How Diabetic Complications Can Affect Your Life Insurance Policy

Diabetes is more than just a chronic condition; it's a daily battle to maintain blood sugar levels, ensure a balanced diet, and lead a healthy lifestyle. But what many don't realise is how the complications associated with diabetes can significantly influence life insurance policies. Understanding different diabetic complications can often be the first step in deciding which life insurer to place a policy with. 

Let's take a look at some of the most common diabetic complications: 


Retinopathy, a common complication of diabetes, affects the blood vessels in the retina and can eventually lead to vision problems. When it comes to life insurance, insurers often view retinopathy as an indicator of how well an individual is managing their diabetes. Advanced retinopathy can indicate erratic blood sugar levels, potentially resulting in increased insurance premiums or even policy refusals.

It's worth noting that 60% of insurers might reject an application if retinopathy is present at any stage. However, the remaining 40% could still be an avenue for securing a policy. Should you fall into this latter category, be prepared for additional medical assessments, as it's likely the insurer will want to write to your GP.

For those who've undergone laser eye surgery or other treatments due to retinopathy, the timing of such procedures could be crucial. If recent, mainstream insurers might decline your application. 

Getting life insurance with retinopathy is harder, but it's not impossible. Your odds hinge on:

How Bad It Is: If your retinopathy is not too bad, it might not hurt your chances as much. If you show that you're managing your diabetes well and taking care of your eyes, it can help, but this depends on which insurance company you go with.
Check-Ups and Treatment: Going for regular eye check-ups and following your doctor's advice can make insurers feel better about your risk.
Your Overall Health: A healthy lifestyle, barring retinopathy, boosts the probability of insurance approval.


(Tingling in your hands and/or feet)

Diabetic neuropathy, nerve damage caused by prolonged high blood sugar, can affect various parts of the body. Symptoms range from tingling in the feet to digestive and urinary tract issues. Life insurance providers understand that severe neuropathy can increase health risks. Therefore, depending on the severity and management of neuropathy, it can have an impact on the terms and cost of your life insurance.

Highlighting the industry's response, about 70% of insurance providers might decline an application if current neuropathy symptoms, like tingling, are reported. For the 30% that may still consider accepting, the next pressing question becomes the location of this sensation. Is it the hands? The feet?

If you fall into this bracket, the insurance company will be keen on delving deeper into the severity of your condition and its interference with your daily life.

For those grappling with neuropathy, here's what could influence your insurance outcome:

Severity and Symptoms: The extent of your neuropathy and the symptoms you're experiencing can significantly affect your chances.
Management and Regular Check-ups: Following medical advice and undergoing regular check-ups can provide insurers with more confidence about your risk profile.
Overall Health Status: Just like with retinopathy, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, except for neuropathy, can enhance your odds of securing an insurance policy.


(Protein in your urine, caused by kidney damage)

Nephropathy is a severe consequence of long-term diabetes. As kidneys play a vital role in filtering waste from the body, their efficient functioning is crucial. An individual with significant kidney complications may face steeper premiums or stricter policy terms. Some insurers might even request additional medical examinations or documentation.

From an insurer's standpoint, out of 15 providers, a striking 13 to 14 may likely decline your application due to potential kidney complications signaled by protein in the urine. 

Those few insurers who might consider your application further will be keen on understanding whether you've undergone a kidney function test and, crucially, its results, particularly if you're currently managing nephropathy.

For those who've had this issue in the past, the insurance companies will likely want to consult your GP and review your historical kidney function tests. If these records come back favourably, your chances of acceptance naturally improve.

  • Presence of Protein in Urine: This is a significant red flag for insurers as it points to potential kidney issues.
  • Recent and Historical Kidney Tests: Updated tests and a history of positive kidney health can play in your favour.
  • Overall Medical Health: A comprehensive health evaluation, including GP reports, might just tip the scales, especially if you've demonstrated good health over time.

Cardiovascular Complications

Diabetes can increase the risk of various cardiovascular problems, including heart attacks, strokes, and coronary artery disease. These complications can significantly raise mortality risks, which insurance companies naturally take into account. While it doesn't make obtaining life insurance impossible, it might influence the policies terms and pricing.

If you are currently facing cardiovascular issues, you will be declined with the 'mainstream' insurers. Therefore, you will need to explore your options with specialist insurers.

However, if you have had 5-10 years without heart complications, insurers may be more receptive to you but will most likely want to deep-dive into your medical records.

Mental Health

When you think of diabetic complications, mental health may not necessarily be the thing that springs to mind. However, the mental health aspect of managing diabetes can play a pivotal role in your overall health.

Living with a chronic condition like diabetes isn't just a physical challenge; it carries an emotional and psychological weight. From managing daily routines, handling sudden sugar spikes, to the perpetual stress of potential complications, it can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, or diabetes burnout.

These are the facts:
  • Recent suicide attempts can make securing life insurance difficult.
  • If you've had suicidal thoughts in the past 5 years, the insurance provider will want to know more.
  • Instances of self-harm, whether planned or contemplation, may lead to a GPR (a report from your doctor).

It's worth noting that most insurance policies have a clause: if you were to pass away from suicide in the first 12 months, your family will not receive a payout.


Your life insurance broker will be well-versed in a, from retinopathy to cardiovascular conditions and mental health, guiding you through these intricacies, helping find the right fit tailored to your unique health profile.

September 21, 2023  
The information contained within was correct at the time of publication but is subject to change.

About the Author Luke Stevens

Enjoy reading my blogs as much as I enjoy helping people with Diabetes get life insurance.
I have been working as an advisor for the last 10 years and I'll probably be here for another 10 years.
If you would like to speak with me to see if I could help insure you, please get in touch.