Quick Summary: Glaucoma is not considered a major health issue that severely impacts life insurance approval or health class. Without complications, expect to receive a Standard or Standard Plus rating. Like most medical issues, different insurance companies do have different guidelines on Glaucoma so it pays to know where to apply.
Taking the first step to finding life insurance when you have any medical issue can be scary.
But it doesn't have to be:
It is possible to find good (and affordable) life insurance even if you suffer from glaucoma. We'll show you how.
After this article, you’ll know exactly what to do. Here is what we’ll cover:
- What is Glaucoma and why do insurance carriers care about it?
- Underwriting questions to be prepared for
- Possible outcomes, health classes, and cost
- What do to if you've been denied
- Where to start for finding the lowest rates
In a hurry? Life insurance is our only business and we know it well. Researching and dealing with multiple companies is a pain. Let us handle it for you. There is no cost to use our expert help. Fill out a quote form with your contact info and we'll contact you to find the best fit among over 60 life insurance providers.
For most individuals, purchasing a life insurance policy is a relatively easy process, especially since the shopping and purchasing process can be done online or over the telephone.
Typically what happens is the applicant provides some basic information about their health and lifestyle, and a quote is generated based on that information. There are, however, certain instances that create challenges in the purchase process.
The most typical challenge in the transaction is one or more health issues. For the purpose of this article, the health issue in question is glaucoma.
What is Glaucoma?
According to the American Academy™ of Ophthalmology, Glaucoma is a disease that damages the optic nerve in your eyes. It typically happens when fluid builds up in the front of the eye. This extra fluid that builds up results in pressure in your eye leading to damage of the optic nerve.
For people over the age of 60, glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness, but this blindness can be prevented if treated early on. There are two types of glaucoma, primary open-angle, and angle-closure (also called closed-angle) glaucoma.
Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma
Considered the most common form of glaucoma, primary open-angle glaucoma happens gradually. The eye does not effectively drain the fluid, and as a result, the eye pressure builds to a point where it begins to damage the optic nerve.
Primary open-angle glaucoma is painless and does not impair the vision at first. Regular eye exams are important to detect signs of damage to the optic nerve which may not be noticed by the patient.
This type of glaucoma happens when your iris is located very close to the drainage angle in the eye. In this situation, the iris can end up blocking the drainage angle similar to a piece of paper sliding over the drain in a sink. As the drainage angle gets fully blocked, pressure on the eye rises very quickly resulting in an acute attack and becomes an emergency situation which must be treated to prevent blindness.
Glaucoma's Effect on Getting Life Insurance
The good news for applicants living with glaucoma is that the disease has a minimal impact on insurance rates.
In fact, most applicants that have suffered from glaucoma will get a Standard rating or better depending on any other health conditions that may be present.
In many cases, diabetics may end up with glaucoma, so how you are managing your diabetes will also play a large part in your insurance rating. In most cases, however, applicants who have been diagnosed and treated for glaucoma will be able to get life insurance without any problems.
What the Underwriters Want to Know About Your Glaucoma
When were you first diagnosed with glaucoma?
Glaucoma is not curable but the symptoms can be controlled and treated. If you've had the condition for a long period of time, it's more likely there could be complications due to the progression.
What is your glaucoma treatment plan? Do you see an ophthalmologist?
While they can't make it go away, regular visits to an ophthalmologist show that you are making a commitment to managing the condition
Do you have any family members with a history of glaucoma?
There is research that shows evidence of genetic links between family members with glaucoma. If your family members ended up losing their eyesight, you will be considered an increased risk for this and rated as such.
Have you had any recent testing or diagnostics done such as a fundoscopic exam?
If so, the underwriters will be interested in reviewing the results to get a clearer picture of your condition. A fundoscopic exam will help determine the presence/absence or severity of eyesight loss.
Have you had any recent flare-ups or symptoms of progressive eye loss?
If in the past 6 months there have been symptoms of increased loss of vision, this could be an indication of an intensifying condition. In some cases, the underwriter's decision may be postponed until a new fundoscopic exam is done or until some time has passed to gauge the state of the condition accurately.
Are you currently taking any medications?
There are a number of glaucoma medications and underwriting will certainly want to know what you've been using to manage the condition. These could be:
- Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors
- Prostaglandin analogs
- Adrenergic agonists
In addition to medicines directly for glaucoma, other medications will be important as well. This is because certain medications, such as some blood pressure drugs, may restrict the flow of blood to the eyes. This will want to be considered.
Glaucoma is only part of your overall life insurance picture. There will be the normal questions about your height/weight, occupation, family medical history, tobacco use, and of course your the rest of your own medical history.
- Decide where to apply - Work with you independent broker to determine the best companies for your situation
- Life insurance application - Your application is typically a lengthy questionnaire that the underwriter uses to get as much information as possible about your health history and any current health issues. The application will also contain questions regarding your lifestyle and some basic questions regarding your family’s health history.
- Application supplement - Many insurers will have a supplemental application that is specific to certain health conditions such as glaucoma. This supplement is used to drill-down even further into a specific health issue for more information.
- Medical exam - To fully underwrite your insurance application, the underwriter will order an insurance medical exam that can be done at home or work. This exam typically includes recording your height, weight, blood pressure and pulse, and obtaining a blood and urine sample that will be sent to a lab for analysis.
- Data reports - When you sign the insurance application, you are also giving written permission for the insurer to get a report from the MIB (Medical Information Bureau), MVR (motor vehicle report), and a report containing your historical prescription data.
- Attending Physician Statement (APS) - The insurer will also order an APS from the doctors who have treated you for glaucoma or any other health issue.
Once all of the underwriting information is received by the insurer, the underwriter will review the information and determine which insurance classification you qualify for. The classification is then forwarded to the agent who submitted your application, and a final quote is provided so that you can decide to proceed with your policy or consider any available alternatives.
What Does it Cost?
Best Case: If your Glaucoma has not had many complications, we have seen most clients able to qualify for Standard life insurance rates and sometimes even better.
Sample Life Insurance Premiums - Glaucoma - Standard Health Class
Worst Case: Substantial complications or other health issues besides Glaucoma could lead to a sub-standard rating which means you'll pay higher rates. It would be uncommon for someone to be completely denied for life insurance due solely to having Glaucoma.
What Happens if I Don't Qualify for Coverage?
It happens. Sometimes an unknown health issue is revealed as a result of the medical exam and blood test. Don’t panic if this happens to you. Your independent agent will likely have an alternative life insurance product that does not require a medical exam or health questions. Yes, you will pay more for your coverage, but it’s certainly much better than being uninsured.
How Do I Find the Best Rates?
You can start with our quote engine to get an idea. However, the best way is to discuss your unique situation with an independent agent that represents multiple companies. We know the underwriting guidelines at each company and can guide you. There is no cost to use our service. If you are ready to get started, please fill out a quote request and we'll contact you soon.