Life Insurance and Asthma

Life Insurance and Asthma: Background
Is Asthma a Pre-existing Condition for Insurance?
Can I Get Life Insurance with Asthma?
Does Life Insurance Cover Asthma?
Does Asthma Affect Life Insurance Rates, and How?
What Life Insurance Types Can You Get with Asthma?
What are the Best Life Insurance Companies for Asthma?

Life Insurance and Asthma: Background

Asthma is a chronic condition that affects the airways in the lungs, causing them to become inflamed, narrowed and filled with mucus. This can lead to breathing difficulties and asthma attacks.

According to Asthma Report 2021, asthma is a prevalent chronic condition that impacts the lives of over 3.8 million Canadians, ranking as the third most common chronic disease. Each year it is estimated that 250 Canadians with asthma die from the condition, resulting in four to five families losing a loved one to asthma each week.

Therefore, life insurance companies may view people with asthma as higher-risk customers and require them to pay higher premiums for their coverage.

Additionally, life insurance companies may require applicants with asthma to undergo additional medical testing to ensure they are in good health before they are approved for coverage.

While it is a manageable condition with the right treatment, asthma can impact the cost and ability to get life insurance. If you have asthma, it is important to understand how it affects your life insurance coverage and what options are available to you.

Is Asthma a Pre-existing Condition for Insurance?

Yes. In many cases, asthma is considered a pre-existing condition by insurance companies. Pre-existing conditions refer to health conditions or illnesses that a person has been diagnosed with or received treatment for prior to enrolling in a new insurance plan. People with asthma are at greater risk for certain illnesses, such as pneumonia and bronchitis. Asthma can also lead to death, in some cases.

So, if you have a pre-existing condition like asthma, it’s a good idea to shop around for insurance plans and compare the coverage and costs to find the best option.

Can I Get Life Insurance with Asthma?

Yes! You can get life insurance with asthma in Canada. However, the terms and premium rates may vary based on the severity or the stability of the condition. Life insurance companies will typically ask for medical information and may require a medical examination as part of the underwriting process.

Usually, the factors affecting the underwriting decision are:

  • Current age
  • Date of diagnosis
  • Severity of symptoms
  • Frequency of attacks
  • Timing of attacks (day or night)
  • Type of medication and frequency of use
  • Medication intake history/compliance
  • Medication side effects
  • Hospitalizations or ER visits
  • Activity limitations
  • History of smoking
  • Concurrent impairments such as COPD, psychiatric disorder, alcohol abuse, CAD, underweight

Life insurance companies are more concerned with children or with older adult smokers with a recent diagnosis of asthma.

Full and detailed completion of the respiratory questionnaire is of the utmost importance for the underwriter to get a good assessment of your condition. Further evidence, such as an APS (Attending Physician Statement) may be required.

Fortunately, most people with asthma can qualify for non-medical life insurance. There are two kinds: simplified issue policies, which have a list of questions but no medical exam and guaranteed issue policies, which do not have a questionnaire nor a medical exam.

Does Life Insurance Cover Asthma?

Yes, life insurance policies in Canada typically cover death due to asthma. If you are already covered under a life insurance policy and are later diagnosed with asthma, your coverage under the policy will generally not be affected. This is because the insurance company cannot change the terms of the policy after it has been issued.

However, if you were to apply for additional life insurance coverage, your asthma diagnosis may be taken into account when determining your eligibility and the cost of the coverage.

If you already have a life insurance policy, you generally do not need to inform your insurance company of a new asthma diagnosis unless you are applying for additional coverage or making a claim related to the condition.

Does Asthma Affect Life Insurance Rates, and How?

Depending on the severity and frequency, sometimes asthma increases life insurance rates and sometimes life insurance companies may even deny coverage altogether. Generally, those with mild asthma may not be affected, while those with severe and/or frequent asthma could be charged higher premiums or even denied coverage.

The following outlines how several insurance companies treat life insurance for clients with asthma.

Mild caseModerate caseSevere case
Insurer AStandard rates150% to 250%250% to decline
Insurer BPossibility of standard rate for non-smokers+50% and more depending on severity and tobacco use+50% to decline depending on severity and tobacco use
Insurer CStandard rateRating starts at 150%150% to decline
Insurer DStandard to 150%

Children: standard to 150% if diagnosis was more than 12 months ago. Moderate or severe: 200% to decline.
150% to 200%

Children: 200% to decline
250% to decline

Children: 200% to decline

What Life Insurance Types Can You Get with Asthma?

Individuals with asthma can typically obtain most types of life insurance. However, due to the increased risk associated with asthma, life insurance policies for individuals with asthma may cost more and have more restrictions, such as shorter policy terms, lower coverage amounts, or higher premiums.

Typical life insurance for asthmatics:

Insurance TypeMedical
to Know
1. Traditional, Medically Underwritten Life Insurance with PREFERRED RATESYesYesNo$5,000,000+Usually, is not available.
2. Traditional, Medically Underwritten Life Insurance with STANDARD RATESYesYesNo$5,000,000+Is possible in mild cases for non-smokers
3. Traditional, Medically Underwritten Life Insurance WITHOUT A MEDICAL EXAMNoYesNo$5,000,000+ Is not available
4. Traditional, Medically Underwritten RATED Life InsuranceYesYesNo$5,000,000+The most likely scenario for people with asthma.

Typical rating: 150%-250%.
5. Simplified Issue Life Insurance NoNoYes$1,000,000Yes, this insurance type is mostly available to people that have asthma as a pre-condition.
6. Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance NoNoNo$25,000Yes, you can always qualify for this one – it does not matter what stage of asthma you have. However, guaranteed issue insurance does not pay claims in the first two years should the applicant pass away.

What are the Best Life Insurance Companies for Asthma?

Most Canadian life insurance companies offer coverage for people that have asthma. The most recognizable insurers include Manulife, SSQ Life Insurance, Empire Life, Canada Life and Assumption Life.  Two popular options for no medical life insurance are Canadian Pension Plan and Assumption Life.

Working with a broker that has access to 30+ policies ensures you get the best policy at the best rate. Brokers can shop the market for you, compare plans and even check on the likelihood of approvals. Our experienced brokers have helped many people with asthma get life insurance, and they can help too. Complete the quote request on the right side of the screen to get started. Remember, with the right life insurance, you can ensure that your loved ones are protected in the event of your unexpected death.

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