Life Insurance and Kidney Disease

Life Insurance & Kidney Disease: Background
Can You Get Life Insurance with Kidney Disease?
Does Life Insurance Cover Kidney Failure?
Life Insurance for Kidney Dialysis Patients
Life Insurance for Kidney Transplant Patients
Polycystic Kidney Disease and Life Insurance
How does Kidney Disease Affect Life Insurance Rates?
What Life Insurance Types Can You Get with Kidney Disease?
What is Best Life Insurance for People with Kidney Disease in Canada?

Life Insurance & Kidney Disease: Background

Kidney disease is more common than many realize. It affects around 1 in 10 Canadians but that number grows year over year, according to 2019 Canadian Organ Replacement Register Annual Statistics.

Kidney diseases come in different forms and shapes. Each kidney disease has its own causes and can range from mild to severe and in some cases, lead to kidney failure (sometimes referred to as end-stage kidney disease). Unfortunately, it is a disease that can start without obvious symptoms, leading to a lack of detection for several years.

Typically, kidney diseases are split into two main groups: chronic and acute. While different infections are considered the main cause of acute kidney disease, the main causes of chronic kidney disease are diabetes and high blood pressure. “Chronic” is defined as when the kidneys do not function properly for a minimum of three months. Most cases of acute kidney diseases can be successfully treated. It is the chronic kidney diseases that tend to affect life insurance rates.

It is important to note, however, that even those with chronic kidney disease can get life insurance. There are three types: standard/traditional, simplified issue and guaranteed issue. Each type comes with a set of criteria. Standard is for those in good health (standard rated is for those that fall between qualifying for standard and simplified), simplified is best for those with compromised health and guaranteed is ideal for those in poor health. Guaranteed issue comes with a two year waiting period (will not pay the claim if the death is from any reason other than an accident during the first two years of the policy), however if death from illness occurs during the waiting period, the premiums are retuned. Work with a qualified broker who will identify your best policy type if you suffer from kidney disease.

The chart below shows the categories of kidney disease and its associated symptoms.

StagesNormal, Category 1Mild,
Category 2
Category 3
Category 4
Kidney failure,
Category 5
Share of kidney
More than
45%-59%30%-44%15%-29%Less than 15%
SymptomsNo symptomsNo symptomsEarly symptoms may occur and could include tiredness, poor appetite, and itchingTiredness, poor appetite, and itching may get worse.Symptoms may include severe fatigue, nausea, difficulty breathing, and itchiness.

Let’s take a closer look at qualifying for life insurance when you have kidney disease.

Can You Get Life Insurance with Kidney Disease?

Can you qualify for the coverage if you are already ill? The answer is yes! It is possible, but there are many nuances. The underwriting decision will depend on many factors, such as:

  • Your diagnosis
  • The severity and stage of your disease
  • The stability of your condition
  • Whether you have had a transplant
  • And more

The underwriter will look at your medical records and may ask for more medical tests to determine your current kidney function and health status. If you suffer from acute kidney disease but have been treated successfully, you will likely qualify for standard (traditional) insurance, although it may come at a higher rate. But if you wonder, “can I get life insurance with chronic kidney disease?” or if you are on dialysis, you will probably be denied a traditional policy.

Does Life Insurance Cover Kidney Failure?

If your kidneys have failed, you are likely on dialysis or awaiting a transplant. Kidney failure will most likely cause your traditional application to be declined, but it does depend on the particulars of your case. The underwriter will require an attending physician statement, or APS, to help them determine the outcome of your case. If you do not qualify for traditional, a broker may advise standard or guaranteed issue insurance for your case.

Life Insurance for Kidney Dialysis Patients

It is not always possible to control all kidney diseases with medication. Very often kidney dialysis has to be used. This helps the kidneys to function normally for a while longer. Traditional life insurance is not an option while you are on dialysis. In this case, you can qualify for guaranteed issued or simplified life insurance. You won’t be asked any questions about your current condition for a guaranteed life insurance policy. A simplified life insurance policy comes with a very short questionnaire to complete. In both cases, no medical tests are required.

Life Insurance for Kidney Transplant Patients

A kidney transplant eliminates the need for dialysis, but for insurance purposes this procedure is still considered a high risk. The donor’s organ can be rejected, or the new kidney can fail based on the factors that damaged the original.

Therefore, life insurance for patients after a kidney transplant may be more expensive than standard rates (you may be offered traditional rated insurance). Insurance companies take into account how much time has passed since the surgery. Generally, you can get traditional life insurance 1-3 years (depends on insurer) after the surgery and full recovery.

Polycystic Kidney Disease and Life Insurance

This is a condition where the kidneys (and sometimes the liver) have multiple cysts. Over time, these cysts increase in size, and this can lead to kidney failure. This condition can affect anyone, at any age.

Polycystic kidney disease typically results in rated traditional insurance. That means, you can qualify for a traditional policy but with higher rates. You’ll also need to provide more medical tests at the request of the underwriter (tests such as blood, urine or an APS). However, if the tests show normal kidney function for a prolonged period of time, it is possible to qualify for standard rates.

How Does Kidney Disease Affect Life Insurance Rates?

Kidneys are major organs that have an impact on other parts of the body; therefore, most kidney problems will impact life insurance premiums. The impact on rates depends on many factors, including the diagnosis, time passed since recovery, medication or control of the disease, type of disease, etc. Chronic kidney disease most often results in the denial of traditional/standard policies. The applicant can consider simplified or guaranteed issue life insurance in those cases.

Here is an overview of how some Canadian life insurers treat life insurance and kidney disease.

Insurer A– Within one year of diagnosis: declined.
– Could be standard if recovered for one year and only one occurrence.
– Otherwise would be rated in the range of 150% to 200% depending on number of years since recovery.
– 200% to decline depending on severity.
– Considerations include current age, date of diagnosis, severity, type (acute or chronic), treatment, date of recovery, any progression, any hospitalization or ER visits, any complications
Insurer B– If fully recovered, no residual and over 1 year, usually standard risk.– All cases declined.
Insurer C– Within one year of diagnosis: declined.
– Rated policy after transplantation in range of 150% to 200% depending on number of years since recovery and current health condition.
– While on dialysis, life insurance may not be considered. A renal (kidney) transplant may be performed and after the proposed insured has recovered, insurance may be available with a medical rating in select cases.

What Life Insurance Types Can You Get with Kidney Disease?

When a traditional policy is not an option, there are some other types of life insurance you can get even if you have kidney disease. The chart below shows the main options.

Insurance TypeMedical
to Know
1. Traditional, Medically Underwritten Life Insurance with PREFERRED RATESYesYesNo$5,000,000+Cannot apply
2. Traditional, Medically Underwritten Life Insurance with STANDARD RATESYesYesNo$5,000,000+If fully recovered and no re-occurrence, minimum of 3 years
3. Traditional, Medically Underwritten Life Insurance WITHOUT A MEDICAL EXAMNoYesNo$5,000,000+ Cannot apply
4. Traditional, Medically Underwritten RATED Life InsuranceYesYesNo$5,000,000+You can apply, if recovered for one year and there was only one re-occurrence
5. Simplified Issue Life Insurance NoNoYes$1,000,000Yes
6. Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance NoNoNo$25,000Yes

A denial can make it harder to get any type of life insurance policy in the future. This is why it is so important to work with a life insurance broker. Brokers shop the market on your behalf and can even preview applications to see which one will be the best fit for your health condition. A broker can advise if you should attempt to get a traditional policy, or if a simplified issue policy has a better chance of success. They can even tell you which insurance companies include questions about kidney disease on their questionnaire. Brokers find the best policies for applicants across all insurance companies, where agents only sell the products of their employer.

What is Best Life Insurance for People with Kidney Disease in Canada?

All the major Canadian brands have life insurance options for people living with kidney disease, and these brands include Manulife, SSQ Life Insurance, Empire Life, Canada Life, Assumption Life and more. Work with an experience broker to be matched with the best policy for your needs. Our brokers are here to help. Simply complete the quote form on the right side of your screen to get started.

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