5 Facts About Life Insurance With RA (And How To Be Approved)

Written by Heidi Mertlich

Seeking approval is usually not recommended as a way to improve your life. For instance, we don’t advise you to look for a thumbs-up from the following:

  1. Mother-in-law
  2. Neighbors
  3. Social media

rheumatoid arthritis life insurance

Nonetheless, we do know of a few occasions where a “yes” makes life better:

  1. Home loan
  2. Job offer
  3. Life insurance 

We’ll tackle number three here: life insurance approval when you have rheumatoid arthritis (RA). 

What you need to know: There are always life insurance options available even when you have RA.

rheumatoid arthritis life insurance

Table Of Contents

  1. Approval
  2. Cost
  3. Options
  4. Needs
  5. Independent Agent 

1. You Can Be Approved

Regardless of the severity of your rheumatoid arthritis, there will be a life insurance policy available to you.

Let’s consider three examples. Phoebe, Rachel, and Monica are friends…

rheumatoid arthritis life insurance

  1. Phoebe was diagnosed with RA six months ago. She has experienced two flareups. Phoebe occasionally takes NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) to control pain. She leads an active life as a musician and massage therapist. She does not have a deformity or disability. Phoebe would likely qualify for Standard rates for traditional life insurance coverage. Think of this as a best-case scenario.
  2. Rachel received a RA diagnosis three years ago. She experiences flareups every few months. Rachel’s rheumatologist prescribed her Methotrexate to control inflammation. Rachel is able to work full-time at a coffee shop. She does have a mild deformity of one finger joint. Rachel does not have a disability. Rachel would likely qualify for Rated traditional life insurance policy. This means she qualifies for traditional life insurance, but her premiums would have a surcharge of somewhere between 20-200%.
  3. Monica was diagnosed with RA 10 years ago. She experiences flareups every month. Monica was prescribed Remicade to control inflammation. She regularly takes Prednisone for pain and swelling. Monica had to leave her job as a chef due to disability from RA. She is unable to stand for extended periods of time as a result of toe joint deformities. Monica would likely receive a Decline for traditional life insurance. However, Monica should not worry because other life insurance policies are available to her.

Note – In addition to your RA, your overall health and age impact the type of policy you will be approved for.

For example, options for life insurance for people over 50 are often different than for younger individuals.

Bottom line: The best rates you can be approved for with rheumatoid arthritis is Standard. If your RA is advanced, carriers may offer you a Rated policy or give a Decline. There are life insurance options even after a decline.

2. It Might Cost More

Life insurance carriers use underwriting to assess how much risk you pose. RA is one factor in determining the cost of your life insurance policy. Your premiums (the amount you pay in exchange for coverage) have three primary determinants:

  1. Health
  2. Family Medical History
  3. Lifestyle

1. Health – is a major factor in gauging how much you will be charged for traditional life insurance.

Life Insurance Carriers Ask About RA

Specific to rheumatoid arthritis, life insurance companies will want to know:

  • Date of diagnosis – the longer you have had RA, the more risk you pose for damage to your joints and organs.
  • Flareups – how often your flareups occur impacts the amount of inflammation in your body.
  • Deformity – what kind and how severe impacts your ability to live an independent and active life.
  • Disability – the inability to work due to a RA disability negatively affects your life insurance rates.
  • Medications – some RA drugs are considered “red-flags” to life insurance carriers.
  • Parts of body affected – joint damage, bone erosion, and organ involvement negatively impact life insurance underwriting.

General Health Questions Are Also Asked

Plan to answer questions about your overall health:

  • Height/weight
  • Tobacco use
  • Major medical conditions –
    • Diabetes
    • Cardiovascular disease or heart attack
    • Stroke
    • Cancer
    • Autoimmune conditions
    • Depression and mental health
  • Prescription medications
  • Family medical history – questions are asked to determine if you are at a higher risk.
    • Most carriers have a “cut-off age” for risk. So, for example, if your dad had a heart attack at 66 instead of 59, it may not be considered a risk.
    • Age 60 or 65 is usually the cut-off age for when a risk would count or not.

You will be asked if your immediate blood-related family members have a history of:

  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease or heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Cancer

Lifestyle choices impact underwriting, too. Again, we’re talking about how much risk you’re perceived to pose.

Underwriters will ask you about:

  • Tobacco use
  • Driving record
  • Hobbies
    • Mountain climbing
    • Scuba diving
    • Motorcross
  • Drug use
  • Bankruptcy
  • Foreign travel

Takeaway: We like to think of the underwriting department of a life insurance company as a big calculator. The more data (health, family history, and lifestyle) you enter, the larger the output (premiums) will be.

rheumatoid arthritis life insurance

3. Options Exist

Your rheumatoid arthritis cannot prevent you from purchasing from life insurance company. However, the type of policy and size of benefit can be limited by your RA, overall health and lifestyle.

Here’s a rundown of the different options you have:

Traditional Life Insurance

Usually your best option. Think of this as your fully-underwritten (or no exam equivalent) policy.

    • Works best for mild (or moderate, at most) rheumatoid arthritis
    • Large benefit amounts
    • Stricter underwriting
    • Lower premiums

Graded Benefit Life Insurance (GBLI)

Often your next best choice. If you are declined for traditional life insurance, GBLI is your subsequent option to consider.

    • Works best for moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis
    • Benefit amount typically capped at $50,000
    • More lenient underwriting, with some health questions, asked
    • Waiting period of 2-3 years for full benefit
    • Premiums cost more than traditional life insurance

Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance (GI)

Considered your last resort. If you are unable to secure Traditional or Graded Benefit Life Insurance, GI can be a good alternative.

    • Works best for severe rheumatoid arthritis
    • Benefit amount typically capped at $25,000
    • Lenient underwriting, with no health questions asked
    • Waiting period of 2-3 years for full benefit
    • Premiums cost more than traditional and graded benefit life insurance

4. Your Needs Matter

Before you move forward with a life insurance purchase, it’s important to examine your needs.

Life insurance proceeds can pay for:

  • Funeral expenses
  • Debts (credit cards, personal loans)
  • Mortgage
  • Student loan
  • Childcare
  • College tuition
  • Private education
  • Living expenses (rent, food, utilities)

Often, life insurance agents will recommend you multiply your annual income by 10 to determine an amount of life insurance to buy. However, each person’s needs are unique and blanket recommendations don’t cover everyone’s situation.

Really, it’s up to you to decide what you want your life insurance to accomplish. If you’re detail-oriented, Life Happens, a nonprofit life insurance awareness organization, offers a free calculator to assess your needs.

Important – it’s possible that your life insurance needs will be greater than the amount of life insurance you can qualify for. It happens all the time. However, some life insurance is better than none. Medical history that life insurance underwriters will consider when reviewing your life insurance application.

5. Independent Agent Is A Must

An independent life insurance agent is not held captive to a particular carrier. This is crucial. Independent agents have access to the top-rated life insurance companies and have your best interest at heart.

Not all life insurance carriers view risks in the same light. Your rheumatoid arthritis might be approved with one company, even though it was declined with another.

By partnering with an independent agent who has authoritative knowledge of RA, you will be offered the best policy you qualify for at the most competitive price.

To get started, fill out our Instant Quote form

About Rheumatoid Arthritis Life Insurance
About Rheumatoid Arthritis Life Insurance

We work with individuals across the nation to secure the best life insurance rates.

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1 Comment

I like how you mentioned that we will be asked about disabilities, medications, flareups, and other body facts. My husband and I would like to get life insurance. I’ll look for a place near me to get a quote.

June 25, 2020 at 9:01 pm
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