Hearing impairment and deafness affect 37.5 million Americans. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) reports that as many as 15% of American adults over age 18 have some form of hearing impairment. Getting life insurance with a hearing impairment or deafness will entirely depend on the cause of the hearing loss.
Hearing impairment and deafness are both protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Life insurance companies cannot discriminate (charge more) based on hearing impairment alone.
What they can do is charge more for conditions that affect someone’s life expectancy that also happen to cause hearing loss. It may seem like cheating, but legally, it’s permitted.
Some causes of hearing loss have absolutely no effect on life insurance rates. Others are individually considered by underwriters.
Federal and State Laws Protect Anyone with a Hearing Impairment
The first major point to understand is that Federal law protects people with a hearing impairment from discrimination. This includes life insurance companies too.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is the specific law covering hearing impairment with regards to things like life insurance. It’s the primary federal law that guarantees these protections.
Many states also have additional laws protecting hearing impairment and deafness.
The manner in which life insurance companies rate you will depend on the underlying cause of the hearing impairment, not any deafness itself.
There are two scenarios for life insurance with hearing impairment. First, the underlying cause has no effect on lifespan. Second, the underlying cause does affect your expected lifespan.
How to Save Money on Life Insurance with Hearing Impairment or Deafness
There are several ways anyone with any level of hearing loss can save money on life insurance. These will help you even if the reason you have hearing loss is not one of the conditions that affects life insurance rates.
Determine How Much You Need
There is an effortless way to do this. Don’t guess or take X times your income. You don’t have to sit down with a pencil and paper to calculate it either.
Use a life insurance needs calculator. It breaks down everything into manageable categories. That way you can quickly figure out how much life insurance you need down to the dollar.
When you know precisely how much life insurance you need, you have the peace of mind that your family will have the right amount of coverage. You also won’t spend a penny more than necessary or end up over-insured.
Consult an Independent Life Insurance Agent
There are two types of life insurance agents in the U.S., captive agents and independent agents.
Captive agents work for the life insurance company. They usually have the company’s name over their office door. This is not a bad thing in itself, but one company means one set of underwriting guidelines. If they charge more for your medical condition, then you’re out of luck.
Independent agents have dozens of companies to choose from for their clients. They work for the people that come into their office, not the insurance companies. For you, this means when you walk into their office they can immediately throw out all the companies who will charge you more for any medical conditions you have. Saving you not only money but time as well.
Term is Cheaper Than Permanent Life Insurance
Because term life insurance expires, it’s much less expensive than permanent life insurance. But the right type of policy for you will depend on what you are looking to cover for life insurance.
Permanent life insurance lasts your whole life. It can be up to 10x as expensive as the same death benefit for term insurance. It’s best purposes can be anything to providing for a spouse, leaving money for your adult children, or paying off any final expenses you may leave behind.
Term insurance is better for situations with an end date. Covering your income until you retire or providing for children until they reach adulthood are two typical examples. If you think you might need longer coverage than your term, get a policy with conversion or renewal options.
Take the Life Insurance Medical Exam
The life insurance health examination take a little time out of your week. It can also involve two to six weeks of preparation if you really want to ace the life insurance medical exam. Things (like focusing on proper hydration and eating the right amount of leafy green vegetables) can help give your bloodwork a little boost, potentially increasing your health class.
Policies requiring the medical exam also cost the less. The more a life insurance company knows about you, the less they can charge. Your blood and urine samples don’t lie or forget to give pertinent information.
No exam policies are more convenient, but they also cost a little more.
Layer Policies Instead of Purchasing One Big Policy
Layering policies involves taking out multiple policies, each tailored to cover a specific need. This will cost less than taking out one large policy to cover every need.
For example, you might want to leave some money for your spouse and adult children. This would involve however much you choose to bequeath in a permanent life insurance policy. If you also want to cover your mortgage, a term policy for the length of the mortgage would make the most sense. A permanent and a term policy together will cost less than one sizeable permanent policy covering both.
If you take this approach, most companies will let you use your life insurance medical exam for subsequent policies as long as you completed it within the last six months.
Cause of Hearing Impairment or Deafness
There are a variety of ways a person can come to experience hearing loss or deafness. They break down into two categories:
- Causes that impact life insurance rates
- Causes that have no impact on life insurance rates
It all boils down to expected lifespan. That’s why men pay more than women for life insurance. Women tend to live longer. If there is no reason to expect your lifespan will be shorter than average as a result of certain conditions, there is no valid reason to charge more for it.
Hearing Loss of Deafness Conditions Which Have No Impact on Life Insurance
The following conditions can result in hearing loss. These have no effect on lifespan and subsequently will not affect your life insurance rates.
Sensorineural Hearing Impairment - Hearing loss which results from damage to the inner ear. This damage tends to be permanent. It most often occurs from either aging or extensive exposure to loud noise.
Conductive Hearing Impairment - This happens when sound waves are no longer correctly sent from the outer ear to either the eardrum or the middle ear. It most frequently occurs from abnormal growth of inner ear bones. The resulting hearing loss is often treatable.
Mixed Hearing Impairment - A combination of the two conditions above.
Otosclerosis Hearing Impairment - a disease of the middle ear which has no impact on lifespan.
Tinnitus Hearing Impairment - Tinnitus occurs from the loss of tiny sensory hair cells located in the inner ear. This can happen naturally or as a result of exposure to loud noise. It also occasionally is a result of Meniere’s Disease.
Ruptured Eardrum Hearing Impairment - Infection of ear results in the most common cause of a ruptured eardrum. It can also happen as a result of a sudden, loud blast of noise or physical trauma.
Presbycusis Hearing Impairment - A slow, gradual sensorineural loss of hearing resulting from the aging process.
Ototoxic Medication Hearing Impairment - There are over 200 ototoxic medications on the market today that list hearing loss as a potential side effect.
Acoustic Neuroma Hearing Impairment - Hearing loss occurring from a non-cancerous tumor on the vestibular or cochlear nerves.
Hearing Loss or Deafness Conditions Which Will Likely Affect Your Life Insurance Rates
There are several medical conditions which will affect your life insurance rates that also cause hearing loss or deafness. These include the following:
Physical Head Trauma - Caused by any number of factors, such as a work-related injury or auto accident.
Usher Syndrome - A progressive genetic disorder frequently causing both hearing and vision loss.
Alport Syndrome - A genetic conditions typically characterized by kidney disease.
Pendred Syndrome - Hearing impairment resulting from a thyroid condition known as a goiter.
Vestibular Schwannoma - A benign intracranial tumor which affects the myelin sheath of the brain.
Acoustic Neuroma or Tumor - A non-cancerous tumor which grows slowly on the vestibular nerve.
Underlying Reasons for Taking Some Ototoxic Medications - We linked a list of ototoxic medications in the above section of conditions that don’t affect life insurance rates. It’s not the medication itself that causes the rating. It’s why you are taking it. Some ototoxic medicines like aspirin will not affect your life insurance ratings. Others, like several chemotherapy treatments, will because of the cancer.
Underwriting for Life Insurance with Hearing Impairment or Deafness
In most instances, hearing loss or deafness has no impact on your life expectancy. Excepting the conditions in the section above.
Since that is the case most of the time, underwriters will evaluate you in the same manner as a person with no hearing impairment. Whether you are looking for term life insurance, permanent life insurance, or a no-exam policy, the rating factors will be the same.
The main factors that play into what health class a person is assigned are the following:
- Your age
- Biological sex
- Height to weight ratio (BMI)
- Blood pressure
- Cholesterol level
- Driving record
- Drug/alcohol use
- Medical history
If you are in average health, you will probably qualify for standard rates. If you are in good health, you might qualify for preferred. You can use the Instant Quotes tool on the left (top on mobile) to see what your rates could look like.
Best Type of Life Insurance with Hearing Impairment or Deafness
The life insurance that’s best for your will depend on why you are looking into life insurance and your budget.
The first step is writing down your reason for buying life insurance. If you have multiple purposes, then make a list. The time constraints on these reasons will help you determine which type of policy offers the best financial security for your family.
Term Life Insurance for the Hearing Impaired
Without a doubt, term life insurance with a medical exam is the most affordable life insurance available.
Term life insurance is the basic form of life insurance. It covers death benefits only. It covers periods of time, called terms. These terms can range anywhere from 10 to 30 years, usually in 5-year increments. However, as you age, you start to lose some of the longer term lengths.
Keep in mind that life insurance becomes more expensive as you age. Choose your term carefully to avoid needing to renew a policy at a much higher rate.
Most term policies come with a conversion feature. A conversion allows you to convert your term policy to a permanent policy without needing to go through underwriting a second time.
Permanent Life Insurance for the Hearing Impaired
Permanent policies are more suitable for families with higher incomes who expect to leave an estate behind when they pass away.
These policies last your lifetime.
Permanent life insurance is an umbrella term for several different types of life-long insurance including whole life, universal life, and indexed universal life.
They can cost as much as 10 times what you might pay for a term life insurance policy. They also offer more features. But the main difference is that permanent policies include a cash value accumulation portion.
Part of your premium each month goes into the cash value accumulation portion. It grows tax-deferred over time. You can borrow against the cash value for any reason. Interest rates are typically lower than what you would find at most banking institutions.
No-Exam Life Insurance for the Hearing Impaired
Even with mild hearing impairment to complete deafness, you can still get a life insurance policy that doesn’t require a medical exam. For the most part, these are term policies. The benefits are typically limited in most cases to under $250,000, in some you can get go as high as $500,000 benefits on a no-exam policy.
Since you don’t have to wait for the exam and then wait for the results, the life insurance company doesn't need as much time to issue your policy. They are faster and easier than traditional life insurance.
The other drawback is they cost a little more than policies not requiring medical exams. Even though it's a no exam policy, they still ask health questions on the application.
Finding Life Insurance with a Pre-existing Medical Condition Causing Hearing Impairment or Deafness
We mentioned above that there are pre-existing medical conditions that will cause a life insurance company to charge additional premiums. Some pre-existing conditions can even cause declines for traditional life insurance.
There are situations where your hearing impairment results from an underlying medical condition. Life insurance underwriters view these differently and rate on the condition, not your hearing impairment.
The best thing you can do if you have one of the conditions we listed above is to talk to an independent life insurance agent about your options.
An independent agent can look at the underwriting guidelines for each life insurance company they work with. That means they can essentially pre-screen your application with dozens of companies narrowing down your options to the handful who charge the least for your condition. This allows you to get the best possible rate and avoid the possibility of a decline or postponement.
Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance Policies
There is an alternative to traditional life insurance policies that insurance companies specifically design for life-threatening medical conditions. The industry called this type of policy guaranteed issue life insurance.
Guaranteed issue policies do not require a medical exam. Most companies don’t include any health questions on their applications.
The catch is that the death benefits on guaranteed issue policies rarely exceeds $25,000. Most policies also have a two-year waiting period. This means that the person this policy covers must survive for two years after they took out the policy before their beneficiaries receive the full benefits.
The person this insurance covers passes away before that waiting period is complete, the beneficiaries will only receive either 110% of the premiums paid or a percent of the death benefits. Usually, the percentages range between 60% and 80% so read your contract carefully.
These policies are for people who are seriously ill. If you have a hearing impairment from a condition that doesn't affect your lifespan, stick with traditional life insurance.
Conclusions on Life Insurance for Hearing Impairment
Finding life insurance with hearing impairment or deafness depends on the reason for your hearing loss. Some causes have zero effect on life insurance rates, and you can proceed as usual.
However, if your hearing loss stems from a more serious medical condition, you may have to do extra research to find the companies who will treat you well. That’s where we can help.
How Abrams Insurance Solutions Can Help
As a team of independent life insurance agents, we specialize in helping people with pre-existing medical conditions find the right insurance company for them. One that will offer fair rates which won’t empty your wallet.
Our experience with the underwriting guidelines of each of the 70+ top-rated companies we work with provides our clients with the best chances of finding a policy which will both provide the coverage their family needs at a rate they can afford.
Give us a call today at 858-703-6178 to see which companies will offer you the best rates.