Does critical illness insurance cover diabetes?


Critical illness insurance policies may cover up to 26 diseases or illnesses. This insurance provides a lump-sum payment if you should be diagnosed with one of these illnesses. While diabetes is not a covered condition, other conditions that may be associated with diabetes are covered by critical illness insurance.


Whether we’ve seen an insulin commercial on TV or watched a loved one prick their finger to test blood glucose levels, most of us are familiar with diabetes in some way. Approximately 10% of Canadians have been diagnosed with diabetes, a chronic condition where one’s body cannot properly produce or use insulin. That rate is expected to reach 12% by 2025. According to the World Health Organization, a high blood glucose level is one of the top risk factors for premature death. Diabetes can drastically impact your day-to-day life and lead to a variety of complications, if not treated properly. 

Below, we’ll dive deeper into what diabetes is and what kind of insurance coverage you can expect to get with a diabetes diagnosis.

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What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic condition classified by the body’s inability to properly use or produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone normally found in your pancreas that controls glucose (sugar) levels in the blood. 

Glucose is energy for your cells. When you eat, food travels through your digestive system and is broken down. During this time, glucose is released from some of that food and your pancreas releases insulin. This insulin either tells the cells of your body to absorb the glucose for energy or it tells your body to store the glucose for later. 

If you have diabetes, your body doesn’t respond to or produce insulin how it should. This results in high blood glucose (blood sugar) levels. High levels of blood glucose and diabetes can lead to a lot of complications such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, kidney disease, eye damage(retinopathy), glaucoma, gangrene, or even Alzheimer’s

Diabetes can impact anyone at any age although some types are more prevalent among certain demographics. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, men are more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than women, with the exception of gestational diabetes. 

What are the various types of diabetes?

There are three main types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational.   

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that most commonly appears during childhood, but can also present in adults. Autoimmune diseases are diseases where the immune system misinterprets part of the body as a threat and starts attacking it. In the case of type 1 diabetes, the immune system destroys pancreatic cells that produce insulin. Because Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, so there are no proven preventions for the disease.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder that most typically appears in adults over the age of 40, however, you can be diagnosed when you’re younger. Type 2 diabetes occurs when your pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin to metabolize the amount of glucose in your body or your body isn’t able to properly use the insulin it does produce. Around 90% of people who have been diagnosed with diabetes have type 2. Contributing factors are fitness level, weight, ethnicity, family history, and genetics. Type 2 can be prevented to an extent through lifestyle choices such as diet and exercise.

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy when your body is unable to produce enough insulin, leading to an increase in blood glucose levels. While gestational diabetes usually goes away a few weeks postpartum, it does signify an increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes in the future. Gestational diabetes can be prevented to an extent through lifestyle choices such as diet and exercise.

Symptoms and Complications

Diabetes can express itself through various symptoms and can lead to a variety of complications. Diabetics can experience increased thirst, increased urination, increased hunger, weight loss, blurry vision, numb hands or feet, and tiredness among other things. If diabetes isn’t managed properly it can lead to conditions such as high blood pressure, nerve damage, eye disease, kidney disease, stroke, or other complications. These symptoms and complications will all be relevant in determining the level of coverage as well as the cost of a policy that an insurance provider may offer

Treatment & Management

Diabetes is treated through the management of blood sugar and insulin levels. Less serious cases of type 2 diabetes can be managed through diet and exercise. For type 1 and more serious cases of type 2, condition management involves monitoring blood glucose levels and administering insulin in response. Some patients may have an insulin pump that automatically administers insulin while others might inject themselves with insulin. Each treatment plan is personalized to the individual in order to mitigate the effects and potential complications caused by diabetes.  

Before offering coverage, most insurance providers will require at least two tests to determine how well your diabetes has been managed. The first of these is a glucose test or sugar reading. This test tells what your blood glucose level is right now. The second test is a HbA1C or A1c test. This test shows your blood glucose levels over the past two to three months by measuring the amount of glucose attached to your red blood cells. Higher glucose levels can be an indicator of poor health and diabetes management and could result in higher insurance prices.

What is critical illness insurance?

​​Critical illness insurance is a type of coverage offered by life insurance companies (typically as an add-on to a life insurance policy, but can also be purchased as a stand-alone policy) that pays out a tax-free lump sum should the insured be diagnosed with a life-threatening illness or suffer a serious health event while the policy is active. Unlike traditional life insurance, critical illness insurance issues a benefit while the insured is alive, providing them and their family with financial support as they manage the financial and health impact of a life-threatening illness. It should be noted that the critical illness insurance benefit is only paid if the insured is diagnosed with a covered illness, as specified in the policy. The proceeds of the insurance can be used fully at the discretion of the insured.

Does critical illness insurance cover diabetes?

No. Critical illness insurance doesn’t cover diabetes, as diabetes in and of itself is not a life-threatening illness. However, complications arising from diabetes can be life-threatening and are covered by critical illness insurance plans. For example, some of the health issues that can arise from diabetes, such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, kidney failure, limb loss, Alzheimer’s, etc, are covered by critical illness insurance plans. If you are at risk for diabetes due to family history, it is a good idea to consider critical illness insurance to cover any potential diabetes-related complications. To ensure coverage of future illnesses, be sure to consult your policy and any pre-existing condition exemptions. If you are unsure, it’s best to have a conversation with an advisor.

Can I get critical illness insurance if I have been diagnosed with diabetes?

Your options for critical illness insurance will be limited if you have already received a diabetes diagnosis. Your diabetes will be considered a pre-existing condition that can lead to the conditions covered by critical illness insurance. Potential coverage depends on the type of diabetes you have, past complications, and how well your diabetes is managed. If your diabetes is well managed, then the insurance company may approve you for coverage, although there will be a risk of an insurance rating i.e. a price increase. 

If you don’t qualify for standard critical illness insurance coverage plans, you can still qualify for  non-medical critical illness insurance policies — simplified issue or guaranteed issue. If you have a family history of diabetes, it’s better to get critical illness insurance sooner than later as insurance companies as a diagnosis of diabetes can severely limit your coverage options. Simplified or guaranteed coverages, while being more accommodative, may impose a pre-existing condition exclusion as well as a 2-year waiting period.

Read more about simplified issue vs guaranteed issue insurance.

To determine what kind of coverage you qualify for, be sure to chat with one of our advisors.

What does critical illness insurance cover?

There are 26 conditions that most insurance carriers cover. This covers conditions such as blindness, limb loss, dementia, cancer, heart attack, and stroke. Often these conditions and subsequent expenses are not fully covered by basic health coverage. Critical illness insurance can offer great financial peace of mind, so you can focus on the most important thing: your health. 

The Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA) has defined the 26 conditions that are commonly covered in a critical illness insurance policy. Some policies, such as a children’s critical illness policy or rider, may cover up to 35 conditions, including illnesses commonly diagnosed in children such as autism, cerebral palsy, and more.

Can I get life insurance if I have diabetes?

You can get life insurance if you have diabetes but options can be limited. Life insurance coverage will depend on how well your diabetes has been managed, the type of diabetes you have, and if you have had any complications related to the condition. If you are in good health and your diabetes is stable, there’s a good chance you could qualify for standard, medically underwritten life insurance. However, like anyone with an underlying condition, it’s best to consult an advisor to determine how your conditions and health will impact life insurance options.

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Want to learn more?

Critical illness insurance is a great option for those who are concerned about future diagnoses and the costs associated. With critical illness insurance, some of that financial burden and worry can be alleviated. 

Try our free critical illness insurance calculator to figure out how much coverage you might require or speak to our friendly advisors.


  • Diabetes affects over 10% of Canadians
  • Diabetes itself is not covered under critical illness insurance, but other conditions related to it might be
  • Critical illness insurance and other insurance products can help you cope with the financial and medical impact of life-threatening conditions

By Jason Reynold Goveas
Senior Insurance Advisor, LLQP
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