Life Insurance with Arthritis: 3 Things to Remember

Ty Stewart - Founder - Written by Ty Stewart - Last Updated October 18, 2018

Arthritis is a very common health condition that affects millions of Americans. According to the Centers for Disease Control in 2015, about 1 in 5 US adults has doctor-diagnosed arthritis.

You might be wondering what premiums you can expect when applying for life insurance with arthritis?

Type of Arthritis is an Important Factor

First, life insurance companies will look at what type of arthritis you are diagnosed with. The two most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoarthritis occurs when the protective cartilage between joints starts breaking down. This can often be related to age and tends to get worse as an individual gets older. Osteoarthritis is typically less debilitating of these two types of arthritis.

It can usually be managed with over the counter medications such as acetaminophen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen. Always make sure to consult your physician before self-treating with any over the counter medications.

Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, is more serious. It’s actually an autoimmune disorder where a person’s own immune system attacks the cartilage at their joints. This can lead to very painful joint swelling.

If it persists for long enough untreated, joints may become deformed and unable to function. At it’s worst, rheumatoid arthritis can affect tissues in other parts of the body, such as the lungs.

In addition to the type of arthritis, there are several more things life insurance companies consider:

  •  Date of diagnosis
  • Disease severity (how well it’s controlled or not controlled on certain medications)
  • Medications used for treatment
  • Tissues affected (just joints or other tissues like lungs or central nervous system)
  • Is the arthritis in remission or has it relapsed?

Life Insurance Premiums with Osteoarthritis

moneyWith a diagnosis of osteoarthritis, most applicants will qualify for a standard life insurance rate. If an individual with mild osteoarthritis is otherwise in good health with no other risk factors, it is very possible to qualify for preferred status.

Osteoarthritis is generally not considered as debilitating as rheumatoid arthritis. This is why it’s easier to qualify for favorable rates compared to rheumatoid arthritis.

Life Insurance Premiums with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Due to the health risks associated with rheumatoid arthritis, applicants can expect to pay a higher premium when companies underwrite a policy.

Under best conditions, a person with rheumatoid arthritis might qualify for standard rates if  they meet ALL of the following criteria:

  1. Have a mild form of the disease in which tissues other than their joints are not affected.
  2. Not on disability and still working full time.
  3. Only take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for treatment. (no history of Methotrexate or Prednisone)

If you are like most people with rheumatoid arthritis and unable to meet all the above, then you’ll fall into the sub-standard category but you can still get approved!

Below standard rates, insurers have up to 10 additional classifications they use known as table ratings. They may use numbers (1-10) or letters (A-J). For each notch down the table, they place you, expect to pay roughly another 25% higher premium.

Where exactly you fall in this table rating will depend on:

  1. How that specific insurance company views Rheumatoid Arthritis – Hint…they don’t all view it the same.
  2. Your overall health situation aside from arthritis.

Arthritis is certainly NOT a health condition that you want to just throw mud against the fall and see what sticks with 23 different insurance companies. That is not a very fun use of your precious time and possibly the 24th company would have been your best bet!

If you have specific questions and would like to leverage our expertise in securing clients with arthritis the best rates, please contact us.

What is the Worst Case Scenario?

warningWhere Rheumatoid Arthritis has affected other organ systems such as the lungs, heart, or central nervous system, most applicants will be looking at a decline for life insurance.

Although that is the harsh reality, we aren’t giving up yet!

After exhausting all options for a traditional policy, we can look at the following types of life insurance where your health situation has very little or no effect on the approval:

  1. Graded Death Benefit – very few health questions but includes a waiting period for coverage to take full effect.
  2. Guaranteed Issue – no health questions, may have a waiting period for coverage to take effect.
  3. Final Expense -intended to cover burial and funeral costs

The trade-off, expect to pay higher premiums and be limited to lower coverage amounts with possible waiting period to take effect. These options should be discussed with an experienced broker

Remember These 3 Things When Applying for Life Insurance with Arthritis

1) Follow-up with your physician on a regular basis. Keep your scheduled appointments and follow their advice to help manage your arthritis. If your doctor has you on any medications to treat your arthritis, make sure to take them as prescribed.

The better you can manage your condition, the better your chances of qualifying for lower rates. Assuming you don’t have any other significant health conditions or risk factors present.

2) Accurately report your current treatment and medication history. Most companies will want to know what medications (if any) you are currently taking to treat your arthritis. But they will also want to know what other medications you may have taken in the past.

Be honest about your treatments when filling out your application. If you accidentally omit something from years back, you shouldn’t have to worry. We’re all human after all, and make mistakes every now and then.Just remember that insurers will be able to verify your medication history with extreme accuracy.

If a life insurance company thinks an applicant may have lied on his application, they reserve the right to terminate the policy. In extreme circumstances, insurers can refuse to pay out a death benefit if insurance fraud is suspected.

This is NOT to say that we think you would intentionally lie on your application.We are simply including this information for completeness sake and to emphasize the importance of providing accurate information on your life insurance application.

3) Shop around with different life insurance companies. One life insurance company may be very different from the next. One company may focus more on rheumatoid arthritis whereas another may be more concerned with heart disease.

And remember….the world of life insurance is not stagnant. It is always subject to change. This means that some companies may change their views at some point on certain health conditions and how much it affects life insurance rates.

Always remember that premiums can vary widely between companies.

That’s why it’s SO important that you understand how the different carriers might view your personal situation. Shopping around will result in you getting the best life insurance coverage for your needs at an affordable premium.

The secret to getting the lowest rate is placing you in a policy with the company who views you in the most favorable light.

The truth is while the quote engine is a great place to get a feel for rates, if you are applying for life insurance with arthritis, you really need to work with a broker who understands the complicated guidelines and will fight on your behalf to get the lowest rate for your situation.

We are one of the rare independent brokers that only sells life insurance so and this allows us to stay up to date on all of this so you don’t have to.

If you are ready to get started, please fill out a quote request or always feel free to contact us with any questions.

We are here to help and will never pressure you in any way.

About Ty Stewart
Avatar for Ty Stewart
Ty Stewart is the founder of He is an independent life insurance agent that works for his clients nationwide to secure affordable coverage while making the process simple. There is never any cost to use his services.

Posted in Bone Disease, Pre-Existing Conditions