Living with Crohn’s disease can be painful and disruptive, and it may affect your ability to get life insurance. Find out what you need to know.
If you are one of the more than 750,000 people who have Crohn’s disease, you know how disruptive it can be to everyday life. While the condition is quite rare, those that have it can be affected in a variety of ways.
One side effect of Crohn’s disease is that it can impact your ability to get good rates on life insurance. In this article, we want to outline how this condition can affect your premiums and what you can expect when consulting with a life insurance agent.
What is Crohn’s Disease?
Simply put, this condition is a form of inflammatory bowel disease. It can impact patients in several different ways, including sharp abdominal pain, fatigue, extreme diarrhea, weight loss, and potentially surgery. Sufferers can experience both mild and severe symptoms, and many people with Crohn’s disease can get into remission.
This condition can develop anywhere in the gastrointestinal tract, meaning that it could potentially flare up at any point between the mouth and the anus. However, for most patients, it appears in the small intestine.
Women are slightly more prone to getting Crohn’s disease, although it often affects both sexes equally. Also, about 20 percent of Crohn’s patients have a blood relative who has a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
While Crohn’s disease can go into remission, about two-thirds of patients can experience a relapse within five years. Typically, the disease flares up between the ages of 15 and 35, although it can continue beyond that age as well.
It’s unclear what causes Crohn’s disease, but some factors that can contribute to its development include genetics, environmental triggers, and your immune system. Because these factors can differ between patients, that accounts for the disparity between the severity of the disease. Some patients may require surgery or other hospitalization, while others may be able to manage Crohn’s with medication.
Currently, there is no cure for Crohn’s disease, and it is a permanent chronic condition. While remission is possible, it’s vital for patients to follow a treatment plan to ensure that flare-ups are less frequent. Also, because this disease is similar to ulcerative colitis, patients have to take various medical tests to determine that they have Crohn’s and not a different form of IBD.
Getting Life Insurance With Crohn’s Disease
First of all, yes, you can get life insurance with Crohn’s disease. Because this condition is not typically fatal, sufferers don’t have to worry about an automatic denial. However, if you do have Crohn’s, you probably will pay higher premiums. Depending on the severity of the disease, you could wind up paying a lot more for life insurance than those without Crohn’s.
Because this condition can affect patients differently, we want to walk you through what to expect when talking with an insurance agent.
Factors When Determining Life Insurance Rates
As you probably know, life insurance companies want to minimize their level of risk when creating new policies. If you’re a healthy individual with no significant diseases or conditions, you can get preferred plus rates, which means that you pay much less for life insurance.
For Crohn’s patients, however, these companies will need to look at your situation on a case-by-case basis. Again, this disease affects people differently, so it’s crucial that you provide as much detailed information about your diagnosis and treatment as possible. Here’s a breakdown of the different factors that insurance companies will pay attention to when drafting a policy.
Date of Diagnosis
Typically speaking, the first few years after getting diagnosed with Crohn’s disease are the most dangerous. Because you have a much higher chance of developing complications or becoming hospitalized, your premiums will be much more expensive.
If you have recently been diagnosed, or it’s only been a couple of years, you may want to wait to get life insurance. In fact, almost all insurers will deny you if it’s been less than six months since your diagnosis, so keep that in mind as well.
That being said, peace of mind for your loved ones is always a priority. If you do decide to get a policy within the first few years of getting diagnosed, you can talk to your insurer about adjusting your rates once the disease is under control.
Usually, insurance companies are willing to be flexible with your premiums if your condition improves over time. Still, they will need to see hard evidence of that before lowering your costs.
Your age at diagnosis can also impact your insurance rates. For example, if you’re over 40, you likely won’t have to pay as much as someone who is diagnosed at a younger age. The reason for lower premiums after 40 is that studies show that younger sufferers have a higher risk of developing colon cancer or getting complications that could lead to death.
The exact parameters will vary between insurance companies, so be sure to discuss how your age affects your rates.
Frequency and Severity of Flare-Ups
As you can imagine, the more often you experience Crohn’s symptoms, the more likely you will have to pay higher premiums. This fact is particularly true if you are hospitalized regularly because of the disease.
Some examples of severe flare-ups can include:
- Intestinal Rupture – when a hole develops in the intestines
- Massive Distension – extreme bloating of the stomach
- Hemorrhage – internal bleeding as a result of Crohn’s symptoms
- Liver Inflammation
- Intestinal Obstructions or Perforations – blockages within the intestines, or holes that develop in the GI tract
Most of these symptoms will require hospitalization. Your insurance agent will want to look at how often you are hospitalized as a direct result of having Crohn’s disease. Typically, a higher frequency of hospital visits will increase your rates – rarely does it cause an insurer to deny you altogether.
In some cases, people living with Crohn’s will undergo surgery to treat the disease. While this kind of procedure can often help push your body into remission, insurers will want to wait and see how things play out before determining your rating. Just as you likely can’t get a quote within six months of diagnosis, you will want to wait after your surgery to talk to an agent.
The longer you wait, the more that insurers can see how well the procedure helped. That can create more favorable odds of paying less in premiums.
While Crohn’s disease itself is disruptive and painful, it can lead to a variety of additional symptoms and complications. Insurance companies want to get a comprehensive understanding of how your condition is affecting the rest of your body. Some examples of secondary complications can include:
- Bowel Obstructions – since Crohn’s can cause thickening of the intestinal walls, you may develop blockages that require surgery to remove.
- Malnutrition – because diarrhea is a common symptom of Crohn’s, you may be losing more nutrients than you’re eating. If you do become malnourished, it can complicate your health even further.
- Anal Fissures – these are small tears that occur in the skin surrounding the anus.
- Fistulas – a fistula is an abnormal connection between body parts. With Crohn’s disease, fistulas usually develop when an ulcer breaks through the intestinal wall. In some cases, food can pass through these fistulas, leading to infections or abscesses.
- Colon Cancer – typically, people with Crohn’s have an elevated chance of getting colon cancer. This is particularly true if they are diagnosed at an early age.
As with the disease itself, the frequency and severity of these complications can affect your premiums and life insurance rating. While many of these additional symptoms are treatable and manageable, they can increase your payment costs.
It’s always best to disclose any side effects that you are experiencing. Even though you may want to try and lower your rates, failure to tell the insurance company can lead to a denial of a claim. You don’t want to put your loved ones in that kind of position.
Medication and Treatment
Because Crohn’s disease is a chronic condition, insurance companies want to make sure that you are managing it as much as possible. You may be taking medication to treat the disease, as well as undergoing other treatments to minimize its impact on your life.
Once you develop a plan with your doctor, you want to keep your insurer in the loop. Typically, when these companies can see that you are committed to combating the disease, they will rank you more favorably. On the other hand, if you neglect treatment, it could worsen your symptoms, which will make you a higher risk.
Life Insurance Rates With Crohn’s Disease
Overall, you will need to submit as much information to your insurance carrier regarding your condition. Each company looks at Crohn’s patients on a case-by-case basis, meaning that there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
After looking at your risk factors, current health, and treatment plan, you will be placed in one of the following categories.
Having Crohn’s disease prevents you from getting this ranking. No matter what, you will have to pay more than someone without the disease.
In rare cases, people with Crohn’s may be able to obtain a preferred rating. However, for you to qualify, you will typically need to be in remission for several years and have mild symptoms. As long as you haven’t had any flare-ups or complications from the disease in years, you might be able to get preferred status.
Typically speaking, Crohn’s patients can hope to get a standard rating. While this category isn’t the most common one offered to people with the disease, it is possible to get it.
Again, your ranking will depend on a variety of factors. This includes the last time you had a flare-up and whether you’re in remission. Usually, you have to be in remission for at least three years before you can expect a standard rating.
Most insurance companies will give you a table rating when approving you for life insurance with Crohn’s disease. The table contains variables like age of diagnosis, treatment plans, symptoms, and other factors. A table rating is considered substandard. But it also means that you can get sufficient coverage, even if you have to pay more overall.
It’s pretty rare for insurance companies to deny Crohn’s patients, but it does happen. Some reasons that you will get rejected include:
- Recent Diagnosis – as we mentioned, if you were diagnosed less than six months ago, almost all insurance companies will refuse coverage.
- Severe Symptoms or Complications – if you have developed colon cancer or other significant side effects from the disease, some carriers will deny you altogether.
- Frequent Hospitalization – going in and out of the hospital regularly can make the risk too high for many insurance companies.
When to Apply for Life Insurance With Crohn’s Disease
Suffering from this condition can be a struggle no matter what. But, it can also create issues when trying to apply for life insurance. On the one hand, you want to wait so that enough time has passed since your last flare-up. For example, if you wait until you’ve crossed the three-year mark, your rates will likely be much better overall.
On the other hand, waiting can potentially create problems. If you wait two years and then have a flare-up, you will either have to wait another three years or get a substandard rate. Also, in worst-case scenarios, if something terrible happens, you could be putting your loved ones in a bad situation.
Typically, it’s better to apply for life insurance when your Crohn’s symptoms are under control. While flare-ups can occur at any time, you don’t want to wait for some arbitrary deadline.
As we mentioned, your insurer can re-evaluate your condition later on and improve your ranking accordingly. So, even if you’re paying higher premiums now, it’s worth it to get peace of mind for your family.
Once you do cross the three-year threshold, you can likely start paying less. No matter what, talk to your life insurance agent about your situation to find the right solution for your needs.
Let NextGen Life Insurance Help
The best way to get life insurance with Crohn’s disease is to compare plans and rates. At NextGen Life Insurance, we can help you find the best policy for both you and your loved ones. We shop around so that you get the right coverage at the right price. Don’t let Crohn’s get you down – we can help.