When is the best time for expectant mothers to apply for life insurance?
If you become pregnant before you’ve applied for a policy, the next best time to start the process is the first trimester. Parents in their first trimester typically do not gain significant weight, nor have they had complications that can endanger their health.
The good news is that pregnancy will generally not prevent you from qualifying for life insurance. But there are specific considerations for buying life insurance before, during, and after pregnancy.
Life insurance before pregnancy
If you are thinking about starting a family, it might be easier to get life insurance if you start the application process before that positive test.
In addition to the physical changes that pregnancies bring, life insurance rates also increase each year you age. You can lock in more affordable premium rates today, even if you think you’re several years away from starting a family.
Plus, you will have coverage on your life in the event you pass away before getting pregnant, which will provide needed financial assistance to your spouse or partner. Having life insurance before pregnancy also protects your loved ones from the rare possibility that you die during pregnancy or childbirth.
Life insurance during pregnancy
Of course, parents don’t always plan to get pregnant. And sometimes it’s hard to start the life insurance process before conception occurs.
The first trimester is the best time for pregnant parents-to-be to apply for life insurance. That’s because you should be able to receive the same premium rates during this period than you would before getting pregnant, provided you have no pre-existing conditions that could cause complications or have had a history of complications from previous pregnancies.
If you miss this window, you can still buy life insurance. In fact, some insurers will work with expectant parents by allowing them to use their pre-pregnancy weight on the application.
Other life insurance carriers, however, may use your increased weight during the underwriting process, which could affect your premium rates.
Life insurance underwriters will review your height and weight. They have guidelines for the optimal weight for men and women of certain heights. The more you deviate from these guidelines, the more risk you present and the higher your premium may be. Pregnancy beyond the first trimester will certainly cause you to deviate from these guidelines.
Complications that can lead to diabetes or force bed rest are more likely to occur after the first trimester. Pregnancy complications could cause an insurer to delay the application until after you’ve given birth.
If your pregnancy does result in higher premiums, many life insurance companies will allow you to retake the medical exam within a year or two after your policy is issued. The insurer can lower your premium if your new exam results in a better underwriting status. But the insurance company is not legally allowed to raise your premiums based on the results of the second exam.
Don’t hide your pregnancy during the application process. Lying on a life insurance application about key underwriting facts can lead to a claim being denied. This is especially true if you denied being pregnant, then pass away because of a complication of pregnancy or childbirth.
Life insurance after pregnancy
If you decide to buy life insurance after giving birth, you may want to hold off until a month or two after the baby is born. Applying immediately after you’ve given birth can also complicate the life insurance application process.
First, your weight may not return to its pre-pregnancy level, which could affect your underwriting status. At the very least, if you find yourself applying for life insurance shortly after giving birth, maintain records of your pre-pregnancy weight and your weight at various stages of your pregnancy to provide underwriters. This can help demonstrate your overall health before, during, and after pregnancy.
Other health complications from pregnancy, such as elevated blood pressure and cholesterol, may take a month or two to return to normal. However, gestational diabetes can adversely affect your premiums for several years after you experience the condition.
Another concern insurers may have following pregnancy is postpartum depression. Even after you’ve fully recovered from the condition, having it on your medical history can increase your life insurance premium cost.
Independent insurance agents or brokers can help you find insurers who are more flexible with underwriting parents who have recently given birth.
Learn More: Life Insurance for New Parents
Should you name your new child as a beneficiary?
You may be tempted to name your child as a contingent beneficiary in the unlikely event both parents die early in the child’s life. Single parents may want to list their child as the primary beneficiary on their policy.
You are advised not to do this. If your children are the policy’s beneficiaries and they are still minors, life insurance companies will not release the policy payout to them. Depending on the state, they wouldn’t receive the money until they turned 18 or 21.
What will happen in the meantime is that a state probate court will name a guardian of the minor’s estate who will determine what to do with the policy death benefit. This will require fees to be paid from the estate. Your child may not be able to use the money as you intended.
The way to avoid this legal trap is to name one of three types of beneficiaries in place of your child:
- A trust that handles the minor’s estate and becomes the responsibility of a trustee that you can assign.
- The guardian you designate for your child in the event there are no living parents.
- A custodian who serves as the guardian of the money and assets intended for the minor child.
Learn More: Naming a Life Insurance Beneficiary
Joel Palmer is a freelance writer and personal finance expert who focuses on the mortgage, insurance, financial services, and technology industries. He spent the first 10 years of his career as a business and financial reporter.
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