We are often asked how the life insurance industry treats those of us who are a little vertically challenged against our weight level.

Being one of those who likes the food a little much when this came over my desk from the local OnePath BDM Stu Crowther I thought it would be worth sharing.

If you have ever had an insurance loading applied or deferred its never a good thing. The real value is to understand why it has been applied and determine if it can be reviewed in the future. If its something in your control then in many cases, you can, after a period of time, apply to have the loading reviewed. The telling part is how soon this can occur.

If you are young, fit and a string bean its worth looking to lock your insurance in early before you start having any health issues. A large percentage of our time as an insurance adviser is spent working hard with clients to get cover when there is a health issue identified. The younger you are the more likely you will not have an issue.

If you have ever wondered how an insurer looks at those that have a higher BMI the paper below gives a very good summation.

You can also benefit from level premiums but that’s a whole different story.

If you would like us to help you with any aspect of insurance we are there to help and make it work for you.

Please contact either grant@plus4.nz or thurl@plus4.nz for a free insurance discussion. We are there to help get you the cover you need when you need it.

One Path Advice

Obesity and Insurance


Obesity is currently considered the greatest public health risk affecting New Zealanders of all ages.  Current statistics indicate that 32% of adults are obese, with a further 34% of adults being classified as overweight.

As an Insurer, we use Body Mass Index (BMI) a health risk indicator. Depending on which benefits a client applies for, once their BMI reaches a certain level, we ask all clients to complete a short Medical Examination with a Doctor, and a limited blood screen.

This does not mean that there will automatically be a loading on the policy, is simply the level that we have decided it is reasonable to seek additional information before considering the terms under which we will offer a policy.

Body Mass Index (BMI)

Body Mass Index is a measure for indicating nutritional status in adults.  BMI was developed as a risk indicator of disease: as the BMI increases, so does the risk of developing certain diseases.

Like any other measure, it is not perfect.  It is only dependent on height and weight and does not take into account, physical activity levels and proportion of body fat vs muscle mass.

This is why it is used as an indicator only, and the final terms offered to a client who has a higher BMI is based on the examination and blood tests.

Fat Cat – does not need to be too worried about BMI…

The World Health Organisation (WHO) uses the following classifications:

  BMINutritional Status
Below 18.5Underweight
18.5 – 24.9Normal Weight
25.0 – 29.9Pre-Obesity
30.0 – 34.9Obesity Class 1
35.0 – 39.9Obesity Class 2
Above 40Obesity Class 3




Overweight and obesity is associated with increased morbidity (disease) and mortality (death), and is likely to exacerbate diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease as well as complicate the treatment of these conditions.

Because extra weight puts more stress on joints, especially the knees, hips, and back, injuries are more common in obese clients and the recovery from these injuries can be prolonged.

Impairments associated with overweight and obesity are:

  • Type 2 (non-insulin dependent) diabetes
  • Impaired glucose tolerance
  • Coronary artery disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • High blood cholesterol, triglycerides
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Cancers – endometrial, breast, prostate, colon
  • Obstructive sleep apnoea
  • Depression, eating disorders
  • Congestive heart failure

Underwriting Requirements

We currently will request a medical exam and blood tests at:

Life Cover34.1
Trauma, Complete Disablement, Income Cover33.1
All benefits<18.0

Reassessment After Weight Loss

If your client was to embark on a weight loss journey, we would be able to review any substandard terms on a Policy once the client has been able to maintain the weight loss for a minimum period of twelve (12) months.