Buying life insurance with Addison's disease can be a challenge for 2 reasons. The first reason is Addison's is a rare disease. Rare conditions are more difficult to insure because underwriters don't have a firm understanding of what they do to someone's life expectancy. There is less historical data available on which to base rates.
The second reason is that Addison's can impact life expectancy. While the body is fighting off an unrelated infection, the lack of cortisol can turn a mild infection into something life-threatening.
Between these two complications, many life insurance companies don't want to take the risk of insuring a medical condition without a heap of data to back up their decisions. In short, most insurance companies will decline someone with Addison's.
Luckily, an enormous number of insurance companies operate in the United States. That means there are a few companies that will insure someone with Addison's disease.
How to Save Money on Life Insurance with Addison's Disease
There are a handful of ways to save money on top of getting approved with Addison's or an adrenal deficiency. Some of them involve more effort than calling up the most recent insurance company you saw a commercial for, but the results will make your wallet happy.
Get Quotes from an Independent Agent
Independent insurance agents are one of two classifications of people who can get you insurance.
It's important to get quotes from an independent agent because they can work with multiple companies. Multiple companies mean different underwriting guidelines and attitudes towards insuring someone with Addison's. Having access to multiple companies means we can shop many different companies to find you the best deal on your life insurance.
The other classification is a captive insurance agent. They are contractually bound only to sell the products from one insurance company. One insurance company means one set of underwriting guidelines. If the one insurance doesn't approve someone with Addison's, the captive agent can't help you.
Whatever company you choose to apply with will have pre-established guidelines for what to charge someone with varying severity. So your best bet to save money is to find an agent who has worked with folks with Addison's before. Then you can take advantage of their experience in narrowing down companies who will give you the best rates.
Use a Life Insurance Needs Calculator
This is the big one for every person looking at life insurance. Know how much life insurance you need right down to the dollar.
A life insurance needs calculator can take into account everything you may want your life insurance to cover.
Instead of the old way where you multiply your income by 5 or 7, you can tell your agent down to the dollar how much you want. (Someone people even say 20 times your annual salary. That's crazy without solid reasoning!)
By knowing exactly how much you need, you will never be oversold. You will also know that the insurance you buy will serve its function. Your family won't be left hanging with an inadequate check.
Renew a Policy (If You Have One)
If you already have a term life insurance policy, renewing it is a good idea. Call your insurance agent and see if there is a renewability or conversion option.
Most life insurance companies with renewal options will only look at your current age and won't make you go through underwriting again. If you can do a simple renew, then they have no reason to change your health class.
Term is Cheaper than Permanent Life Insurance
Term life insurance will save you money if that is your primary concern. It's not right for all situations.
When you start shopping, make a list of specific reasons why you are buying life insurance. Is it to pay off the mortgage? Is it to make sure your family can cover any burial costs? What about making sure your kids can go to college?
The answers to the above questions (plus any other reasons) will determine whether term or permanent insurance is best for you.
How does Addison's Disease Affect Life Insurance?
Addison's disease occurs when the adrenal gland doesn't produce enough cortisol. There can also be an aldosterone deficiency in some people.
Cortisol regulates how the body responds to stress. It also helps regulate the body control the following functions.
- Body's use of carbohydrates
- Use of proteins
- Use of fats
- Blood pressure
- Cardiovascular circulation
Aldosterone helps regulate similar functions in addition to a few other things.
- Blood volume
- Blood pressure
- Salt levels
- Water levels
Because the decreased hormone output can mess with so many different parts of the body's internal balance, life insurance companies tend to get a little nervous.
The variety of causes for adrenal insufficiency also tend to get the insurance companies worried. They will want to know the reason.
Most of the time an autoimmune disease causes the adrenal insufficiency which gets diagnosed as Addison's disease. Other causes include the following.
- Several types of fungal infections
- Secondary Adrenal Insufficiency - which the adrenal glands are affected by the pituitary gland or hypothalamus. These glands can turn off (or on) the production of adrenal gland hormones
- Cancer cells spreading to the adrenal gland
- Bacterial infections
- Prolonged abuse of steroid hormones
- Abuse of steroid hormones
- Pituitary tumors
- Radiation damage to the pituitary gland
Underwriting Factors for Buying Life Insurance with Addison's
Addison's disease is not the only factor that an underwriter will use to determine your health class. They will examine your overall health, family history, whether you smoke, height, and weight.
However, the primary factor will be the severity of the Addison's diagnosis. The secondary consideration is the cause.
One scenario might be a bacterial infection causes the adrenal deficiency and you are keeping it under control with hormones. The underwriter will offer a much better health class than the next scenario. You might even get by without a table rating.
A worse scenario would be that a cancer has spread to the adrenal glands which caused the Addison's. Even if the hormones are under control with regular medication, the underwriter will consider a table rating.
Questions the Underwriter Will Ask
The underwriter at any life insurance company requires the following information before making a decision on your life insurance application.
The best way to find the best company for your particular set of circumstances is to give all of this information to your insurance agent. If you do this before they give you quotes, an independent agent can use their experience to only look at companies who rate Addison's favorably.
Your life insurance agent can also prescreen this information and get your health class ahead of time. It's an anonymous process that saves you time and frustration. There is nothing worse in the life insurance process than getting an offer back at a higher rate than expected.
In short, prepare the following information:
- Date of diagnosis
- Cause for the adrenal insufficiency
- Recurrent episodes of the conditions within the past 5 years
- Dates of any/all hospitalizations
- All current medications (i.e., hydrocortisone, fludrocortisone acetate (Florinef), or dexamethasone)
- Whether or not you smoke
- Any other health conditions
- Height & weight
Possible Health Classes for Addison's
If you have Addison's disease, the best health class you can get is Standard/Regular. You can reasonably expect a Standard rating with Addison's-friendly companies if it's mild and under control. Also, the cause must be something that is not a result of cancer.
If your Addison's is more severe than mild or have other health concerns, expect a table rating.
For severe or uncontrolled forms of Addison's, most traditional insurance companies will decline or postpone the application. This is also true for adrenal insufficiency caused by cancer.
If you're worried an underwriter might decline your application, talk to an expert at Abrams Insurance at 858-703-6178. We can find out what will work best for you.
There are other life insurance options for severe forms of Addison's disease. You can look at no-exam policies, or even guaranteed issue life insurance.
Term Life Insurance with Addison's Disease
Term life is the basic form of life insurance. It's the most simple. It is also the least expensive.
Term life insurance is straightforward because it only pays death benefits. That's it. It doesn't have any of the extra features that come with permanent policies. Coverage is for a set period of time called a term. Usually, terms are set for 10, 15, 20, or 30 years.
When the term ends, the contract is over. However, many companies include a conversion feature. This lets you convert a term that is coming to an end into a permanent policy. The new rates for the conversion are based only on your age. They do not ask for another medical exam, and any changes in your health are irrelevant.
Permanent Life Insurance with Addison's Disease
Permanent policies last for your whole lifetime. (Or until you stop paying the premiums.) Permanent life insurance is a blanket term covering several types of life-long policies. You've probably heard of whole life insurance or universal life insurance.
Permanent policies have extra features on top of the death benefit. The most important part is the cash value accumulation portion. This value builds up over time. You can then borrow that money for any purpose you chose. You don't need a reason. The death benefit is your collateral. Any amount of you have left to repay gets deducted from your death benefits.
These policies are more expensive than term life insurance because of both the lifetime coverage and the cash value accumulation.
Guaranteed Universal Life Policy with Addison's Disease
This is a unique style of policy. It's cheaper than permanent policies but acts similarly. You can get permanent features added on to the guaranteed universal life (GUL) like the cash value accumulation.
A guaranteed universal life policy is like a term policy in that you select the age you want your coverage to end. Most people pick something much higher than the average age of death in the country. Common ages are 90, 95, and 100.
No-Exam Life Insurance for Addison's Disease
This type of life insurance works exactly how it sounds. It skips right over the medical exam.
It's also called simplified issue or no-medical life insurance.
While the insurance company doesn't require a medical exam, they do ask 6 or 8 medical questions.
Policy amounts are lower than most other life insurance companies. However, there are a few companies with high benefits.
The downside of no-exam policies is they are more expensive than traditional policies. Underwriters assume that if you don't want to take the medical exam, there is probably a medical reason. That coupled with years of data makes for higher rates.
Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance for People with Addison's
Guaranteed issue policies are for people who cannot get traditional life insurance. They guarantee coverage. It doesn't matter what your health looks like or what medical history you have.
The application process involves neither medical questions nor a medical exam. Your age is the only factor that determines your rates.
The way the insurance company doesn't go bankrupt is through the graded benefits. The company staggers the benefits (aka graded benefits) you qualify for based on how long you have held the policy.
The payout on a guaranteed issue life insurance policy might look something like this.
- 1st & 2nd Year - 110% of premiums returned for non-accidental death
- 3rd Year - Full benefits, regardless of cause
On that schedule, you would have to survive for two years from the policy issue date before your family sees 100% of the benefit. Keep in mind that accidental death will pay the full death benefit from day 1. It's only non-accidental deaths that have a 2 year waiting period.
Face coverage (aka death benefits) is also lower than traditional policies. Most companies won't offer more than $25,000 in benefits.
How Abrams Insurance Solutions Can Help
At Abrams, we are independent agents here to shop the market for you. With access to over 70 of the best life insurance companies in the business, we use our experience to narrow down the best options.
Addison's disease and other pre-existing medical conditions can make the life insurance process frustrating. We work to prevent that frustration by using our experience to shop the market and only present the companies who underwrite folks with Addison's at the best rates. You shouldn't have to fuss with finding the best company. That's our job.
The Bottom Line
We work for you, not the insurance company. As independent agents, we focus on helping people find the insurance that will financially secure their family through our experience with all the options available. Because we want only the best for our clients, we work with 70 top rated companies. Companies with a track record of financial stability.
Give us a call today at 858-703-6178 to see how we can help you. You can also use the Instant Quotes tool on the left to compare possible rates. Just remember to use the guidelines from the section on underwriting for Addison's disease.