Osteoporosis is the most common type of bone disease, and it poses a major health threat to 28 million Americans. An estimated 10 million Americans have osteoporosis, and the other 18 million have low bone mass, a condition known as osteopenia, which may lead to osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis affects men as well as women. However, one out of five American women over the age of 50 develop osteoporosis. Approximately half of all women over the age of 50 will suffer a fracture of the hip, wrist or vertebra (bones of the spine) because women have less bone tissue and lose bone more rapidly than men due to menopause. Small, thin-boned women, Caucasian and Asian women are at greatest risk for developing the disease. If you have been diagnosed or are currently being treated for osteoporosis, 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 for the best rating class with the lowest premium possible. How? You first need to understand how life insurance companies handle applicants with osteoporosis. 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.
As of 2011, the following numbers show the significance of osteoporosis:
- Osteoporosis is a major public health threat for 44 million Americans (68 percent are women).
- In the United States today, 10 million individuals already have osteoporosis, and 34 million more have low bone mass, placing them at increased risk for this disease. One in ten people will have a seizure in their lifetime.
- One out of every two women and one in four men over 50 will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in his or her lifetime.
- Osteoporosis is responsible for more than 1.5 million fractures annually, including 300,000 hip fractures, approximately 700,000 vertebral fractures, 250,000 wrist fractures, and more than 300,000 fractures at other sites.
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 osteoporosis 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
- 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 osteoporosis. 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
Sandra applied for term life insurance when she was 55 years old.
- Diagnosed with osteoporosis at age 49
- Sandra experiences minimal pain has no deformity and is not on a continuous treatment plan
- No other additional conditions found
- Visits doctor regularly
- Non smoker
- Outcome: Approved at a Standard rating class
- Premium: $ 145 monthly
Not So Good Outcome:
Sarah applied for term life insurance when she was 51 years old.
- Diagnosed with osteoporosis at age 47
- Sarah experiences moderate pain and is treated with frequent drug therapy
- No other additional conditions found
- Non Smoker
- Outcome: Standard Table 2
- Premium: $ 149.47 monthly
Annalisa applied for term life insurance when she was 55 years old.
- Diagnosed with osteoporosis at age 50
- Annalisa experiences severe pain, has serious restrictions in movement and is treated with continuous drug therapy
- Outcome: Declined
You can see Sandra had the best outcome because her case was mild and she experienced minimal pain. Receiving regular follow up appointments with her doctor also helped. Sarah’s osteoporosis is more severe, and although she had no other medical conditions and good follow up results, her continuous treatment gave her a higher premium. Finally, Annalisa had the poorest outcome. Her osteoporosis is severe, and her condition is not stable. This along with her movement restrictions and continuous treatment plan resulted in the decline of her application.
What This All Means to You
The good news about applying for term life insurance when you have osteoporosis 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.