Life And Health Insurance. Fat Or Fiction?

Thinking of taking out life or health insurance? You’re a perfect weight? Fine, good for you, but if you’re not, read on:

Do you know your BMI figure? BMI stands for body mass indicator and is used to ascertain whether you are underweight, normal weight, or obese. It works in the following way:

You will need to know your weight and height, using metric measures.
Multiply your height by itself, and then divide the result by your weight. Hopefully the result will be in the 18.5 to 24.9 range, which is absolutely fine. The BMI categories are listed below.

Less then 18.5 is classified as underweight
18.5 to 24.9 is classified as normal weight
25 to 29.9 is classified as overweight
30 or greater is classified as obese

These figures are for adults. There is a slight variation in that it is possible that this method overestimates fatness in people who are muscular or athletic.

Worryingly for the insurance companies, if not for the fatties themselves, is that, according to a recent survey, 1 in 4 of UK adults is overweight. According to Cancer research UK, 1 in 4 of these overweight adults is simply not interested in losing weight. The UK government is also concerned about these figures and a campaign has just been announced to urge GP’s to encourage patients to consider weight reducing measures. It is a sad fact that we, as a nation, are second only to Greece in obesity levels in Europe.

In view of these facts and in an effort to get at the truth, Scottish Provident, one of the UK’s biggest life insurers, have introduced a new question into their insurance application forms. As well as asking your weight, you’ll be asked when you last weighed yourself. Scottish Provident believes that many people understate their weight, feeling sensitive about the subject. It may be some time since they last weighed themselves and the memory can be very hazy when it comes to something you’d prefer to forget! In some cases, people are deliberately lying in an effort to get cheaper premiums or even to get insurance cover at all.

Are these fair measures? I believe so. The life insurance industry has taken a BMI level of 30 as acceptable, which I think is generous. Beyond that figure, you may have to pay an increased premium or in a worst case scenario, be refused your health or life insurance.

The Lancet recently reported the results of a study of 33,000 adults and considered that a BMI of over 25 is fine. This is an increase of the over 24 definition that the medical profession was recommending the equivalent of an extra half stone, or around 15kg. They also, reassuringly, found that only adults with a BMI in excess of 35 were in danger of suffering a serious lowering of life expectancy.

The facts given in health or life applications forms form the basis of your agreement with the insurance company. You can’t blame them for insisting on complete honesty. Would you want it any other way?

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