Epilepsy and Life Insurance: Can You Qualify for Coverage?
- Epilepsy and life insurance can present a challenge when your seizures aren't under control. Get the facts about accessing coverage with this chronic condition.
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder causing seizures that may lead to other health issues. People who have chronic conditions such as epilepsy must provide information about their diagnoses when shopping for term life insurance. If you have epilepsy and life insurance questions arise, here's what you need to know.
How Does Epilepsy and Life Insurance Work?
Life insurance companies base the cost of your policy on your life expectancy. When you apply for life insurance, you go through a process called underwriting so the company can evaluate the risk of providing you coverage. Underwriting typically requires a medical exam that covers your lifestyle, family history, personal medical history and habits such as alcohol and tobacco use. You might also have to provide a blood sample for lab tests.
If you have chronic health conditions such as epilepsy or other factors that may affect your life expectancy, you'll likely pay more for term life insurance. The exact amount depends on your combination of risk factors and the insurance company's specific formula to determine premiums. According to Brain: A journal of neurology, a new epilepsy diagnosis shortens a person's life expectancy by up to a decade. Even though the disease itself isn't fatal, it increases your risk of death caused by seizure or by sudden unexplained death in epilepsy (SUDEP).
How Can You Save Money on Life Insurance With Epilepsy?
Term life insurance tends to provide the most affordable coverage, so it's a good place to start your search for life insurance if you have epilepsy. Most people can qualify for term life insurance, and you can convert it to a permanent policy such as universal or whole life at the end of the term.
These strategies can potentially improve your life insurance approval odds and reduce your premiums if you have epilepsy:
- Work with insurance providers that focus on people who have medical issues, preexisting conditions and other risk factors. These specialized agents can help you find coverage that fits your needs.
- Maintain detailed medical records that illustrate your efforts to manage your chronic condition. Your file should reflect regular visits to your health care provider and show that you follow the recommended treatment plan to manage your epilepsy. The records should indicate the type of seizure disorder you have, when you were diagnosed, how frequently you have seizures and when you last had a seizure.
- Shop around to get quotes from a variety of life insurance providers. You may find that premiums vary significantly from one company to the next because each has its own formula for figuring out coverage costs.
- Seek treatment for other health complications. For example, if you have high cholesterol, make sure your application shows that you've taken steps to stick to a low-fat diet and take medication to lower cholesterol as prescribed.
What Should I Do If I Can't Get Life Insurance With Epilepsy?
While most people with epilepsy can successfully purchase life insurance, some may be unable to find affordable coverage. In this situation, you can:
- Wait a few years and apply again. Many insurance companies will reevaluate your risk level if you have epilepsy but haven't had seizures for at least 5 years.
- Take steps to manage your health conditions if you haven't already been doing so. Establish a strong record of taking your medication as directed, following your treatment plan and visiting your health care provider regularly.
- Consider surgical treatment to manage seizures if your epilepsy does not respond to medication. You may be able to receive approval if surgery helps control the condition.