Just because you have Multiple Sclerosis doesn’t mean you can’t get life insurance.
While MS, an unpredictable autoimmune disease, will make it more difficult to get insured, many people with this condition have bought life insurance.
Whether you can qualify is based on the severity, how long you’ve been sick, and your overall health. Even if you don’t qualify for standard life insurance, there are other options such as guaranteed graded benefit life insurance policies that you can be approved for even if you have Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis or Secondary Progressive MS.
We’ve put together an explanation of the underwriting standards for MS. With this information, you can see what to expect when you apply for insurance as well as learn how to increase your chances of getting a fair rating.
You can also get the easy quoting process started by completing our Compare Quotes form on this web page, and let us help you find the best company for MS patients.
Life Insurance Underwriting for Multiple Sclerosis
When you talk with a life insurance adviser on the phone to apply for insurance, he or she should ask you about your MS. You should expect to answer:
- How old were you when you were diagnosed with MS?
- How many attacks like seizures have you had in total?
- When was the most recent attack?
- What treatments have you undergone for your condition?
- How did you respond to past treatments? Has your condition gotten better or worse over time?
- Do you currently smoke cigarettes?
- What medications are you taking for your disease?
Standard prescriptions for Multiple Sclerosis include: Corticosteroids, Beta interferons, Copaxone, Gilenya, and muscle relaxants. These prescriptions won’t automatically get you declined depending on your MS. Some of these prescriptions are daily tablets, while some are either injections or infusions. It is important to constantly meet with your medical provider, and to try to keep your MS under control and hopefully in a state of remission.
If you have other medical conditions, also continue to keep those conditions under control with medications if necessary.
Be sure to provide all information you have about your condition. Insurance underwriters get nervous when they are missing information about a disease.
If you don’t clearly describe the state of your MS, you increase the chance that your application will be rejected or will result in a bad rating. With MS you do fall into an Impaired Risk Category to life insurance companies. Typically the four courses of Multiple Sclerosis are as follows:
- CIS – Clinically Isolated Syndrome – this occurs during the first time of neurologic symptoms that last 24 hours and is caused by inflammation in the central nervous system, and can be either monofocal or multifocal. There is usually almost always some type of recovery -either partial or complete.
- RRMS – Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis – this is the most common course – and has specifically defined attacks of new or increasing neurologic symptoms. Someone during this course can also be classified as active or not active, and worsening or not worsening depending on the degree of disability.
- SPMS – Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis – SPMS is normally the second course, or phase, of MS. Generally people diagnosed with RRMS will eventually transition to SPMS, and further be classified as active or not active, and with or without progression.
- PPMS – Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis – this course is generally more difficult to diagnose and treat than RRMS and SPMS. There are more lesions on the spinal cord than in the brain, and makes it more difficult to walk and keep down a job. This course affects women and men the same.
Life insurance companies look at various aspects of MS differently from each other, and their underwriting guidelines will also be different. That is why it is important to let a life insurance adviser with experience with MS to help you get the lowest life insurance premiums for your condition. We have companies such as Protective, MetLife, Banner Life, Transamerica, Prudential and other life insurance companies who are willing to underwrite applicants with MS.
As independent brokers, we represent multiple insurance companies to get you the best quote. Just complete the brief Compare Quotes form on this page.
Life Insurance Quotes with MS
When you’re shopping around for life insurance as an applicant with MS, insurers will rate the severity of your condition as mild, moderate or severe. A mild case has infrequent, rare attacks and caused no disability. A moderate case causes attacks that happen more frequently but has not caused disability. A severe case causes someone to be in a wheelchair or bedridden.
In addition, insurers will look at the time since your diagnosis. More time is better because it makes it more clear how severe your condition is. While each insurance company uses a different rating system, here are some general underwriting rules for MS so you know what to expect before applying.
- Preferred Plus: Impossible for MS. There are no insurance companies who offer these rates to people with MS.
- Preferred: Nearly impossible, happens in very rare cases. To qualify, you must have been diagnosed when you were younger than 35, your MS must be mild, it must have been at least five years since your last attack, and you must be in perfect health otherwise. Even in this ideal scenario, the odds of getting a preferred policy are still low.
- Standard: Probably your best possible rating. To qualify, your MS must be mild, it must have been a few years since your last attack, and you are in good health otherwise.
- Table Rating (substandard): This is where a lot of MS applicants end up. Depending on the severity of your MS, the length of time since your diagnosis, the length of time since your last attack, your age when you were diagnosed, whether you are showing any improvement due to treatments, and your overall health. Also it doesn’t help if you smoke cigarettes or have other serious medical conditions like diabetes, or heart problems.
- Declines: Most applications within a year of an MS diagnosis. Insurers need more medical history to make a decision. Also applicants with severe MS have a high chance of a decline. If you are not seeing a doctor regularly and are not treating your condition, you could also get declined.
Keep in mind that if your MS has progressed to the most serious stage, and you are declined by life insurance, then you do have the option of looking at the Guaranteed Issue life insurance. Even though the premiums are high and the death benefit may be low, it is still an option if you are looking at coverage to help pay funeral costs or to pay off medical bills. Mutual of Omaha life insurance company is one of the companies we sometimes use in a situation like this.
One of the reasons life insurance companies are concerned about issuing life insurance to consumers with MS is that one of the most commons symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis patients is clinical depression. Studies have shown that this type of depression is one of the most serious forms, and can lead to an increased percentage of suicide. Life insurance policies typically do have a 2 year contestability clause that has a suicide exclusion.
Multiple Sclerosis Insurance Case Studies
With MS, a little planning ahead of time makes a big difference for your life insurance application. Here a couple real life situations that show how important it is to be prepared. Also consider who would be your best beneficiary before applying.
Case Study #1: Male, 42 y/o, non-smoker, diagnosed with MS at 34, mild case, last attack was at age 36, not taking any medications, no other health issues.
Besides his MS attacks several years ago, he didn’t have any serious health problems. He went through all the treatments his doctor recommended and lived a very healthy lifestyle. This helped keep his condition under control so he hadn’t had an attack in over six years. When he went through the application process, he got rated policies at higher rates.
This is because insurers didn’t get enough information about his condition. We recommended he ask his doctor to write a letter describing how his MS was under control and that the applicant was in great health. He did this and he was able to get a preferred policy.
Case Study #2: Female, 57 y/o, non-smoker, diagnosed with MS at 51, moderate case, missed scheduled treatments for a few years, started seeing her doctor regularly recently and getting proper treatment
When this applicant first was diagnosed with MS, she did not do a good job managing the disease. She missed treatments and didn’t see her doctor as often as was recommended. Two years ago, she started following her doctor’s orders and followed the proper treatment for her condition. She applied, and then she was denied.
This was because insurers saw her poor treatment history on her medical records. We suggested she ask her doctor if he had fully updated her medical records. He hadn’t. When he entered in the updated information, the applicant reapplied. After she did this, she got a rated policy.
While your MS will make it more difficult to get life insurance, it is still definitely possible. You just need to be smart about your application. One way to increase your chances of getting insured is to partner with an insurance agent who is an expert on life insurance with MS.