How to Get Term Life Insurance With Epilepsy

How to Get Term Life Insurance With Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a brain disorder in which a person has repeated seizures or convulsions over time. Seizures are episodes of disturbed brain activity that cause changes in attention or behavior. A single seizure that does not happen again is not epilepsy. Epilepsy occurs when permanent changes in brain tissue cause the brain to be too excitable or jumpy. The brain sends out abnormal signals. This results in repeated, unpredictable seizures. Symptoms vary from person to person. Some people may have simple staring spells, while others have violent shaking and loss of alertness. The type of seizure depends on the part of the brain affected and cause of epilepsy. If you have been diagnosed or are currently being treated for epilepsy, there is a good chance that you will pay a slightly higher rate for life insurance.

Despite all of this, you can get approved for the best rating class with the lowest premium possible. How? You first need to understand how life insurance companies handle applicants with epilepsy. What do they look for? How can you prepare? What is the likely outcome?

Read on to find the answers and get started with your term life insurance application.

Types of Epilepsy

Many types of seizures can occur with epilepsy, including:

Petit Mal Seizure
A petit mal seizure is a staring spell called an absence seizure. It is a brief disturbance of brain function usually lasting less than 15 seconds due to abnormal electrical activity in the brain.

Grand Mal Seizure
A grand mal seizure also referred to as a generalized tonic-clonic seizure, is a seizure involving the entire body. The terms “seizure,” convulsion,” or “epilepsy” are most often associated with these generalized tonic-clonic seizures.

Simple Partial Seizure

Simple partial seizures are usually classified by the symptoms the person experiences. They can be either motor seizures, sensory seizures, autonomic seizures or physic seizures. During simple partial seizures, the person is fully awake, alert and able to interact during the event.

Complex Partial Seizure

During complex partial seizures, the person is usually awake but may be unaware of their surroundings. These seizures typically last 1-2 minutes and often come with a warning sign or aura.

Epilepsy Statistics

As of 2011, the following numbers show the significance of epilepsy:

  • About 2.7 million Americans have Epilepsy.
  • One in one hundred people will develop Epilepsy.
  • One in ten people will have a seizure in their lifetime.
  • Epilepsy is more common than Cerebral Palsy, Multiple Sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease combined.
  • This year another 200,000 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with epilepsy.

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 epilepsy 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
  • Type of seizure
  • Frequency of attacks
  • Date of late seizure
  • What steps you have taken since your diagnosis
  • The degree of control as illustrated by medical records, height/weight and lab test results
  • What type of treatment
  • 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 for 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 regularly updated. 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 epilepsy. Here are a few things we’ve learned:

  • Premiums are lower for those who diet and exercise or keep their blood pressure down with medication
  • Premiums are 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

Good Outcome:

Danielle applied for term life insurance when she was 55 years old.

  • Diagnosed with epilepsy at age 9
  • Diagnosed with petit mal epilepsy
  • Has not had an attack in over ten years
  • No other additional conditions found
  • Visits doctor regularly
  • Non smoker
  • Outcome: Approved at a Standard rating class
  • Premium: $365 annually

Not So Good Outcome:

Sarah applied for term life insurance when she was 51 years old.

  • Diagnosed with epilepsy at age 19
  • Diagnosed with grand mal epilepsy
  • Uses medication for epilepsy to control seizures
  • Has not had an attack in 4 years
  • No other additional conditions found
  • Non Smoker
  • Outcome: Approved at a Standard Table B
  • Premium: $ 622 annually

Poor Outcome

Natalia applied for term life insurance when she was 51 years old.

  • Diagnosed with epilepsy at age 50
  • Diagnosed with petit mal epilepsy
  • Experienced last attack within the year
  • Outcome: Declined until more time has passed to stabilize condition 

You can see Danielle had the best outcome because her seizures happen infrequently and are being successfully treated with medication. Receiving regular follow up appointments with her doctor also helped. Sarah’s epilepsy is more severe, and although she had no other medical conditions and good follow up results, her more recent seizures gave her a slightly worse prognosis. Finally, Natalia had the poorest outcome. Her epilepsy is the most severe and her condition is not stable. This along with her more recent diagnosis and frequent hospital visits resulted in the decline of her application until she can stabilize her condition.

What This All Means to You

The good news about applying for term life insurance when you have epilepsy 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.

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