Life Insurance with Lupus…Everything You Need To Know
If you are looking for life insurance with lupus, you are in the right place.
If you or a loved one has had the misfortune of a Systemic or Discoid Lupus diagnosis, you are aware of the everyday challenges and difficulties associated with this disease. What you may not know, is the implications the disease has on the ability to obtain life insurance.
The goal of this article is to provide a background on obtaining life insurance with lupus. This information will put you in a position to obtain the best deal possible.
If you already know more about lupus than you care to think about or know exactly what you are looking for, you can use the quick navigation tool to skip around.
Fast Facts about Lupus
Lupus is known as the “great Imitator” because it can be really hard to diagnose. Mis-diagnosis are common as no single test can confirm the diagnosis.
The misdiagnosis problem is often compounded by false positives when testing for afflictions with similar symptoms.
The Lupus Foundation list the conditions diseases commonly confused with Lupus as:
- Blood disorders
- Thyroid problems
- Lyme disease
The Lupus Foundation estimates that at least 1.5 million Americans have lupus. However, there have been no large-scale studies to show the actual number of people in the U.S. living with lupus.
More than 16,000 new cases of lupus are reported annually in the U.S.. It is believed that 5 million people throughout the world have a form of lupus.
Lupus strikes mostly women age (15-44). However, men, children, and teenagers develop lupus, too.
Women of color are two to three times more likely to develop lupus than Caucasians.
The word “lupus” is latin for “wolf” because the facial lesions were described by early researchers as looking like a wolf bite. Lupus has been on the mind of medical researchers since the early 1700’s.
Some really famous people have suffered from Lupus. Among them are:
Singer Michael Jackson, American writer Flannery O’connor. Television personality Charles Kuralt. Singer Lady Gaga and Filipino dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
Life Insurance with Lupus: 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
Because lupus is not common and often mis-diagnosed underwriters will scrutinize symptoms more closely than most files.
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 lupus, carriers will want to know the symptoms you had (if any) and how long you had them before the diagnosis.
Lupus can range from mild to life-threatening. The Mayo Clinic lists the following symptoms as the most common:
Fatigue and fever
Joint pain, stiffness and swelling
Butterfly-shaped rash on the face that covers the cheeks and bridge of the nose
Skin lesions that appear or worsen with sun exposure (photosensitivity)
Fingers and toes that turn white or blue when exposed to cold or during stressful periods (Raynaud's phenomenon)
Shortness of breath
Headaches, confusion and memory loss
Key Take Aways
- Lupus can be from mild to life threatening.
- Lupus is not contagious. you can't "catch" it or "give" it to anyone.
- There is a long list of symptoms for lupus. this is the cause of common misdiagnosis.
Your Diagnosis and Treatments
Life insurance underwriters will want to know the date of first diagnosis and of any subsequent major flare-ups. Underwriting will also want to know what medications you have been prescribed for lupus.
The list of most common pharmaceutical drugs prescribed for Lupus is highly dependent on the severity of the case. For mild cases the most common medications are as follows:
Acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Antimalarial drugs such hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil).
Low-dose corticosteroids and/or corticosteroid creams or ointments.
For more serious cases of Lupus the list is filled with much more powerful drugs. You won’t find this stuff over the counter at CVS! For a detailed look at these drugs and potential side effects visit WebMD.
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
When evaluating life insurance with lupus applications, underwriting will want to see compliance with prescription medication and any follow up requirements including doctors appointments.
Follow up for lupus patients often includes dietary changes as well as supplements.
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 lupus cases will specifically look for certain related conditions.
Obtaining Life Insurance with Lupus
With a couple of caveats, the process of obtaining life insurance is essentially the same for everyone regardless of health.
The primary caveats with lupus are that no exam or so called “non-med” policies will only be available in very small face amounts and an attending physician's statement (APS) is guaranteed to be requested.
The APS can slow the process as doctors are in no hurry to respond to requests from life insurance companies.
The information that you will be required to provide in order to get the most accurate quote is as follows:
Date of Diagnosis
Age at Diagnosis
Dates of Treatments
Severity of Symptoms
Other Health Issues
Key Take Aways
- The process for obtaining life insurance is the same with lupus as any other condition..
- Your doctor will most likely have to submit an attending physicians statement (APS).
- Providing detailed & accurate information is the only way to get an accurate quote.
Possible Underwriting Ratings for Life Insurance with Lupus
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 lupus is detected early, symptoms are under excellent control and complications or further damage to affected organs (particularly Liver & Kidney) has been prevented, many cases have a chance for a standard rating. Simply use the quoter on the left for a standard quote.
Mid Case –If your lupus 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 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 – If your lupus has recently flared and you have inflammation of organs or severe anemia the best you will likely do is a severe substandard rate. You calculate this rate by multiplying the standard rate by 3 (Table 6/F) or 4 (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 Lupus
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 Lupus 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 Lupus
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 Lupus or any other impairment.
Gender: Female Age: 29
$1000000 20 Year Term
Well controlled mild Discoid Lupus. Diagnosed Age 23
NSAID 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 Lupus risk.. Let’s take a look at the rates.
Standard Rates 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 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 Lupus 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).
Your Next Step
Now that you know the information you will need to receive the most accurate quote possible for life insurance with lupus, 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 lupus, if you have any questions, we’d like to hear them.