Getting life insurance in place is hard enough and can be stressful…but getting life insurance with adrenal insufficiency can be even harder. You have to go through the process of:
- Finding the right company
- Getting the right amount of coverage that you can afford
- Filling out the application
- Taking the exam
- Waiting for the results
Add in a health issue like adrenal insufficiency, and it is a real cause for concern. If you or someone you know has suffered from this type of insufficiency and are worried about how you can get life insurance, you’ve come to the right place.
Here, we’re going to discuss what this adrenal insufficiency is, how it affects your chances of getting life insurance, and how to get the best rate possible for your health.
What is Adrenal Insufficiency?
Adrenal insufficiency is a rare disease that affects one in every 100,000 people. It happens when the adrenal glands are unable to make sufficient amounts of hormones the body needs to function in everyday life. The adrenal glands are located right above the kidneys.
Without these hormones, the body is unable to effectively manage stress. Without proper diagnosis and treatment, it can begin to affect life functions. The main symptoms are fatigue, weakness, loss of appetite and ability to maintain your lifestyle.
Depending on the cause of the insufficiency, you can be diagnosed with:
People who have adrenal insufficiency can have an adrenal crisis at any time. They should carry a corticosteroid injection with them in case of crisis. The injection could save their lives.
Not sure what an adrenal crisis looks like?
- Loss of consciousness
- A sudden drop in blood pressure or glucose
- Sudden pain in the legs or back
- Severe abdominal pain
Primary Adrenal Insufficiency
Most often called Addison’s disease or hypocortisolism, primary adrenal insufficiency is when the adrenal glands are damaged and unable to make enough hormones. The adrenal glands are in charge of making two very important hormones in our bodies: cortisol and aldosterone.
Women are diagnosed more often than men and are likely to be within the ages of 30 – 50, although anyone at any age can still have hypocortisolism.
Secondary Adrenal Insufficiency
People who have issues with their pituitary glands are more likely to be diagnosed with secondary adrenal insufficiency. It is more common than an Addison’s disease diagnosis.
The pituitary gland is in charge of making a hormone called adrenocorticotropin (ACTH) which tells the adrenals to make cortisol. If the pituitary gland has to be removed, like in the case of Cushing’s disease, ACTH is no longer naturally produced.
If the pituitary is affected, it will eventually affect the adrenals as well.
Tertiary Adrenal Insufficiency
A tertiary insufficiency is usually caused by stopping corticosteroid medications after long-term exposure. It is less likely to be caused by a malfunction of the hypothalamus.
If the hypothalamus does not produce enough or any of the corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), the pituitary gland will not produce ACTH. As we learned with secondary insufficiency, the adrenals are unable to make cortisol without these hormones working to tell the body how to function properly.
Symptoms to look out for are:
- Darkening of the skin (hyperpigmentation)
- Muscle weakness
- Prolonged fatigue
- Weight loss
- Low blood pressure
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea, sometimes with vomiting or diarrhea
- Joint pain
- Irregular or absent menstrual periods in women
Typically, symptoms are slow to progress. If you notice a few symptoms that have been lingering or getting worse without a cause, you should have your adrenal glands checked to see if they are functioning properly.
People who have certain diseases are more susceptible to having adrenal insufficiency. They are diseases that affect the immune system:
- Genetic disorders that affect the development or function of the pituitary glands
- Autoimmune diseases
- Pituitary tumors
Other causes include:
- Bleeding of the adrenal glands
- Cancer cells in the adrenal glands
- Stopping corticosteroid medications after taking them for a long time period (the most common cause of tertiary adrenal insufficiency)
- Certain antifungal medications
- A type of anesthesia etomidate
- Traumatic brain injury
- Surgical removal of the pituitary gland
When determining a course of treatment, your doctor will determine what is best based on your age, overall health, cause, and how long you’ve had the disease.
Medication in the form of corticosteroids are used most often, both oral and IV fluids, depending on severity. The medications prescribed are:
Additional Health Questions
When preparing to complete your life insurance application, you will need to provide basic information about yourself and your health. You will also have to provide specific information if you have a form of insufficiency.
Be prepared to answer the following questions:
- When were you diagnosed?
- What was the cause of your diagnosis?
- What symptoms do you have?
- Do you have any underlying health conditions?
- Have you been hospitalized due to your hypocortisolism?
- Have you ever had an adrenal crisis? If so, when?
- Do you have a family history of hypocortisolism?
What Rate Can I Expect?
This rate is reserved for the healthiest of individuals who apply for life insurance. If you’ve been diagnosed with Addison’s disease or hypocortisolism, you won’t qualify for a preferred plus rating.
Much like the preferred plus rating, don’t expect to receive a preferred rating either with a diagnosis of hypocortisolism.
If your hypocortisolism is being well controlled with medication and you don’t have any other health issues, you might be able to get a standard rating. If you have any other health conditions, a family history of heart disease or cancer, or are a smoker, you probably won’t qualify.
Substandard or Table Rating
This is the most likely rating you can expect for traditional life insurance. Depending on the severity of your Addison’s disease, other health factors, and family history, you might get a low table rating with a better rate.
If you aren’t in the best of health, aren’t maintaining your treatment plan the way you should be, and/or are a smoker, you run the risk of being denied for life insurance.
Make sure to check out our next few sections on tips to get approved and what to do if you get denied.
Tips to Get the Best Rate
In order to get the best rate possible, follow these tips.
Wait to Apply
If you were recently diagnosed or it hasn’t been over a year since you were diagnosed with hypocortisolism, it would be best to wait to apply for life insurance.
Most companies will not approve your application if you were diagnosed in the past 12 months. They want to see how well you tolerate the treatment plan, how the rest of your body will be affected, and how serious you take your treatment before they will risk approving your policy.
The further you are out from your initial diagnosis when you apply for life insurance, the greater your odds of getting a better rating.
This tip is true for just about any health concern we discuss on our website. Not only does smoking automatically get you higher rates on your life insurance policy, but it also can be the reason you are denied when it’s combined with a health concern like Addison’s disease.
Don’t risk getting denied once you apply. Make sure you quit smoking now and then follow the tip above to wait to apply. Once you’ve been tobacco free for 12 months or more, go ahead and apply to get the best rate.
Be Active and Eat Right
Having a diagnosis of hypocortisolism can be a struggle when you are dealing with the side effects of fatigue, loss of appetite, and muscle weakness.
But it is important to try to maintain an active lifestyle of getting at least 30 minutes of exercise in a day – even if that’s just a leisurely walk around the neighborhood.
Eating a healthy diet is equally important. It will help you with energy levels, improve brain and muscle function, and ensure your medications are working properly.
If you struggle with getting your activity in or eating healthy foods, enlist the help of your family. Having the whole family committed to a healthier lifestyle helps increase your odds of maintaining it, and it can help bring the family closer.
Getting outside to play games together, go on adventures, and make memories are all great side effects of leading a healthier lifestyle. It also helps that it increases your chances of getting better life insurance rates!
What Can I Do if I’m Denied?
A denial for life insurance does not mean you will never be able to get life insurance. But it does mean that you might not get exactly what you want in coverage or price.
Someone with enough health concerns to be denied only has a couple of other options. You can choose to try a simplified life insurance option. There will still be health questions asked, but you will not have to complete a medical exam.
Depending on your overall health, you might not qualify for a simplified life insurance policy. If this is the case, your only other option is a guaranteed issue life insurance policy. If it’s offered in your state, then you just need to apply and you will be approved – if you can afford the premiums. The coverage amounts on these policies also tend to be low, so it might not be what you want.
Check out our tips for getting into the best possible health so that you can qualify for a traditional life insurance policy with affordable rates and the coverage you want.
Why Work With an Agent?
When it comes to applying for life insurance, it’s very easy to go online and fill out an application. But when you have a health issue, it’s best to work with an agent before you get that far.
An agent can take your unique health issues and help determine what life insurance company best fits your needs. Without taking this extra step, you run a higher risk of being denied or getting a higher rate than you might be able to afford.
Working with an agent also helps you prepare for what to expect every step of the way. This is all at no cost to you. The agent will work hard to make sure you get the right coverage at an affordable rate that your health allows.
Ready to start with a quote? Get yours today!