If you suffer from migraines, you might wake up every day and wonder if you will have a painful attack. Migraine sufferers can also spend time worrying their condition will make it harder for them to get life insurance.
Life insurance with migraines is a relatively common hurdle, but you’re right to have concerns. Life insurance companies will want to determine if there are other health conditions which are causing your migraines, and could consider you a high risk applicant if you don’t play your cards right.
This article will help you navigate these tricky waters. We explain the connection between migraines and life insurance so you understand your options.
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What Are Migraines or Persistent Headaches?
Just about everyone knows someone who gets migraines. Migraines affect nearly 12% of the American population, according to the Migraine Research Foundation. Adults and children can suffer from migraines; women tend to get them most often.
A migraine is actually a collection of neurological symptoms, which is different from a typical headache. These symptoms cause severe throbbing which is most often isolated to one area of the head.
Researchers believe migraine is a neurological disorder affecting nerve pathways and chemicals produced by the brain itself.
When someone has a migraine “attack”, they often experience the following symptoms (in addition to head pain):
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of vision
- Seeing spots or flashes of light
- Tingling or numbness in certain body parts
- Extreme sensitivity to sound and light
Some people have these symptoms prior to the onset of a migraine, while other people do not get such a clear sense before they get one. Migraine symptoms might change from attack to attack, too.
A migraine can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Many people cannot leave their bed or house during an attack.
For some migraine sufferers, the migraines are acute, meaning they are not frequent, but are recurring. Other people have chronic migraines, which means they have migraines almost daily or every other day. If someone has a history of acute migraines turning into chronic episodes, it might be due to overuse of migraine medication.
Doctors aren’t sure exactly what triggers the neurological disorder leading to migraines. Some possible triggers include:
- Female hormone changes (fluctuation in estrogen)
- Sensory stimuli (like bright lights or strong smells)
- Physical exertion
- Medications which are being taken to treat another condition
Since no one knows exactly what triggers migraines, it is hard for doctors to diagnose patients.
Many people treat their migraines at home, using over-the-counter medications they can buy at the local drug store. When people do report their symptoms to a doctor, the doctor first has to rule out many other health conditions which have similar symptoms.
People who get migraines often develop depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders, which can be detrimental to overall health—and to being covered by life insurance.
What Is the Application Process Like?
With so much unknown about migraines, it is easy to see why life insurance companies will take a good, hard look at your application.
You likely won’t receive a poor health class rating based on your migraine history alone, unless your migraines are chronic and your attacks are debilitating every time.
In addition to your medical exam and general medical history, life insurance underwriters will want to know:
- The age at which you began having migraines
- The frequency of your migraines
- Your migraine triggers and what you do to avoid them
- Any medications you are taking for your migraines
- The results of any neurological tests or scans you have had
- How often you see a doctor for your migraines
- What other health conditions you have which could be related to migraines
- If you are on any estrogen drugs or have any known hormonal changes
If you are pregnant or going through menopause, and your attacks, or frequency of attacks, can be traced to these conditions, be sure to include this information.
What Kind of Rate Can You Expect?
Most migraine sufferers will receive a health class rating of Standard or Standard Plus.
To achieve a Standard Plus rating (meaning less expensive premiums), you will need to have acute (infrequent) migraines which are diagnosed and are being treated as necessary. You will have to be in very good overall health with no other major health conditions.
Receiving a Standard rating is good news for migraine patients. Chronic migraine sufferers who are in good health and do not have ongoing symptoms which could trigger their migraines will be able to obtain base rates for life insurance coverage.
If you do have conditions which can be related to your chronic migraines, your Standard rate might come with additional fees making your premiums more expensive.
Individuals with other health conditions, in addition to migraines, might receive a Sub-Standard rating.
How to Get Approved for Life Insurance with Migraines
If you get migraines frequently and are not seeing a doctor for this disorder, get under a doctor’s care immediately. Treating migraines with over-the-counter medicines could cause you to develop other health conditions which will make you a higher risk to life insurance carriers.
Being under a doctor’s care will also show a life insurance underwriter you are trying to control your attacks. This is important, as the underwriter will be reviewing your overall file to see how well you take care of yourself.
Your chances of getting affordable life insurance coverage with migraines are better if you work with an experienced insurance agent.
Listing your condition and symptoms properly and with full disclosure (and even a cover letter) will show the life insurance company they have all the necessary information to determine your health and longevity.
An independent agent can help you through the process, ensuring you get the best coverage at the lowest rate.