How I Dealt With the ‘Fat Tax’ on Life Insurance As a Plus-Sized Person

INSURANCE

Insider’s experts choose the best products and services to help make smart decisions with your money (here’s how). In some cases, we receive a commission from our partners, however, our opinions are our own. Terms apply to offers listed on this page.

  • Despite being healthy, I’m in a higher risk category for life insurance because of my BMI. 
  • I worked with an insurance broker, and selected less coverage to keep it affordable.
  • Now, I wish I had more — but some life insurance is better than none.

A little more than five years ago, I became the primary breadwinner in my household.

I also had a second child. That meant that suddenly, life insurance went from something I knew I should get some day, to something that I needed immediately. If anything were to happen to me, I wanted to know that my husband and daughters would be taken care of.

Still, I had a big concern, quite literally. I’m a plus-sized person, and I knew that could make getting life insurance more difficult or more expensive. I’m extremely privileged to be very healthy, so it’s rare that I have to face the fatphobia in our medical system head-on. But there was no way around it when getting life insurance.

Here’s how I handled the stigma of being a big person, and found a policy that worked for my budget.

I decided to put my emotions aside

I went into purchasing life insurance with my eyes wide open. I know that life insurance companies use weight and height to calculate your body mass index, or BMI. Your BMI affects your premium, despite being a poor and problematic predictor of health outcomes.

That enraged me, personally. As a fit, active person and healthcare journalist, I could feel myself wanting to pull the research and argue my case. Unfortunately, that wasn’t going to change the system or my premiums.

So, I made a conscious choice to work within the system that I have. I set down the emotional work of railing against the injustice of it. I know the truth of my health, and I gave myself permission to not try to prove that to anyone.

I decided to be upfront and work with an agent

With that mindset — knowing I would be charged more — I decided to be up front. I contacted an insurance agent. When he asked about any health concerns I told him I didn’t have any, but I was overweight.

He didn’t miss a beat. Instead, he explained without judgment that I would pay more. Then, he suggested certain companies that were more open to working with people with higher BMIs.

I applied to three of these companies. After comparing rates, I chose the one that offered me the smallest “fat tax.” I was still paying more than a thin person would, but the difference was smaller than it would be at other companies.

Insider’s Featured Life Insurance Companies

Chevron icon It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

Chevron icon It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

I chose a smaller term policy

It was important to me that life insurance be affordable, but also effective if the worst should happen. Balancing those two things was tough.

Ultimately, I decided on a 25-year term policy that was enough to pay off our mortgage and cover about a year of essential expenses. That’s less than the experts say I need, but at the time, the monthly premium fit into my budget, and I decided that some insurance was better than nothing.

I wish I had bought slightly more insurance

Five years after buying my policy, I wish I had opted for more coverage. I now own a bigger house, with a bigger mortgage. My expenses have grown, and so has my disposable income, so I would now be comfortable paying a higher premium each month.

Still, I’m glad I purchased insurance when I did. In general, weight is just going to increase with age, and premiums get higher for everyone as they get older. Although buying insurance as a fat person can be intimidating, the best time to do it is now, even if you’re getting a smaller policy that might be ideal.

Related Posts