COPD and Life Insurance- How Do They Connect?

COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) is a definite tick on an underwriter’s list when you apply for life insurance, but it doesn’t have to take you out of the conversation. As with many other severe illnesses, your life insurance experience will depend solely on how your illness is being treated and coped with.

According to the American Lung Association, over 15 million people have been reportedly diagnosed with COPD. This disease — which is actually a group of respiratory problems including chronic bronchitis and emphysema — has become one of the leading causes of death among Americans (fourth in the country as stated by the CDC).

One of the leading causes of COPD is cigarette smoking (responsible for as many as 80% of COPD-related deaths), although one in four cases have been found to originate from other factors; asthma, industrial chemical fumes, and exposure to air pollution have been known to develop into COPD. The disease often presents itself as a nagging, hacking cough, shortness of breath while performing physically demanding tasks (or even simple tasks in more extreme cases), wheezing or whistling sounds while breathing, and tightness in the chest.

COPD is also a progressive disease, meaning that over time symptoms can worsen, affecting your blood-oxygen levels, mental functions, heart rate, and weight management. Childhood and teenage smoking have been found to have adverse effects on lung development, increasing the chances of COPD showing up in adulthood.

Insurers use their own rating systems to determine how they can best service your specific needs. Your answers to questions relating to the level of COPD (minimal, mild, moderate, severe, or extreme), whether or not you use tobacco, your age, symptoms, and the presence (or absence) of other pre-existing respiratory illnesses. It is important to note that most insurers will flat out deny applicants who have been diagnosed with COPD and are still tobacco smokers. This is because of the damage tobacco smoke does to an already challenged respiratory system, having either been obstructed by mucus, inflammation, or impaired operation of the lungs. It is recommended by health experts that COPD sufferers stop any and all tobacco use.

If you’ve been diagnosed with COPD, it will likely mean a spike in health care costs, but finding the right life insurance policy can be a defense against the perils that follow the bad news. Prospectives can aim either for Non-Med plans or, if the illness is on the lower end of the severity scale and you are a non-smoker, a standard plan may be available.

Life Insurers To Consider When Applying For Coverage After A COPD Diagnosis

Non-Med Carriers: American National Insurance (ANICO), Phoenix Insurance Group
(Standard coverage available for those older than age 40 with mild symptoms based on the absence of tobacco use in any form in the past 2 years, and no indication of chronic and/or progressive symptoms, such as shortness of breath at rest, and no history of co-existing asthma or other rate-able conditions.)
Simplified Issue Carriers: SagicorNow, Foresters Financial”