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Life Insurance With COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder)

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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, better known as COPD to most, is a disease which affects millions of people worldwide. Other than treatments, there is little else which can be done since it is both non-curable and degenerative.

For these reasons, finding affordable life insurance with COPD is very possible, but it is more difficult.

Get The Best Life Insurance With COPD

Simply having COPD, some insurers will turn their heads because it’s a higher risk thank they are willing to accept. This makes it much harder for you, the consumer, because you probably don’t know where to go to ensure you’re getting the very best rates available to you. That’s what we do.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease affects the lungs, making it hard to breathe. Other symptoms and side affects are build ups of mucus, wheezing, prolonged shortness of breath, and even a pain or tightening feeling in the chest. As the name implies, COPD does not go away, but rather only gets worse over time. The vast majority of people who are diagnosed with COPD either were, or currently are, smokers.

COPD is actually a generic term, simply meaning blockages of the airways. In fact, COPD is inclusive of two other more specific lung disorders:

  1. Emphysema – air sacs within the lungs are damaged, causing there to be a weakening of the wall support. This relaxes the small air sacs into larger, less efficient ones, decreasing your bodies ability to both pass oxygen to the blood stream, and exhale carbon dioxide.
  2. Chronic Bronchitis – the flesh along your entire air passages become irritated, causing inflammation. This restricts airways, forcing a reduction in the amount of air which can pass through during each breath.
  3. Bronchiolitis Obliterans – is a chronic disease in the lungs consisting of fixed airway obstruction, causing some of the more severe forms of restricted airways and shortness of breathe, violent coughs and extremely low FEV1 scores. This is a more rare form, usually indicative of industrial inhalants over a long period of time, involving works who handle everything from batteries to buttered popcorn.

COPD is among the top 5 most deadly diseases in America, putting millions into a disability situation, too.

Major Life Insurance Factors

Many life insurance carriers will insure a person with COPD, but the fluctuations in what you’ll pay for your coverage can be substantial. Knowing you have a choice in companies is your first step to better rates. Understanding the state of your health and accurately portraying it to a knowledgeable, independent agent is your next key ingredient to success.

When discussing your possible life insurance approval with your agent, full disclosure is a must! Here is what he will absolutely need to know:

  1. Do you currently smoke? If you did previously, what date did you stop?
  2. When were you first diagnosed with COPD? (Month/Year)
  3. What types of lung diseases are associated with your COPD (if any)? Asthma, Chronic Bronchitis, Emphysema?
  4. Have you ever been hospitalized for your COPD?
  5. What kinds of treatments have you undergone, or currently undergo?
  6. Are you taking any prescription medications? Please know name, dosage and frequency.
  7. Do you use an inhaler? Please know name, frequency.
  8. Do you use oxygen?
  9. Have you ever completed a pulmonary function test? If so, what were your results?
  10. Have you ever completed a chest X-Ray? If so, what were your results?
  11. Have you ever completed an Electrocardiogram? If so, what were your results?
  12. What is your current height and weight?
  13. Are there any other medical concerns of any kind in your history?

It might look like a long list of questions to answer, and it is, but any agent who does not ask you these questions may just be shooting from the hip.

Buying life insurance with COPD will take time, diligence, and a lot of effort on behalf of the agent; not having this much information is going to waste both his time, and yours, and may not result in a positive approval.

Testing Procedures

There are several different types of tests which are exclusively completed for those who have medical concerns with the lungs, airways, or capillaries and arteries spanning from the lungs. These are pulmonary function tests, which include forced vital capacity tests (FVC tests), forced expired volume in 1 second tests (FEV1), and ratios of them combined.

FVC will measure the amount of air a person can take in, and how much they can exhale when breathing with as much effort as possible. FEV1 will measure a portion of the FVC test, the first second only, to see what capacity was expelled right away. The percentage score is simply the FEV1 score divided by the FVC.

The goal of these tests are to measure volume of air in the lungs, efficiency in breathing both in and out, and the effectiveness of your bodies ability to turn breath into oxygen on inhalation and carbon dioxide on exhalation.

Ratings You Might Expect

Your possible approval rating for life insurance with COPD is dependent on a few main factors. Knowing these key points will help you identify where you may possibly fall, so you can evaluate your own expectations and premiums.

You need to know what severity your doctor or pulmonologist has diagnosed you at. If you know your numbers from the questions above, like medications, pulmonary function test results, and chest X-Ray results, this can help, too.


A mild case of COPD may cause you to have a slight cough. Following even medium levels of physical exertion, you may experience shortness of breath and continuous coughs. Your pulmonary function test results will show little no concern, and X-Rays will be normal as well. FEV1 scores will range from 60-80%, maybe even higher, and use of medication or inhalers is generally not accepted. This will result in a Standard Table 2.


A moderate case of COPD may cause you to have a persistent cough and dyspnea (feeling of shortness in breath), even after just very light activity. Your pulmonary function tests may have results showing decreased efficiency, and X-Rays may see mild abnormalities present. The occasional use of an inhaler is allowed, with FEV1 scores ranging anywhere between 50% and 59%. This will result in a Standard Table 4.


A severe case of COPD may cause persistent cough, shortness in breath, and slight fatigue, even with very minimal effort in minor activities. Pulmonary function tests show definitive changes and decreased efficiency, and X-Rays will note abnormalities in the form of chest ausculatory abnormalities. Use of prescription medications, especially steroids and inhalers, are common. FEV1 scores will range no better than 40-49%. The will result in a Standard Table 6 to Standard Table 8 rating.


The worst of the four stanges, a person with extreme COPD is likely on disability an unable to complete even the easiest tasks, requiring assistance. Oxygen use is required, and the person is likely immobile or mostly immobile. Pulmonary function tests are drastically reduced and X-Rays show very obvious abnormalities. FEV1 scores will be under 40%, and this person will need to use a graded life insurance policy to secure any coverage.

Any person who is largely obese, continues to smoke, or has other medical conditions like kidney disease, diabetes or heart health issues will also need to use either graded or guaranteed products.


Jason Fisher

Jason Fisher is the founder and CEO of, LLC. and a multi-state licensed life insurance agent who has helped over a million Americans seek out affordable coverage, compare quotes, or get their family and businesses covered.

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