If you have Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, it’s going to be a problem for buying life insurance.
Don’t get discouraged though because many people with COPD are still able to get coverage.
Whether you can qualify and at what price depends on the severity of your condition and your overall health. To give you an idea about what to expect when you apply, we’ve put together an explanation of insurance guidelines for COPD along with some strategies that you can use for your application.
Life Insurance Underwriting for COPD
When you apply for life insurance, your insurance agent will ask you several questions about your COPD for your application. Expect to answer:
- When were you diagnosed with COPD?
- Did you ever have to go to the hospital for your COPD? If so, what treatment did you receive?
- Do you have any other lung issues like asthma or bronchitis?
- Have you had any recent diagnostic tests like a chest X-ray or Pulmonary Function Test (PFT) to check the condition of your lungs?
- Do you smoke now? Did you smoke in the past?
- What medications are you taking for your disease?
Common medications for COPD include: Bronchodilators, inhaled and oral steroids, Theophylline, and antibiotics. All of these medications could be insurable depending on the severity of your COPD.
Make sure to include as much information as possible about your COPD on your application. If life insurance underwriters feel like your application is missing information or doesn’t clearly explain your condition, there’s a good chance your policy will be rejected or receive a bad rating.
Life Insurance Quotes with COPD
When you have COPD, life insurance companies will want to know the severity of your condition. Typically, they do this by giving you a PFT to test your FEV1% (Forced Expiratory Volume per second). A healthy person has a FEV1% between 80 and 120% whereas someone with COPD is below 80%. The further below 80% you are, the more severe your COPD is.
They will also consider your overall health and will be especially concerned about whether you smoke, considering this is a lung disease. While every insurance company has slightly different standards, here are general underwriting guidelines for COPD to give you an idea about what rating to expect.
- Preferred Plus: Impossible for someone with COPD. The health impact of this disease plus its risk of future lung problems is just too great.
- Preferred: Also generally impossible for someone with COPD. This disease is just too serious, especially since it’s a chronic condition.
- Standard: Best possible rating for someone with mild COPD, so an FEV1% very close to 80%. This is someone that only has a mild, chronic cough and only has minor shortages of breath after exercise. Applicant should also not be smoking and have no other health issues.
- Table Rating (substandard): Most applicants with COPD. Your table rating depends on the severity of COPD, whether you have any other lung complications, how often you need to use inhalers and other treatments for your COPD, and on whether you have any other health problems.
- Declines: Applicants with extremely severe COPD, usually a FEV1% below 40%. In addition, applicants that continue to smoke could also be rejected as this increases the chance of more problems. Lastly, applicants with other serious health problems like heart disease on top of their COPD.
COPD Insurance Case Studies
When you have COPD, your odds of a fair life insurance rate go up significantly with a smart application. Here are a few real life case studies that show the difference your application can make.
Case Study: Male, 57 y/o, diagnosed with COPD at 54, former smoker but quit after diagnosis, using an inhaler occasionally
This applicant used to be a fairly heavy smoker and this caused his COPD. After his diagnosis, the applicant tried to buy life insurance right away and was denied because tobacco still showed up in his blood stream. The applicant decided to quit smoking immediately after
We recommended this applicant take another PFT to see whether quitting smoking made an impact. His COPD appeared less severe than when he first appeared so we recommended he reapply with his new PFT results. Since it had been several years since he last smoked, the applicant did not test positive for smoking this time around. As a result, he received substandard level-2 policy. This was more expensive than a regular policy but not a bad rating for someone with COPD.
Case Study #2: Female, 50 y/o, former smoker, diagnosed with COPD at 47, very mild case, applicant otherwise in perfect health
Besides smoking, this applicant was in perfect health. However, her smoking led to a mild case of COPD which scared her into quitting right away. When she applied for insurance, she would only qualify for rated polices. We thought she could do better.
We recommended she see her doctor for a full checkup and to ask for a letter vouching for her good health. She asked that the doctor also mention that her smoking had not caused any other health problems and she looked in good shape now that she quit. With this extra information, she was able to qualify for a standard rating.
Getting life insurance with COPD can get challenging, but it’s very doable. For the best chance of success, it helps to work with someone that understands this market like our company. We specialize in finding life insurance for people with COPD.
We can help you with your application and match you up with the best insurance companies for your situation. Call or fill out our online application form for more information and free insurance rate quotes.