Life Insurance with Gout…Everything You Need to Know
If you have had personal experience with gout as I have, you are aware of the inconvenience and outright misery it can cause. What you may not be aware of is the impact that gout can have on your life insurance application.
Gout won't stop you from obtaining life insurance offers, but it will cause underwriters to scrutinize you more carefully. The reason, simply put, is that those who suffer from gout have had a less favorable mortality risk.
With a history that includes gout, life insurance carriers will want to know as much as they can about the risk they are being asked to insure. This is no different than how the carriers deal with any other condition like high blood pressure and hyperthryroid or lifestyle choices like marijuana use or scuba diving.
The purpose of this article is to provide a brief description of the disease and answer any questions you may have about how to obtain life insurance at the best price possible.
If you already know more than you ever wanted to about gout, or you know exactly what you are looking for, you can use the quick navigation tool to skip around.
Fast Facts about Gout
Although now comfortably middle class, Gout has historically been referred to as the “disease of Kings”. This saying has it’s roots in the wealthy being able to afford rich foods including meat products.
Gout is classified as a complex form of inflammatory arthritis and chronic casis are referred to rheumatologists.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates there are more than eight million people suffering from gout in the united states. Three quarters (75%) of all gout patients are men.
The most common place for gout to affect is the big toe.
There have been some pretty famous people who have suffered from gout. The list of sufferers includes: Founding father, Ben Franklin, composer Ludwig Van Beethoven , and more recently photographer Ansel Adams, Vice President Dick Cheney and, actor Jared Leto.
What Life Insurers 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
- 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 Gout
The reason underwriters are more comfortable with making offers when an applicant fits into the usual patterns is because if they don't fit, there as a real possibility 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.
In the case of gout, the common "risk factor range" is male, family history of gout, smoking, obesity, and diet rich in purines.
What were your symptoms
Underwriting will want to know the symptoms you had (if any) and how long you had them before the diagnosis.
The signs of gout almost always occur without warning. The Mayo Clinic lists the following as the primary symptoms:
Intense joint pain. Gout usually affects the large joint of your big toe, but it can occur in your feet, ankles, knees, hands and wrists. The pain is likely to be most severe within the first four to 12 hours after it begins.
Lingering discomfort. After the most severe pain subsides, some joint discomfort may last from a few days to a few weeks. Later attacks are likely to last longer and affect more joints.
Inflammation and redness. The affected joint or joints become swollen, tender, warm and red.
Limited range of motion. Decreased joint mobility may occur as gout progresses.
Your Diagnosis and Treatments
Life insurance underwriters will want to know the date of first diagnosis and of subsequent flare ups. Underwriting will also want to know what medications you have been prescribed for gout.
A quick look as WebMD list the following drugs commonly prescribed for gout:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, indomethacin, or naproxen.Colchicine.
- Corticosteroids, which may be given in pills or as a shot for cases of gout that don't respond to NSAIDs or colchicines.
- Uricosuric agents, to increase elimination of uric acid by the kidneys.
- Xanthine oxidase inhibitors, to decrease production of uric acid by the body.
- Colchicine, to prevent flare-ups during the first months that you are taking medicines that lower uric acid.
While information that is "foggy" will be taken from your medical records, knowing the dates of diagnosis and treatments is necessary to get an accurate quote.
Your Follow Up Care
Life insurance underwriters will want to see that you have been compliant with any after care follow up requirements.
In addition to taking prescription medications, dietary simprovement and supplementation are often encouraged by physicians.
According the well respected homeopathic doctor John Axe, the top six home remedies for gout are:
1. Celery Seed Extract
2. Black Cherry Juice
4. Fish Oil
5. Proteolytic Enzymes
Modifying your dietary choices is an important part of managing and preventing gout attacks. The following chart provides some do’s and don’ts for gout prevention.
|HIGH-FIBER FOODS||FOODS HIGH IN PURINES|
|POTASSIUM-RICH FOODS||FRIED FOODS AND HYDROGENATED OILS|
|FRESH BERRIES AND CHERRIES||SODIUM|
Your Over all Health (any related conditions)
Related but distinct from gout , there are certain diseases and conditions make it more likely that you'll develop gout. These include :
Obtaining Life Insurance With a Gout History
With a couple of caveats, the process of obtaining life insurance is essentially the same for everyone regardless of health.
The primary caveats with a gout history are that no exam or so called “non-med” policies may only be available in limited face amounts and an attending physician's statement (APS) is often required.
The APS will likely slow the process as doctors are in no hurry to respond to requests from life insurance companies.
As discussed earlier, the information that you will be required to provide in order to get the most accurate quote is as follows:
Date of Diagnosis
Severity of Symptoms
Dates of Treatments
All Other Health Issues
Possible Underwriting Ratings with Gout
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 Gout symptoms are under excellent control and no complications some cases have a chance for a standard or even standard plus rating. Simply use the quoter on the left for a standard/standard plus quote.
Mid Case –If your gout seems to be mild with only the use of NSAID drugs and good compliance but less than 3 years since diagnosis or cases where heavier drugs are occasionally required you may be looking at a 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.
Severe Case – It is rare to see cases declined for gout alone. However, if gout is uncontrolled and there are additional factors like smoking and obesity the best you will likely do is a severe substandard rate. You calculate this rate by multiplying the standard rate by 2.5 (table6/F) or 3 (table 8/H).
* 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 Gout
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 Gout 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, he probably won’t be in a hurry to let you in on this information.
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 Policies with Gout
So, I have been droning on about the importance of using an independent Agent and you may think that sounds a bit self serving coming from an independent agent.
You’d be are right, it is. However, it is also the (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 gout or any other impairment.
Gender: Male Age: 48
$250000 20 Year Term
Well controlled mild gout. Diagnosed Age 44
Allopurinol/150 mg daily moderately overweight
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 gout risk.. Let’s take a look at the rates.
Standard Smoker - Table 2/B Rates - Table 4/D Rates
|CARRIER||MO. PYMT||CARRIER||MO. PYMT||CARRIER||MO. PYMT|
This table which shows only a few of the major life insurance companies available illustrates the difference in rates. For standard rates Prudential is 33% more expensive than Protective.
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 gout 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 (the second most expensive standard smoker rate) is likely to be the best deal because the more competitively priced carriers will likely rate the risk table 2-4 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 22% (the difference between Prudential @ standard and North American @ Table2).
That’s a really big difference when you consider that over the life of the policy it adds up to over $13,400.
Wouldn’t you rather have that money (or spend it on an elaborate vacation) , rather than pay too much for insurance because your Agent didn’t have the options or experience?
Silly question, of course you would!
Your Next Step
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.