Can I get approved for life insurance if I have Crohn’s disease?
If so, how does Crohn’s affect my rates?
The answer depends on severity, control of the disease, and a few other factors.
… And since over 1.6 million people have Crohn’s Disease, we’ve dedicated this page to getting you the answers you need to make an informed life insurance decision for you and your family.
Crohn’s Disease vs. Ulcerative Colitis – Two Different Diseases
Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that affects approximately 700,000 people in the United States and it is commonly mistaken for Ulcerative Colitis.
Although the two diseases have similar symptoms, they are not the same as they affect different areas of the digestive tract, and are priced differently from a life insurance underwriting perspective.
In this article, we’ll specifically be covering Crohn’s disease and life insurance approval.
Crohn’s disease can be classified as mild, moderate, or severe. Advanced Crohn’s can make it difficult to find affordable life insurance options.
How do I tell if my Crohn’s is considered mild, moderate or severe?
Life insurance company underwriters will review medical records and run a prescription history check through the MIB—Medical Information Bureau.
The medication(s) you’re taking and that it’s successfully treating symptoms will go a long way in determining Crohn’s severity. The underwriter will also look at your age at onset, and time period since your last symptoms. The longer, the better.
In most insurance underwriting manuals, “Mild” cases don’t flare up more than than every 2-3 years, or require any form of medication.
Each insurance company’s guidelines vary a bit, which is which JRC works with over 40 A-rated carriers. It provides us to be a “matchmaker”, pairing our clients with a solid life insurance company best for their specific health history. If you choose the wrong company, you’ll be disqualified solely for checking the application’s Croh’s question “yes”
When was your Last Flare-Up, or Last Time You Had Symptoms?
For those companies favorable in underwriting Crohn’s, the more time that’s passed since the most recent flare-up, the better, as stated earlier in this article.
Along with time, is frequency. They’ll commonly look at the number of attacks in the past 3 years.
If you’re fortunate to hit 5 years without a flare-up, the better Crohns underwriters may be able to approve your policy at as high as their second or third best rates.
On the other side of the coin, if you’ve suffered a flare-up within the past 12 months, you’re better waiting…or at least asking your life insurance agent to check to see if this would cause your application to be “declined” (turned down) right out of the gate.
Even the most liberal life insurance companies will have a 12 month waiting period with a flare-up in the past 12 months.
As with most diseases, underwriters want to see that a condition is stable, that any medications are not creating other issues, and that people are compliant with a physician’s recommendations.
Another item good to know: a single episode or flare-up (referred to as a single acute episode) is much more favorable than a chronic condition, indicated by numerous episodes.
Have You Ever Had Surgery for Your Crohn’s Disease?
Surgeries performed for Crohn’s typically involve removing the affected section to prevent perforation, blockages, abscess, or bleeding in the small intestines. Many times these surgeries will need to be repeated again a few years down the road. If the large colon is affected, the colon will commonly be removed. After the colectomy is complete, most are able to return to a relatively normal life.
When an insurance company evaluates your application, they will review your medical records to see how long it’s been since your surgery was performed, and your physician’s comments regarding it’s success.
If you’ve recently completed surgery or it’s pending, you have a waiting period of at least 3-6 months until it and related follow up is complete.
Again, the more time that passes without any symptoms (asymptomatic), the better…with or without surgery.
How do Life Insurance Underwriter’s Evaluate Medications used for Controlling Crohn’s?
Life insurance underwriters run a “prescription history check” through the MIB as well as review medical records to verify consistency and compliance. If they’re being prescribed, and you’re not taking them, you’re probably an unacceptable risk.
The most common medications prescribed for mild to moderate Crohn’s are Azulfidine, Cortenema, Cortifoam, Dipentum, Hydrocortisone, Mesalamine, Olsalazine Sodium, Pentasa, Rowasa, and Sulfasalzine.
Medications like Humira, Prednisone, Imuran and Methotrexate indicate more severe symptoms and complications from the Crohn’s disease. Because of this, these medications will cause your policy to be “rated”….approved at a sub-standard rate.
Taking stronger medications for a prolonged period of time can cause its own set of problems, and likely require on-going blood tests.
Are you Anemic or have you had a Colonoscopy Preformed?
When applying for life insurance, the life insurance companies prefer to see that the applicant has had a colonoscopy performed within the last few years. By having a colonoscopy performed the insurance company is able to review these records to make sure that your colon is not inflamed or bleeding. A bleeding/irritated colon can lead to anemia, severe malnutrition, kidney stones, gallstones, and liver disease.
Most of these conditions will prevent an applicant from qualifying for life insurance.
If you were diagnosed with Crohn’s more than 10 years ago, and haven’t had a colonoscopy in recent years (varies by insurer), you’ll need to complete one to qualify for more than a minimal amount of life insurance….typically between $5000 to $25,000.
Age of Diagnosis?
Life Insurance underwriting guidelines include age of diagnosis. More favorable rates are awarded to applicants who are diagnosed at a later age.
We have the hardest time finding affordable insurance for applicants diagnosed in their 20’s. Crohn’s tends to be a progressive disease and many patients need to complete multiple surgeries throughout their lifetime.
Don’t despair. If you were diagnosed at a young age, have had regular follow-ups and no symptoms for at least 5 years, we should be able to help you secure affordable coverage.
General Guidelines for Applicants with a History of Crohn’s
|Age Of Diagnosis 35 or Older|
|Time Since Last Symptom / Surgery||Likely Outcome of Application||On A Medication||Best Rate Class Available|
|Less than 1 year||Decline||N/A||N/A|
|2 – 5 years||Approval||N/A||Sub-Standard Rates|
|More than 5 years||Approval||Yes||Standard|
|More than 5 years||Approval||No||Standard-Preferred Best|
|More than 10 years||Approval||No||Preferred Best|
The table above was created as a rough guideline for prospective applicants, and assumes regular colonoscopies and follow-ups with your doctor and/or GI specialist. If you were diagnosed before age 35, please call to speak with a JRC Crohn’s Specialist Agent at (855) 247-9555.
If you aren’t having regular follow-ups, are underweight, or suffer from inflammation in your joints or spine, you may be ineligible for coverage, other than the $5000 to $25,000 “final expense” policy. Otherwise, if you’re working and your Crohn’s is well controlled, you should be able to qualify for the full amount of life insurance for your age and income.
Please feel free to call or send us a quote request if you have questions regarding your options for life insurance and pricing. Our agents have helped hundreds of client’s with Crohn’s disease.
With over 45 companies to choose from, we will find the top-rated company providing your lowest rates.
Request a free quote online here, or call us toll free: (855) 247-9555.
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