COPD, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, will not prevent you from purchasing life insurance, thankfully.
It will, however, create some underwriting hoops to jump through.
The type of life insurance policy you qualify for, and just how much it will cost, is dependent on a few important factors:
- The severity of your COPD
- Medications and treatment prescribed
- Overall health
Everything you need to know about buying life insurance with COPD is found here – underwriting questions, possible outcomes, quotes, and how to apply for coverage.
Table Of Contents
Life Insurance With COPD
During the underwriting process, plan to answer a series of important questions about COPD.
The type of life insurance you qualify for is based primarily on your answers.
1. When was your COPD diagnosis?
Underwriters are interested in how long you have COPD for two reasons:
- Your ability to demonstrate effective management of the condition.
- It is progressive in nature and there is no cure.
2. What is your specific diagnosis?
An important question, the type of life insurance you are able to purchase is largely dependent on the stage of your COPD and corresponding FEV percentage.
COPD Stage And Life Insurance Underwriting
|Stage||FEV %||Impact On Life Insurance|
|2||50 - 79%||Moderate|
|3||30 - 49%||Serious|
3. Describe your symptoms.
From shortness of breath and wheezing to a chronic cough, the manifestation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease varies from person to person.
The severity of your COPD symptoms is essential to determine what type of policy you qualify for.
Consider the following range, from mild to severe.
COPD Symptoms And Life Insurance Underwriting
|Category||Symptoms||Impact On Life Insurance|
|1||Minimal; occasional respiratory infection||Mild|
|2||Airway difficulty with moderate exertion; e.g. climbing stairs||Moderate|
|3||Shortness of breath with mild activity||Serious|
|4||Disabled; airway obstruction at rest||Severe|
4. Do you take prescription medications?
The types of medication you take, if any, is in direct correlation to how serious your COPD has become.
While prescriptions are often necessary for the management of the disease, life insurance carriers often view them as red flags.
Why? If lifestyle adjustments alone (e.g. quitting smoking) are not enough, and medication is necessary, it usually means your condition is deemed concerning.
You will need to communicate if you take/have experienced any of the following:
- Bronchodilators (short-acting and/or long-acting)
- Inhaled steroids
- Combination inhalers
- Oral steroids
- Phosphodiesterase-4 inhibitors
- Lung therapy
- Ventilation therapy
Note – always be honest. Online prescription databases are checked and any discrepancies on your application may affect your ability to be approved.
5. What is your prognosis?
COPD is, unfortunately, a progressive condition with no cure. However, individuals have vastly different experiences with the condition.
What has your doctor said about your long-term prognosis?
For example, depending on the stage and lifestyle factors, life expectancy varies greatly.
The medical community often uses a system called the BODE Index to determine a person’s life expectancy after a COPD diagnosis.
The BODE Index is based on a number of factors, including:
- Body Mass Index
- Obstruction of the airway
- Exercise tolerance
Your index points range from 0 – 10 and offer a prediction – but not a guarantee – of how likely a person will survive four years.
- 0 – 2 points = 80%
- 3 – 4 points = 67%
- 5 – 6 points = 57%
- 7 – 10 points = 18%
6. Do you use tobacco?
Smoking affects life insurance rates, unsurprisingly.
If you are a current smoker, plan to pay more for traditional life insurance.
7. How is your overall health?
Because underwriters assess risk, they will want to know about your health, in general, too.
Typically, COPD does not occur in a vacuum. Other medical conditions often coincide with the disease:
Can I Get Life Insurance With COPD?
No doubt, COPD is a serious health condition that will affect your life insurance application.
How severe your COPD symptoms depend on how damaged your lungs are.– CDC
The good news – you will be able to purchase some form of coverage, regardless of your health.
There are three possible outcomes to be aware of.
1. Standard Approval
Best case scenario.
You qualify for traditional coverage, such as a 20-year term policy at standard or “regular” rates.
In order to be approved at standard rates, your COPD must be mild (Stage 1) with minimal symptoms.
For instance, medication is likely not necessary and you are able to function in daily activities without respiratory distress.
Note – standard approval is fairly uncommon.
2. Rated Approval
You still qualify for traditional coverage, but will pay a surcharge – called a table rating – on your premiums.
Table ratings range from a 20 – 200% added cost to premiums.
As an example, consider the following rating schedule for COPD.
Note – below is a sample only and individual experience will vary.
Life Insurance Rating With COPD
|COPD Stage||Symptoms||Prescriptions||Table Rating|
|1||Minimal - occasional throat clearing/infection||None||2|
|2||Airway difficulty during physical activity||Inhaler||4|
|3||Labored breathing with daily activity||Steroids, multiple Rx||8|
|4||Disabled||Oxygen, multiple Rx||Decline|
3. Final Expense or Guaranteed Issue
Often used interchangeably, final expense and guaranteed issue coverage are designed for those who would otherwise not qualify for life insurance.
Final expense and guaranteed issue policies are modest and cover burial costs.
What’s the difference? It comes down to underwriting.
While guaranteed issue asks no health questions, a final expense application requires you to answer a few health questions.
If you do not qualify for traditional term or whole life insurance as a result of serious COPD, look to final expense or guaranteed issue.
While traditional coverage will likely take weeks to process, a guaranteed issue policy can be issued instantaneously via an online purchasing process (get instant quotes here).
Keep in mind – some life insurance is better than no life insurance.
Traditional no exam life insurance (e.g. term policy) is not available. You will need to have full underwriting – with a medical exam.
No physical life insurance companies typically have a few knockout health questions that will prompt full underwriting.
Life Insurance Quotes For COPD
Your rates will vary drastically depending on your diagnosis, symptoms, prognosis, and prescribed medications.
To get a general idea, consider the following quotes for term life insurance.
Term Life Insurance Rates
Sample Life Insurance Rates With COPD Male
|Age||Standard||Table 2||Table 4||Table 8|
|30 year old||$10.61||$13.58||$16.45||$21.61|
|35 year old||$10.61||$13.58||$16.55||$22.93|
|40 year old||$12.85||$16.57||$20.37||$27.98|
|45 year old||$16.72||$22.29||$28.00||$39.20|
|50 year old||$24.45||$32.23||$39.98||$55.49|
|55 year old||$33.85||$45.20||$56.66||$79.57|
|60 year old||$51.16||$70.67||$89.40||$126.87|
|65 year old||$80.24||$117.29||$154.35||$219.25|
|70 year old||$151.36||$204.09||$259.54||$372.62|
|75 year old||$242.29||$360.37||$478.45||$677.60|
Sample Life Insurance Rates With COPD Female
|Age||Standard||Table 2||Table 4||Table 8|
|30 year old||$9.57||$11.31||$13.05||$16.53|
|35 year old||$9.75||$12.56||$14.70||$18.99|
|40 year old||$11.90||$15.34||$18.73||$25.51|
|45 year old||$15.05||$19.14||$23.98||$32.90|
|50 year old||$20.30||$26.04||$32.03||$43.99|
|55 year old||$26.34||$36.44||$46.55||$66.76|
|60 year old||$38.54||$52.33||$68.06||$99.51|
|65 year old||$59.40||$86.24||$113.08||$158.47|
|70 year old||$93.95||$136.21||$179.89||$267.26|
|75 year old||$165.55||$245.26||$324.98||$484.40|
Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance Rates
If you do not qualify for term or whole life, look to final expense or guaranteed issue.
Consider the following rates for a guaranteed issue policy.
Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance Quotes For Male
|40 Year Old||$26.25||$49.58||$72.92||$96.25||$119.58|
|45 Year Old||$29.17||$55.42||$81.67||$107.92||$134.17|
|50 Year Old||$22.50||$44.09||$65.68||$87.27||$108.85|
|55 Year Old||$29.25||$56.50||$83.74||$110.99||$138.24|
|60 Year Old||$32.40||$63.17||$93.75||$124.33||$154.92|
|65 Year Old||$37.55||$73.09||$108.64||$144.18||$179.73|
|70 Year Old||$47.57||$93.14||$138.71||$184.28||$229.85|
|75 Year Old||$63.25||$124.49||$185.74||$246.98||$308.23|
|80 Year Old||$88.57||$175.15||$261.72||$348.30||$434.87|
Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance Quotes For Female
|40 Year Old||$21.67||$40.42||$59.17||$77.92||$96.67|
|45 Year Old||$24.58||$46.25||$67.92||$89.58||$111.25|
|50 Year Old||$17.69||$34.47||$51.24||$68.02||$84.79|
|55 Year Old||$20.93||$39.86||$58.78||$77.71||$96.64|
|60 Year Old||$23.57||$45.14||$66.70||$88.27||$109.84|
|65 Year Old||$28.26||$54.51||$80.76||$107.02||$133.27|
|70 Year Old||$36.21||$70.41||$104.62||$138.83||$173.03|
|75 Year Old||$48.91||$95.82||$142.73||$189.63||$236.54|
|80 Year Old||$68.65||$135.12||$201.69||$268.25||$334.81|
Note – if you are younger than 40 years old, and do not qualify for traditional coverage, look to an accidental death and dismemberment policy.
How To Buy
Getting life insurance with COPD is entirely possible.
The first step is to document your medical history, including physician information.
Second, conduct a needs analysis to determine your coverage needs.
- Funeral expenses
- Financial needs of loved ones
- Annual income
Finally, and importantly, work with an independent agent. Why? Each carrier underwrites COPD differently. You will want access to multiple companies to find the best rates for your needs.