Life Insurance for People With Down Syndrome

Securing traditional life insurance for people with Down syndrome is a challenge. Parents should consider purchasing a whole term policy for their child with down syndrome when they are still young. Alternatively, people with mild Down syndrome can qualify for group life insurance through a full-time employer, or purchase guaranteed issue life insurance. Be cautious, as some life insurance policies can impact your ability to qualify for necessary public assistance programs. Compare quotes to get the best life insurance rates for people with Down syndrome.

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Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health in...

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Benjamin Carr was a licensed insurance agent in Georgia and has two years' experience in life, health, property and casualty coverage. He has worked with State Farm and other risk management firms. He is also a strategic writer and editor with a background in branding, marketing, and quality assurance. He has been in military newsrooms — literally on the frontline of journalism.

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Reviewed by Benji Carr
Former Licensed Life Insurance Agent Benji Carr

UPDATED: Jul 19, 2021

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Quick Facts

  • To get the most affordable life insurance for people with Down syndrome, parents should purchase a policy for their child when they are still young.
  • People with mild Down syndrome can get group life insurance from an employer if they work full time.
  • Parents of children with Down syndrome should also take out a life insurance policy on themselves and use a special needs trust as the beneficiary.
  • Be sure that a life insurance policy for a person with Down syndrome does not impact their ability to qualify for government or public assistance programs.

Over 250,000 Americans live with Down syndrome, a common genetic disorder that can cause developmental or cognitive delays. Securing life insurance for people with Down syndrome can be a challenge, but it is not impossible.

How much life insurance do you need as an adult living with down syndrome, and what is the best way to get approved for an affordable policy? Whether you have Down syndrome and live independently or you are a parent or caretaker of a person with Down syndrome, our guide will help you better understand how to get approved for a life insurance policy.

If you or your child have Down syndrome, you can compare life insurance quotes for people with Down syndrome by entering your ZIP code into our free online tool above.

Can you get life insurance when you have Down syndrome?

Securing life insurance for someone with Down syndrome, a pre-existing condition, is very different than for a person without a pre-existing condition. The insurance company will analyze medical records to determine if the person with Down syndrome is insurable.

When you apply for a life insurance policy, the insurer performs a health assessment and looks for pre-existing conditions. They then determine if you are able to care for yourself independently or if you require a care-taker. Lastly, they will evaluate your life expectancy.

After all of this information has been taken into account, your insurer will place you into a specific category based on your risk. Super Preferred is the best tier and receives the lowest life insurance rates. Standard and substandard ratings are the lowest tiers, and people in this category will receive much higher premiums.

Unfortunately, having Down syndrome puts you at a higher risk. According to the National Association for Down Syndrome, the average life expectancy for a person with Down syndrome is 60 years, which is shorter than the national average of 78 years.

Some people with Down syndrome also experience other medical conditions, like blood disorders, which factor into the underwriting process. Finally, many Down syndrome patients are unable to function independently, and cannot fully understand or enter into an insurance contract.

Many insurers are aware of these risks and will deny people with Down syndrome. Securing a traditionally underwritten policy will be extremely difficult.

For low or mild forms of Down syndrome where you are capable of entering into a contract, life insurance terms will be available. You should be able to get approved for guaranteed issue life insurance coverage.

However, you can still expect your rates to be higher than average. Some insurers will automatically place people with pre-existing conditions into a specific tier that increases rates by around 25 percent. If you are an adult living with a mild case of Down syndrome, you may be placed into this category.

The table below details standard rates for a $100,000 whole life insurance policy from State Farm and compares them with the substandard rates adults with Down syndrome are most likely to pay.

Average Monthly Life Insurance Rates for People with Down Syndrome: Standard Rates versus Substandard Rates
AgeStandard RatesSubstandard Rates (25% increase)
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Life insurance options are available for high-functioning adults with Down syndrome at a substandard rate of 25 percent more than the preferred rate.

The younger you or your loved one with Down syndrome are, the lower those rates will be.

Keep in mind that these rates are for a $100,000 whole term life insurance policy from State Farm. The company you choose, the policy limits you require, and your individual medical information will heavily impact your personal rates.

The best way to get life insurance for someone living with Down syndrome is by taking out a whole guaranteed issue life insurance policy, or for a parent to enroll the potential client in a life insurance policy as a child, especially if the Down syndrome is severe.

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Life Insurance Policy Options for People with Down Syndrome

Now that we’ve discussed rates for life insurance for people with Down syndrome, let’s explore the different life insurance policy options that people with Down syndrome are usually able to qualify for. This includes group life insurance options provided by an employer, and guaranteed issue life insurance policies.

Be careful if you or your loved one have Down syndrome and rely on public assistance programs, like Medicaid.

Typically, owning more than $2,000 in assets disqualifies you from public assistance programs. If you have a mild case of Down syndrome and are the named owner of the life insurance policy, that might be viewed as a cash asset and may disqualify you from receiving your other benefits.

Group Life Insurance for People with Down Syndrome

If you have mild Down syndrome symptoms and are employed full-time, meaning 30 or more hours per week, then you may be able to get group life insurance through your employer. Group life insurance is when a single policy covers a group of people and is usually offered as an employment benefit.

Term insurance is the most common policy-type for group life insurance. Term life insurance lasts a set number of years, and a death benefit will only be paid out if the insured passes away within the term length of the policy.

However, the problem with employer-provided life insurance is that group life insurance policies are only available for people with Down syndrome who are capable of signing legal documents and understand what they sign. You cannot sign up for your loved one on their behalf. If they cannot sign or understand documents, they are ineligible for group life insurance.

Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance for People with Down Syndrome

Another policy option to consider is guaranteed issue life insurance. Guaranteed issue life insurance is a whole policy, not a term policy, which means it lasts the duration of the insured’s life. The death benefit is small, usually no more than $25,000. There are often no associated health questions, only administrative questions to answer.

Guaranteed term life insurance premiums and whole life insurance premiums stay the same for the duration of the policy, meaning the rates will not increase. Non-guaranteed life insurance policy rates, on the other hand, are subject to change.

You can simply apply for guaranteed issue life insurance, pay the initial premium, and then you will be covered. The $25,000 is enough to use for burial and funeral needs, as well as other final expenses.

If there is a waiting period associated with your policy and the insured passes within that time-frame, you’ll receive all of your money back, plus interest.

This type of coverage is available for both mild Down syndrome cases and more severe Down syndrome cases. Once again,  be careful with this type of policy if you rely on public assistance programs.

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How do parents buy life insurance for a child with Down syndrome?

Another way to secure life insurance for a loved one with Down syndrome is by insuring them when they are still a child. This is also the best way to insure someone with severe Down syndrome.

Because the client is still a child, you will not have to worry about the power of attorney or other guardianship documentation. Not all insurance providers allow the guardian with the power of attorney to own the policy. Because the insured is still a child, the premiums will be lower and the policy will last throughout their adult life.

Remember, people with Down syndrome often have other medical conditions as well, which can cause life insurance premiums to be higher, even if you insure your loved one as a child. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 75 percent of people with Down syndrome also experience sleep apnea, which insurers consider to be a high-risk pre-existing condition.

Always shop around and compare policy rates from multiple companies to ensure you’re getting the best coverage for the right price. If you choose this route, you may want to work directly with an experienced agent who specializes in high-risk life insurance.

We recommend taking out a whole term policy, or else you risk the term ending and not being able to renew coverage for the same affordable rate, if at all. After you provide the requested medical information to the insurance company, an underwriter will confirm the details are accurate and might request more medical records.

After all the necessary information has been analyzed, you will either be approved for the policy for your child with the requested death benefit, granted a lower policy amount, or denied coverage.

If the policy is approved, the trusted parent or guardian should be named as the beneficiary of the policy.

Why Parents of Children with Down Syndrome Need Life Insurance

Many parents think about getting a life insurance policy for their son or daughter with Down syndrome, but who will take care of your child if something happens to you? If you are the parent of a child with Down syndrome, it is vital that you take out a life insurance policy that will appropriately benefit your son or daughter in the event that you pass.

The best way to do this is by setting up your life insurance policy so the beneficiary is a trust for your child. This special needs trust will take care of your child after you are gone, and you can dictate exactly how the death benefit should be used to promote their ongoing care.

The following video further explains how parents of children with Down syndrome can set up a special needs trust.

To reiterate, do not put your child as the named beneficiary or you risk disqualifying them from receiving government and public assistance benefits. Anyone who receives a gift or inheritance of over $2,000 loses eligibility.

You should consider working with an experienced special needs attorney to properly set up a life insurance policy in this way.

You may also be able to add your child to a term life insurance policy you take out for yourself as a term rider. Many insurers allow you to add children as term riders without needing to answer any medical questions. However, this must be done at the time you are filling out the application.

Individuals with mild Down syndrome symptoms will be able to find group life insurance options as an employment benefit or through a guaranteed issue life insurance policy. For more severe Down syndrome cases, insuring your loved one when they are still very young is the most affordable way to get the proper coverage. Lastly, be sure the caretaker of the person with Down syndrome also has an appropriate life insurance policy.

Are you ready to buy life insurance for people with Down syndrome? If you or your loved one has Down syndrome, enter your five-digit ZIP code into our free quote tool below to find affordable life insurance options that will properly benefit the whole family.

Which life insurance company for people with Down syndrome is for you? Find out now.

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