Life insurance

Getting Life Insurance When Pregnant: What You Should Know

By Jessica Sillers Aug 13, 2019

In this article

How Does Life Insurance Work?

Can You Get Life Insurance If You Are Pregnant?

Life Insurance and Pregnancy: How Much Does Weight Gain Matter?

What About Complications?

How Does the Insurer Even Know I'm Pregnant?

I Had the Baby. Now What?

Struggling With Mental Health While Pregnant (or After)?

When to Apply for Life Insurance During Pregnancy

Frequently Asked Questions

Bottom Line

Some experiences are significant enough to split your life into Before and After. Pregnancy definitely ranks as one of them.

In my case, pregnancy also made me think about things like buying life insurance, since that meant I’d have a financial dependent to care for. And that made me wonder, "Can I get life insurance while pregnant?"

The short answer is yes. But of course, nothing about having a baby is simple. And getting life insurance when pregnant comes with its own slew of things to think about.

Importantly, most life insurance is medically underwritten. That means underwriters (the people who figure out whether you can get coverage and how much it’ll cost) look at your health situation when assessing your risk levels.

Going through a detailed physical exam when your body and emotions are in constant flux can be a little intimidating!

Pregnancy affects your weight, health, mood, alcohol consumption—many factors that underwriters consider when they assess your risk. It may feel weird to complete an application asking you all about your current health, when you can barely see your feet, never mind a scale.

Giving birth is complicated enough, without any added confusion around how to answer certain questions and fill out a health-based application when your body is very different from usual. That’s why we talked to an expert to learn how insurance providers handle life insurance applications when you’re expecting.

How Does Life Insurance Work?

Life insurance is an agreement between you, the insured party, and the insurer. This agreement states that if you pass away while your policy is active, the insurer will pay a certain amount of money (your coverage or "face amount") to the person or people you've chosen (your "beneficiaries").

Your beneficiaries can generally use this money however they want, like to cover living expenses, pay for burial costs, pay off debt or whatever else. Most people get life insurance in order to help out family members or other loved ones who depend on them financially, so they won't be in a lurch should the insured person pass away.

Here's more on how life insurance works.

Can You Get Life Insurance If You Are Pregnant?

The short answer is yes. The underwriting team evaluating your application knows what it means to be pregnant and will take that into account when reviewing your health situation.

Especially if you're having a healthy, uncomplicated pregnancy, you might be able to get the same kind of rates as you would if you weren't pregnant while applying for life insurance.

Life Insurance and Pregnancy: How Much Does Weight Gain Matter?

Weight isn’t the only indicator of health, but being overweight or obese is statistically linked to increased risk of certain health conditions. That’s why insurance companies factor weight into rating an insurance application. Even a difference of 10 pounds can bump a life insurance policy’s cost up or down by thousands of dollars.

During pregnancy, medical professionals usually recommend that people with a normal pre-pregnancy BMI gain 25 to 35 pounds. Which makes it a little confusing to complete the weight entry on your application.

“You should always list your current and exact weight when applying for insurance. It is also advisable to provide your pre-pregnancy weight,” says Coleen Moser, Senior Director at ESMI Underwriting.

Sharing both numbers can give an underwriter a clearer sense of your baseline and how the pregnancy is going. Excessive pregnancy weight gain increases your risk of developing other health complications, like gestational diabetes or preeclampsia. As a result, gaining more than the recommended amount during pregnancy can lead to a higher premium.

Similarly, if you normally enjoy a glass of wine a few times a week (or use marijuana, or any other substances), it can be helpful both to list your typical habits and clarify what you’ve given up during pregnancy. Medications matter here, too. A lot of meds, including antidepressants, aren’t safe during pregnancy. So note your usual (non-pregnancy) regimen and any substitutions while you’re expecting.

If the underwriter is able to offer you coverage at a higher rate than preferred, they’ll still make that offer and the decision is up to you. If, however, you don’t qualify for life insurance because of your current health status, you can reapply after you’ve delivered the baby and returned to normal health.

What About Complications?

Being healthy beforehand doesn’t guarantee a picture-perfect pregnancy. Preeclampsia, a high blood pressure complication, affects 1 in every 12 to 17 pregnancies, and gestational diabetes affects up to 1 in 10. Other physical or mental health conditions, such as hyperemesis gravidarum or prenatal depression, can also appear without prior risk factors.

During my second pregnancy, for example, I developed glucose intolerance, a less severe form of gestational diabetes, despite having a spotless health record before.

Moser says that underwriters often take a wait-and-see approach regarding the usually temporary complications that can arise during pregnancy.

“In most cases, the application will be postponed until after the delivery,” she says. “If the applicant’s glucose and A1c levels return to and remain at normal limits post-delivery—and there are no other complicating factors due to the gestational diabetes—the application can then be considered for ratings other than ‘pre-diabetic’ or ‘diabetic.’”

In other words, because your pregnancy condition might be temporary, your application might be put on hold. As long as your condition clears up after pregnancy, you would likely be eligible for the same rates as another healthy person.

The same applies to many other conditions: If a complication resolves shortly after pregnancy and your doctor doesn’t identify any long-term health ramifications, it likely won’t affect your life insurance rates. If issues persist, the underwriter will evaluate the risk based on the lab results, treatment plan and prognosis information from your physician.

How Does the Insurer Even Know I'm Pregnant?

While the life insurance medical exam may not administer a pregnancy test, you will likely be asked if you're pregnant at some point in the application or exam. If so, it's important that you answer honestly. That's because misrepresenting yourself during the insurance application process could count as insurance fraud and be grounds to invalidate your policy down the line if there were a life insurance investigation.

I Had the Baby. Now What?

Eventually, of course, pregnancy ends and you’re (hopefully) finding your rhythm amidst the ups and downs of newborn life. If underwriters put your application on hold during your pregnancy, the first few months postpartum can be an especially important check-in time.

Generally, if you’re pregnant when you apply for life insurance, your application will incorporate a postpartum assessment. On occasion, the insurance company might notify you that it’ll need to put your application on hold until after the baby’s born. Moser says this is typically reserved for cases that fall on the border between being approved and being declined, or when underwriters need to see whether a pregnancy-related condition resolves.

Underwriters compare weight before, during and after pregnancy. “Normally, there should be about a five-pound-per-month weight loss postpartum,” Moser says, if you started out in a “normal” BMI range and gained weight according to your doctor’s recommendation. There are different guidelines for people who are overweight or underweight before pregnancy, or are carrying two or more babies.

Indulged a little extra in the name of eating for two? You’re hardly alone. Whether extra pounds will mean extra premium costs depends on a few factors. These include weight-related health complications and how your postpartum recovery is going.

In my case, for example, I gained 47 pounds in my first pregnancy (oops). Because I was otherwise healthy and losing steadily postpartum, I still got a good rate, despite not being back to my pre-baby self.

“Generally, there is a three-month postpartum look back regarding weight loss. After that three-month window, the applicant will likely be rated based on the weight at that time,” Moser says. This may also be an opportunity to check whether any pregnancy-related health conditions have resolved.

Some people really do “bounce back” after pregnancy, while others need much longer than three months to feel back to normal. In some cases, these guidelines might make you feel “on the clock” to lose weight after having a baby. If that would stress you out, you might consider whether you’d have more peace of mind crossing insurance off the list before you get pregnant, or waiting until you feel back to your regular self.

Struggling With Mental Health While Pregnant (or After)?

Pregnancy and a new baby’s birth are typically joyful occasions, but they can come with a lot of complicated emotions. Sleep deprivation and the relentless demands of a new baby are highly stressful. Postpartum mood disorders, like depression and anxiety, affect as many as 1 in 5 women, and it’s possible that even more cases go unreported.

It’s important to take mental health seriously. Postpartum depression is common and treatable, so if you need help, reach out! Talk to your doctor or partner, or call (800) 944-4773 to reach a Postpartum Support International volunteer.

Recovering from childbirth is hard. Think of the airplane instruction to put your own oxygen mask on first. Getting the help you need is top priority, more important than worrying about your life insurance application.

Moser says that in some cases, postpartum anxiety or depression may not affect your rates at all. Underwriters generally check for the following criteria:

  • The depression or anxiety is considered clinically mild

  • You’re seeing good results from sessions with a counselor and/or a mild antidepressant

  • You don’t have mental disorders on your five-year health history

  • You don’t have a history of hospitalizations, attempted suicide or suicidal ideation

  • You haven’t lost more than a week of school or work due to mental health

If you fall outside of the above situations, Moser says that an insurance provider might end up declining your application or offering you coverage at a higher-than-preferred rate. (Here's more on how life insurance underwriters consider mental health conditions.)

When to Apply for Life Insurance During Pregnancy

If you apply online through a company like Fabric, there's a chance you could be approved for coverage immediately. But if your application is sent through the underwriting process, that could take a few weeks or possibly more.

As a general rule, rates will go up if you develop health conditions, so it may be beneficial to apply sooner than later in case you hit complications in your pregnancy.

A great time to apply? Before you get pregnant

If you already know that kids are in the cards, it may be a good idea to apply for life insurance before you actually get pregnant. The cost of life insurance increases as you age anyway, so you may be able to get better rates simply by applying because you're younger now than you ever will be again.

The icing on top? If you get covered early and something happens to you during childbirth, your family will be covered.

Applying at various points during pregnancy

You'll likely be able to apply at any point during pregnancy, though underwriters will pay attention to how much weight you've gained so far and whether you've experienced any complications.

As Moser notes, your application could be delayed or postponed if you are experiencing complications or have a history of pregnancy complications. And of course, the further you are into your pregnancy, the more time you have to develop said complications. As a result, even within your pregnancy you might want to apply as early as possible.

Waiting to apply until after pregnancy

If you choose to wait until after pregnancy to apply for life insurance, you might want to wait until your weight has returned to normal and outstanding health complications have resolved. That said, remember that you're a parent now! So the sooner you can get a policy, the sooner you can help protect your family.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will being pregnant affect my premiums?

It doesn't have to. Because underwriters are familiar with pregnancies, they can account for things like pregnancy weight gain. As long as you're having a healthy, uncomplicated pregnancy, there's a good chance you can get the same rate for life insurance as you would if you weren't pregnant.

Should I name my baby as my beneficiary?

While this is technically possibly in many states, this often isn't a great idea. That's because naming a minor will trigger other complicated procedures. That's because a 5-year-old, for example, can't exactly be handed a huge check and know what to do with it. So in a case where a minor is set to inherit a life insurance benefit, the court will intervene. That could tie up the money for years and cost a lot in legal fees.

If you want to make sure that your child inherits the death benefit from your insurance policy, you can do so without naming them directly. Some ways to make this happen include naming your spouse or the child's legal guardian to oversee the money on their behalf. You can also create a trust fund for your child to dictate where the money should go and who should oversee it while your kid is still a minor.

Read up on how to choose a life insurance beneficiary.

Should I choose term or whole life insurance if I'm starting a family?

That'll depend a lot on your individual situation and goals. Broadly speaking, term life insurance tends to be a good choice for many parents looking for an affordable way to help protect their family financially if they were to pass away.

That said, term life insurance covers you for a specific time period or "term," whereas whole life insurance never expires. It also comes with savings or investment features called "cash value." As a result, whole life policies tend to be significantly more expensive.

Here's more on term vs. whole life insurance.

What term length and coverage amount should I choose?

If you're here right now, there's a good chance that you're looking at life insurance because you're having a baby. In which case you will likely want to choose a term length that would help protect your family while your child is growing up. After all, life insurance benefits can be used to cover anything from day-to-day living expenses to school tuition.

Assuming that your baby is either not born yet or still very young, you might want to choose a somewhat longer term length, such as a 20-year term life insurance policy. That way, the policy would presumably stretch until your child is beginning to enter adulthood and may no longer rely on you for financial support. Consider your age, income and other needs to figure out what term length might be best for your family.

When it comes to coverage amounts, a rough rule of thumb is to apply for at least five times your annual income. If you want to go deeper than that, we created a guide to figuring out how much life insurance you need.

Are there any special riders I should consider if I'm pregnant?

Life insurance riders are additional coverages that can either come with your policy or be added on for a fee. These could include things like the ability to convert term life insurance into a whole life policy down the line if you want to, or a "return of premium" rider so you can get back your premium payments if you outlive your term life policy.

Some riders that are relevant if you're having a baby include:

  • Child rider: This pays out a small benefit if your child dies, to help defray costs like funeral and burial expenses.

  • Disability income rider: This serves a purpose similar to disability insurance, in that the policy will pay you money if you become disabled and can't work.

  • Spousal rider: This rider will pay out in the event of a spouse’s death. Though it's similar to purchasing life insurance for your spouse, it’s not the same as each of you having your own policy. It’s usually less expensive to purchase a spousal rider than an additional policy, but riders also generally offer lower coverage.

Note that not all insurers offer all of these riders as options (for example, these aren't options for policies sold through Fabric). Here's more on how life insurance riders work.

What if I'm planning to stay home with the baby?

You’ll usually hear that life insurance is designed to replace the income one partner contributes to the household. A more accurate explanation is that life insurance covers the monetary value you contribute, which doesn’t always come in the form of a paycheck.

Even if you're not going to work every day, your passing might require your spouse to replace an estimated 10 to 26 hours of housework per week, which is an American average. Plus childcare. Plus grocery shopping and other to-dos.

Your spouse could either spend money to hire people to help with those tasks, or cut back at work to handle the tasks themselves. Either way, that requires money to help keep the family afloat.

Here's more about stay-at-home moms and life insurance.

Should both parents look for life insurance even though only one of us is pregnant?

If your family would be adversely affected financially by either of your deaths, then yes. The main reason people get life insurance is to help replace the financial contributions they would have made otherwise.

So if you and your new baby would struggle without your spouse's income, then your spouse might want to think about a policy. And ditto: If your spouse and the baby would struggle financially without you, then a policy probably makes sense for you, too.

Do I need life insurance if I'm going to be a single mom?

Life insurance is there to help your loved ones financially if something were to happen to you. So perhaps even more so than if you had a spouse or co-parent, you might decide that your child would be best off if there were money to help pay for their care in your absence.

Should I get life insurance for my baby?

That's up to you. Generally speaking, however, the odds of your baby dying are statistically very low. Plus, life insurance is primarily intended to help out when you counted on the person for financial support. Unless you've got a super baby, your infant isn't contributing to the household income. So in many cases, life insurance for kids may not make financial sense.

What if I already have life insurance through my job?

If you're a single person with no financial dependents, life insurance through work may be a nice employee perk. But when you start growing your family, you'll want to make sure that you have enough coverage to fit your needs.

While employer-sponsored group life insurance may be sufficient in some cases, the coverage amounts are often lower than what many parents need. And although you will often have the choice to pay for increased coverage, you may not be able to take your policy with you when you change jobs. Or if you do, it may cost significantly more.

Here's what you should know about life insurance through work.

Bottom Line

It's totally possible to get life insurance while pregnant. If life insurance is on your new baby to-do list, there’s no need to put it off until after the baby’s born.

When I was expecting my first baby, the thought of having a person depend on me completely was overwhelming. I was anxious to do everything I could to protect my family, including financial protection.

Even though I felt like a walking belly, I found it helpful to hear that who I’d been before baby mattered when assessing my life insurance application. I didn’t want to wait to apply until I’d lost weight postpartum because I wanted to be covered from the first day I became a mom. That said, you should think about what feels best for your situation. There are lots of ways to prepare for a family.

Underwriters consider various factors to get a snapshot of your health, even when your life is constantly changing. You may find, like I did, that tackling this financial milestone can make you feel even more prepared for the new adventure of parenthood.

Fabric exists to help young families master their money. Our articles abide by strict editorial standards.

Fabric by Gerber Life exists to help young families master their money. Our articles abide by strict editorial standards.

Information provided is general and educational in nature and is not intended to be, and should not be construed as, financial, legal, or tax advice. Laws of a specific state or laws relevant to a particular situation may affect the applicability, accuracy, or completeness of this information. Federal and state laws and regulations are complex and are subject to change. We make no warranties with regard to the information or results obtained by its use, and disclaim any liability arising out of your use of, or reliance on, the information.

Fabric by Gerber Life offers a mobile experience for people on-the-go who want an easy and fast way to purchase life insurance.

Written by

Jessica Sillers

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