As the British and Irish Lions rugby team prepares to take on the Aussies for this weekend’s Test series in Brisbane, research by insurance comparison website Confused.com reveals these professional sports men could be penalised on their life insurance policies, as insurers deem them obese.
The research carried out by Confused.com shows that 58 per cent of the 2013 Lions squad would be considered overweight according to official Body Mass Index calculations, which divide weight in kilograms by height in metres squared.* A further 37 per cent of the team would be considered obese.**
Worryingly, some people consider BMI on its own as an accurate factor that can verify if someone is healthy or unhealthy. However, a high BMI doesn’t always mean someone is overweight – as we can see with rugby players. Most top players carry a great deal of muscle and have a high BMI.
The premiums for the players were calculated using a standard monthly premium of £10 and then taking into account how much the players could expect on their premiums solely because of their BMI. The research has been conducted to highlight the weaknesses of BMI, currently used by insurance providers to determine a person’s health, along with age and smoking habits. The insurance price comparison company is urging the insurance industry to move to fairer methods of health checks, such as taking into account waist measurements and dress sizes.
Matthew Lloyd, Head of Life Insurance at Confused.com, says: “The finding that over half of the Lions squad, who are at the pinnacle of fitness as professional sports men, are considered overweight clearly demonstrates that BMI is an out-dated method of measuring a person’s health.
The obvious weakness of BMI is that it doesn’t distinguish between fat and muscle and, therefore, could flag a really lean, muscle-bound person as a higher risk than they would be in reality. Therefore, it means that some consumers, who may be in perfectly good health but carry a high muscle to height ratio, could be being penalised when taking out a life insurance policy.”
We support a move away to include additional measures such as waist size as well as BMI when calculating life policies and welcome the fact that some insurers have already taken steps to do this.”
A BMI of between 18.5 and 25 is considered ideal. Higher than 25 is seen as overweight, and a person is classed as obese if their BMI is over 30.
Confused.com is also encouraging consumers to review their cover if they lose a significant amount of weight as premiums are based on circumstances at the time of application.