Do You Have to Identify as Male or Female When Getting Life Insurance?

Buying life insurance may produce a dilemma if you’re nonbinary.

Nonbinary drivers can face challenges when filling out male/female-only life insurance applications.
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Feeling forced to choose a female or male gender is nothing new if you identify as nonbinary. While some states have mandated nonbinary options on driver’s-licenses or barred the use of gender in determining auto insurance rates, the life insurance industry has escaped similar bans. As such, it’s important to understand how to navigate gender and life insurance, and how insurers use gender to adjust your rates.

Can I Identify as Nonbinary When Buying Life Insurance?

For now, the answer seems to be “no”. You'll likely only see female and male options on life insurance applications for now.

In a February 2020 blog post, life insurance company Haven Life stated, “Haven Life is developing an application that is inclusive of non-binary people.” But in December 2020, the insurer’s online application continues to only offer female and male gender options.

We’ve researched multiple insurance carriers–major insurers that offer multiple insurance lines and small providers that specialize in life insurance–and all continue to only offer female and male gender markers in their online quote systems and applications.

So, for now, if you identify as nonbinary, you’ll likely have to choose a female or male gender when applying for life insurance.

Why Gender Influences Life Insurance Policies

Life insurance companies base your premium on your life expectancy. Factors that impact your life expectancy can include your:

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Health history (yours and your biological family’s)
  • Hobbies
  • Job
  • Policy type
  • Tobacco use

Most insurers include sex or gender when determining your premium because females have a life expectancy of 81.1 years and males 76.1, based on 2017 statistics from the Centers for Disease Control; that’s why women sometimes pay less than men for life insurance. For example, according to sample rates provided by JRC Insurance Group, a 40-year-old woman can buy a 30-year, $500,000 term life policy for $40.91 per month, while a man will pay $50.53. So, a male policyholder would pay $3,463.20 more than a female over the course of the 30-year term.

Has Gender Always Played a Role in Life Insurance Rates?

Insurance discrimination has existed for decades. In the 1960s, the Civil Rights Act (CRA) banned setting insurance premiums based on race. However, gender-based pricing discrimination wasn’t considered part of the CRA’s anti-discrimination laws, and was allowed to continue up until the mid-80s when Montana became the first state to ban gender discrimination for life insurance. But no other states have followed suit.

There has been a little movement on this front in other types of insurance, though. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 banned the use of gender-based pricing in health insurance. And in 2019, then-California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones imposed a regulation that bans gender-based pricing in auto insurance.

Federal legislators have tried and failed to pass laws that ban gender-based insurance pricing, but that doesn’t mean the issue is settled. In fact, in 2016, the Federal Insurance Office published the Report on Protection of Insurance Consumers and Access to Insurance, which calls out gender discrimination in several insurance lines. 

How to Find Out More About Life Insurance Rules in Your State

To learn more about insurance rules and regulations, go to the website of your state’s department of insurance. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners offers an interactive map on its website. Just click on your state to find a link to your state’s department of insurance and the name and contact information of its top officer.

Key Takeaways

  • Gender-based insurance rating has existed since the 1960s.
  • Typically, life insurance companies charge men higher premiums than they charge women.
  • Although many states have adopted gender-neutral identification on documents such as a driver’s license, only a few states have enacted laws that mandate neutral-gender pricing in the insurance industry.
  • When applying for life insurance, you’ll probably have to choose a female or male gender marker when you fill out an application.