The short answer is yes. Even if you are in your 50’s, 60’s, or 70’s getting life insurance with Parkinson’s disease can still be affordable.
However, let me be clear. Some people won’t be able to get coverage at all.
In this article we will look at what you need to know about applying for life insurance with Parkinson’s disease.
I will also give you a very clear idea of what rate class you will likely be approved for as well. The rate class you are approved for determines how much you’ll have to pay for coverage.
Applying for Life Insurance with Parkinson’s disease
It is so important to have an experienced agent, such as myself, help you that has access to dozens of companies when shopping for the best life insurance policy for you.
Every insurance company views Parkinson’s disease differently. And every company will view your specific medical history differently as well.
They each have different underwriting guidelines and standards and of course they each have different insurance rates too.
The General Underwriting Questions
Life insurance applications will require you provide basic information such as:
- Height and weight
- Marital status
- Tobacco usage
- Alcohol usage
- Hobbies and lifestyle
- Any additional health conditions
Parkinson’s Disease Underwriting Questions
An insurance company will also need details about your Parkinson’s disease to evaluate your risk and determine what rate class they can approve you for.
As I mentioned, obtaining affordable quality life insurance protection with Parkinson’s disease even if you are over the age of 50, 60, or even 70 is possible.
But, it will depend on several factors…
For starters, have you had a history of falling which indicates the beginning phase of dementia.
Do you live independently? If you are not able to live alone then it indicates you are in the final phase of your illness.
Other common questions the insurance company will ask include the following:
- Do you take medication for your condition and what has been your response to treatment?
Parkinson’s is not curable but is manageable. Many Parkinson’s patients use medications such as Levodopa (aka L-dopa) and carbidopa control their symptoms.
By consistently taking your prescriptions, your symptoms may slow down quite a bit.
The insurance company will want to know if you comply with taking the medications as prescribed. They will also want to know if you’ve experienced any improvements as a result of your medications.
- At what age were you diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease?
Most people aren’t diagnosed until after the age of 60 years old. However, about 5% to 10% of Parkinson’s patients are diagnosed with “early onset” prior to 50 years of age.
The younger you are when diagnosed then the better a chance of controlling the illness. This also improves your chances of getting approved for more affordable rates.
- Do you have a family history of Parkinson’s disease?
If the answer is yes, the underwriter will want to know the prognosis of your family member’s condition.
This information can give the underwriter an idea of how your own condition may progress.
- Over the past six months, have there been any changes in your symptoms?
For example, the insurance company will want to know if you started experiencing rigidity, slowness of movement, or rest tremors. If so, these symptoms can mean your condition is worsening.
How Do The Rate Classes Work?
After your life insurance application is reviewed by the insurance company, your application will either be declined or approved.
If approved, you will be approved at a specific rate class.
The rate class you are approved for determines the actual cost that you have to pay for coverage.
Typically there are six life insurance rating categories: preferred plus, preferred, standard plus, standard, preferred smoker, and standard smoker.
If the underwriter finds your case to be riskier than the usual categories allow, you will be assigned a table rating.
Table ratings usually run from 1 to 8 and sometimes up to a table 16 depending on the insurance company’s system.
Generally speaking the cost for coverage will increase to about 25% for each table rating.
For instance, a table 2 increases the cost you have to pay to about 50% above the standard rates.
What Rate Class Might You be Approved For?
Parkinson’s is a progressive illness that impacts individuals differently. Over the years, doctors have determined there are five phases of Parkinson’s disease.
The phase you are in at the time of your life insurance application will impact your rating.
Other key factors that will influence your rating are your overall health, age, and lifestyle.
Keep in mind, the possible ratings are shared in general terms since each insurance company has different underwriting guidelines.
Stage 1: The first phase of Parkinson’s is often difficult to recognize because symptoms are so mild. If there are any functional impairments, they are very minimal. Symptoms are usually only seen on one side of the body. Treatment is generally not prescribed. If medication is prescribed then it’s usually effective.
Stage 1 Rating: If over 60 years of age, best outcome is a Standard rating. If under 60 years of age, usually starts at Table 2 rating (or 50% above the Standard rating).
Stage 2: This phase can begin months or years after Stage 1. Symptoms present on both sides of the body. These may include speech abnormalities, weak or monotone voice, slurred speech, stooped posture, and loss of facial expression on both sides of face. Sometimes diagnosis is still evasive because the signs present simply as advancing age.
Stage 2 Rating: If over 60 years of age, best outcome is starting at Table 2 (50% above the Standard rating). If under 60 years of age, usually a Table 2 (50% rate-up) or Table 4 (100% rate-up).
Stage 3: At this point, you are still living independently. You are handling all your own daily activities such as dressing and eating. However, the diagnosis leaves no question or doubts. This is actually mid-stage in the disease’s advancement. There is often a loss of balance, slowness in movement, and falls are common.
Stage 3 Rating: If over 60 years of age, best outcome is Table 4 (100% rate-up). If under 60 years of age, usually a Table 4 through Table 10 (250% rate-up) rating.
Stage 4: This stage is defined by severe disability. You may not be able to stand or walk unassisted. A walker may be a necessity. You may be noticeably incapacitated at times. By Stage 4, you are unable to live an independent life and need assistance with daily activities.
Stage 4 Rating: You will not be insurable for a term life or whole life insurance policy. You may apply for a Guaranteed Issue life insurance policy that typically has waiting period and requires you to pay the higher premiums. Guarantee Issue will not require medical underwriting but that’s also why the premium costs more. The insurance carrier will be taking on an unknown risk.
Stage 5: You require around-the-clock assistance to manage daily activities. You may experience delusions or hallucinations. This is the final stage of Parkinson’s disease.
Stage 5 Rating: In the final stage of Parkinson’s means you are not insurable for traditional term life or whole life just like in Stage 4.
Parkinson’s Disease… These are the Facts
The Parkinson’s Foundation reports nearly one million Americans will be living with Parkinson’s disease (PD) by 2020.
They further state this will be more than the total number of Americans diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), muscular dystrophy and Lou Gehrig’s disease (or ALS).
The unfortunate reality is Parkinson’s disease directly contributes to an early death.
According to WebMD, Parkinson’s increases risk of early death by 40% for every 10 year increase in age at diagnosis.
Obviously, these troublesome statistics make the need for life insurance even more urgent.
Parkinson’s disease is more common now than in past generations.
If you are over 50 years of age and living with Parkinson’s, you can certainly appreciate the need for a secure life insurance policy.
If you need coverage, do something before it’s too late and you get declined coverage because of your advanced disease stage.
After all, your family is counting on you to prepare for tough times ahead.
What is The Next Step?
That’s up to you.
If you’d like to go ahead and run a quote here on the website please go ahead and do so.
Your best best though would be to give me a call and let me see if I can help.
We’ll determine what your needs are and then I can assist you in obtaining the coverage you need at the most affordable cost.