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Sleep Apnea and Life Insurance?

Written by Shelter Bay

Until recently (the last 20 years), the term sleep apnea was something you rarely heard. But lately, talk about this condition has increased significantly.In the past, it was mainly associated with snoring and was just considered annoying.

But it’s more serious than that – sleep apnea is a potentially dangerous health condition. If you suffer from this sleep disorder, it may affect whether you can get life insurance at standard rates.

Often, you hear of sleep apnea, life insurance, and how to get coverage all in the same conversation.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleep-related breathing disorder. Those afflicted can stop breathing or breathe very lightly for periods of 10 to 30 seconds and sometimes longer. With each period of not breathing, blood oxygen levels are reduced until the sleeper awakes briefly to begin breathing again.

The sleeper usually does not remember the break in sleep and only becomes aware of it when someone tells them.

There are three types of sleep apnea—obstructive, central and mixed.

  1. Obstructive sleep apnea: The sleeper’s air passage is constrained by an obstruction.
  2. Central sleep apnea: The brain doesn’t signal the muscles that control breathing to initiate breath.
  3. Mixed sleep apnea: A mixture of obstructive and central.

Health risks of sleep apnea.

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, sleep apnea is linked to serious health conditions that include, among others:

  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Arrhythmia

Learn more about getting life insurance if you have diabetes here.

Due to the loss of proper sleep, those with sleep apnea also have a higher risk of these related issues:

  • Motor vehicle collisions
  • Depression
  • Work-related injuries

Sleep apnea and life insurance.

If you’ve been diagnosed with this condition, you could be declined for traditional life insurance. As a result, you could also be charged a higher premium and/or be insured for a lower coverage amount. However, there are non-traditional life insurance products you may qualify for.

What insurance companies consider in regards to sleep apnea.

As with all life insurance, underwriters have to consider the risk to the insurer if you suffer from sleep apnea. Consequently, they take the following into consideration:

  • The type of sleep apnea you suffer from—obstructive, central or mixed.
  • Your age, height, weight, use of tranquilizers, drinking and smoking history.
  • The severity of your condition.
  • Your treatment and compliance with your treatment.
  • The date of your last sleep study.
  • Concurrent impairments such as hypertension, arrhythmia, CAD and PVD.

If I have sleep apnea, can I get life insurance?

In answer to this question, it depends. Yes, if you opt for a guaranteed issue policy. Likely if you go for a simplified issue policy and “maybe” if you go for a traditional policy.

Get more information on simplified issue critical illness insurance here.

Speak to a professional who will help you get the best policy at the best rate. Don’t automatically assume that this or any other health condition automatically means you can’t get life insurance.

At Shelter Bay Financial Corp, we are experts on life insurance. We know that every situation is different and this includes the severity of health conditions. We understand how insurance companies consider risk and will do everything we can to get you insured.

To find out more about life insurance, sleep apnea, and to speak with an insurance professional, please call us at 1.888.498.5288If you learned a lot from this post and you’re interested in exploring similar topics, please visit these posts:

I Have a Criminal Record! Can I Still Get Life Insurance?

Life Insurance for HIV-Positive in Canada

Three Signs You are a High Life Insurance Risk

This article was originally published on May 12, 2017, and has been updated.

Shelter Bay Financial Corp
Shelter Bay Financial Corp

Life & Health Insurance brokers working for Canadians

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