We receive much communication from people asking if it is possible to obtain life insurance with multiple sclerosis.
The answer is: Yes, someone with Multiple Sclerosis can obtain life insurance.
Moreover, most of the time, very easily.
We won’t go into details of multiple sclerosis, drugs, treatment, etc. If you are reading this article, chances are you already know these. We will cut to the chase. We will tell you what you need to do to obtain life insurance with Multiple Sclerosis.
In this article, we will discuss the following. Feel free to click and jump around as needed:
- 5 Things To Understand When Applying For Life Insurance With Multiple Sclerosis
- Underwriting For People With Multiple Sclerosis
- Possible Life Insurance Outcomes For People With Multiple Sclerosis (With Premiums)
- Favorable Carriers For People With Multiple Sclerosis
- Smaller Life Insurance Death Benefits For Multiple Sclerosis
- Other Life Insurance Options For People With Multiple Sclerosis
Let’s start with the 5 things you need to understand about the life insurance process.
5 Things To Understand When Applying For Life Insurance With Multiple Sclerosis
(1) A Good Health Classification Is Possible
Generally speaking, insurance actuaries classify risks based on health. Underwriting is different for many types of insurance. For life insurance (disability and long-term care, too), health status is a factor with underwriting. Preferred best is the best health classification category. Conversely, if someone has significant health conditions, the person could be “rated” (i.e. pay a higher premium) or declined altogether.
The good news is that someone with multiple sclerosis can obtain a good health rating. Typically, the best health rating that can be attained is standard, which you can think as average, normal health. However, that is tough as well. Usually, a small table rating is a normal underwriting outcome for people with Multiple Sclerosis. Don’t distress, however. A small table rating is still a very good outcome as it generally identifies with normal health.
We will discuss this in more detail in our underwriting section later.
(2) Completely Explain Your Health History
We can’t stress it enough: we and the carrier need to completely understand your health history. Be truthful about your condition on the application. Carriers will want to know your date of diagnosis, the date of your last attack, type of MS, and your health otherwise. They will want to know the treatments you have had, response to treatments, and if the condition has improved or remained steady over time. Otherwise, you could be applying to the wrong insurance company! (see #5 below)
(3) A Healthy Lifestyle Can Positively Affect Your Premiums
Many prominent health publications state that maintaining a healthy lifestyle can mitigate the effects of Multiple Sclerosis. If you visit your doctor and neurologist routinely, take care of yourself, and maintain an active and healthy lifestyle, that will be a better health classification compared to someone who smokes and does not maintain a good lifestyle. While we can’t guarantee what health classification you will obtain, we can guarantee that diet, exercise, and following your regimen will lead to a lower premium than someone who does not.
It is also crucial that your health records are up to date. Having recent health information is crucial to an accurate health classification. Our advice is to make sure from your primary doctor and neurologist that your health records are up to date before applying for life insurance.
(4) The Severity Of Your Condition Matters
Based on your health information, insurers will classify you as mild, moderate, or severe. A mild case of multiple sclerosis will have the best chance of a standard rating (assuming good health otherwise). Mild cases have infrequent attacks and do not cause disability. Moderate cases have more frequent attacks, but the person is not disabled and can still work, walk, and use their extremities. Severe cases are those where the person is, unfortunately, disabled and needs a wheelchair or some other type of ambulatory device. Severe cases are usually rated or declined altogether.
(5) The Carrier Selection Is Important
Underwriting guidelines are different among carriers. Some carriers will automatically decline those with MS while others will take the time to understand your situation and classify you accordingly. We at My Family Life Insurance only work with those carriers that have a history and expertise of underwriting individuals with Multiple Sclerosis. It is important that you contact us first so we can help you identify those favorable carriers.
Underwriting For People With Multiple Sclerosis
In this section, we will focus on the types of Multiple Sclerosis, your prognosis, and medication. We will discuss how these factors affect underwriting. Underwriting is the process of the carrier reviewing your personal situation and makes an offer of insurance coverage. Of course, the lower the premium all things being equal, the better.
Here are the factors underwriting departments generally consider for people with Multiple Sclerosis:
- The type matters
- When you were diagnosed
- How many attacks and last attack
- What medication do you take
- Other health issues
The Type Matters
I’m sure you are aware of the types of Multiple Sclerosis. This is important: the MS type you have upon application has an effect on the underwriting outcome.
Relapsing-Remitting MS (RRMS) – this is the most common type of Multiple Sclerosis diagnosed. People with RRMS demonstrate periods of remission (no flare-ups or attacks) and then periods of relapses (temporary flare-ups). If you have RRMS, this is the best case, generally speaking, for life insurance coverage.
Secondary-Progressive MS (SPMS) – this is the next stage following RRMS. You feel the effects of MS and no periods of remission. Symptoms of MS tend to slowly worsen over time. If you have SPMS upon application, life insurance coverage approval will be a bit harder, but available.
Primary-Progressive MS (PPMS) – Not many people are diagnosed with this type at the onset, about 10% according to the National MS Society. You have no remission or relapsing features. Moreover, your condition worsens from the onset. If you have PPMS upon application, life insurance coverage approval will be a bit harder, but available.
Progressive-Relapsing MS (PRMS) – This is a progressive diagnosis of MS. This type is characterized by steadily worsening from onset with no indication of remission. If you have PRMS, life insurance approval may be difficult.
Having your EDSS Score from your neurologist is helpful for the underwriter. Your EDSS score indicates your MS dysfunction and possible level of disability.
Let’s talk about your diagnosis date next.
Your Diagnosis Date
Let’s say you were diagnosed with MS last week, and now you want life insurance. As I always say, and I am sure you hear elsewhere, the best time for anything is now.
Unfortunately, that is not how life insurance underwriting departments see you with Multiple Sclerosis.
Generally speaking, they will decline you if you apply within a year of diagnosis.
Underwriting departments want to see how you react to your treatment and your prognosis.
So, usually after a year of your diagnosis, you can start researching carriers and companies for life insurance. Contact us or use the form below as we can directly contact all of the carriers which favorably insure people with Multiple Sclerosis. We can find out, based on your situation, a tentative premium from the carriers.
The Number Of Flare Ups / Attacks
A flare up or attack is the occurrence or re-occurrence of a symptom of MS such as vision problems, walking, use of hands, etc. After a few days the flare up goes away. Some flare-ups last for longer periods.
Knowing the number of flare-ups you had, the last one, and severity (i.e. were you out of work and for how long) are important pieces of information. Those people who have not experienced a flare-up, or one in a long time, have the best chance for a lower premium (all other things being equal).
There are various medications available for people with Multiple Sclerosis. Some are injectable and others are oral.
Underwriters expect medication prescribed to you. The fewer medications prescribed, generally the better.
However, there’s more to the medication story. Carriers will also look at other medication you take for ancillary conditions derived from MS. These conditions include bladder problems, depression, bowel dysfunction, or fatigue.
Other Health Issues
Which brings us to a final point about life insurance underwriting for people with Multiple Sclerosis. Underwriters look at the whole you, not just the severity of you Multiple Sclerosis. So, they will consider your:
- height and weight / BMI
- tobacco use
- drug use
- other health conditions (as mentioned previously)
- financial background and credit history
Underwriting departments look at the whole “you”. Let’s say you have RRMS and taking no medication. That is great! However, you smoke and have an above average BMI. Well, that’s unfavorable, and you’ll pay a higher premium accordingly.
People with MS who have:
- demonstrated positive prognosis on managing their condition,
- followed their treatment plan with their neurologist,
- low or no ancillary conditions derived from the MS, and
- promote a healthy regime of diet and exercise
will pay much lower premiums than someone who does not.
Having said all this, if you want a life insurance policy with a large death benefit, you will have to go through a full underwriting process where the underwriter reviews your health history and neurology records and requires a paramedical exam.
Now that you know the underwriting process, let’s talk about the possible coverage outcomes for someone with Multiple Sclerosis.
Possible Life Insurance Outcomes For Someone With Multiple Sclerosis
The below is a general guide and based on our interaction and cases with people with Multiple Sclerosis.
Remember, most likely you will have a table rating, which is not all that bad provided you are healthy every other way.
There are health classifications called Preferred Best and Preferred. You pay the lowest premiums here. However, these are classifications are unavailable for someone with Multiple Sclerosis.
But, Standard classification might be. We are happy to say some of our clients attained a standard health classification with no table rating. However, these clients were:
- Preferred Best health otherwise
- Not on medication (yet)
- Had a good doctor history
- Relapsing-Remitting diagnosis
- Very infrequent attacks / flare-ups (as attested in doctor’s records)
Don’t despair if you are on medication. If you have a good height/weight. Don’t use tobacco, etc, infrequent attacks, and have a minor health complication from the MS, then likely you’ll be in the table 2 to table 4 range. This is still a good premium range. A majority of our clients with RRMS fall into this range.
Feel free to check out the potential premiums yourself. Just enter the pertinent information in the quoter and make sure you select table 2 or table 4 to get an idea. Remember, this is just an estimate.
If you have PPMS or PRMS, your chances of a lower table rating are much more slim. You’ll likely fall into the table 6 to a possible decline depending on your condition.
If you are disabled and can’t work due to the MS, or you need a walker or need other assisted device, the carrier will likely decline your application.
If you are declined, don’t despair. We have additional life insurance options available which we discuss further in the article.
Favorable Carriers For People With Multiple Sclerosis
You likely realize that not every carrier insures people with MS. Some carriers flat out decline.
However, many do underwrite people with Multiple Sclerosis. We have had success with the following life insurance carriers insure people with Multiple Sclerosis:
- American National
- Minnesota Life
The right carrier really depends on your situation.
Smaller Life Insurance Policies For People With Multiple Sclerosis
We receive a request like this from time to time:
John, all I really need is a $50,000 life insurance policy.
While many agencies may not service a request like this, we can.
If you are looking for a small term life insurance policy, we can help you out. We work with several carriers that offer $10,000 to up to $90,000 with limited health questions.
Additionally, we work with many carriers on the whole life insurance or permanent insurance side.
These insurances plans are appropriate for your burial needs or final expenses.
As odd as it may sound, it is sometimes easier to apply and approved by a small whole life or permanent insurance carrier.
Look at the application here. This is a real application for whole life insurance.
Nevertheless, you can see there are many options for life insurance.
This brings us to a quick discussion on other life insurance options available.
Other Life Insurance Options For People With Multiple Sclerosis
I mentioned earlier that you have to go through full underwriting for the best health classification and the best rate.
However, what if you don’t want to do that?
Or, if you want a small death benefit policy (as discussed earlier)?
Or, if you have PPMS, PRMS, or you’ve been through underwriting in which the outcome was not favorable?
We have a potential option for you with one question to answer. We discuss this next.
(Almost) Guaranteed Insurance For People With Multiple Sclerosis
It is possible to obtain up to $100,000 of either term life insurance or universal life insurance, with one question. We call it (almost) guaranteed issue life insurance.
The question is:
Are you actively at work and able to perform the normal activities of someone of like age?
Some states have an alternative question on the second part:
…are you able to before the normal duties of your job?
Technically, there are 2 additional questions, but they do not pertain directly to you.
So, you answer this question. If you answer truthfully, then you will have life insurance.
Truth be told, you’ll likely pay a lot less if you went through the underwriting process, but this insurance is available.
Don’t even think about lying because the carrier will find out, and that will make it hard on you and your beneficiaries.
In our link to the (almost) guaranteed issue life insurance, you can read more about the details of this viable life insurance.
Declined For Life Insurance? Yes, You Still Have Options
Declined applications will happen, usually in severe cases or when the application occurs within a year of diagnosis. In the latter case, carriers need a minimum of a year or two to develop an idea of your condition. Any timeframe less than a year is usually a decline. If that is the case, the next best option is a guaranteed issue life insurance policy.
These policies have no underwriting. You only need to fill out a simple application and pay the premium. Then, you have life insurance. There are a couple of drawbacks. They are more expensive with low death benefits, up to $25,000.
While they are more expensive, they are advantageous. We work with a few plans that offer affordable guaranteed issue life insurance and one that offers guaranteed issue life insurance for people under age 40.
Our advice: if you are declined for life insurance because of your timeframe, these policies can fill a temporary gap on the possibility of your unexpected death. We can then look into modifying the coverage on the guaranteed life insurance policy once this timeframe is established.
As we mentioned, declines do happen. However, if you have mild or moderate Multiple Sclerosis, you should be able to obtain life insurance. The only reason you could not is from other health conditions affecting your overall health. If you are healthy otherwise, and you have been declined, chances are you applied with the wrong carrier.
OK, Sounds Good. What Else Do I Need To Apply For Life Insurance With Multiple Sclerosis?
We suggest that you fill out and print this multiple sclerosis questionnaire. It will have everything we need to start the process of accurately identifying the level of your Multiple Sclerosis. Then, contact us for our assistance. If you have read our other articles, you know we place great importance on you and your family.
Yes, it is very likely that someone can obtain life insurance with multiple sclerosis. You just need to be mindful of the application process. Working with an independent insurance agency that specializes in helping individuals obtain life insurance with Multiple Sclerosis can help with this important step. We at My Family Life Insurance have helped many individuals with Multiple Sclerosis obtain life insurance. We know what carriers look for on the application and can direct you to the right carrier. Feel free to contact us. We will be more than happy to help you and your family.