How to Buy Life Insurance With Chronic Back Pain

If you have chronic back pain, you’re not alone.

According to the National Institute of Health, chronic pain is a public health problem that affects about one hundred million American adults.  In fact, thirty-one million Americans suffer from low back pain at any given time.

Fortunately, it is possible to buy life insurance with chronic back pain to provide financial security for your loved ones.

Chronic back sounds benign because it’s so common, but life insurance companies carefully scrutinize each application and consider many to be high risk.  Because of this, it helps to understand the application process and have an expert on your side to help you find the companies who will view your health situation most favorably.

If you’ve been turned down before or are not sure of where to start, we’re here to help you find the best insurance, at the most affordable rates.  We’re independent agents so we represent over 60 life insurance companies.  Once we learn about your personal health situation, we’ll know where you should apply.  But first, below we explain why underwriters will examine your application so carefully.

What is Chronic Back Pain?

Chronic back pain is pain that persists up to twelve weeks or longer, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.   It’s different than acute pain which typically resolves itself within days to a few weeks.  Sadly, twenty percent of people who have acute back pain will go on to develop chronic back pain.

Life insurance companies will be very interested in the cause of your chronic back pain, the severity of your pain, and how it impacts your life.  The reasons for this are straightforward.  Chronic back pain can be caused by minor to very serious medical conditions.  Some of the more common causes include:

  • Overuse injuries, such as sprain or strains
    common symptoms of chronic back pain

    The cause and severity of chronic back pain will determine the effect on life insurance rates.

  • Fractures
  • Arthritis
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Disc degeneration
  • Herniated/ruptured disks
  • Compression and nerve root injuries
  • Inflammation
  • Sciatica
  • Pinched nerves
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Trauma
  • Congenital anomalies
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Endometriosis
  • Shingles
  • Osteoporosis
  • Failed back surgery syndrome
  • Cancer

Life insurance underwriters will view the application of someone whose back pain is caused by a serious health problem such as cancer very differently than someone with an overuse injury.  Those differences directly impact rates, lead to denials, and are the reason for the sometimes lengthy application process.

Back pain that reduces the quality of your life can also impact your health.  If you can’t get enough exercise, sleep well, and even stress can contribute to additional medical problems and put you at higher risk of serious health problems, such as cardiovascular disease.

Chronic Back Pain Management

The treatment of back pain can also contribute to the affordability of your policy.

Not only will they want to know the cause of your back pain, but they’ll also want to know how you manage your pain.  For instance, they will ask if you use pain medication or if manage your pain with alternative treatments such as chiropractic, massage, acupuncture, heat therapy, nutritional supplements, and exercise.  People who are able to manage their pain without drugs are viewed as less a risk than those whose pain is so great that they must regularly take opiates.

Unfortunately, people who regularly use opiates will also be viewed as a higher risk than a person who only uses nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications.   The reason for this is simple since opiate increases the risk of addiction, gastrointestinal problems, cardiovascular problems, endocrine system damage, increased fractures, depression, and overdose.

Not only will they want to know what you’re doing for pain control, but they’ll also want to know how the pain is affecting your life.  For instance, if you are able to work, exercise, enjoy the activities of daily living, all impact your application.

What type of surgery or surgeries you’ve had, or if you need surgical intervention, or if your pain situation cannot be improved with surgery will all be considered by underwriting.

Questions You Can Expect To Be Asked about Your Chronic Back Pain

When you consider the possible causes and treatment of chronic back pain, it becomes easy to see why the application process can seem tough, but it doesn’t have to be.  We have guided many through the process and will make it simple as possible for you too.

However, you can expect to answer lots of questions about your past and current health history.  It’s important to answer all questions truthfully as leaving out an important detail can complicate the application process or even lead to an unnecessary denial.

The questions about your health information will include:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Height/weight
  • Diagnosis/what is the cause of your pain
  • Any diagnosed conditions of the spine such as kyphosis or scoliosis
  • How the pain restricts your life
  • If you’ve been hospitalized
  • Is your pain constant or intermittent
  • If you’ve surgery or plan to have surgery
  • What medications you’re taking
  • Details about your pain
  • Any other medical conditions you have
  • Occupation/income
  • Lifestyle habits such as if you smoke, drink, or take drugs not prescribed by your doctor

How Can I Get Affordable Life Insurance?

Once your application is approved, you’ll be assigned to a rate class.  This rate class determines how much you’ll ultimately pay for insurance.  If you have well-controlled pain and no other serious health problems, you’ll most likely be assigned to a standard rate class.

However, if your back pain and treatment is caused by a more serious health condition and poses a higher than average risk to the insurer, you will most likely be assigned to a substandard or table rated policy.

The best way to reduce the risk of denial and get the most affordable rates is to work with an agent who has experience in helping high-risk clients.  We do this every day and can help save you time and frustration.

We’ll assist you with the application, answer you’re your questions, and help you apply to only those companies who will view your situation most positively.  There is no one size fits all life insurance company when it comes to chronic back pain.

We specialize in helping people find the best company for their individual needs.  There is no charge for our service.  To get started or ask a question, please feel free to contact us today.


  • Ty Stewart

    Ty Stewart is a founder and contributor of He started researching and studying about life insurance when he got his first policy for his own family. He has been featured as a life insurance expert speaker at agent conventions and in top publications. As an independent licensed life insurance agent he has helped clients nationwide to secure affordable coverage while making the process simple. Stewart Ty
  • Bennett Bier

    I’m Bennett Bier, owner, author and fact checker of Simple Life Insure. I believe working with a small independent broker offers consumers more personal attention and superior customer service. As an independent agent licensed in all 50 states and the District of Columbia I have access to many of the top A+ rated life insurance carriers. This lets me locate a plan that you will qualify for while saving you money at the same time. Over the years I have mastered the art of underwriting, getting approvals even for my highest risk clients. I’m also likely the person that will answer the phone when you call. Bier Bennett