Arthritis and Life Insurance

What Arthritis Means For Your Premium

It is possible to prevent a lot of diseases and natural effects of aging through healthy lifestyle choices. The older we get, the more important it is to take care of our bodies – and preventative care often starts young, in the form of stretching, exercising and eating well. 

However, there are some side effects of aging that we have no control over. Arthritis is a common ailment for seniors, and can impact your life insurance policy rating if left untreated. 

Let’s take a look at the basics of how underwriters look at applicants with arthritis, and how seniors looking for life insurance policies can ensure that arthritis does not prevent them from getting affordable coverage. 

What Underwriters Will Look At
To put it bluntly, most types of arthritic conditions do not immediately increase the risk of an individual passing away before the end of their policy term. So instead of looking at your arthritis as a glaring pre-existing condition, underwriters will, instead, look at your arthritis as one past of your overall health. This means that, if you are a senior in good health, you will most likely qualify for preferred or standard ratings, even with arthritis. 

This is not to say that certain types of moderate-to-severe types of arthritis won’t impact your ratings. Certain degenerative arthritic conditions, such as Marie Strumple arthritis, can shorten your lifespan. Any time your lung or heart functions are impacted, you can expect to be rated a higher risk.

Arthritis Risks
Arthritis refers to almost 200 musculoskeletal disorders that impact the joints and tissues. Basically, arthritis is a painful inflammation or stiffness in the joints. Its causes are unknown, but can be due to environmental, physical or genetic factors. 

There are several types of arthritis, with effects that range from mild joint pain to debilitating effects on the joints, and each will impact your rating differently. 

  • Rheumatoid arthritis can impact any age range, but is more prevalent with age, which is why it’s a problem for seniors shopping for life insurance. This disease, which can evolve slowly or appear suddenly, affects almost 40 million Americans, with over half of sufferers experiencing a disability within five years of diagnosis.

While certain medications can ease the pain associated with this type of arthritis, it is important to note that it does not only impact joint pain. Anemia, fevers and weight loss are also associated with rheumatoid arthritis. If you have this type of arthritis, underwriters will look at your treatment regimen, medications you’re taking, age at which you were diagnosed, and the severity of the disease.

  • Osteoarthritis is a degenerative arthritis that occurs most in older individuals. This can be caused by being overweight or an injury to the joints. If you have this type of arthritis, an underwriter will look at your hobbies, lifestyle choices, weight management plan, and any potential health complications caused by osteoarthritis while assessing your risk.
  • Acute arthritis can occur at any age and does not present long-term health concerns once treated. The treatment is typically a prescribed antibiotic, and the cause of acute arthritis is either an injury or an infection. Underwriters and carriers do not typically see this as a risk factor, but will ask what type of medication you’re taking.
  • Marie Strumpell Arthritis is a severe type of arthritis that typically occurs in your late twenties. This disorder affects the small joints surrounding the spine and, if untreated, can cause immobility or breathing problems due to decreased chest capacity. Underwriters look at your medications and the treatment plans your doctor recommends. If you are a smoker with this arthritic disorder, you may have a hard time finding an affordable policy. Give us a call to see how we can help. 

There are, of course, more types of arthritis and each impacts your health differently. Arthritis is incredibly common, with an estimated 23% of adults diagnosed with some form of the disease. However, just because it’s common, doesn’t mean that underwriters won’t consider you a risk. With arthritis, as with any pre-existing condition, you should be talking to a life insurance agent.

When discussing your arthritic risk with an agent, you should have the following information on hand, including the type of arthritis you have, the date of your diagnosis, tissues impacted by your condition, medications you are taking, any relapses or disappearance of your arthritis, and a full picture of your medical history.

Your full medical history is perhaps the most powerful thing you can come armed with when shopping for life insurance as a senior. Your medical history and current health status can help your agent accurately present your current and future risk to underwriters, which can lead to better life insurance premiums. 

This information can also help your agent accurately prepare you for what you can expect to pay with for your life insurance policy. 

Your treatment plan should also be disclosed to your life insurance agent, because the medications you take and the treatment plan you undergo can either mitigate or increase your risk. For example, severe forms of arthritis can be treated by penicillamin, immunosuppressive therapy, anti-malarial drugs or steroids, the side effects of which vary. Milder forms can be treated with anti-inflammatories or OTC aspirins.

No illness should define you when it comes to shopping for life insurance policies, especially not arthritis. Age, and the health deteriorations associated with age, are natural parts of life and should not stand in the way of finding affordable life insurance. When shopping for senior life insurance with arthritis, be sure to remember three key takeaways: 

  1. You should have an idea of the amount and type of life insurance you’re looking to purchase
  2. Accurately communicate your risk to your life insurance agent, and be sure to ask your doctor for clarification on anything that might impact your condition.
  3. The key to success is a good life insurance agent.  An independent life insurance agent will be able to adequately prepare you for what you can expect to pay for the policy you want, and will know what carriers specialize in insuring individuals with arthritis.