UPDATED: Aug 14, 2020
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Being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (aka MS) can be daunting. Life insurance is an overwhelming topic. Many may wonder: Can I get life insurance with multiple sclerosis? What is term life insurance and is it right for me? What is the MS life expectancy? I have multiple sclerosis; is mortgage help available?
We’ll take you through information about applying to insurance policies and the steps you need to take to find appropriate life insurance, as well as how to get the best rates. Though negotiating life insurance with MS is challenging, it certainly can be possible. But luckily, we’re here to support you.
It might be helpful to use our FREE quote button at the top of this page to search for quotes if you’re looking for life insurance with multiple sclerosis in your area.
Top 10 Life Insurance Companies for People with Multiple Sclerosis
For reference, these are the top 10 providers for life insurance, according to the NAIC.
|1||Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co.|
|2||Lincoln National Corp.|
|3||New York Life Insurance Group|
|4||Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co.|
|5||Prudential Financial Inc.|
|6||John Hancock Life Insurance Co.|
|7||State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance|
We’d recommend considering coverage from some of these top-ranking companies first.
Sample Monthly Life Insurance Rates
To give you an idea of how much life insurance coverage might cost you, here is a look at the sample premiums for a non-smoker from those top companies. In fact, it may even be possible to get low rates starting at $30.40/month or $364.80/year with MS.
20-Year Term Life
|Policyholder Age||$100,000: Male||$100,000: Female||$250,000: Male||$250,000: Female||$500,000: Male||$500,000: Female|
However, if you have MS, there are additional factors that life insurers use to determine your rates that could result in costs significantly higher than these sample quotes, as we will discuss shortly.
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Shopping for Life Insurance With MS
If you’ve been diagnosed or are currently being treated for multiple sclerosis, there is a good chance that you’ll pay a slightly higher rate for life insurance. However, any life insurance is better than no life insurance.
Having MS 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 MS. 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.
Is it possible to get life insurance with MS?
The landscape for life insurance is changing. Getting affordable term rates with MS is challenging, but not impossible. You might also be wondering, does life insurance payout for MS? If for some reason you aren’t truthful during the initial setup of the policy, you would be placing your payout in jeopardy.
Ways to Make Obtaining Life Insurance With MS Easier
- Medications – Used more prevalently in treatment, medications are keeping patients in better and better control.
- Competitive rates – Insurance companies pay attention to how others are competing for customers, including those with MS and other chronic diseases.
- Mortality rates for people with MS have improved dramatically over the past few generations.
- Ongoing, preventive care is enhancing the outlook for MS patients.
Make sure you’re taking your medications and visiting your doctor when you need to.
The Impact of MS on Your Life Insurance Policy
When you apply for a life insurance policy, you’ll have to take an MS life insurance exam. This might make those with a preexisting illness nervous — can you get life insurance with a medical condition? During this exam, you’ll be asked questions about your family history, medical history, lifestyle, smoking, and alcohol usage. The person administering the exam will measure your height, weight, pulse, and blood pressure.
Life insurance companies want to know if you’re under the current care of a physician. Life insurance companies are concerned that those who have MS are taking the proper precautions to keep it under control. A medical history of regular physician checkups is important to the company.
What Life Insurance Companies Look For
What do insurance companies 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.
Life insurance companies are concerned that those who have multiple sclerosis 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
- Age at diagnosis
- Course of disease
- Response to treatment
- What steps you’ve 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
In addition to these condition-specific scenarios, insurance companies also determine your eligibility and premium estimate through your:
- High-risk habits, such as if you’re a smoker
- High-risk occupations such as being a truck driver, an aircraft pilot, or a commercial fisherman
These are some different scenarios and items that underwriters will consider when determining your premium estimates.
Classifying Risk & Tables
There are a few term life insurance rating classes of classifying life insurance risk of a potential customer. They are:
- Preferred Plus (aka Super Preferred, Preferred Best, etc.)
- Standard Plus
- Substandard or Rated classes (often known as “table rates”)
These five classes are present throughout all kinds of life insurance estimates — not just when dealing with MS. The more you learn about life insurance underwriting (see guidelines here: life insurance underwriting guidelines) the better prepared you’ll be when shopping for insurance.
There are no known insurance companies that will offer rates to people diagnosed with any form of MS.
Far more subjective than Preferred Plus, it’s still possible (but not likely) to get life insurance at this rate with MS, but there are parameters, including:
- Mildest form of MS with early diagnosis (under 35 years)
- At least five years remission (last active symptoms)
- Non-smoker and other healthy lifestyle factors considered
Preferred is unlikely to be your assigned rating class based on the severity of most MS cases, though.
This is probably the most likely rating you can receive with MS, but like the Preferred rate, the Standard rate still has stringent requirements, including:
- Mildest form of MS
- Earlier diagnosis at chronological age is important (younger than 40)
- At least three years since last active symptoms or exacerbations
- Non-smoker and other healthy lifestyles practiced
We hope you’re assigned a Standard rating class, but seeking coverage sooner rather than later will position you with better chances.
A sub-standard rating for which you can be approved, but where you’re likely to pay significantly more in premiums. This is the most typical rating achieved by people with MS. All of the above factors are considered.
- Other chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart and lung diseases can compromise this rating
- Smoking can also be cause for a denial, even at this level
Substandard classes are further divided into classes of table rates. They are:
- Table A–Table H, or
- Table 1–Table 8
A Table A would be equivalent to a Table 1, and it would be a percentage below a Standard rating, seen here:
|Insurance Ratings Classes||Percent Difference From Standard Rates|
As you can see, when you progress down the tables, the percentage of Standard increases by 25 percent by each level.
Here’s an example of the likeliness you would be approved in some of the higher classifications of risk, such as Preferred Plus, according to some term life insurance underwriting guidelines. See this data here:
|Life Insurance Rating Classes||Multiple Sclerosis Eligibility|
According to this data, someone with MS would most likely be approved at a “Standard” rate or a lower, substandard rate.
As you move down the risk classifications and into the table ratings, each “step” increases the annual cost by approximately 25 percent, so you have a built-in motivator to try and be classified at lower risk levels rather than higher-risk levels (i.e. well within the table ratings).
Unfortunately, this is the category many MS applicants will receive, especially within a year or two after MS diagnosis. Reasons for this may include:
- Diagnosis with one of the more severe forms of MS
- Non-compliance with a physician in charge of your care
- Increased frequency of MS relapses
A diagnosis with a more severe form of MS might be the reason you were denied coverage.
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.
Being prepared 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 critical. The life insurance company will rate your application poorly if it’s 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’s being treated as well.
- It’s in your best interest to share your medical records with an insurance agent to enhance your chances of favorable underwriting.
Again, it’s really important that your medical records are updated regularly.
What Our Experience Has Shown
Many of the people we’ve helped apply for term life insurance had MS. 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 don’t 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.
The takeaway in this is to get a policy early and try to maintain your health so you can hopefully move up a rating class as you manage the disease over time.
Real Examples From Actual Customers
Here we have some scenarios from real life, actual customers. Read on to find out how their cases are classified and more.
Danielle applied for term life insurance when she was 55 years old.
- Diagnosed with MS at age 23
- Diagnosed with mild primary-progressive MS
- No other additional conditions found
- Visits doctor regularly
- Outcome: Approved at a Standard rating class
- Premium: $365 annually
Being a non-smoker and having a mild case helped Danielle.
Sarah applied for term life insurance when she was 51 years old.
- Diagnosed with MS at age 31
- Diagnosed with moderate primary-progressive MS
- No other additional conditions found
- Outcome: Approved at a Standard Table B
- Premium: $622 annually
Though diagnosed with a moderate case, being a non-smoker is helpful.
Natalia applied for term life insurance when she was 51 years old.
- Diagnosed with MS at age 50
- No other additional conditions found
- Outcome: Declined until more time has passed to stabilize the condition.
You can see Danielle had the best outcome because her disease has been stable for a long period. Receiving regular follow-up appointments with her doctor also helped.
Sarah’s MS is more severe, and although she had no other medical conditions and good follow-up results, her disease being slightly less under control gave her a slightly worse prognosis.
Finally, Natalia had the poorest outcome. Her MS is the most severe and her condition isn’t stable. This along with her more recent diagnosis resulted in the decline of her application until she can stabilize her condition.
Multiple Sclerosis Statistics
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. Multiple sclerosis affects women more than men. The disorder is most commonly diagnosed between ages 20 and 40 but can be seen at any age.
MS is caused by damage to the myelin sheath, the protective covering that surrounds nerve cells. When this nerve covering is damaged, nerve signals slow down or stop. The nerve damage is caused by inflammation. Inflammation occurs when the body’s immune cells attack the nervous system. This can occur along any area of the brain, optic nerve, and spinal cord.
Here’s a video that explains what happens to the body when you have MS:
What is the prognosis for MS? According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS), the majority of people who have MS will experience a relatively normal life span. It’s great to hear that the MS life expectancy is normal because this disease can be frightening at times.
There is good news for people with MS: Because of how common and devastating diagnosis of MS can be for a family, there are patient advocates who can help you navigate through everything from healthcare benefits and doctor appointments.
As of 2016, the following numbers show the significance of MS:
|MS Demographic Questions||MS Statistics|
|How many people have MS?||About 1 million people in the U.S. are estimated to be living with MS|
|How many new cases of MS are there typically?||Approximately 200 new cases are diagnosed each week in the U.S.|
|What age group does it affect most?||MS is the most common progressive and disabling neurological condition in young adults|
|Which gender is most affected?||MS affects women far more frequently than men (75 percent versus 25 percent)|
These are some humbling statistics about MS.
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What happens with people who are diagnosed with MS?
Because MS is a progressive disease, most people will experience increasingly debilitating symptoms over time.
However, MS is highly individualized, meaning that every person diagnosed will experience vastly different results from having the disease. For example, many people living with MS can experience depression, which can often be adequately treated through medications.
This inspirational video below illustrates that people can live for several years productively, even after being diagnosed with MS, and can positively deal with the progressive nature of MS.
It’s inspiring to see.
Types of Multiple Sclerosis
People with MS can typically experience one of four disease courses, each of which might be mild, moderate, or severe.
Relapsing-Remitting MS (RMS)
This is the most common form of MS. People with this type of MS experience clearly defined attacks of worsening neurologic function. These attacks which are called relapses, flare-ups, or exacerbations are followed by partial or complete recovery periods (remissions), during which no disease progression occurs. Approximately 85 percent of people are initially diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS.
Primary-Progressive MS (PPMS)
This disease course is characterized by slowly worsening neurologic function from the beginning with no distinct relapses or remissions. The rate of progression may vary over time, with occasional plateaus and temporary minor improvements. Approximately 10 percent of people are diagnosed with primary-progressive MS.
Secondary-Progressive MS (SPMS)
Following an initial period of relapsing-remitting MS, many people develop a secondary-progressive disease course in which the disease worsens more steadily, with or without occasional flare-ups, minor recoveries (remissions), or plateaus.
Before the disease-modifying medications became available, approximately 50 percent of people with relapsing-remitting MS developed this form of the disease within 10 years. Long-term data isn’t yet available to determine if treatment significantly delays this transition.
Progressive-Relapsing MS (PRMS)
In this relatively rare course of MS (5 percent), people experience a steadily worsening disease from the beginning, but with clear attacks of worsening neurologic function along the way. They may or may not experience some recovery following these relapses, but the disease continues to progress without remissions.
Life Insurance With Multiple Sclerosis: The Bottom Line
While you’re planning for finding support with MS, you might be wondering, “Can you get disability for MS?” as well while perusing this article and the answer is yes, if your condition has limited your ability to work, according to DisabilityBenefitsHelp.org.
The good news about applying for term life insurance when you have MS is yes, you can qualify for coverage. The bad news is your chances of automatic approval life insurance are slim, and rating class can be very unpredictable and subjective. It might be dismaying to realize you probably encountered one of the five reasons you won’t qualify for no-exam life insurance, too.
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’re 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.
Looking for life insurance with multiple sclerosis? You can use our FREE quote button at the bottom of this page to search life insurance quotes in your area.
Ready to get started?
Your quotes are always free.
Frequently Asked Questions: Life Insurance With Multiple Sclerosis
Check out these frequently asked questions to learn more about life insurance with MS.
#1 – Can MS show up on a blood test during a life insurance exam?
According to the NationalMSSociety.org, while there is no definitive blood test for MS, blood tests can rule out other conditions that cause symptoms similar to those of MS, including lupus erythematosus, Sjogren’s, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, some infections, and rare hereditary diseases.
#2 – Can underwriters obtain my medical information even with existing HIPAA privacy laws?
Due to HIPAA (federal privacy laws), you’ll need to provide your medical records or sign a release over to the insurance company. The MIB Group (formerly the Medical Information Bureau) does not collect and store a person’s actual medical records in its database.
#3 – Does MS put me at risk of having other health issues?
MS can lower your immune system’s ability to fight off disease and sickness. If you’re living with MS, you might have a predisposition to get sick easily. You’re more likely to catch the flu or a cold when you have MS.
#3 – Does life insurance payout for MS?
You might need to add a Chronic Illness Rider (a rider is an add-on) onto your existing policy, and it might come with some limitations, but that rider should cover multiple sclerosis.
#4 – Can I get long-term care insurance if I have MS?
Many people want to know “can you can get long-term care insurance if you have MS?” According to NationalMSSociety.org, long-term care insurance is rarely available for purchase by an individual with MS after their diagnosis.