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Life Insurance with Sleep Apnea

While persistent snoring may drive your partner crazy, that’s not why insurers tread cautiously when someone who applies for life insurance shows signs of suffering from obstructive sleep apnea – a potentially deadly sleeping and breathing disorder.
Fact Checked

Updated: 19 May 2024

Contrary to popular opinion, the key concern with sleep apnea isn’t the snoring, though some bed partners would beg to differ. The main worry is that people with sleep apnea are at increased risk of elevated blood pressure, stroke, heart attack and car accidents.

Which is why an insurer may decline cover or apply loadings on the basis of a client’s obstructive sleep apnea syndrome.

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How life insurers assess sleep apnea

Questions relating to obstructive sleep apnea are now routinely included on many life insurance applications. Where someone discloses they have the disorder, the insurer will request a doctor’s report to see what treatments have been implemented and how successful they’ve been.

Further medical information may also be required where the company suspects someone may be suffering from sleep apnea but doesn’t know it because of tell-tale signs in their health history.

What you can generally expect when having sleep apnea

If in addition to life insurance for sleep apnea the applicant has other risk factors (eg obesity, hypertension, smoking etc) as is often the case, relevant ratings may also apply.

As previously stated, these factors will vary between each life insurance company, and your life insurance application is reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Moderate to severe sleep apnea
(i.e. an AHI greater than 30 episodes per hour), cover will usually be declined but may be reviewed after the condition has been successfully brought under control.
Mild sleep apnea
if someone has well-established treatments in place, cover may be available with a loading (for mild sleep apnea) or possibly even at standard rates for life insurance (if their AHI is now normal/borderline and there are no other risk factors). For Income Protection Insurance, a minimum 30-day wait would apply for someone with borderline sleep apnea and loadings may apply.