Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) could affect the coverage and premium cost of any life insurance policy. Whether it does, and how much, depends on your exact condition.
While some carriers do consider IBS a high risk for life insurance, recent advancements in knowledge about the disease and its treatments have had significant impact on the way it is viewed.
There are certain factors you need to be aware of in order to make an informed decision. This article will lay it all out for you so you’ll be able to find the best life insurance plan for your specific situation..
Table of Contents
What Is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?
It’s estimated that up to about 14% of the U.S. population suffers from IBS.. Women tend to be twice as likely to develop IBS as men.
You are not alone in navigating the challenging road to life insurance with IBS. In order to understand how your condition will affect your coverage and premiums, you need to consider the specifics of the syndrome itself.
IBS is not actually a disease; it is a functional disorder which primarily affects the lower GI tract, including your large and small intestines and is characterized by a multitude of recurrent gastrointestinal symptoms. The most common of these are:
- Abdominal pain or discomfort
- Bloating and gas
- Significant alteration of bowel habits (constipation and/or diarrhea)
Of course, it’s immediately obvious these symptoms may have a great many other causes besides Irritable Bowel Syndrome. This is what makes diagnosing IBS a difficult matter.
A cure for IBS does not exist, but there are ways to help minimize the discomfort and symptoms. Lifestyle changes, such as stress reduction and dietary adjustments, can be effective. Medical treatments include a variety of over-the-counter and prescription medications.
Finding the right treatment (or combination of treatments) for you can be a trial-and-error process, so working with your doctor or gastroenterologist is especially important.
Insurance underwriters also want to see that you are proactively managing your IBS symptoms, so having a doctor-monitored treatment plan is a step in the right direction.
What You’ll Be Asked on Your Application
Even if you don’t have a health issue to navigate, the insurance application process can be confusing, unless you know what to expect.
Here are the factors specific to IBS that will have the most impact on how insurance underwriters will regard your application:
- Frequency and severity of symptoms: mild symptoms needing no treatment are viewed very differently than those requiring intervention
- Recent physical exam:the results of your recent physical will be weighed, good or bad, or you’ll need to get a physical if it’s been too long since your last one
- Colonoscopy: most insurance companies will want to see the results of a colonoscopy done within the last two years, and an abnormal result will almost certainly mean either higher rates or being declined for traditional insurance
- Response to treatment: what effect, if any, was hadfrom the lifestyle changes you’ve made or medical treatments you’re on
- How long you’ve had IBS: in general, a diagnosis later in life is viewed more favorably
- Last flare-up: the longer it’s been since you’ve had symptoms, the better, so anything major within 12 months of your application is usually seen as cause for concern
- Medications: medications used to treat IBS symptoms are not usually considered reason for alarm, but you’ll need to disclose all the medications you’re taking
Basically, in order to qualify for the best coverage and lowest rates for life insurance with IBS, you will need to show that the condition isn’t causing any severe issues and you are taking as little medication as possible for it.
But even when that is not the case, you still have alternatives. Read on to find out more.
Other Factors Besides IBS
Regardless of whether your Irritable Bowel Syndrome has a significant impact on your life insurance application, all of the usual considerations will still come into play.
Although there are more, the biggest ones tend to be:
- Overall health: having no additional serious health issues will count for a great deal
- Age: all things being equal, younger means cheaper rates and older means more expensive ones
- Gender: this is a factor because women tend to have longer average lifespans than men
Your Possible Insurance Outcomes
There are various possible scenarios when applying for life insurance with Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Here are the most likely of those outcomes.
While there is an excellent chance your life insurance application will be approved in spite of your IBS, there is still a vast difference among insurance companies in the coverage they will offer and the premiums they will charge.
A record of mild symptoms which are well under control, with few complications, should qualify for life insurance at Standard rates or better.
If your IBS symptoms are more severe, but all other factors are positive, you may be able to get the coverage you seek by just paying a higher rate.
If your IBS is severe, and especially if you have other negative health factors, you may be declined for traditional life insurance. However, it does not leave you completely without alternatives.
Graded life insurance is an option for those who cannot get approved for traditional life insurance due to Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
While you will have to disclose your condition, there is no physical exam required. But these policies come with restrictions.
You can expect the following with a graded insurance policy:
- A required waiting period of 2 to 3 years before full benefits go into effect
- Reduced maximum coverage, which rarely goes above $25,000, though it may sometimes reach as high as $150,000
How to Get the Best Life Insurance With IBS
With all of the variables involved, working with an experienced insurance professional, like us, who is your best bet for finding the right policy for you at the best rates. This means being able to seek underwriting from many different carriers, even before applying.
We work with many different companies and can point you toward the life insurance company and policy that best suits your needs.