Purchasing affordable life insurance once diagnosed with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Edema) is difficult due to the progression of the disease. The deciding factors, which determine if a policy will be issued and for how much, include the fact that there is no known cure for COPD, the severity of your present condition, and your overall general health. The professionals at The Lunsford Agency are pleased to offer Life Insurance with COPD at affordable rates.
COPD: Symptoms, Treatment, and Prognosis
COPD is currently quite prevalent among U.S. adults. Approximately 16 million Americans have been diagnosed with COPD, with an estimated 10-15 million not yet formally diagnosed because they are most likely in the earlier stages. In 2016, roughly 160,000 Americans succumbed to COPD.
What is COPD?
Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are the leading two contributors to the development of COPD. Upon inhalation or breathing, air travels through the bronchial tubes (airways) into the lungs and then into millions of small air sacs, known as alveoli. When the lungs are healthy, the bronchial tubes open, the alveoli fills with the air you breathe in, and then the air is easily exhaled.
However, for those diagnosed with COPD, it becomes difficult to breathe and successfully fill those alveoli. As mentioned, COPD is caused by two contributing pulmonary conditions.
- Chronic Bronchitis – Chronic Bronchitis is the inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes (airways). Those with bronchitis cough up thickened mucus often, which is usually discolored. The condition is considered chronic when you have a frequent cough with considerable mucus during most days during a 3-month period in a year for two consecutive years.
- Emphysema – Emphysema occurs when the air sacs (alveoli) are damaged and then collapse. This makes taking a deep productive breath extremely difficult.
The Causes of COPD
Research has proven that cigarette smoking is the leading cause of COPD. It shouldn’t be surprising that 80-90% of all COPD cases are caused by smoking. The remaining 20% is caused by industrial exposure to pollutants over significant periods of time. Both contributing causes of COPD lead to the inflammation of the lining of the bronchioles within your lungs which results in the loss of their elasticity.
Symptoms of COPD
The most common signs and symptoms of COPD include coughing with mucus production, shortness of breath, and fatigue. As the disease progresses, these symptoms will become more problematic. While there is no known cure, COPD is treatable and the symptoms can be managed.
Treatment for COPD
While a diagnosis of COPD is alarming, it is certainly not a death sentence. Individuals diagnosed in the early stages will most likely just require lifestyle changes, such as smoking cessation, eliminating second-hand smoke, and avoiding working in environments where exposure to pollutants is high.
Medications, such as Albuterol or an inhaled corticosteroids, that reduce the inflammation of the airway and relax the bronchial tubes may be needed to help patients experiencing more severe symptoms, including tightness in the chest and difficulty breathing.
Furthermore, patients experiencing severe symptoms on a chronic basis will most likely require inhaled corticosteroids, combination inhalers (bronchodilators and steroids), Theophylline, Phosphodiesterase-4 inhibitors, and antibiotics.
How will COPD Affect My Life Insurance?
The good news is that attempting to buy life insurance with COPD is not an automatic rejection of traditional life insurance. Actually, applicants with mild cases of COPD often receive a standard or slightly below standard rating.
In cases of moderate COPD, significant coughing with bouts of shortness of breath typically will require the use of medication, which usually results in a substandard rating if the applicant is found eligible.
However, purchasing traditional life insurance with COPD may be difficult for those applicants diagnosed with severe COPD. Even if they are approved, the rate will be surcharged tremendously. Those applicants that are declined, should consider “guaranteed issue” life insurance because no medical underwriting is needed in order to issue a policy.
Oftentimes, applicants that are diagnosed with COPD have other risk factors as well and may not be eligible for traditional life insurance. Applicants diagnosed with COPD and continue to smoke will most likely be declined for traditional life insurance as well.
Find an Agent who Specializes in High-Risk Cases
Just as health professional have certain specialties, most independent insurance agents have areas that they specialize in.
When deciding to purchase affordable traditional life insurance with a COPD diagnosis, find an independent insurance agent who has succeeded in placing high-risk cases, such as those with COPD.
Independent agents that specialize in high-risk cases are usually associated with insurance companies that accept high-risk applicants and are more likely to be successful in obtaining approval. These agents possess the knowledge of which insurance company is more likely to offer coverage at standard rates or better. They are also able to offer “guaranteed issue” life insurance by highly rated insurers in the event that you are denied a traditional life insurance policy.
What about No Exam Life Insurance
Life insurance companies that offer traditional life policies without a medical examination will still have numerous health questions on their application. Should you decide to omit your COPD diagnosis, the insurance provider will most likely catch your omission and decline your application due to misrepresentation.
However, in the event of death within the first 2 years (contestability period), the insurer will complete an investigation. So should you decide to withhold your diagnosis and successfully receive a policy, you could be denied the claim for misrepresentation due to your omission.
If your application for traditional life insurance is denied, you can still purchase a “guaranteed issue” policy, which has no health questions or medical examination requirement. However, you must be willing to agree with the following caveats:
- The death benefit typically has a cap at $25,000 – $30,000
- There is a two or three year waiting period before the insurer will pay the full death benefit in the event of death from natural causes.
- Since the insurer is agreeing to accept an unknown risk, your rates will be substantially higher than a traditional insurance policy.