Getting Life Insurance With Rheumatoid Arthritis… Everything You Need to Know

Getting Life Insurance With Rheumatoid Arthritis… Everything You Need to Know

Need to discover how to get the best rates possible for life insurance with rheumatoid arthritis

You are in the right place.

If you or a loved have been diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis or RA, you are aware of how uncomfortable the day to day challenges can be.

What you may not be aware of is how Rheumatoid Arthritis can affect your application for life insurance.

Much like many other conditions like  Lupus​, Crohn's disease and Addison's disease, RA makes life insurance more complicated.

The purpose of this article is to provide a  background on obtaining life insurance with Rheumatoid Arthritis and answer any questions you may have about how RA sufferers can get the best deal possible. 

If you already know what you are looking for, you can click on the quick navigation and skip to any portion of this article.

Fast Facts on RA : What your Friends and Co-workers May Know (or think they know).

Unlike osteoarthritis , which is a degenerative disease, Rheumatoid arthritis or RA is an autoimmune disease. 

approximately 2.1 people suffer from RA in the united States, with women being 3 times more likely to suffer the disease.

  RA is believed to cost the economy $ 128,000,000 annually in medical costs and lost productivity.

Several well known celebrities have suffered from RA over the years. Among them are comedienne Lucille Ball , famed painter Pierre Renoir, actress Kathleen Turner, baseball Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax and actor James Coburn

 James Coburn-rheumatoid-arthritis-and-life-insurance

What Life Insurers Will Take Into Consideration

When seeking life insurance with RA or any other condition, life insurance underwriters will often be concerned with a few basic question that spur more specific questions. The basics: 

  • 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 take a look how each of these in relation to RA.

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

The causes of rheumatoid arthritis are not  yet perfectly clear. There is some evidence for genetic , hormonal,  and environmental factors.

While the causes have not been positively identified, the following  risk profile has emerged:

  • Gender- Women are more likely than men to develop rheumatoid arthritis.

  • Age- While Rheumatoid arthritis can occur at any age, it most commonly begins between the ages of 40 and 60.

  • Family history- If a member of your family has rheumatoid arthritis, you may have an increased risk of the disease.

  •  Cigarette smoking  tends to be associated with more severe RA

  • Environmental exposures- It is believed that  some exposures such as asbestos or silica may increase the risk for developing rheumatoid arthritis. 

  • Obesity- People who are overweight  appear to be at a t higher risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, this is particularly the case  in women diagnosed with the disease when they were 55 or younger.

For a more detailed discussion of the potential causes of RA you can visit the Arthritis Foundation 

What are/were your symptoms

Underwriting will want to know the symptoms you had (if any) and how long you had them before the diagnosis.

Rheumatoid arthritis usually shows itself at first with the swelling, warmth, tenderness and stiffness of smaller joints. The joints usually affected first are the fingers and hands and toes. There are graphics available-  I apologize for the blurriness-  that  can be accessed more clearly at-  National institute of Health  This shows the stages of joint decay associated with RA .

RA progresses from there.

As the disease progresses, symptoms often spread to the wrists, knees, ankles, elbows, hips and shoulders. In most cases, symptoms occur in the same joints on both sides of your body.

The Mayo Clinic points out that about 40 percent of the people who have rheumatoid arthritis also experience signs and symptoms that don't involve the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis can affect many non-joint structures.

The non joint body parts that can be affected are extensive:

  • Skin

  • Eyes

  • Lungs

  • Heart

  • Kidneys

  • Salivary glands

  • Nerve tissue

  • Bone marrow

  • Blood vessels


Key Take Aways

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis is a chronic and progressive disease.
  • Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis start with wamness, swelling and tenderness in joints.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis or RA can effect several non-joint body parts including vital organs.

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 Your RA.

Below is a list of the more common prescriptions provided to rheumatoid arthritis sufferers.




Biologic agents. 

Lupus-Life -insurance

We understand that memories of certain treatments can be "hazy". To be sure,your medical records will be looked at to establish the prescription history. However, in order to get an accurate quote, you will need accurate information. 

Your Follow Up Care for RA

Because RA is a progressive condition , underwriting will be interested in your compliance and follow up. Specifically, this means wanting to know if have you've been taking prescribed medicines and attending regularly scheduled follow up appointments with your physician.

Additionally, underwriting will be interested in knowing if you are taking any dietary/homeopathic steps to treat the condition. For a full discussion of this see the Cleveland Clinic.

Your Over all Health (and any related conditions)

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

RA is often connected to the occurrence of heart problems due to hardening and blocked arteries. RA is also  associated with an increased risk of Lung disease and the blood cancer lymphoma.

Obtaining Life Insurance with RA

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

The primary caveats with rheumatoid arthritis 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
  • Affected Systems
  • Treatments Undergone
  • Dates of Treatments
  • Severity of Symptoms
  • Any other Health issures

Possible Underwriting Ratings with RA

Because Life insurance applications 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 Level – If RA is detected early, symptoms are under excellent control and complications or further damage to affected organs has been prevented, some cases have a chance for a standard rating. Simply use the quoter on the left for a standard quote.

Mid Level –If your RA 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 Level – If your RA symptoms are severe and you have a need for chronic maintenance drugs and/or your RA has proceeded to your organs, the best you will likely do is a severe substandard rate. You calculate this rate by multiplying the standard rate by 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 happens 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 Rheumatoid Arthrits

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  Financial may have more of an appetite for the risk that RA presents than say Banner. 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 sad like the puppy or mad  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 likely won't  be in a hurry to tell  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 Policies with RA

So, I have been going 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 RA or any other impairment.

Gender: Female Age: 43

$500000 20 Year Term

Tobacco: No

Well controlled mild RA. Diagnosed Age 34

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 RA risk.. Let’s take a look at the rates.

Standard Rates Table 2/B Rates Table 4/D Rates

CarrierMo. PymtCarrierMo. PymtCarrierMo. Pymt
mutual omaha
mutual omaha
mutual omaha
prudential logo
prudential logo
prudential logo

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 RA 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 most expensive standard rate) is likely to be the best deal because the more competitively priced carriers 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 15% (the difference between Prudential @ standard and Banner @ Table 4).

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.

Thank you for reading about obtaining life insurance with Rheumatoid arthritis. If you have any questions, We’d like to hear them.

Life Insurance With Rheumatoid Arthritis – Everything You Need to Know
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Life Insurance With Rheumatoid Arthritis – Everything You Need to Know
Find out everything you need to know about Life Insurance with Rheumatoid Arthritis . How to get the best rates possible with RA 203-424-1100
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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..