UPDATED: Mar 26, 2020
We strive to help you make confident insurance decisions. Comparison shopping should be easy. We partner with top insurance providers. This doesn't influence our content. Our opinions are our own.
Asthma is a disorder that causes the airways of the lungs to swell and narrow, leading to wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and coughing. Asthma is caused by inflammation in the airways. When an asthma attack occurs, the muscles surrounding the airways become tight and the lining of the air passages swells. This reduces the amount of air that can pass by. In sensitive people, asthma symptoms can be triggered by breathing in allergy-causing substances (called allergens or triggers).
Most people with asthma have attacks separated by symptom-free periods. Some people have long-term shortness of breath with episodes of increased shortness of breath. Either wheezing or a cough may be the main symptom. Asthma attacks can last for minutes to days, and can become dangerous if the airflow is severely restricted. If you have been diagnosed or are currently being treated for asthma, there is a good chance that you will pay a slightly higher rate for life insurance.
But this doesn’t mean you can’t get approved at the best rating class with the lowest premium possible. How? You first need to understand how life insurance companies handle applicants with heart murmurs. What do they look for? How can you prepare? What is the likely outcome?
As of 2016, the following numbers show the significance of a:
- Asthma affects more than 24 million adults in the United States
- Over 6 million U.S. children have been diagnosed with asthma.
- Asthma causes nearly 1.8 million emergency room visits, over 450,000 hospitalizations, and about 3,600 deaths each year.
The Impact on Your Life Insurance Policy
When you apply for a life insurance policy, you will have to take a medical exam. During this exam, you will be asked questions about your family history, medical history, lifestyle, and smoking and alcohol usage. The person administering the exam will measure your height, weight, pulse and blood pressure.
What Life Insurance Companies Look For
Life insurance companies are concerned that those who have asthma are taking the proper precautions to keep it under control. A medical history of regular physician checkups is important to the company.
The life insurance company will be looking specifically at:
- When you were diagnosed
- What your diagnosis was
- What steps you have taken since your diagnosis
- The degree of control as illustrated by medical records, height/weight and lab test results
- Any other medical conditions present
- Whether you are a tobacco user
How to Prepare for Your Term Life Insurance Application
There are important measures you can take to prepare yourself before applying for term life insurance. Doing so will help your chances of getting approved at the best rating class possible. Use the following tips to put yourself in the best position to win:
- Visit your doctor as often as recommended.
- Follow your doctor’s advice regarding medication and treatment.
- Make sure your medical records are updated regularly. This is crucial! The life insurance company will rate your application poorly if it is unable to determine your level of control.
- Get any other complications under control. For example, if you also have high blood pressure, make sure it is being treated as well!
What our Experience Has Shown
We’ve helped thousands of people apply for term life insurance and many of those people had asthma. Here are a few things we’ve learned:
- Premiums are generally lower for those who diet and exercise or keep their blood pressure down with medication
- Premiums are generally higher for those who do not follow up with a doctor regularly.
- We recommend getting a policy in force first at a premium rate you can afford. You can then focus on improving the rating class through better control or lab results.
Real Examples from Real Customers
Grace applied for term life insurance when she was 55 years old.
- Diagnosed with asthma at age 14
- Stable mild disease
- No other additional lung conditions found
- Visits doctor regularly
- Non smoker
- Outcome: Approved at a Preferred rating class
- Premium: $ 256 annually
Not So Good Outcome:
Alexis applied for term life insurance when she was 51 years old.
- Diagnosed with asthma at age 23
- Has frequent attacks
- Uses an oral steroid to control disease
- No other additional lung conditions found
- Non Smoker
- Outcome: Approved at a Standard
- Premium: $304 annually
Tony applied for term life insurance when he was 51 years old.
- Diagnosed with asthma at age 11
- Has severe asthma
- Unstable control of disease
- Uses home oxygen routinely
- Frequent hospitalizations
- Outcome: Declined
You can see Grace had the best outcome, because her asthma is stable, mild and easily treated. Receiving regular follow up appointments with her doctor also helped. Alexis’s asthma is more severe, and although she had no other medical conditions and good follow up results, the use of an oral steroid gave her a slightly worse prognosis. Finally, Tony had the poorest outcome. His asthma is the most severe and his condition is not stable. This along with his frequent use of oxygen and hospital visits resulted in the decline of his application.
What This All Means to You
The good news about applying for term life insurance when you have asthma is — yes, you can qualify for coverage! The bad news is the approval and rating class can be very unpredictable and subjective. However, if you follow the advice we’ve provided and, more importantly, discuss your situation with your life insurance agent or broker, you can have a positive outcome.
And remember, if you are not pleased with the offer you receive, you can always try with another company or put the policy in force and work on improving the rating class through better control and lab results.