Buying Life Insurance With Asthma When Over 50 {Here’s What To Expect}

Why does asthma matter to a life insurance company?  Well here’s the deal…

About 20 Million American adults have asthma and the majority of those adults are over age fifty.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports 1.4 Million asthma sufferers are rushed to the emergency room each year because of this chronic illness.

Furthermore, nearly 4,000 deaths each year are directly attributed to asthma.

All of this can raise some concern for life insurance companies when reviewing an application.

However, asthma sufferers over age 50 can often secure life insurance at at very affordable rates. It’s possible you can do the same.

In this article you will learn what you need to know if you are a senior with asthma and needing to buy life insurance.

What Rate Class Might You be Approved For?

Each life insurer looks upon chronic illnesses in a different manner. You could attain a dozen different life insurance quotes, resulting in a variety of responses and rates.

It’s very possible that you could be considered a stable risk despite having asthma.

For example, individuals that haven’t had an asthma attack in a few years will secure a better rate class than someone that has asthma attacks a few times a year.

If you were diagnosed as a teenager, you could get a better rating than a peer diagnosed at age forty-five.

Underwriting Definitions for Asthmatics

Infrequent: Seasonal, less than 7 attacks per year

Often: More than six attacks each year

Mild: Lungs get back to normal in between attacks, no disabilities that were cause by asthma. Greater than 80% lung function.

Moderate: This would be if your attacks are serious and require medication on a regular basis, and/or occasional steroid treatments. Lung function at 60% – 80%.

Severe: This would be if you need to constantly take medications and steroid treatments.  Lung function less than 60%.

Likely Rate Classes You Will Be Approved For

Below are likely rate classes you may be approved for with Asthma.  These examples assume you do not smoke or expose yourself to any environmental hazards.

Seasonal or Infrequent Mild Attacks: Usually a Standard rating, possibly Preferred depending on other health and lifestyle factors

Infrequent Moderate Attacks: Last asthma attack occurred less than two years ago would likely be a Standard – Table 2 rating

Infrequent Severe: Last attack within previous two years is Table 2 – Table 4, Last attack within 25 months to 4 years is Table 2

Often Mild: Last attack within previous 2 to 4 years is Standard – Table 2

Often Moderate: Last attack within previous two years is Table 2 – Table 4, Last attack 25 months to 4 years ago is Standard – Table 2

Often Severe Attacks: Decline

How do Table Rating and Flat Extras Work?

Important things to keep in mind when reviewing the above rating classes:

  • Substandard (Table Ratings) include about 10 special rating classes below Standard. Each Substandard level down increases the premium by roughly 25% premium.

The exact amount will vary among insurance companies.

It is common for life insurers to add at least two tables onto your rating if you use steroids regularly.

  • Some insurance companies may add a “flat extra fee” to whole life or term life insurance policies granted to those with high blood pressure. The charge is usually $5-$10 per $1,000 in coverage over a set term.

For example, if you own a plan worth $200,000, and you have a flat extra of $10, then you’d pay $2,000 in extra fees until the flat extra is removed.

Once the flat extra fee term expires, you will revert to paying the standard premium rate for the rest of the policy.

For example, let’s say you buy a 20-year term policy and you obtain coverage with a 3 year flat extra.

After 3 years you would just have to pay the standard premium rate.

Additional Factors That Affect Qualifying For Affordable Rates

  • Your asthma would be considered severe if you also have chronic bronchitis.  You will be rated as having Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). This is considered a more serious chronic illness than asthma.
  • You will most likely not be approved for coverage if you have severe asthma and smoke. In that case, it’s best to kick the smoking habit for a minimum of 12 months then re-apply for life insurance. Once the underwriter confirms you have been tobacco free for a year then you’ll be viewed as a non-smoker. This will improve your chances of getting coverage and lower your premium (since smokers usually pay double what their non-smoking peers pay).
  • In general, if you have serious asthma attacks and your last episode resulted in an ER visit or hospital stay, you may want to hold-off on buying life insurance right now. The underwriter will find you to be a high risk. So it may be in your best interest to wait a year or so until you’ve had better control over your asthma symptoms.
  • Frequent, mild asthma attacks in the last year or two can negatively impact your rating. This is because such symptoms suggests to the underwriter that you are not keeping up with the prescribed treatment plan. This is not in your favor.
  • If your doctor recently prescribed you a new asthma medication, you may want to wait one year before applying for life insurance. This will give the medication enough time to work. The longer you are on a specific medication then the better the medical underwriter will view your application.

Buying Life Insurance Over 50 Years of Age with Asthma

Life insurance applicants all answer general questions about age, tobacco use, driving record, and medical history.

Be sure to share as much information as you can on your application.

It will help expedite the application process, as well as assist the underwriter in accurately assigning your risk category.

I also suggest that you tell me upfront where to obtain all of your relevant medical records.  This helps to speed up the application process and keeps things moving along.

In determining what rate class you can qualify for an insurance company will consider the following:

  • When was your initial diagnosis?
  • How severe is your asthma?
  • Is your asthma  considered to be acute or chronic?
  • Is it seasonal or year-round?
  • Do you smoke now?  Did you used to smoke?  When did you quit?
  • Have steroids ever been prescribed to treat your asthma?
  • How many attacks do you normally have in a twelve month period?
  • When was your last asthma attack?
  • What are the most recent results from your Pulmonary Function Tests?
  • What are your “peak flow meter” readings?
  • Is your asthma related to physical activity such as exercise?
  • Do you know what triggers your asthmatic attacks? If so, what are you doing to control those triggers?
  • Are any of your regular activities restricted because of your asthma?
  • Are your prescriptions up-to-date?

A significant part of controlling asthma is taking prescription medications.

That is why it’s important you disclose the name and dosage of your prescribed asthma medications, as well as any other medications you take.

Below are common asthma medications insurance companies will look for when reviewing your application:

  • Albuterol
  • Montelukast Singulair
  • Proventil
  • Terbutaline Brethine
  • Combivent
  • fluticasone inhalation
  • Veramyst

I will go over all of these details with you prior to submitting an application to any insurance carrier. Your answers will help me determine the life insurance company that will look most positively upon your application.

What Type of Life Insurance Can I Get Over Age 50 With Asthma?

Seniors with asthma should apply for the type of life insurance they need.  This could be term life insurance or possibly some type of permanent life insurance coverage.

The best life insurance to get is the type that meets your family’s long-term needs best and is affordable.

A permanent life insurance plan will be there for your entire lifetime. Of course, this is only true if you keep up on premium payments.

A term plan is temporary.  It will remain effective for a set number of years – usually 10,15, 20, or 30 years depending on what you select.

What’s Next?

The greatest number of asthma sufferers are over age fifty. Know that securing life insurance coverage at your age and with your chronic condition is still promising.

I can help you find the best option for your life insurance needs and guide you through the application process. My promise to you is to make the application process as easy as can be.

Get started by filling out our simple form for instant quotes if you like, or better yet just give me a call.