Life Insurance With Sleep Apnea | 7 Underwriting Questions

Sleep apnea, a sleep disorder that is often serious, will not prevent you from buying life insurance.

Although, it can create some red tape during the application process – and may affect the type of policy you can buy.

Plan to answer specific questions about your sleep apnea to determine what form of life insurance you qualify for and how much it will cost you:

  • The severity of your condition
  • Treatment plan
  • Overall health

Here, you will find a comprehensive guide to buying life insurance with sleep apnea – specific underwriting questions, possible outcomes, the best companies to apply with, and quotes.

Table Of Contents

  1. Underwriting Sleep Apnea
  2. Policy Options
  3. Best Companies
  5. How to Buy

Life Insurance With Sleep Apnea

Before you initiate the application process to buy coverage, familiarize yourself with the questions life insurance companies will ask you about your condition.

sleep apnea

The type of life insurance you qualify for is dependent on your answers to the following underwriting questions.

1. When were you diagnosed with sleep apnea?

Your diagnosis date is important for two reasons:

  1. Whether your condition has improved or declined over time.
  2. The ability to demonstrate that you have followed an effective treatment plan.

2. What type of sleep apnea do you have?

Plan to communicate your specific type of sleep apnea.

Why? Different forms of the condition have varying degrees of seriousness.

The Mayo Clinic describes the three main types as follows:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea – most common form; throat muscles relax
  • Central sleep apnea – the brain does not signal appropriately to muscles in charge of breathing
  • Complex sleep apnea syndrome – a combination of obstructive and central sleep apnea

3. Do you use your CPAP machine?

If it has been prescribed, do you use your CPAP machine as recommended?

A CPAP feels uncomfortable and somewhat claustrophobic for many. Sometimes, the machine will sit on someone’s nightstand instead of being put to use.

Underwriters prefer to see regular use as prescribed by your physician – because it indicates you are responsibly caring for your condition.

In fact, some newer machines now transmit usage data to your doctor, health insurance carrier, and equipment provider.

4. What is your apnea-hypopnea index?

The apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) is a measurement used to count the number of times breathing pauses during each hour of sleep.

An indicator of the severity of your sleep apnea, the higher the index number, the more dangerous.

The Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine communicates how AHI ranges are associated with the condition.

AHI and Sleep Apnea

AHI per HourSeverity of Apnea
< 5Normal/Minimal
5 - 15Mild
16 - 30Moderate
> 30Severe

While each carrier differs, generally-speaking, an AHI of 5 or less per hour is preferred – and indicates effective treatment.

Note – AHI scores higher than 5 are routinely accepted, and health ratings on your policy depend on the particular life insurance company.

5. What is your oxygen saturation level?

Sleep apnea can reduce your oxygen saturation levels, or percentages.

Called hypoxemia, lower than normal levels of oxygen saturation in your blood can cause (source: Harvard Medical School) –

  • Headaches
  • Sleepiness
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Elevated heartbeat
  • Respiratory distress
  • Mental confusion

Oxygen Saturation Levels And Hypoxemia

RatingOxygen Saturation
Normal95 - 100%
Mild Hypoxia 90 - 94%
Moderate Hypoxia75 - 89%
Severe Hypoxia< 75%

Underwriters will want to see your oxygen saturation levels near normal, which is often attainable with proper treatment.

6. How is your treatment going?

Life insurance companies prefer you are following your prescribed treatment protocol.

For example, your doctor may have recommended you:

  • Use a CPAP machine every night
  • Quit smoking
  • Lose weight
  • Exercise regularly
  • Have surgery
  • Participate in a sleep study

Your adherence to a treatment plan is a good sign for underwriters. CPAP machine use is especially important.

Note – plan to communicate the results of your most recent sleep study.

7. How is your overall health?

Typically, sleep apnea does not occur in a vacuum.

Certain health events or lifestyle choices are commonly associated with the condition.

And, because carriers are in the business of risk assessment and absorption, underwriters will ask you about the following:

Keep in mind, additional health conditions will impact underwriting.

Can I Get Life Insurance With Sleep Apnea?

In short, yes.

The type of life insurance you qualify for is dependent on the severity of your condition and other possible health complications you may have.

Let’s consider three possible outcomes for your life insurance application.

It is important to note, however, that every carrier’s underwriting process is unique and application decisions are based on a number of factors.

If it is important to you, no exam life insurance options are available – meaning that you can skip the needles, nurses, and liquid samples.

1. Approved

Best case scenario.

You qualify for traditional coverage, such as a 10-year term policy or certain whole life policies.

Depending on how mild your condition is, it is possible to be approved at Preferred health class ratings. Although, a Standard health rating is more common.

What does mild disease look like? You will have no major complications:

  • AHI score of 5 – 15 per hour
  • Normal oxygen saturation levels
  • No other major medical conditions

Note – Preferred and Standard health class ratings are still possible with medical intervention. You will need to demonstrate therapy compliance.

2. Rated

Second-best case scenario.

You qualify for for traditional coverage, but will have a surcharge placed on your premiums of somewhere between 20 – 200%.

If you have untreated moderate disease, with no major complications, a Table Rating is possible.

What does moderate disease look like?

  • AHI score of 15 – 30 per hour
  • Minor additional health conditions (e.g. you are somewhat overweight)

Often, a Table Rating of 2 or 3 occurs with sleep apnea.

3. Declined

Due to the severity of your condition – and possibly additional medical complications – you do not qualify for traditional coverage.

You still have options.

Look to a guaranteed issue life insurance policy. As the name implies, coverage is promised.

You will not be asked any health questions and you cannot be declined.

What’s the catch? Because everyone is approved, guaranteed issue coverage face amounts are modest and premiums are expensive.

But, if traditional coverage is not an option, guaranteed issue (or potentially final expense) can be a godsend.

Best Life Insurance Companies For Sleep Apnea

Some carriers underwrite sleep apnea more favorably.



Principal Life tends to be one of the most lenient carriers for the condition.

Financial rating: A+ (A.M. Best)

Products offered:

  • Term
  • Universal
  • Index universal
  • Variable universal
  • Survivorship


Prudential Financial typically underwrites sleep apnea positively, even with the use of a CPAP machine.

Financial rating: A+ (A.M. Best)

Products offered:

  • Term
  • Universal
  • Index universal
  • Variable universal
  • Survivorship


American General, or AIG, offers competitive rates.

Financial rating: A (A.M. Best)

Products offered:

Note – evaluate the top no physical life insurance companies for a comprehensive review.

Life Insurance Quotes For Sleep Apnea

Your life insurance options and rates will vary depending on the severity of your sleep apnea and whether you have additional health conditions.

For a general idea of cost, look to the following rates.

1. Term Life Insurance

Quotes are for a 10-year term life insurance policy for $100,000.

Term Life Insurance Quotes With Sleep Apnea Male

AgeStandardTable 2Table 4Table 8
30 year old$10.61$13.58$16.45$21.61
35 year old$10.61$13.58$16.55$22.93
40 year old$12.85$16.57$20.37$27.98
45 year old$16.72$22.29$28.00$39.20
50 year old$24.45$32.23$39.98$55.49
55 year old$33.85$45.20$56.66$79.57
60 year old$51.16$70.67$89.40$126.87
65 year old$80.24$117.29$154.35$219.25
70 year old$151.36$204.09$259.54$372.62
75 year old$242.29$360.37$478.45$677.60
Rates are examples only.

Term Life Insurance Quotes With Sleep Apnea Female

AgeStandardTable 2Table 4Table 8
30 year old$9.57$11.31$13.05$16.53
35 year old$9.75$12.56$14.70$18.99
40 year old$11.90$15.34$18.73$25.51
45 year old$15.05$19.14$23.98$32.90
50 year old$20.30$26.04$32.03$43.99
55 year old$26.34$36.44$46.55$66.76
60 year old$38.54$52.33$68.06$99.51
65 year old$59.40$86.24$113.08$158.47
70 year old$93.95$136.21$179.89$267.26
75 year old$165.55$245.26$324.98$484.40
Rates are examples only.

2. Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance

If traditional coverage is not an option, look to guaranteed issue life insurance or final expense.

The following quotes are for a guaranteed issue policy.

Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance Quotes For Sleep Apnea Male

40 Year Old$26.25$49.58$72.92$96.25$119.58
45 Year Old $29.17$55.42$81.67$107.92$134.17
50 Year Old$22.50$44.09$65.68$87.27$108.85
55 Year Old$29.25$56.50$83.74$110.99$138.24
60 Year Old$32.40$63.17$93.75$124.33$154.92
65 Year Old$37.55$73.09$108.64$144.18$179.73
70 Year Old$47.57$93.14$138.71$184.28$229.85
75 Year Old$63.25$124.49$185.74$246.98$308.23
80 Year Old$88.57$175.15$261.72$348.30$434.87
Rates are examples only.

Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance Quotes For Sleep Apnea Female

40 Year Old$21.67$40.42$59.17$77.92$96.67
45 Year Old$24.58$46.25$67.92$89.58$111.25
50 Year Old$17.69$34.47$51.24$68.02$84.79
55 Year Old$20.93$39.86$58.78$77.71$96.64
60 Year Old$23.57$45.14$66.70$88.27$109.84
65 Year Old$28.26$54.51$80.76$107.02$133.27
70 Year Old$36.21$70.41$104.62$138.83$173.03
75 Year Old$48.91$95.82$142.73$189.63$236.54
80 Year Old$68.65$135.12$201.69$268.25$334.81
Rates are examples only.

How To Buy

First, know that you can buy life insurance with sleep apnea, regardless of its severity.

Rather, it is a matter of the type of coverage you qualify for and how much you will pay.

There are a few steps we recommend you take in order to streamline your application process and find a competitively-priced policy.

To start, write gather information on your history with sleep apnea:

  • Diagnosis and date of diagnosis
  • Sleep study results
  • CPAP machine use
  • AHI and oxygen saturation levels

Next, be sure to conduct a needs analysis to determine how much life insurance you need – and for how long.

  • Annual income
  • Debts
  • Financial needs of loved ones
  • Charitable giving goals

Finally, and importantly, collaborate with an independent life insurance agent.

Why? Unlike captive agents, independent agents will compare and contrast multiple policies from the top-rated carriers to find you the best-priced policy that meets your needs.