Asthma is an incredibly common chronic health condition, affecting an estimated 3 million Canadians. At the time this article was updated in March of 2022, that number has jumped to a staggering 3.8 million.
The disease, marked by wheezing and shortness of breath when an asthma attack is triggered, can greatly impact a person’s quality - and even quantity - of life if it’s left uncontrolled. However, many asthma sufferers work closely with their doctors to develop plans for treating and controlling their asthma, allowing them to lead full, long lives.
If you suffer from asthma, you may wonder whether your condition will impact your ability to qualify for life insurance, and the rate at which you can purchase life insurance.
As an asthmatic, you can qualify for a wide variety of life insurance policies, and at reasonable rates in most cases. There are some factors that can impact the policies you may be able to purchase and how much you’ll pay for coverage.
Why Is It Difficult for Asthmatics to Get Life Insurance?
Asthma is considered a chronic, incurable health condition. As such, you may face a higher risk of premature death than someone who doesn’t have asthma.
Because of this, life insurance companies consider those with asthma to be in the higher risk category to insure.
This can, depending on the company and other circumstances surrounding your condition, mean you may not qualify for certain life insurance products or better insurance rates. In most cases, someone with asthma can qualify for the same life insurance policies as someone without asthma, and at very similar rates.
Health Factors That Impact the Cost of Life Insurance with Asthma
How well your asthma is controlled and whether or not you have other health concerns related to your asthma will help determine how much you pay for coverage.
If your asthma is seasonal and well-controlled with medications or other measures, you may be able to qualify for the lowest prices on life insurance. Those with moderate asthma who only suffer occasional attacks may qualify for standard or standard plus rates.
People who suffer from severe asthma may end up paying the highest rates for insurance, and may only be able to secure a guaranteed issue policy that doesn’t require medical underwriting.
Some factors that can impact how much you will pay for life insurance with asthma include:
- Your age when you were first diagnosed with asthma
- Whether or not your asthma attacks occur seasonally or year-round
- How often you experience asthma attacks
- When you had your last asthma attack
- Any medications you take for asthma
- Whether you’ve been hospitalized for asthma, and when you were last hospitalized
- Whether you have any other health issues related to your asthma
When you go through the life insurance underwriting process, the more information you can provide to the insurance company, the better off you are.
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Choosing the Best Life Insurance Policy with Asthma
For many asthma sufferers, finding the right life insurance policy in spite of their condition may not prove to be much of a challenge.
To help you choose the best life insurance policy with asthma, especially if you have severe asthma, here are some things to keep in mind as you look for coverage:
Type of Policy
In most cases, term life insurance policies offer the lowest premiums because policies are only in effect for a certain number of years. These policies also do not hold any cash value.
If you are shopping for life insurance in an effort to ensure that, if you pass away, your spouse can pay off your home or your children can go to college, opting for a term life insurance policy may be the most economical choice. You may even be able to convert your term policy into a whole life insurance policy without any additional underwriting, meaning that any later complications from your asthma won’t be considered when you convert your policy.
In situations where you want to offer your family an inheritance following your death, regardless of when that is, you may want to select a whole life insurance policy.
This type of policy typically comes with higher rates, but purchasing only as much coverage as you really need can make them more affordable and offset any increase in premiums that may come from your asthma.
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Level of Underwriting
When you purchase life insurance, you can choose one of two levels of underwriting: fully underwritten or no medical exam.
Opting for a fully underwritten policy means you need to submit to a medical exam before you receive a final decision from the insurance company. Depending on how severe your asthma is, this option could be a problem when it comes to trying to find the lowest rates on your insurance.
If you are worried about getting a medical exam as part of the process of buying life insurance, you can choose a no medical exam policy.
While these policies don’t require you to go through the full underwriting process, they do typically come with lower coverage options. For term policies, you may only be able to purchase up to $500,000 in coverage, or up to $50,000 for a whole life policy.
Applying for a no medical exam policy requires that you be as complete and truthful in your answers, as omitting or lying about information can be a problem.
Amount of Coverage
A lot of how much your life insurance policy ends up costing has to do with how much coverage you purchase. This number will be determined based on a variety of factors, including:
- Whether you currently have a mortgage or other debts that will need to be paid
- The ages of your children
- Your current salary
- Any financial obligations you have, such as child support
Adjusting how much coverage you purchase can help you control the cost of your premiums, especially if you’re quoted a higher price as a result of your asthma.
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What If You Are Diagnosed with Asthma After Buying Life Insurance?
Once you have purchased your life insurance policy and that policy has been issued, the insurance company cannot cancel your policy or increase your rates if you are diagnosed with asthma. So, if you purchase a life insurance policy - either term or whole life - and are later diagnosed with asthma, your diagnosis will not impact that policy.
However, there are some situations where a later asthma diagnosis can be problematic, even if you already have life insurance coverage.
- You want to continue term life insurance after your policy ends: If you want to purchase another term life insurance policy after your previous policy lapses, you will have to undergo the underwriting process again, even if your second policy is through the same insurance company. The second underwriting process could cause your insurer to adjust your premiums to reflect your new higher risk category.
- You have group life insurance through an employer and leave your job: When you leave your job, you may be given the option to convert or port your life insurance coverage. Converting or porting your policy doesn’t require you to go through medical review, but it is often more expensive than purchasing a separate policy.
- You want to increase the limits on your policy: Increasing your policy limits usually means additional underwriting, which means your new asthma diagnosis could cause your premiums to increase.
Asthma is a lifelong medical condition that many people can successfully get under control with the right combination of lifestyle changes and medications. Depending on the severity of your condition, your asthma could cause you to pay higher rates for life insurance coverage.
Carefully examining your options when shopping for life insurance, and being willing to make some compromises to make your coverage more affordable, can go a long way to helping your family achieve financial security after you pass.
At Insurdinary, we make it easy to compare plans from a variety of companies, receive a personalized quote, and apply for coverage in minutes. Get your quote today!