Trying to buy life insurance with asthma but your agent is quoting you really high rates? We can help.
Even though it may be under control, life insurance underwriters consider asthma to be a serious condition. Because won’t meet you in person, they must rely on statistics and your personal medical documents to determine the risk and liability involved with covering a particular individual.
If you have asthma, your chances of experiencing a major asthma attack pose a chronic risk for the insurance carrier.
Maybe you believe your recent diagnosis will prevent you from being seen as high risk. You may also think a long term history of asthma will result in lower premiums, because you can prove your asthma is under control. Which scenario is correct?
Both may be true.
Getting Cheaper Life Insurance With Asthma
When it comes to asthma, the more information you have about your condition, the more favorably the insurance companies will respond.
Clear patterns of asthma attacks can demonstrate a certain amount of predictability. If you can answer the life insurance agent’s questions comprehensively, he or she will have a better idea of the severity and consistency of your medical condition. If you have been diagnosed recently, you may not have an idea of how severe your asthma will get.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 17.7 million adults in the U.S. have asthma.
That’s a little more than 7% of the population. About 6.8% of children in the U.S. have asthma. Asthma results in 10.5 million visits to the physician every year and 1.8 million emergency room visits. Approximately 3,600 Americans die from Asthma every year.
Asthma constricts the airways, making breathing difficult. It is a chronic condition, but attacks vary in severity, length and frequency. Someone having an asthma attack usually experiences wheezing, tightness in the chest, coughing and panting, or gasping for air.
Asthma attacks may be triggered by environmental factors, exercise or intrinsic factors. Some factors trigger attacks are pet dander, pollution, pollen, cold air, smoke and dust. Most individuals with the condition can prevent attacks by limiting their exposure to triggers and using prescription medication.
The CDC reports three levels of asthma severity:
Green Zone – Someone in this category has been diagnosed with asthma but can perform routine activities without wheezing, coughing or shortness of breath. Long term control through medication is generally used to manage the asthma.
Yellow Zone – Someone in this category experiences wheezing, coughing or shortness of breath when performing some routine activities. The individual may wake up at night with asthma attacks. A person in this category is usually taking quick-relief medication in addition to long-term control medicines.
Red Zone – Someone in this category experiences asthma symptoms when performing regular activities. The individual may be very short of breath, and fast-acting inhalers do not help. A person in the red zone needs immediate medical attention.
Asthma and Your Life Insurance Application
Asthma is not an uncommon health condition. Many life insurance companies are used to working with people with asthma. They may have very particular specifications for insuring people with asthma. That’s why they need to ask you a variety of questions about your condition.
You should be prepared to provide the following information when applying for life insurance with asthma:
1. How long ago were you diagnosed?
A longer history will contain more information about the severity of the disease and how well it is managed.
2. Do you know what triggers your asthma attacks?
Knowing your triggers demonstrates a well managed condition. If you can identify your triggers, you can also avoid them to prevent future attacks.
3. How frequently do you experience symptoms?
You’ll receive a better rating if you don’t have frequent symptoms. Recurrent attacks may require further assessment.
4. What medications do you take for asthma?
Taking long term medication may indicate you are managing your condition well. However, people who only have to take medication seasonally will typically get a better rating than those who take it throughout the year.
Someone who needs to change doses or prescriptions regularly is a sign of uncontrolled asthma.
5. Do you or anyone in your household smoke?
Smoking is a common trigger for asthma attacks. It also weakens the respiratory system, potentially leading to other health problems. A smoker will receive a lower rating than a non-smoker, especially when coupled with asthma.
6. What diagnostic tests have you undergone recently?
The results of your tests will provide a clearer picture for your underwriter. Any kind of testing you’ve performed within the last year or two are great for underwriters to review, and the more recent, the better.
If you ever had a test where the results weren’t what you were expecting, be sure to let your agent know so they can relay the information to the underwriter. Don’t let your doctor’s notes be the only message.
Possible Ratings You Might See
Insurance companies look at the frequency and severity of your asthma symptoms using the following definitions:
- Infrequent – Seasonal attacks happen less frequently than six times a year.
- Often – Attacks happen six or more times a year.
- Mild – Symptoms are completely relieved between attacks. The individual can maintain regular activity.
- Moderate – Attacks are severe and require medication and intermittent steroid therapy.
- Severe – Attacks are serious and require consistent medication and steroid therapy.
People who have their asthma under control know their triggers, control their symptoms by avoiding triggers or taking medication and only require medication periodically. Individuals with infrequent mild or infrequent moderate asthma attacks will usually receive a Standard rating for life insurance.
The Standard rating is given to people who are in average health.
People who experience symptoms more often or require fast-acting inhalers to relieve acute symptoms usually receive a rating of Medium Substandard or Mild Substandard. People with often mild or often moderate asthma attacks will fall into these categories. Premiums for these categories are higher than those for the Standard rating.
People who have often severe asthma attacks may be declined for life insurance.
If your asthma is too severe and you are having trouble obtaining traditional life insurance, you can still get coverage. You may qualify for a graded death benefit. This type of policy pays out a reduced amount within the first few years after signing the contract. Coverage increases over time.
People who have been declined for traditional insurance ratings can still get a guaranteed issue policy. These types of policies don’t require a medical exam. While the premiums may be higher, they can still provide the peace of mind which comes with knowing your family is secure.
Don’t hesitate to apply for life insurance just because you have asthma. If you have been turned down or received a quote which is higher than you’d prefer, work with us to get you the best possible rate and coverage. We use our experience and quotes from more than 40 carriers to help you find an affordable policy.