Can I get income protection insurance if I have diabetes?


November 19, 2015

Diabetes (or more accurately, Diabetes Mellitus) affects nearly 4 million people here in the UK, compared with 1.4 million who were diagnosed with the condition in 1996.

It’s now estimated that more than 1 in 16 of the population are living with diabetes on a daily basis (that’s both diagnosed and those that remain undiagnosed according to estimates); and this figure is rapidly rising, with most health experts expecting that by 2025 more than 5 million of us will be affected by the disease in one of the two main formats (Type 1 or Type 2).

As it currently stands, 90% of those affected have type 2 diabetes. The condition is medically characterised as a group of metabolic diseases in which there are high blood sugar levels over a prolonged period. To the uninitiated, symptoms of high blood sugar tend to more commonly be recognised by patterns of frequent urination and increased thirst and hunger. If left untreated, diabetes can lead to a variety of complications.

Essentially diabetes is caused by either the pancreas not producing enough insulin or the cells of the body not responding properly to the insulin produced and generally there are 2 prevalent forms of the condition, namely Type 1 DM and Type 2 DM.

Type 1 occurs when the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin and was previously referred to as ‘insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus’ (or juvenile diabetes), with the cause remaining unknown.

Type 1 diabetes is treated by a change in diet, regular exercise, daily blood sugar monitors and several insulin injections a day. Type 1 diabetics who adhere to a strict daily regimen of injections, diet and exercise can lead full and healthy lives.

Type 2 diabetes begins with insulin resistance, a condition in which cells fail to respond to insulin properly. On progression of the disease, lack of insulin in the body may also present itself, and this form was previously referred to as ‘non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus’ (or adult-onset diabetes). In this instance the primary trigger is said to be excessive body weight and minimal exercise.

So bearing all this in mind, where exactly does the insurance industry stand on the subject of diabetes, specifically in relation to income protection policies?

Income protection plans habitually make a significant difference to the lives of policyholders who’ve taken them out.

They can provide a realistic and achievable financial means to an end if and when the insured party ever sustains an injury in the workplace, or worse still in some cases, is diagnosed with a career-threatening illness of some description.

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On the pre-agreed proviso that the policyholder fulfils the qualifying criteria at the onset of the injury/illness (and largely depending on the type of income protection package they arranged from the outset) then they will be fiscally compensated, percentage-wise during the on-going passage of incapacity.

Typically the monetary element equates to between 50% – 75% of the individual’s salary they were receiving at the time of the lay-off; an unforeseen lay-off instigated by either a physical or mental set-back which compromises their abilities to carry out their normal duties within the workplace.

Therefore income protection insurance offers a financial lifeline to a lot of people looking to safeguard their future income stream in the event of something unexpected cropping up in the meantime.

Diabetics can get income protection cover, but in some cases it can prove expensive

However should you already have been diagnosed with diabetes prior to seeking out this type of personal insurance product, then you might have your work cut out to get a good deal.

Like many insurance policies, income protection providers will ask you to disclose any pre-existing medical conditions at the point of potential sign-up, and before a policy is underwritten and ratified by both parties.

Obviously a health implication such as diabetes is classed as a recurrent one due to its very nature along with the underlying fact that sufferers self-administer medication regularly to keep it under control. This management of the condition still doesn’t detract from the fact that diabetes can possibly be complicated and therefore poses a considered risk to an individual’s propensity to carry out their normal vocational duties unaffected going forward.

In the instances where a dedicated (and perhaps, specialist) income protection insurer does cover those declaring diabetes as a pre-existing condition, then more often than not the perceived risk is compensated for their part by way of increased premium quotes for the proposer – which is something to be aware of beforehand.

Of course it’s also worth pointing out that irrespective of the diabetes (and assuming the condition doesn’t flare-up episodically to result in claims being lodged), even if an exclusion is placed on the policy for diabetes then naturally the income protection insurance policyholder would still be able to claim for other non-related conditions, for example, an accident that impacts on work, just for the record.

Despite the acknowledgement of diabetes not necessarily being as fundamentally dismissed when it comes to the arena of life insurance (read our guide to life insurance for diabetics), with income protection models – as well as critical illness cover it has to be noted – it’s an altogether different ballgame. This is largely due to the condition statistically known to increase the risk of other conditions such as heart disease, strokes and some forms of cancer, notwithstanding that diabetes can be managed through medication as mentioned earlier, especially so with regards to Type 1 sufferers.

This partly explains just why it’s so difficult to obtain income protection cover if this is your personal case. In terms of this hypothesis then cover is routinely reduced, resulting in around 20 conditions being excluded and is only then readily available to those whose diabetes is very well controlled and cited as low risk.

Proactively managing your diabetes is key to obtaining income protection insurance

Having said this there is more than a glimmer of hope for the future as some insurers are taking steps to help clients protect themselves from the risk of developing Type 1 diabetes, and encouraging them to increase exercise programmes so as to avoid this medium to long-term outcome, whilst elsewhere other insurers are seen to be adding type 1 diabetes to their bespoke critical illness products as a workable alternative method.

Experts suggest that potential income protection insurance policyholders aim to do all they can to prove that they’re keeping on top of their condition as best they can, which is within their grasp and can dramatically help their particular insurance cause at the end of the day.

It’s an accepted fact that diabetes responds well to modern medicine and the insurance underwriter will want to see that someone is doing everything they can to control their condition.

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If someone’s medical records show they have looked after themselves and the condition is relatively simple, arranging suitable and appropriate cover will be within the realms of possibility.

As an aside though it may well be worth considering group income protection insurance policies as another possibility. Effectively the best chance of securing an income protection insurance policy for some people should they have diabetes, is to look into whether or not your employer offers a group version, which are increasingly offered by companies in this day and age.

If this turns out to be the case (whereby inclusion on the scheme is promoted as a perk/benefit) and you’re lucky enough to be accepted then this avenue could well turn out to furnish you with the most comprehensive and cost-effective means of getting cover.

As far as what type of income protection insurance products you can earmark should you be accepted on a personal level, then the same range applies as it would under normal conditions, in as much as the income protection insurance is a long term insurance policy which will pay you a monthly income should you be unable to work due to illness or disability. Historically these payments will continue to operate until such time as the insured party is deemed fit enough to make a return to their existing place of employment, they reach retirement age or sadly, pass away. It’s also worth noting that when designed specifically to assist diabetics, income protection insurance does not cover you for periods of unemployment/redundancy.