If you are one of the millions of people worldwide who are living with multiple sclerosis, you might be concerned about your eligibility for purchasing life insurance. While it is often difficult to shop for life insurance when you have a preexisting condition, living with multiple sclerosis doesn’t automatically bar you from obtaining life insurance.
Because the symptoms associated with multiple sclerosis vary widely in severity and can come and go with time, it is important to consider your situation when shopping for life insurance coverage. Read on to find out more about life insurance with multiple sclerosis.
Overview of Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis, commonly referred to by the acronym MS, is a complex and erratic disease affecting the central nervous system. As the National Multiple Sclerosis Society states, there are almost 1 million people, just in the United States, who are living with multiple sclerosis.
There is currently no cure for MS, though there are a variety of treatment options that can help slow the progression of the disease.
The cause of MS is still unknown, though there seem to be genetic and environmental components to its appearance. Possible symptoms include vision problems, fatigue, tremors, numbness, pain, or dizziness. The Mayo Clinic lists possible symptoms in more detail on their landing page for MS.
MS is frequently debilitating and can lead to permanent disability. It causes the body’s immune system to attack the covering of the nerves, resulting in damage to the central nervous system. This damage affects the brain’s ability to send and receive messages from the rest of the body.
Types of Multiple Sclerosis
The International Advisory Committee on Clinical Trials of MS defined four types of MS in 2013:
Clinically isolated syndrome
This type covers the first signs of possible MS, without an official diagnosis. The symptoms present at this stage haven’t progressed enough to meet the criteria for an MS diagnosis.
This is the most prevalent type of MS. Relapsing-remitting MS involves cycles where symptoms are either active or inactive and may worsen or remain the same over time.
Secondary progressive MS
Relapsing-remitting MS may transition to secondary progressive MS in some cases. Secondary progressive MS characterizes by neurologic functioning and disability progressively worsening over time. There can also be periods of symptom activity and inactivity as well as disability progression or non-progression.
Primary progressive MS
Primary progressive MS skips the relapsing-remitting cycles. Instead, functioning becomes progressively worse from symptom onset. Primary progressive MS is essentially the same as secondary progressive MS, but without a transition from relapsing-remitting MS.
While there are commonalities between the different types of MS, every case of MS is different. For that reason, insurance companies must consider the specific, individual risks involved when someone who is living with MS applies for life insurance coverage.
Multiple Sclerosis in Insurance Terms
All applications for insurance coverage go through a process called underwriting. In this process, underwriters determine the rates and coverages the insurance company can offer to the applicant. Underwriters use internal guidelines to calculate risk based on the pertinent factors provided in the application.
Because insurance is the transfer of the risk of loss from one party to another, life insurance underwriters must take into consideration pre-existing conditions. Pre-existing conditions, such as MS, generally increase the risk of loss and tend to increase rates. The presence of pre-existing conditions might even make an applicant uninsurable for some companies.
Each company has different methods for determining risk, often based on statistics and previous experience. Some companies are therefore more friendly to pre-existing conditions than others.
It is often helpful to apply through a broker such as NextGen Life Insurance to ensure you’re getting the best rates and coverage if you have a pre-existing condition like MS. You can read more about life insurance with pre-existing conditions here.
For MS specifically, applicants living with the disease may be anywhere from mostly unaffected to severely and permanently disabled. To better estimate the risk involved in insuring people with MS, underwriters will need to know the history of your condition.
In general, applicants with less impairment and stable test results may receive better rates. On the other hand, applicants who experience more severe or volatile symptoms are seen as high-risk and may be declined coverage. However, that outcome is not always the case.
To learn more about the components of a life insurance policy, we have a post for that as well.
Life Insurance with Multiple Sclerosis
Risk and loss in the world of life insurance basically means the likelihood of death or other circumstances where the insurance company must payout on the policy. It can be uncomfortable to think about our own mortality, but it’s a necessary part of life.
Life insurance helps take the financial burden of death off you and your loved ones, so it’s an important thing to consider as early as possible.
Term Life and Whole Life Policies
There are multiple options for life insurance with multiple sclerosis. You will generally be choosing between term life insurance and whole life insurance.
Term life insurance is a policy that covers a specific period of time. This option is often less expensive than a whole life policy but can be a bit of a gamble as you will have to choose the length of time you expect to live.
Whole life insurance, on the other hand, doesn’t have an end date and provides additional benefits compared to term life insurance. A whole life policy can be expensive, though.
Guaranteed Issue and Graded Death Benefit Policies
The choices available to you for life insurance when you’re living with MS can be broadened or diminished depending on the type of MS you currently have. Most people with MS, as stated previously, have relapsing-remitting MS and may be able to get better rates.
Applicants with primary or secondary progressive MS are seen as further along and therefore might be assigned less favorable rates.
Prospective life insurance applicants with a progressive form of MS might be interested in a guaranteed issue or graded death benefit policy.
A guaranteed issue policy is life insurance guaranteed without regard to your health. Applying for this type of policy doesn’t require medical exams or questions. Guaranteed issue life insurance can be prohibitively expensive, however.
They also have a waiting period of a few years where a loss won’t be covered if it occurs during this time. Coverage under this type of policy may be capped somewhere between $10,000 and $15,000 for an applicant with MS.
If you need more coverage, you also have the option of stacking policies from different companies, though this adds the additional premium of each policy on top of the first one.
Graded death benefit policies are whole life insurance that “mature” after a few years. If a loss occurs during the waiting period stipulated in the policy, the payout lowers. After the waiting period has passed, the payout would be the stated face value.
They are a bit less expensive but require medical questions and history. They also don’t require a medical exam.
Life insurance is the only type of insurance that takes your health and medical history into account. If you are a person living with multiple sclerosis, you might be concerned that you won’t be able to get life insurance. It is possible to obtain life insurance with multiple sclerosis, and it does not have to break the bank.
It all depends on your symptoms and the history of your MS. Insurance companies want to know when had your diagnosis, how severe your symptoms are, and to what extent you are able to function in daily life. They will also take into consideration the type of MS you are currently experiencing.
If you have mild symptoms and, like most people with MS, have relapsing-remitting MS, you may be able to get standard rates for life insurance. People with more severe symptoms or progressive forms of MS limit their options for life insurance. This is due to the higher risk associated with their stage of MS.
The types of policies to consider for most people living with MS are term and whole life policies. If you find you are ineligible for standard or substandard rates, you still have options. Guaranteed issue life insurance and graded death benefit life insurance are great policy options that don’t require a medical exam.
Contact NextGen Life Insurance Today
Shopping for life insurance when you’re living with multiple sclerosis can be challenging. At NextGen Life Insurance, we have access to all the best life insurance providers. We can help you find coverage with benefits and a rate that’s right for you.
The best part is, you don’t have to spend time comparison shopping. We look at possible rates across all the top-rated insurance companies to find the most affordable options for you. Get your free quote today or call us at 646-216-4199 to get started.