Life insurance for sleep apnea patients: Compare quotes to find the best life insurance rates
|Severity of illness||Likely Life Insurance Rating Classifications*||What Policy Underwriters Consider When They Rate Your Policy|
|Mild to moderate Sleep Apnea that is controlled||“Preferred plus” or “best”||Some life insurance carriers offer their best rates to people with sleep apnea when the conditions are optimal for longevity. An optimal case includes:|
1. Mild to moderate severity
2. Good treatment compliance, such as wearing a CPAP machine regularly.
3. Absence of other risk factors, such as obesity, tobacco use or heart disease.
|Moderate Sleep Apnea that is untreated||Between “standard” and Table 4||A “standard” rating will lead to a premium that is about double the cost of a “preferred plus’ rating. A Table 2 rating costs about 50 percent more than a “standard” rating and Table 4 costs about twice as much as the “standard” rating.|
|Severe sleep apnea that is treated.||“Standard”||A severe sleep apnea patient who is compliant with treatment will likely receive a “standard’ rating.|
Keep in mind that every case is different and that each individual brings his or her own unique medical history to the table, so decisions can vary.
|Severe sleep apnea that is untreated||Decline||Severe sleep apnea that goes untreated is likely to result in a declined application.|
Source: The information for this chart was provided by Chris Huntley, co-founder and director of marketing of JRC Insurance Group, www.jrcinsurancegroup.com.
*Each case of sleep apnea is different. Your classification and costs will depend on your overall health and your insurer’s underwriting guidelines.
Following doctor’s orders
Terry Kloss, an insurance agent for True Blue Life Insurance, said carriers typically want to know how compliant applicants are with their doctor’s treatment instructions. He noted that he never has seen an applicant turned down for a life policy when the client is working closely with his or her doctor to combat the disease.
Sleep apnea often is discovered by doctors when patients complain of fatigue or snoring, said Jason Cozzetti, an agent for True Blue Life Insurance in Washington state.
“When they go in for physicals, the doctor asks, ‘How are you sleeping? Do you snore at night?'” Cozzetti said. “That can trigger a sleep apnea notation in your medical record. The doctor may recommend a sleep study. If you don’t do the study and you apply for life insurance, most companies will delay or postpone you.”
Getting lower rates
Doctors frequently prescribe continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines for sleep apnea patients. If you have sleep apnea and wear one of these while sleeping, it supplies steady air pressure to prevent the airway from closing. This can make you more insurable.
“If you’re compliant, you still can qualify for a preferred health rating at most insurance companies,” Cozzetti said.
In contrast, if you refuse to use a prescribed CPAP machine, your insurer could place you in a rated health class that results in higher insurance costs.
“It could be a 100 percent difference between ‘preferred best’ and ‘standard,'” Kloss said.
Simplified underwriting allows you to buy life insurance without having to see a doctor or take a medical exam. Many people find this to be convenient, but individuals with sleep apnea can often find lower premiums if they buy a policy that requires a medical exam, according to Cozzetti, because an exam gives insurers greater assurance that you’re a good life insurance risk.
“It tends to be cheaper in the long run,” Cozzetti said.
Life insurance generally costs more as people age. Brian Ashe, president of Brian Ashe & Associates, LTD and a board member of Life Happens, a nonprofit organization that educates the public about life insurance issues, said sleep apnea can progress over time, making it more difficult for the elderly to obtain policies.
“A narrowing of the nasal passages with age, combined with sleep apnea, aggravates the situation,” Ashe said.
Appealing a decision
If you think a life insurance company hasn’t underwritten you properly for sleep apnea, you can appeal the decision. To be reconsidered, you may need to demonstrate to the carrier that an error or omission was made, however.
“You have to have some sort of evidence to show that the underwriter did not have all of the information,” Kloss explained.
It helps if you work with your doctor. Ask him or her to provide documentation that your condition is under control and your long-term prognosis is good.
If your CPAP machine has a monitoring device, your physician can provide the insurance company with an accurate record of how often you use the machine, possibly strengthening your appeal.
If you’ve had surgery to correct your sleep apnea and a sleep study has shown that the disease no longer is a problem for you, make sure your insurer sees the report.