The short answer is yes; you can get life insurance if you have scleroderma.
But, the seriousness of your condition, and knowing where to apply, will play a huge role in your success in finding affordable coverage.
As with any preexisting disease, life insurance companies are going to take a careful look at your application. The truth is, qualifying for coverage is going to be harder than if you were in perfect health.
Understanding how underwriters view this disease and knowing which insurers provide the best coverage options for your situation can help you get approved.
Rest assured, you don’t have to figure all this out on your own. We’ve helped many people with scleroderma get coverage. Below we explain how the process works.
What is Scleroderma?
Understanding how to get life insurance when you have scleroderma starts with knowing what it is.
Scleroderma is an autoimmune, rheumatic disease that causes hardening of the skin and connective tissue due to an overproduction of collagen. Scleroderma means “hard skin.”
It’s a rare condition with less than 100,000 cases in the United States. Women are four times more likely to get scleroderma than men. It’s not contagious, but there is no cure. Quick diagnosis and treatment can slow its progression and help prevent complications.
Scleroderma can be localized, systemic, and vary in severity.
Localized scleroderma means the condition is localized on the skin. It’s not fatal but can affect the quality of life of due to pain, limiting joint function, and skin changes. Symptoms range from mild to severe and may come and go. There are four types of localized scleroderma: morphea, generalized morphea, linear scleroderma, and en coup de sabre.
Systemic scleroderma, also called crest syndrome, is more severe because it affects the skin and internal organs. Complications can cause swallowing problems, complications from acid reflux (GERD), damage to bowel muscles, ulcers, respiratory muscle weakness, pulmonary fibrosis, lung scarring, and kidney disease.
Both types can cause skin tightening, joint pain, heartburn, Reynaud’s Syndrome, and weight loss.
How Life Insurance Underwriters View Scleroderma
Scleroderma can cause serious health problems so underwriters will want to know which type you have, what complications you’ve experienced, and what your overall health condition is.
They’ll need to know:
- Age, height, and weight
- Date of diagnosis
- Medications you’re taking
- If you’ve been hospitalized
- What part of the body involved
- How controlled your symptoms are
- What medical tests you’ve had and the results
- What your prognosis is
- What other medical problems you have
- Lifestyle habits (do you drink, smoke, exercise)
As you can see, you’ll be asked a bunch of questions so they can determine your medical condition and prognosis before offering to sell you a policy.
How Can I Find Affordable Life Insurance?
After determining your health status, they’ll judge the risk of your condition against their profitability, and assign you to a rate class. The class assigned will determine how much you’ll pay for life insurance.
Typical classes are:
- Preferred Plus – not available
- Preferred – not available
- Standard Plus – the possible best-case scenario
- Standard – Likely scenario for some
- Table Ratings (standard rates plus an additional charge)-Probable scenario for many
The more serious your condition, the more significant the risk, and the more you’ll pay for life insurance. Here are some case studies:
Person A: Mild localized scleroderma and no complications or progression-may qualify for standard rates, probable table ratings.
Person B: Systemic scleroderma on medication to control GERD – table ratings.
What Kind of Life Insurance Can I Get?
Your health status and where you apply will most likely determine the type of life insurance you can buy. The three types you’ll be looking at are:
- Term Life
- Whole Life
- Guaranteed Issue Life
Once again, how a particular life insurance company views scleroderma will significantly determine your options.
If you have mild localized scleroderma and are otherwise in great health, you have a much better chance of getting a term or whole life policy at standard or table rates.
However, if you have scleroderma affecting more than one area and are on medication to control symptoms, you’ll be looking at a term or whole life policy at substandard table ratings.
Worst case scenario, you can purchase a guaranteed issue life policy as long as you are a US citizen, live in a state where you can buy the coverage, and meet the age requirements. This is also an option if you’ve been denied coverage. In that situation, it’s a good idea to let us help you determine if you really can’t get better coverage or if you applied to a company that just doesn’t sell life insurance to people with scleroderma.
The Key to Finding a Life Insurance Policy
The bottom line…
The best way to find the best coverage at the best rates (and prevent denials) is to apply to companies who will view your personal situation the most favorably. Fortunately, we’re experienced with this disease. There is no charge for this service and we’d love to help you.
To get started or ask a question, please feel free to contact us today and/or fill out a quote request.