Getting Approved for Life Insurance with Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Clifford PendellWritten by Clifford Pendell, Managing Partner and Co-founder

If you have ever been treated or diagnosed with IBS, or Irritable Bowel Syndromeand are shopping for life insurance, please read this article first!

Every life insurance company sets its own underwriting guidelines, and some insurers are more affordable - and provide more leniency - to applicants with Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Keep reading to learn how insurers rate the severity of an applicant's Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and how IBS can impact the cost of your coverage. We've also provided insiders' advice to help you find the “go to” companies that have the fairest underwriting and lowest rates for this health consideration.

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How IBS Differs From Other GI Issues in Underwriting

Irritable Bowel Syndrome, also known as Spastic Colitis, is underwritten differently (and thankfully more leniently) than Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis by insurance companies.

Like Ulcerative Colitis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome primarily affects the large intestine and involves a multitude of gastrointestinal symptoms, but it does not cause damage, inflammation, or ulcers to the bowel.

The most common symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome include: mild to severe cramping, bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, and many patients suffer from painful diarrhea, constipation, and stomach cramps.

IBS is extremely common in the United States, and its estimated that 15% of the population will suffer from some form of Irritable Bowel Syndrome during their lifetime.

Common Questions Underwriters Ask When Considering an Applicant With IBS:

Here are some underwriting questions your licensed agent will ask you when comparing rates to make sure you are matched with the best company available:

How long ago were you diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Although IBS is not considered to be progressive, the life insurance companies prefer to see a diagnosis later in life when your symptoms a easier to manage. In addition, the insurance companies will evaluate how long it's been since you've experienced any symptoms.

Are you taking a medication to manage your symptoms?

Doctor's often prescribe medication to their patients with IBS to help them manage their condition. The most common medications prescribed to help with the symptoms of IBS include: Asacol, Azulfidine, Dipentum, Pentasa, Prednisone, Remicade, and Rowasa.

When you apply for coverage, the insurance company will pay close attention to your prescription history, because there are some health risks involved with taking corticosteroids for prolonged periods of time. As an example, Prednisone can increase your blood sugar over time.

For most people, this is not an issue, but the underwriters will do their due diligence to see that your physician is satisfied with the results of the medication. In addition, the underwriters will also check the results of your lab work to make sure your liver and kidney functions are within the proper ranges.

When was your last flare-up?

Life insurance companies prefer to see no flare-ups from IBS within 12 months of applying for coverage. In addition, the longer it's been since your last flare-up, the better. This shows the insurer that your condition is well-managed and under control.

Have you ever had surgery for Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Life insurance companies will postpone processing an application for 6-12 months following successful IBS surgery. The good news is that some top-rated life insurance companies may then consider you for their first or second best rate classes afterward, provided that there have been no further issues and you otherwise qualify.

If you have recently had a surgery for IBS, please call JRC to find out your best options. By asking some questions about your specific medical history, we'll be able to provide you with accurate rates and advice.

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When was your most recent colonoscopy?

If you’ve had IBS, most insurance companies will request to review your most recent colonoscopy (within 2 years). If you are applying for coverage within the "standard" (or average) risk category, a copy of your recent colonoscopy will certainly be a requirement. This is because you’ll need to prove there are no issues and you are no longer taking medication.

An abnormal colonoscopy can affect your rates or possibly cause your application to be postponed. If your GI has noted you may need surgery in the future, it will likely need to be completed before being approved for more than a $25,000 “Guaranteed Issue” (no questions asked) type policy.

Can IBS Be Treated or Cured?

There is no true “cure” for IBS, but there are some lifestyle changes that can help minimize symptoms and discomfort. Common forms of treatment include: diet changes, corticosteroid treatments, stress reduction, and/or surgery.

Applicants taking mild to moderate IBS medications are most commonly approved as a “standard” (or average) risk class, but there are a few companies that JRC works with who will often consider better rates for applicants who are in otherwise good health.

If your IBS has been diagnosed as severe, incapacitating, or if you’ve ever had an abnormal colonoscopy, expect a “standard” rating or lower. Life insurance underwriting varies, and each company has their own niche - that’s why there are so may fully licensed and reputable companies out there.

JRC Insurance Group is glad to share our knowledge and experience to the benefit of our clients. Rest assured, we will find the best match between life insurers and your current and past IBS treatment. Your licensed agent will review your treatment history with you, making recommendations best for the type and amount of life insurance you're applying for.

Real Life Example of a Client We've Helped

Earlier this year we worked with "James," a 51-year-old man that lives in Massachusetts. James had contacted a large call center before he called us, but he was concerned because he felt like the agent was, "reading a script to him,” instead of listening to his concerns.

James was also frustrated because he felt like this agent had rushed him through their phone call only to pressure him into completing an application. He said that he never had the opportunity to discuss his history of IBS, or the success of his current treatment.

This agent told him that a “standard” risk was the best rate class he could qualify for based on his answers and medical history. James wanted to see more than a couple of options, and he wanted more personalized service, so he decided to give us a call.

While most life insurance companies won't offer applicants with IBS better than a "standard" rate, this is not the case with everyone. After shopping more than 50 companies, wematched James with an A+ rated carrier that often overlooks mild IBS when no medication is required.

James completed his lab work with normal results, and he'd recently completed a routine physical. Taking this into account, the underwriter gave him the benefit of the doubt and approved him at the best rate class available,“Preferred Plus!”

Actual Rates for a 51-Year-Old Male with IBS - $500k, 20-Year Term

Here is a comparison of the rates we found for James versus the first agency he spoke to. Both companies are A+ rated by AM Best, and have never failed to pay a valid claim.

Life Insurer "A"Life Insurer "B"
Monthly Premium:$180.54$76.60
Total 20-Year Cost:$43,329.60$18,384.00
Savings With Company B: $24,945.60

By comparing options from dozens of highly-rated insurers, we were able to match James with an A+ rated life insurance company, saving him 60%, or about $24,945.60 over the life of his policy!

If you have questions, or if you would like accurate quotes based on your age and health profile, please give us a call toll-free at:855-247-9555. We will save you time and money by comparing options from dozens of highly rated insurers in one phone call.

Why Work with JRC Insurance Group?

JRC Insurance Group isemployee-owned by life insurance underwriting veterans. We worked for 5-10 years in a high-volume, high pressure agency cutting our teeth, and we chose to take our knowledge and work at an appropriate pace for ourselves and our clients.

We vowed to NEVER read a sales script to our clients, or “cross sell” home, auto or other products to our clients. By comparing rates and options from 63 highly-rated insurance companies, we can pre-qualify just about every health and lifestyle condition out there with the best option available. If we can’t save you time or money, we’ll tell you right up front!

Where Do I Begin, and How Do I Apply?

Give JRC Insurance Group a call today! Our expert agent's will listen to your life insurance needs and goals, and work within your budget. Our goal is to find you the most affordable life insurance policy available from a financially-solid insurer.

Our shopping services are free, but many clients have told us our help was invaluable! Call today, toll free: 855-247-9555, or if your not ready to speak with someone now, you can request a free instant online quote below to compare rates and options from dozens of insurers in less than a minute.

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Clifford Pendell

Clifford Pendell

Managing Partner and Co-founder

Cliff is a licensed life insurance agent and one of the owners of JRC Insurance Group. He has helped thousands of families of businesses with their life insurance needs since 2012 and specializes with applicants who are less than perfect health. In his spare time he enjoys spending time with family, traveling, and the great outdoors.

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