insulin. The person affected will have to inject insulin to control their blood sugar levels. More commonly seen in younger lives at
  • diagnosis
  • Diabetes Type 2 – This starts when cells build up a resistance to insulin. The common cause is being overweight. This can be controlled by diet and/or medication. If the condition becomes severe then a lack of insulin may develop and the person may need to inject insulin
  • Gestational diabetes – A temporary condition during pregnancy where there is a resistance to insulin
What evidence will be required?
  • GP questionnaire – This is always a requirement.
  • PMAR (Private Medical Attendant’s Report i.e. a report from your doctor) – sometimes also required.

What are the indicative terms?
Diabetes Type 1 and Type 2
Life Cover decisions are subject to receipt of medical evidence but unfortunately the life companies typically will not provide cover to the following:
• An individual who has either heart disease or another vascular disease (e.g. stroke/TIA).
Gestational diabetes
If the individual’s blood sugar levels have returned to normal 6 weeks post‑delivery then ordinary rates will be offered for all benefits.

The considerations the underwriters take into play when they are making their call on this side are as follows:

  • Age of individual  and the date of diagnosis
  • Cardiovascular risk factors (overweight, smoking, raised blood pressure, raised cholesterol, family history of heart disease, stroke or hypercholesterolaemia)
  • HbA1c readings (a blood test used to measure diabetic control)
  • Complications (eye disorders, kidney issues, circulatory issues, comas/fainting)

In summary, it is tough for individuals who have diabetes and who are looking for mortgage protection/life insurance   but they should not be nervous of applying for cover. It is really a case of ‘if you’re not in you can’t win’ as there is a good chance one of the life companies will provide the cover but there may be a rating involved.

A good broker such as Low.ie will try and find the best life company to provide the cover you require at the best price as that is the essence of our job. They will also ‘hold your hand’ throughout the process and explain any reasons for a rating being given.