Life Insurance with GERD (Acid Reflux)…All You Need to Know

Life Insurance with GERD (Acid Reflux)…All You Need to Know

If you take medicine for acid reflux/GERD  (Gastroesophageal reflux disease) and you are wondering if it will affect your prospects for life insurance, you have come to the right place. 

The purpose of this article is to help you understand the underwriting concerns of carriers and how to best position yourself to receive the best rate possible.

Whether, your risk to the insurance carrier is health related like high Cholesterol and high blood pressure, or is lifestyle related like marijuana use or scuba diving the application process is similar.

If you know what information you are looking for you can use the quick nav tool to jump around and the quote tool on the right to get an instant quote at any time. 

​Fast Facts About GERD (Acid Reflux)

It seems nearly everyone gets heartburn once in a while, but with GERD it's a more common occurrence. ​It's believed that nearly 20 percent of the population suffers from GERD.

GERD is alternately referred to as acid indigestion, acid reflux, and the aforementioned heartburn.​

​The most likely sufferers of GERD are those who are  are obese, smokers, pregnant, or taking certain medications.

The best known complication from GERD is  Barrett's Esophagus,  which can cause a rare but often deadly cancer.

Life Insurance with GERD: What Carriers will Take into Consideration

Life insurance underwriters will generally be concerned with 5 general questions:

  • Do you fit into the usual risk factors for the condition
  • What are/were your syptoms
  • What was the Diagnosis & Treatment
  • What is the aftercare (follow up & compliance)
  • What is your health like apart from the condition/history in question

While the outline above is general in form , the questions will require specific answers. These answers will be gathered from your application, a telephone interview, the Medical Information Bureau, a Script Check, and an Attending Physicians Statement (APS).

Lets look at the general areas of inquiry one at a time.

Do you "fit" into the usual risk factors for the Condition

Underwriters tend to be more comfortable with making offers when the applicant's condition fits into a common risk factor pattern. If the condition doesn't fit, there as a concern that something else is at play. When this is the case, underwriters will try to allay their fears by taking a harder look at the file.

What are/were your symptoms

When underwriting life insurance with GERD, carriers will want to know the symptoms you had (if any) and how long you had them before the diagnosis.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) lists the following symptoms as the most common:

  • Regular heartburn
  • bad breath
  • nausea
  • pain in your chest or the upper part of your abdomen
  • problems swallowing or painful swallowing
  • respiratory problems
  • vomiting
  • the wearing away of your teeth

Your Diagnosis and Treatments

Diagnosis of GERD is usually done by a gastroenterologist. The doctor may recomend or more of the following test: 

  • Upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy and biopsy 
  • Upper GI Series
  • Esophageal pH and Impedance monitoring
  • Bravo wireless esophageal pH monitoring
  • Esophageal manometry

​The initial treatments for GERD are lifestyle change recommendations centered on losing weight an quitting smoking and the use of over the counter ant-acids. 

 If a prescription medicine is required, it is often either an H2 blocker or a proton pump inhibitor. A list of the most common fro NIH follows:

H2 Blockers

  • cimetidine (Tagamet HB)
  • famotidine (Pepcid AC)
  • nizatidine (Axid AR)
  • ranitidine (Zantac 75)

Proton Pump Inhibitors

  • esomeprazole (Nexium)
  • lansoprazole (Prevacid)
  • omeprazole (Prilosec, Zegerid)
  • pantoprazole (Protonix)
  • rabeprazole (AcipHex)

Your Follow Up Care

When evaluating life insurance with GERD  applications, underwriting will want to see compliance with prescription medication and any follow up requirements including doctors appointments.

Your Over all Health (and related conditions)

While any application for life insurance will take into consideration your overall health including conditions like high cholesterol and gout, underwriters in GERD cases will specifically look for certain related conditions.

The notable complications from GERD are:

  • ​esophagitis- Inflammation that can be a precursor to esophagus cancer.
  • esophageal stricture- a narrowing of the esophigus. 
  • respiratory problems
  • Barrett’s esophagus

Obtaining Life Insurance with GERD


With a couple of caveats, the process of obtaining life insurance is essentially the same for everyone regardless of health.


The primary caveats with GERD are that no exam or so called “non-med” policies will only be available if there are no serious complications, and an attending physician's statement (APS) may be requesteddepending on the overall health of the applicant.


The APS can slow the process as doctors are in no hurry to respond to requests from life insurance companies. if an APS is requested, the best way to "grease the wheels" is for the applicant to contact the doctors office.  


The information that you will be required to provide in order to get the most accurate quote is as follows:

The information that you will be required to provide in order to get the most accurate quote is as follows:


  1. Date of Diagnosis

  2. Age at Diagnosis

  3. Affected Systems

  4. Treatments Undergone

  5. Dates of Treatments

  6. Severity of Symptoms

  7. Other Health Issues

Key Take Aways

  • The process for obtaining life insurance with GERD is the same as with any condition.
  • Providing detailed and accurate information is the only way to get an accurate quote.

Possible Underwriting Ratings for Life Insurance with GERD


Because applications for life insurance with lupus are evaluated on a case by case basis, your story matters. That is to say two people with the same age and condition may get vastly different offers from the same carrier 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  GERD symptoms are under excellent control and no complications-  and excellent health- many cases have a chance for a Preferred plus rating. Simply use the quoter on the right for a preferred plus quote.

Mid Case –If your GERD  seems to be mild with the use of OTC or prescription medications but have other health issues, you may be looking at a standard rate. Simply use the standard rating in the quoter.

Severe Case – If your GERD  has recently flared and you have inflammation that is not responding to treatment, you may be face with a mild to mid substandard rate. You calculate this rate by multiplying the standard rate by 1.5 (Table 2/B) or 2 (table 4/D).

To learn about how table ratings work click here.

* while expensive this is still a very good outcome for the circumstances

Decline– For a severe case you may be declined for 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.

Why you Should Use an Independent Agent when Shopping for Life Insurance with GERD

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 Prudential may have more of an appetite for the risk that GERD presents than say Banner Life. 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 50% or 60% better, how would you feel?


You’d probably be 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, he probably won’t be in a hurry to let you in on this info.

Key Take Aways

  • Access to more carriers will result in better pricing.
  • It may be worth paying slightly more if there is a strong permanent conversion product.
  • Only independent brokers have the freedom to offer the best deal at all times.

Case Study: Pricing Life Insurance with GERD (Acid Reflux)


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 GERD or any other impairment.

Gender: Male Age: 43

$500000 20 Year Term

Tobacco: No

Well controlled  GERD

Prescription use of Proton Pump Inhibitor (Nexium)  & occasional OTC ant acid use

​Excellent Health 

This looks like a standard/preferred case that might get a better rating with one or two carriers. depending on the insurers appetite for a cholesterol risk.. Let’s take a look at the rates.


Preferred Best Rates - Preferred Rates - Standard Rates


CARRIERMO. PYMTCARRIERMO. PYMTCARRIERMO. PYMT
lincoln financial$45.24lincoln financial55.26banner87.70
banner45.91banner55.89lincoln financial87.82
mutual omaha46.11principal57.84principal91.34
principal47.9mutual omaha59.24mutual omaha92.49
prudential logo51.75prudential logo64.80prudential logo107.10

This table which shows only a few of the major life insurance companies available illustrates the difference in rates. For standard rates Prudential is 12.5% more expensive than Lincoln.


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 High Cholesterol 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 preferred plus risk and which ones will grade you as standard.


In the case above Prudential (the most expensive standard rate) is likely to be the best deal because the more competitively priced carriers will likely rate the risk standard while Pru might well go Preferred Plus.


This is something you can’t know by simply looking at the lowest price. In this hypothetical using an independent agent could save you 50% (the difference between Prudential @ Preferred plus and Lincoln @ Standard.

Your Next Step


Now that you know the information you will need to receive the most accurate quote possible for life insurance with GERD, 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.

Thank you fro reading about life insurance with GERD, if you have any questions, we’d like to hear them.

James Tobin, CFP
 

Jim Tobin is the owner of Life Insurance Help Desk, a Fairfield County, CT. life insurance agency. You can find him on Google + 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..