Diagnosed with Lupus: Can You Still Get Life Insurance?

In this article...
  • You may worry about planning for the future after a lupus diagnosis. Find out if you can get life insurance after a lupus diagnosis and what to expect.

Lupus can affect anyone, including men, women and even babies. Because lupus often starts earlier in life, those recently diagnosed may not have done extensive planning for their future. Even when a diagnosis comes later in life, people with lupus may wonder how the condition will impact their ability to get life insurance. You can probably still get life insurance with lupus, but the underwriting process can be complicated and plan options may be limited. 

What Is Lupus? 

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that can cause the body's immune system to attack healthy tissue. Nearly anyone can get lupus, but lupus is primarily diagnosed in women between the ages of 15 and 44. Systemic lupus erythematosus is the most common type of lupus and can cause the following symptoms: 

  • Skin rashes, especially a butterfly-shaped rash on the face 
  • Hair loss
  • Joint inflammation and pain
  • Blood problems like easy bruising and an increased risk of clots 
  • Kidney complications 
  • Issues with the heart and lungs due to inflammation 

Adults may also have cutaneous lupus erythematosus, primarily affecting skin and hair. In babies, lupus is called neonatal lupus. 

Doctors don't know what causes lupus. However, several factors are associated with an increased risk of lupus. Because lupus is largely found in women of reproductive age, doctors believe that higher estrogen levels are associated with lupus. There also appears to be a genetic factor, and you're more likely to have lupus if you have a family member with the condition. 

Environmental factors like exposure to certain chemicals, smoking and stress can trigger lupus. Occasionally, medications may cause what is known as drug-induced lupus, which may go away after a person stops taking the drug. 

Is Lupus a Preexisting Condition? 

Life insurance companies do consider lupus to be a preexisting condition. It's usually still possible to buy life insurance if you have lupus, but there may be additional hurdles. Most insurance policies require an extensive underwriting process for policyholders with lupus. The severity of your condition and other lifestyle factors could affect the availability of insurance. 

Lupus is typically a lifelong condition that doctors don't know how to cure. However, several medications can be used to manage lupus, such as: 

  • Corticosteroids like prednisone 
  • Biologics
  • Methotrexate 
  • Hydroxychloroquine 
  • Rituximab 

Some people may have mild cases of lupus, while others will have a more difficult time managing symptoms. Avoiding excessive sunlight and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help minimize some lupus symptoms. 

Can You Get Life Insurance If You Have Lupus? 

You can buy life insurance, including term life insurance policies if you have lupus. However, you should prepare for a more detailed underwriting process. Some companies may not offer you insurance, or you may not be able to buy some policies. 

Shopping for life insurance with a larger company can increase your chances of being approved because these companies are more likely to take on applicants with complex medical histories. Other things you can do to get more affordable life insurance with lupus include:

  • Getting insurance as soon as possible before symptoms increase in severity
  • Keeping up with medical treatments to manage symptoms 
  • Avoiding other risk factors like smoking and drinking 

Be prepared to participate in a more intense application process and know that you may need to contact multiple companies for life insurance. People with lupus typically need to provide medical records and undergo a physical exam as part of the underwriting process. Don't lie on the application or skip appointments. You may also want to read about what to expect during a life insurance medical exam

An insurance company may approve you for a term life insurance policy, but they're likely to charge higher premiums if you have lupus. If you're unhappy with the terms offered by a company, you can consider applying for a policy through a different insurer. 

What Kinds of Life Insurance Are Available to People with Lupus? 

The availability of life insurance depends on when you were diagnosed and how severe your lupus symptoms are. Term life policies are available to many people with lupus. If you're denied term life coverage, you may be able to get burial insurance or another policy to cover limited expenses if you pass away. 

Unfortunately, if you were diagnosed before age 20, you may have a harder time obtaining life insurance. Insurance companies view people who were diagnosed at a young age as riskier to insure because symptoms can worsen over time. 

Insurance companies might hesitate to offer a policy if you were recently diagnosed. Most insurers want to wait and see how severe your condition will be or if you will develop complications. However, you don't want to wait too long. You may be unable to find insurance if you develop complications or other risk factors. 

What Is the Average Life Expectancy of Someone with Lupus?

Thankfully, most people have an average life expectancy after being diagnosed with lupus. An estimated 80 to 90 percent of people with lupus will enjoy the same life span expected by people without lupus. 

Unfortunately, some people do experience a shorter life due to lupus. While lupus isn't directly fatal, the inflammation can cause damage to a person's heart, lungs or kidneys, leading to a shorter life expectancy. People diagnosed with lupus also have an increased risk of getting certain types of cancer, which can be fatal. These increased risks cause insurance companies to treat people with lupus as higher risks for life insurance policies. 

Read More
Doctor smiles and talks with patient
Learn under what circumstances health insurance companies have access to medical record. Find out ...
Doctor Working With Patient
Find out what to expect in a life insurance physical. Learn how you can prepare for the examination ...
Wife smiles with husband while visiting him in hospital bed
Medicare covers kidney transplant costs such as inpatient hospital care, transplant drugs and other ...