Life insurance and sleep apnea

A sleep apnea diagnosis can lead a life insurance company to decline coverage. Even if you get coverage, the insurer may charge a higher rate with limited coverage. However, not all insurance companies view it the same way, and you might be able to get affordable life insurance by shopping around.

It all depends on how severe your sleep apnea is and how compliant you are with treatments, according to Ed Nigerman of the Colorado-based Hinerman Group, which specializes in impaired risk life underwriting.

One effective treatment is the use of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), which uses a mask and air pump to provide airflow during breath inhalation to prevent the collapse of the airway.

People who have a mild to moderate condition and no other risk factors and who undergo an effective treatment, such as CPAP, would not be assessed a surcharge for an existing medical condition and would be considered by some insurers for preferred plus classification.

When you're getting life insurance quotes, your rates will be set in part by your risk class. That's defined by an insurer's underwriting guidelines. (Your policy amount and length are the other pricing factors.) The better your risk class, the lower your premiums. A preferred plus classification means you pay less than if you received a preferred or standard risk classification.

If your medical records indicate that you should have a sleep study performed and you haven't done one, some life insurance companies will not consider you for a policy until you do. The test reveals respiratory patterns, chest muscle activity and oxygenation, among other things.

Health insurance and sleep apnea

Typically, with group health insurance, individual underwriting isn't performed. That's an advantage if you have sleep apnea. Previously, an insurer could deny you coverage if you had a pre-existing condition. However, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) ended that practice; pre-existing conditions can no longer be used to deny coverage or raise rates.

Individual insurance companies outside of the ACA marketplace will usually cover sleep apnea treatments regardless of pre-existing conditions, including common treatments like CPAP.

Sleep apnea and auto insurance

Sleep apnea affects life and health insurance, but car insurance isn't directly impacted. However, if your sleep apnea causes you to drive poorly and get into accidents, you will face rate increases.

"Since fatigue is a factor in accidents, sleep apnea can put you indirectly at a higher risk of getting into a car accident," Scott Hoffman, an agent and principal of the Howard & Hoffman Insurance Agency says.

Sleep apnea is not a medical condition that, by itself, can result in being denied coverage by a car insurance company.