By James Tobin
LIHD Difficulty Rating
If you need to know more about getting life insurance with eating disorder history, you are in the right place.
If you or a loved one has suffered from the anguish caused by an eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa , you are aware of the day to day rituals used to cope with the condition.
What you may not be aware of is the impact this history will have on you life insurance application. Just like folks with medical conditions like depression or hyper thyroid, or lifestyle choices like marijuana use, and scuba diving, insurers want to know what kind of risk they are insuring.
The purpose of this article is to provide the information needed to put your application for life insurance with a history of anorexia or bulimia in the best possible light. This will provide the best opportunity for a good offer for life insurance. If you already know exactly what you are looking for, use the quick navigation tool to skip around to the info you want.
Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by extreme fear of weight gain and unhealthily low body weight. Much like bulinia, anorexia is often associated with self induced vomiting after meals. The Mayo Clinic provides a good overview on the condition.
According to the National Institutes of Health .06 of the population suffers from a eating disorder with about 1/3 seeking help for the condition. The average onset of anorexia is age 19, with women 2.5 times more likely to suffer the disorder.
Some pretty famous people have suffered from anorexia or bulimia including Princess Dianna , television news personality Katie Couric, tennis star Monica Seles, and actress Kate Winslett.
Possible? Yes. Easy? Not necessarily.
While insurers may be willing to insure an applicant who has put some time (usually a minimum of 2 years) between themselves and their eating disorder, they will want to know as much as they can about your specific experience in order to make a decision.
In this case, "as much as they can", means date of diagnosis, symptoms, treatments, and any ongoing maintenance. These issues are discussed individually below.
This is simply a way to verify that your condition is not abnormal for people who suffer from the condition. When people who develop conditions that are not associated with the usual risk factors for the condition, this is often a "tell" that there is something else. (often even more serious) at play.
With eating disorders, like anorexia, risk factors have not yet been isolated. So aside from age, this traditional underwriting criteria is of little concern.
However, because eating disorders generally show between ages 15-25, if the condition first appears after age 30 some followup questions will likely be raised.
Insurers will want to know what your symptoms were and how long they lasted. It is particularly important to insurers to know the severity of symptoms and if there were any related conditions.
The majority of symptoms of anorexia are psychological ranging from obsessive dieting even when underweight, strange food rituals and flagging self worth.
Physical manifestations include extreme weight loss, irregular menstruation periods, anemia, weak immunity to colds, brittle or yellowing nails. For a complete list of symptoms visit the Cleveland Clinic.
Life insurance companies will want to know about treatments you have had including hospitalizations, medication, and any therapy. This information should be as detailed as possible with dates and medication doses.
The most common treatments for eating disorders per WebMD are psychological counseling, anti-depressants, and ongoing nutritional counseling as preventive maintenance.
Insurers will want to know if you are at risk to relapse. The primary criteria for used to answer this question is the period of time you have been healthy. However, insurers will want to know that you are compliant with any aftercare requirement such as nutritional counseling.
Being able to document a healthy lifestyle may well benefit your application.
Key Take Aways
With a couple of caveats, the process of obtaining life insurance is essentially the same for everyone regardless of health.
The APS will likely slow the process as doctors are in no hurry to respond to requests from life insurance companies.
The information, that has been outlined above, that you will be required to provide in order to get the most accurate quote is as follows:
Dates of Treatments
Because Life insurance applications are evaluated on a case by case basis, your story always matters.
That is to say two people with the same age and condition may get significantly different offers from the same company based on age of diagnosis and patient compliance. Because each case is different, the following pricing scenarios are the best estimates based on experience.
Best Case – If your history of an eating disorder is more than 2 years old and you are in excellent health otherwise you have good have a chance for a standard rating. Simply use the quoter on the right for a standard quote.
Table Rated Quote- If you are less than 2 years out from total control, take anti-depressives, or suffered complications from your eating disorder, you will likely be looking at a substandard or "table rated" offer.
To learn about how table ratings work click here.
* while expensive this may still be a very good outcome for the circumstances
Decline– For a severe or active case you may be declined f or traditional coverage. If this is the case you may be eligible for a smaller face amount policy. These policies are referred to as Guaranteed issue or simplified issue. If you have been declined please contact us.
Now you already understand that your story matters, and that two people in similar situations can get very different offers from the same carrier.
What you might not know is that different insurance companies will also treat each case differently.
For example TransAmerica may have more of an appetite for the risk that anorexia presents than say Protective. In this case the underwriting grade will reflect this increased appetite.
So, if your Agent only represented one carrier and you found out later that that you could have gotten a rate 35% or 45% better, how would you feel?
You’d probably be pretty peeved either at the agent or yourself or both. So it’s important that your Agent represent multiple carriers.
In fact a good independent agent will have access to over 50 carriers. This ensures the best chance at a good rate.
Note that if he doesn’t, do you think he'll be in a hurry to let you in on this information? Probably not.
Key Take Aways
So, I have been preaching about the importance of using an independent Agent and you may think that sounds a little self serving coming from an independent agent.
You are right, it is. However, it is also the undeniable ( and provable) truth.
Please see the case study below . it will show why it is in your interest to have as many options as possible available when shopping for life insurance with a history of eating disorders or any other impairment.
Gender: Female Age: 29
$1000000 20 Year Term
History of anorexia Diagnosed Age 23
St. John's wort for "winter blues" and iodine for well controlled hyper thyroid. only No Other Health Concerns
This looks like a best case scenario that would be either standard or Table 2/B or 4/D depending on the insurers appetite for a anorexia history risk.. Let’s take a look at the rates.
Standard Rates Table 2/B Rates Table 4/D Rates
This table which shows only a few of the major life insurance companies available illustrates the difference in rates. For standard rates Lincoln is 35% more expensive than Banner.
On it’s face this seems like a pretty straight forward choice and if underwriting grades between carriers is the same, it really can be that simple. This kind of easy price shopping is particularly useful for younger folks in good health and demonstrates why you want to use an independent Agent.
For people who suffer from an anorexic history or any other serious diagnosis, it gets much more complicated.
Because life insurers manage their appetite for specific risks by being more lenient or more stringent with underwriting grades, you need to know which company will grade you a standard or table 2 risk and which ons will grade you as table 4-6.
In the case above Prudential (one of the more expensive standard rates) is likely to be the best deal because the more competitively priced carrier will likely rate the risk table 4 while Pru might well go standard.
This is something you can’t know by simply looking at the lowest price. In this case using an independent agent could save you 29% (the difference between Prudential @ standard and AIG @ Table 4).
Now that you know the information you will need to receive the most accurate quote possible, it’s time to gather the information and speak to an independent Agent (raising my hand). Simply give us a call or shoot an email over and we can get you started. We are committed to totally transparent pricing (we’ll even share our computer screen with you if you’d like), and making the application process as painless as possible.
If you have any questions, We’d like to hear them.
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Jim Tobin is the owner of Life Insurance Help Desk, a Fairfield County, CT. life insurance agency. You can find him on LinkedIn and Facebook. Over the past 10 years, Jim has used his CFP-financial planning designation to help individuals with their life insurance needs. In addition to working with life insurance clients, Jim teaches ESL classes in his spare time. He resides with his beautiful wife Nicole and the 3 cats that rule their lives..
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