The American Lung Association advises that Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is the third leading cause of death in the United States.
In fact, over 11 Million Americans are living with COPD while millions more have yet to be diagnosed. There is currently no cure for COPD.
All of these facts may slightly complicate applying for life insurance when you are over age 50 with COPD. However, we can’t stress enough that securing affordable life insurance over age 50 is still possible despite your health challenges.
The COPD category you’ve been diagnosed with, as well as any other health conditions will definitely impact the type of policy and rate you will secure.
The good news is that your insurance agent will work to find an insurance carrier that will welcome your business. For every COPD patient over age 50, there is a life insurance plan that will work.
Let’s get started by exploring what to expect when you have COPD and apply for life insurance.
Application Process for People Over 50 with COPD
The fact is your chances of securing a cheap life insurance policy are significantly impacted by the category of your COPD diagnosis.
The life insurer will want to understand your level of risk as an insured. So the life insurance company will look at your medical records and ask plenty of questions.
The insurance carrier will also go over your basic information, including age, occupation, driving record, tobacco use, and hobbies. Each of these factors influences the outcome of your application and the final premium assigned.
Finally, as part of the application process for a term or whole (permanent) life insurance plan, you will be expected to answer the following questions about your COPD:
- What was the date of your COPD diagnosis?
- What age were you at the time of diagnosis?
- Is your COPD related to a Lung Disease such as chronic bronchitis, emphysema, or asthma?
- Have you ever been hospitalized for COPD?
- Can you provide dates and details about COPD hospitalizations?
- What is the date and results of your most recent chest x-ray?
- What is the date and results of your most recent Electrocardiographic (ECG)?
- Do you have any other medical conditions?
- What medications are you taking?
- Do you use nicotine or tobacco products?
The Cause of Your COPD Can Affect Your Life Insurance Rates
The insurance company will also want to know the cause of your COPD. The origin of your COPD may influence your life insurance rating.
COPD caused by smoking: the life insurer will clarify if you still continue to smoke, if you have reduced your amount of smoking, or if you have quit smoking entirely.
If you stopped smoking then you are in a much better position to secure a better rating and lower premium.
If you continued smoking, despite having COPD, the life insurance company will be very concerned about insuring your life at a low rate. This is because your smoking increases your chances of dying prematurely.
Smokers in excellent health with no chronic conditions will experience DOUBLE the premiums of their peers.
So a smoker with COPD may be charged 125% – 300% higher rates than their peers or possibly receive a DECLINE from the carrier.
COPD caused by pollutants: if your COPD is caused by pollution or secondhand smoke then the life insurance carrier will be more lenient with your rating.
They understand your personal habits did not cause your chronic lung disease and you are not doing anything (such as smoking) that will worsen your health.
Pulmonary Function Test Results
The breaths you take are precious. Each breath maintains your life. In the life insurance application process, measured breaths are just as precious.
As you know, “Forced Expired Volume in 1 Second” (FEV1) is part of your standard Pulmonary Function Tests. What you may not know is that FEV1 is the most critical piece of information for a life insurance company that’s considering you as an insured.
A normal value for an FEV1 test is around 80% while those with COPD have results at 70% or less.
Bottom line: the higher the FEV1 percentage then the better life insurance rating you’ll receive.
Be sure to know your most recent FEV1 percentage for the life insurance application. Contact your doctor to confirm the FEV1 percentage you plan on reporting is correct. The FEV1 result is much too important to make any mistakes.
How Do Life Insurance Ratings Work?
Life insurance companies generally use these rating classes to determine premiums:
- Preferred Plus
- Sub-standard (aka Table Rating)
A “Table Rating” can fall into one of 16 different ranks below “Standard”. Table ratings usually start with 1 or A, then 2 or B, and so on.
Each level increases the overall premium by about 25% on average. This amount can vary among insurance companies.
For example, let’s suppose the standard premium for a life insurance policy you like is $45 per month. Let’s also assume you receive a table rating of 1 or A then you’ll pay about $56 per month (or about 25% above standard).
Or maybe you receive a table rating of 4 or E which is equivalent to the standard rate plus 100% rate-up. In this case, your life insurance premium would approximately double to about $90 per month.
Don’t forget, your overall rating isn’t specific to your age or your COPD diagnosis. All the other personal details you provide will be evaluated and influence the final rating.
There are plenty of ways you can try to save on your life insurance premiums such as not smoking and buying the right type of life coverage.
Life Insurance Ratings for COPD
There are four distinct classifications or levels to a COPD diagnosis. The four COPD categories are as follows: Mild, Moderate, Severe, and Extreme.
Let’s take a look at how the severity of your COPD will impact your final life insurance rating.
Mild COPD: Pulmonary Function Test is normal with no x-ray irregularities. FEV1 result is between 60% and 80%. You are a non-smoker and not in need of any treatments for COPD. A mild chronic cough and some shortness of breath after moderate exertion is not uncommon. Average Rating: Table 2 or B Rating
Moderate COPD: Pulmonary Function Test shows moderate decrease in lung function. X-ray studies reveal some abnormalities. FEV1 result is between 50% and 59%. Increased cough and shortness of breath after moderate exertion is not uncommon. Inhaler used occasionally. Average Rating: Table 4 or E Rating
Severe COPD: Pulmonary Function Test shows moderate decrease in lung function. FEV1 result is between 40% and 49%. Chronic shortness of breath during daily activities. Treated with steroids, inhaler, or other medications.
Average Rating: Table 8 or H Rating
Extreme COPD: Pulmonary Function Test shows moderate decrease in lung function. FEV1 result is below 40%. Shortness of breath during rest and minimal exertion. Treated with oxygen tank. Average Rating: Decline
After An Extreme COPD Decline
Don’t panic if you are declined for a traditionally underwritten policy! Even though you are a senior with COPD, you can still find an alternative life insurance product that will provide the peace of mind you want.
For example, you may want to purchase a guaranteed acceptance life or final expense life insurance plan. Your agent will discuss with you different types of life coverage and what will be your best option.
The point is to not give up. It doesn’t matter that you are a senior with COPD. There will most likely be a cheap life insurance plan available for you!
Tell the Truth and Tell It All
Maybe you are tempted to withhold some personal details from your application as a way to secure a better rating and lower premium. We urge you not to do that!
Always tell the whole truth to your life insurance agent, as well as the insurance company. This is because your omission will eventually be discovered and could cause a rejection of your application for misrepresentation.
Even if the policy has already been issued by the time the life insurer figures out your little white lie, you could find yourself with a rescinded life insurance policy. We’re sure you don’t want to deal with that type of outcome.
So maybe you can’t control your age or your COPD but you can control other aspects of your life. By doing so, your life insurance rating will certainly benefit.
Keep in mind, the better you are able to regulate (or eliminate) some of these health issues then the better your rating will be:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Risky hobbies or occupation
Now that you know what to anticipate when applying for traditional life insurance, it is time to take the next step.
The Next Step
Life insurance companies know that COPD affects millions of Americans and often results in premature death. This is why life insurers will approach your application with great caution.
However, many seniors like you have gone on to buy relatively cheap life insurance in spite of having COPD.
Your agent is an experienced professional that can assist in selecting the best life insurance company for your health condition and lifestyle. Your agent will also help you through the entire application process so it is as quick and painless as possible.
Over50LifeInsure can provide information and an instant quote no matter your situation. Our experienced life insurance agents are able to help. Please take a few minutes to fill out our form for instant quotes, or give us a call today at 714-916-9723. Your family will thank you!