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The complete guide to Mental Health Conditions and life cover

How have things changed for people with mental health who want life insurance?

Author: Daniel Sharpe-Szunko

We’re often asked to find life insurance by people who suffer with mental health. We appreciate that it’s very difficult to have to share very personal information about your mental health with someone you don’t know. It’s even worse if the person that you’re speaking to doesn’t understand you.

Mental health is one of the hottest topics in the medical world today, which also applies to life insurance. It’s got to be one of the most difficult subjects because of the numerous stigmas around mental health. Another possible problem is that there are no specific symptoms for mental health so it’s difficult to assess.

What’s different about a mental health life insurance expert?

iam|INSURED is a life insurance expert dedicated to helping people with mental health issues and other medical conditions. Over the past 20 years, our team of advisers has helped thousands of people to get the protection they need for their families.

How has life insurance changed for mental health?

We think this is very important to explain, simply because of how far things have improved over the past 20 years. There’s probably a number of key points to consider when looking at how things have moved on for this, such as:

  • People in general are more aware of mental health
  • Greater understanding about mental health conditions
  • Less stigma around mental health
  • Treatments have also improved

Over the past 2 decades we’ve seen major changes in how we talk about mental health and treatment. This group of conditions covers a huge range of different types of mental health related problems, as well as being linked to many other medical conditions.

When we talk about managing a medical condition such as MS, Diabetes, Cancer or Heart Disease, it’s often linked to mental health. It seems logical that someone having to manage, monitor and maintain a medical condition, may also have to cope with Stress or Anxiety.

Previously with mental health and life insurance it was difficult to understand how that may affect you physically. It’s easier to assess someone physically than mentally simply because of the symptoms and treatments.

Do I need to speak to someone about my mental health to get life cover?

One of the most important issues that we face and our customers face, is having to discuss distressing events with us. We appreciate that it’s a very sensitive subject and that it can be extremely disturbing to have to talk about your mental health.

The fact is that in most cases to get the best advice, it’s important to disclose facts about your health. If you’ve had problems with mental health in the past then you may need to talk about that with your adviser.

Some of the questions you might be asked may include:

  • Have you suffered from Stress, Anxiety, Depression or another mental health issue?
  • Have you ever been admitted to hospital due to mental health or been treated by a psychiatrist?
  • Have you attempted to take your own life or had suicidal thoughts?
  • Have you intentionally harmed yourself or thought about harming yourself?
  • When did you first have symptoms?
  • Are you waiting for a hospital referral or to be seen by a specialist?

These are just some examples of the types of questions that you might be asked when applying for life cover. As you can see, these questions are quite personal and could be distressing to discuss.

We’ve got a team of experts who understand this and have years of experience, so this is important for us.

Continue…

Warnings over extended mortgage and credit card payment holidays

Warnings over extensions of mortgage and credit card payment holidays

Mortgage payment holidays were released by the government in March 2020 to help people who were financially impacted by COVID-19.

Since the beginning of March, around two million mortgage borrowers have taken advantage of up to three months payment breaks.

As well as this, members of the UK Finance trade association have offered 27 million interest-free overdraft buffers, provided 961,700 deferred payments on credit cards and 688,900 personal loan payments deferred.

In these cases, interest will more than likely continue to build during the deferred period or payment holiday, unless specified by the lender. Customers should carefully consider their options before accepting any such scheme and especially for further deferment.

On average, the payment deferral equates to £755 per month which is the amount of the suspended payment.

It is also suggested by UK Finance that 1 in 6 mortgages has been or is now subject to a payment holiday. This equates to over 1.9 million mortgage payment breaks.

As many borrowers now come to the end of the initial 3 month payment holiday period, lenders will be contacting them to make sure that they are still supported. Mortgage borrowers may now be offered further options which will include:

  • Continued full or partial payment holidays
  • Switch to interest-only temporarily
  • Extend mortgage terms to reduce payments

It has been suggested that mortgage lenders are now able to offer further mortgage payment holidays until the end of October. The reason for the extended payment periods is to assist those still experiencing financial difficulties, such as those still on furlough.

Our advice to people who are considering extending their mortgage payment holiday, is to be very careful. These options have been put in place to assist people who really need it and not to simply ease the pressure for a few months.

Lenders are expected to be more rigorous with their checks on the extended payment holidays. Some will be offering debt counselling as well as other possible alternatives before accepting an application to extend.

You should also be aware that even though your credit rating will not be impacted, your options for future borrowing could reduce. Some lenders are taking a dim view on borrowers who have taken advantage of payment holidays for further borrowing or new mortgage applications.

If you want to know more about mortgages then you can contact our team of qualified iam|MORTGAGES experts on 01244 732899 or visit www.iammortgages.com.

Love Your Lungs Week – how does COVID-19 affect our lungs

Love Your Lungs Week 2020

Author: Daniel Sharpe-Szunko

Today marks the beginning of National ‘Love Your Lungs Week’ from the British Lung Foundation. This year it’s more relevant than ever due to the increased risks for people with lung conditions due to COVID-19.

If you suffer from a lung condition and you need help, you could visit https://www.blf.org.uk/take-action/campaign/loveyourlungsweek for more information.

There’s lots of support available for people living with lung conditions, including online tools and communities. You can also join the conversation on social media to share your thoughts and views.

Online tools: https://www.blf.org.uk/technology-for-lung-health

Communities: https://healthunlocked.com/blf

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/britishlungfoundation/

Twitter: @lunguk

Still relatively little is known about this new disease which has caused over 230,000 deaths worldwide and affected more than 3.2 million people.

How does Coronavirus affect people with lung conditions?

COVID-19 is a respiratory disease which is the same as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Flu or a common cold. This means that the lungs are the first organs to be affected.

Symptoms at early stages include a high temperature, shortness of breath and a persistent cough. These symptoms can appear almost immediately after exposure to the virus, or as long as 14 days later.

A high temperature or fever is on the top of the list of symptoms, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. However, not everyone who contracts the disease display a raised temperature. Research shows that around *70% of patients hospitalised did not have a fever.

Coughing is the most common of all symptoms, according to research by Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Approximately **68 to 83 percent of their patients with COVID-19 had this symptom.

Other symptoms include 11-40% were suffering with shortness of breath, and in some cases, patients were confused, had headaches, nausea and diarrhoea.

As we have seen from the government bulletins, symptoms can range from extremely mild with no symptoms to potentially fatal. Early data from China suggested that ***81% of cases were mild and the rest were high risk.

Elderly people who had already been diagnosed with chronic medical conditions are at greater risk.

This variance also shows how the disease (COVD-19) can potentially damage the lungs.

In a report by ****The Lancet, it was identified that people may only have minor respiratory symptoms. Other people with the disease may also develop non-life threatening Pneumonia. However, there’s a smaller group of people who developed severe lung damage.

It has also been suggested that in patients who were severely ill, they were showing a condition called Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS).

ARDS isn’t just related to patients with COVID-19. There’s a number of other events that can trigger it, such as sepsis or trauma.

Damage is caused to the lungs where fluid leaks from tiny blood vessels inside the lung. This fluid then gathers in the air sacs (alveoli) which in turn makes it difficult for the lungs to transfer oxygen from the air to our blood.

Still, relatively little is known about the damage caused to the lungs by COVID-19, however it’s suggested to be similar to SARS and MERS.

A more recent study consisting of 138 people who were hospitalised with COVID-19, difficulty breathing happened after 5 days, ARDS then developed after approximately 8 days.

ARDS is treated using supplemental oxygen and mechanical ventilation, which is specifically to increase oxygen levels in the blood. According to experts, there’s no specific treatment for ARDS, this is purely to support the patient through the process. The body is then allowed to heal naturally and to build the immune system against the event.

Something which has been identified with COVID-19 patients, is that large numbers of them had potentially fatal low levels of blood oxygen. This has caused some confusion amongst experts as the patients did not appear to be starved of oxygen. Some experts are now rethinking where ventilation is the best cause of action.

How has COVID-19 impacted life insurance underwriting for lung conditions?

Currently there are a number of insurance providers in the UK ad globally who are restricting life cover terms for certain respiratory conditions. Our research suggests that a handful of insurers currently won’t consider offering cover for lung conditions or would postpone until more is known about the disease.

After several months we are still seeing restrictions in place by almost all insurers in the UK. Limits range from Body Mass Index (BMI) to chronic conditions such as Asthma, Diabetes, Heart Disease and Auto-immune Disease.

Currently it is suggested by a number of insurers that the limits will only apply to a small percentage of the population.

What if I already have life insurance and I get Coronavirus?

If you already have a life insurance policy in place then that should have already been accepted based on your health at the time. You should ensure that your cover is sufficient for your current needs, such as mortgage, children or funeral expenses.

Will life insurance pay-out for Coronavirus?

Life insurance with all mainstream or high street insurers will not exclude causes of death, such as COVID-19 related symptoms. The only exclusion which normally applies to new life insurance policies is suicide in the first year or two years, which is common.

What about if I’ve got a respiratory disease and I need life insurance?

In most cases it is still possible to get life insurance for people with respiratory conditions, such as Asthma, Bronchitis or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

There are some instances where the respiratory disease is more severe, where life cover may be postponed for a period of 6 to 12 months. This simply means that your cover will be offered to you after COVID-19 risk has dropped or a vaccine has been released.

If you need more help or guidance and what to do about your life insurance then you can call our team of experts on 0800 009 6559 or visit https://iaminsured.co.uk/.

Sources:

*JAMA Network https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2765184

**Clinical Course and Epidemiology https://covidprotocols.org/protocols/clinical-course-and-epidemiology/

***CCDC Weekly http://weekly.chinacdc.cn/en/article/id/e53946e2-c6c4-41e9-9a9b-fea8db1a8f51

****The Lancet https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)30374-3/fulltext

Everything you need to know about life insurance for Dads

Life insurance for Dads

Author: Daniel Sharpe-Szunko

Everyone is different and everyone’s circumstances are different too. Most dad’s will feel a sense of responsibility towards protecting their families and children.

Some of the main events that might prompt us to consider life insurance include:

  • Marriage
  • Becoming a Dad
  • Buying or renting a home
  • Divorce
  • Losing a loved one

Us dads need to stick together and as a proud father of two amazing children myself, I know how tough it can be.

Parents have a difficult job raising kids and managing everything else that life throws at us. It can sometimes seem like an impossible task but the most important thing to all parents is the wellbeing of our children.

Dads have historically been seen as the breadwinner in most households and the person needing life cover. Obviously things have changed dramatically over the past several decades and perceptions have evolved.

Interesting stats:

  • 72.5% of two parent households have both parents in work*
  • 45.5% of two parent households have both parents in full-time employment*

What’s the cost of raising a child in the UK?

The current estimated cost of raising a child to age 21 in the UK has increased by 63% since 2003. This is an increase of £2,000 per year which is on average almost double the rate of inflation.

The cost of a child in 2019:

  • £151,000 for two parent households**
  • £185,000 for single parent households**

When we consider that a child loses a parent in the UK every 22 minutes which equates to an unbelievable 23,600 per year.

How much does life insurance for a Dad cost?

According to a recent survey, most UK adults felt that the cost of life insurance was roughly four times higher than it actually is. Most dads could protect their families and their children for less than the cost of a couple of pints a week.

The cost of life insurance as of today’s date (18.06.2020) for a male, non-smoker, age 30 for £150,000 over 30 years is just £7.41 per month (£1.85 per week).

When you consider that the average mortgage debt in the UK today is £130,000 with a term of 20 years.

Should dads get life insurance if you’re expecting a baby?

There’s no bad time to sort life insurance so if you’re due to have a baby in the next few months, or even if you’re planning to have a baby, then get it sorted.

Becoming a new parent is an incredible time but also will be one of the most stressful and busiest times. It’s easy to forget about things like sorting your life insurance out if you’ve just had a new baby.

If you can sort out your life cover before your baby arrives then it may give you more time to consider your options properly. Make sure that you budget for this properly so you know that you can afford to maintain your premiums during maternity and paternity periods.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition then applying for life insurance might not be instant. In some cases we have seen applications last for several months while we obtain medical evidence from a GP.

Life insurance rates for new dads

There’s no better feeling in the world than the first time you hold your new born baby. As a dad, it’s the start of a long road of mixed emotions.

Life insurance sometimes unfortunately can slip to the bottom of the list of priorities which is understandable. Even though it’s a busy time, we should all be thinking about every way possible to protect that new born child.

Life insurance can provide them with instant financial protection if anything happens to either parent. But also, it will be cheaper to get life insurance sorted as early as possible while you’re still young.

Why is life insurance cheaper for younger dads?

Life insurance premiums and costs are based on your age so you should try to get it sorted as early as possible.

As we grow older, the risks of becoming ill and lifestyle related health conditions grows, so premiums for life insurance can be far higher.

In our experience, we see many young fathers requiring cover to protect their children which is fantastic. However we also see many fathers who have not thought about life cover until later in life, who have then developed conditions like Type 2 Diabetes or worse things like Cancer or Heart Disease.

“Sort it now… pay less and get your kids protected”

What about if I’m a dad already and have life insurance?

Firstly, if you’ve already got children and have life cover in place already, or if you were clever enough to get it sorted in the past then that’s fantastic.

It’s always advisable to review that cover to make sure that it’s appropriate or suitable for your new situation. You’ve got plenty of options with life cover because it’s pretty flexible so worth speaking to an adviser to find out more.

Some of the most common misconceptions about life insurance:

  • It’s a contract and you can’t cancel it or change it
  • There are charges for cancelling life insurance
  • You lose the benefits that you’ve already got
  • Insurers don’t allow you to have multiple policies

The good news is that you’ve got lots of options and the fact is that you ‘should’ review your life cover regularly. Especially at major events in your life such as having a child.

How much is life cover for older dads?

It’s true that as you get older and every time you pass another birthday, life insurance premiums will go up. The cost of cover is based on your age so will increase every year, which is why it’s better to sort it earlier in life.

If you haven’t sorted your life insurance earlier, or you need more cover, then it’s not a problem. You should just expect that you won’t pay the same as you did or would have done in your 20’s or 30’s.

There’s also health and lifestyle to consider, so if you’ve had a medical issue then that will be taken in to account. An expert like iam|INSURED will be able to help you to get fairer rates based on our many years of expertise.

Some of the main medical conditions that may become a factor in later life:

  • Obesity (high BMI)
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Mental health conditions
  • Cancer

Most medical conditions and other risk factors like occupations and activities can be covered, so that shouldn’t be a problem. Again you just need to consider this in your calculations for the premiums you might pay.

What about life insurance for working dads?

As mentioned above, most families will have both parents working either full or part time. So it’s important to make sure that if either income is lost then you replace that to make sure your lifestyle isn’t affected.

Life insurance is designed to replace the income of a family member if they become ill or even worse. In the event of the unfortunate loss of a parent, then you would want to make sure that you’re family don’t suffer financially.

You could look at several options for replacing your income if you weren’t able to work or were no longer around.

Some of the main life insurance options for working dads are:

  • Term life insurance (family protection)
  • Decreasing life insurance (mortgage protection)
  • Family Income Benefit
  • Income Protection
  • Critical Illness Cover
  • Personal Accident Insurance
  • Health Insurance

All of these products are designed to help you and your family in different ways if something happens to you.

It’s best to think about what’s most important to you and what would you want to protect.

What about self-employed dads?

In many ways it’s even more important for self-employed dads to get cover sorted, and especially if you just work for yourself. If your business would suffer if you weren’t able to work, then you should seriously consider protecting yourself.

There are also several tax efficient products which are available to self-employed people which can be paid through the business. You should speak to a business life insurance expert like iam|INSURED to find out more.

There’s an estimated 4.95 million*** self-employed workers in the UK, of which 920,000 work in the construction industry.

Life insurance for single dads

If you’re a single parent or a single dad, then you’ve got a different responsibility to two parent households. You might share childcare with your ex-partner or you may unfortunately be a widowed parent.

Life insurance can be set up easily on a single life basis which is common in this industry, as not everyone is part of a two parent household.

Also, you might want to set your policy up under a trust so that you know that only your children will benefit. We see this happening commonly where 2 parents have separated and the parents simply want to protect their children.

It’s often advisable to speak to your ex-partner to make sure that they’re aware of what cover you have in place.

Also, if you’re solely responsible for the financial security and well-being of your children then life cover is very important.

What if I’ve separated from my partner?

We often get asked by parents who have separated, to sort out cover for their kids which, could be from the old or a new relationship. It can become difficult to know what to do for the best and what your options are in the event of a separation.

Some of the main things to consider:

  • Ex-partner: you might not want your ex-partner to benefit from a life insurance pay-out if you die. In these circumstances you can write your policy in to Trust which can express your wishes to pay the benefit directly to your children
  • Joint policies: many people take out life insurance with a partner to protect their children which is normal. It might be that you continue to pay for this policy jointly or individually, or you could take out a new policy on a single life basis
  • Children from 2 different Mums: It’s possible that you could have children from different relationships with different mothers. In this situation there are several options to how to protect children in this instance and usually a Trust can cover this

The important thing to consider is that you’ve got lots of options so have a conversation with an adviser to see what you can do.

What about life insurance for dads with medical problems?

Often we see situations where one or even both parents have a pre-existing medical condition. These conditions can be mild with no major impact on lifestyle, but also can be more severe.

If you’re a dad with a medical condition or health problem then you should seek the advice of an expert, like iam|INSURED. In these situations, you should make sure that the premiums you pay are fair.

Some of the most common medical conditions for dads are:

  • Diabetes
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Epilepsy
  • Asthma
  • Mental illness
  • Cancer (e.g. Prostate and lung)
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Auto-immune disease (e.g. Chron’s or Colitis)

All of these conditions can be covered in most cases so you shouldn’t feel as though it’s just not available for you.

What about life insurance for dads who smoke?

Smoker rates for dads will be higher than non-smoker rates which is due to the increased future health risks.

Recent statistics showed us that in 2018 in the UK, 16.5% of men smoke (3.9 million) and 13% of women (3.2 million)****.

Some things you didn’t know about life insurance for smokers:

  • Nicotine replacement products (e.g. patches and gum) are classed as smoking
  • Vaping (e-cigarettes) is smoking (event with no nicotine)
  • Ex-smokers can replace cover at non-smoker rates (after 12 months)

If you’ve also become a smoker and already have cover in place that was taken out before you started, then any new cover will be based on smoker rates.

What about life insurance for dads with dangerous jobs?

Dads working in dangerous jobs such as construction, agricultural, tradesmen and armed forces, might have other risks to consider. In almost all job types life cover should be available so don’t let that put you off.

Often with hazardous occupations, life insurance is readily available at a fair price with no real difference to standard cover. There may be some additional considerations which could include:

  • Working at heights
  • Off-shore work
  • Dangerous or hazardous materials
  • Working in dangerous locations
  • Professional sports
  • Aviation

The reasons for needing life insurance could be considered to be higher if you work in any of these areas. Occupational risks are something to consider if you’ve got a family and you want to protect them.

How much life cover does an average dad need?

There’s no right or wrong answer to this question and everyone’s circumstances are different. It’s also true to say that everyone’s attitude to risk is very different so what you think is right, might be very different to someone else.

If you’re solely or partly responsible for taking responsibility for paying your household bills and supporting your family. You should make sure that you’ve got that covered if you’re not around or not able to provide an income.

Some of the main household costs to consider covering:

  • Mortgage repayments or rent
  • Bills and utilities
  • Monthly costs of living
  • Childcare costs

Other costs that may be incurred if you pass away:

  • Legal expenses (especially if business owner or self-employed)
  • Funeral costs
  • Loss of earnings

If you’ve not thought about it then it’s usually pretty simple to look at your monthly income and expenditure to figure out what you need.

Should a dad write a life insurance policy in to Trust or have a Will?

A fairly recent development is the ability to write a life insurance policy in to trust. This is a legal document that expresses your wishes for what you want to happen with the benefit payment from your policy.

Some of the main reasons why you’d want to write a policy in to trust are:

  • Inheritance tax planning: You could avoid having to pay IHT which could be up to 40% of your estate
  • Assign a Trustee: Your chosen trustee will be responsible for making sure that your wishes are actioned
  • Assign beneficiaries: You can select one or several beneficiaries who can receive a % of the benefit amount
  • Fast pay-out: A trust will avoid probate and means that your beneficiaries will receive their payment in weeks rather than months or even years

It is also advisable to have a Will in place which will help to outline your wishes should you pass away.

References:

* Office for National Statistics (Families and the labour market, England: 2018)

https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes/articles/familiesandthelabourmarketengland/2018

** Child Poverty Action Group (The Cost of a Child in 2019) https://cpag.org.uk/sites/default/files/files/policypost/CostofaChild2019_web.pdf

*** https://www.gosimpletax.com/insights/self-employment-statistics/

**** Office for National Statistics (adults smoking habits in the UK: 2018) https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/healthandlifeexpectancies/bulletins/adultsmokinghabitsingreatbritain/2018#:~:text=In%202018%2C%20the%20prevalence%20of,2011%20(see%20Figure%201).

 

How are your life insurance premiums calculated

How are Life Insurance premiums calculated?

Author: Daniel Sharpe-Szunko

It’s important to understand how your life insurance premiums are calculated so you know what you’re paying for. Life cover is mainly designed to protect your family, home and business if anything happens to you.

Ultimately if you were no longer around to support your family or your income was impacted because of an illness or accident, these policies would relieve the financial burden. Life insurance, critical illness cover and income protection all come under the same umbrella of personal protection products.

Life insurance is the main type of cover because it’s the most common and the most affordable. This is simply because you’re much less likely to have to claim on a life insurance policy than critical illness cover or income protection.

A life policy is a contract between you (a policy holder) and an insurer. The policy becomes valid when premiums are collected (monthly or annually) after ‘acceptance terms’ are issued.

The policy is set to cover an amount (sum assured) over a period of time (term) to pay out to on death, serious illness or accident (depending on cover type).

What is life insurance?

A life insurance policy is simply a policy that pays out to a beneficiary (e.g. wife, children, partner or family) in the event of death. This pay-out is usually a tax free lump sum which can form part of your estate or this can be avoided using a Trust.

Life insurance also comes in 4 main forms which are all designed for different purposes depending on what you want to cover:

  • Level term (family protection) which is simply to protect your loved ones in the event of death
  • Decreasing term (mortgage protection) which is specifically designed to cover a mortgage (repayment mortgages only)
  • Whole of life is a more recent addition to the life insurance market which is a non-investment based guaranteed life cover
  • Family income benefit is also a newer type of cover which is specifically for your family and provides an annual income rather than a lump sum

All of these different types of life cover also cost different amounts per thousand pounds because of how they pay out. Whole of life is always the highest because it is guaranteed to pay out (as long as you continue to pay your premiums). Family income benefit is the cheapest because the amount of cover reduces faster than the other types of cover.

How are basic life insurance premiums calculated?

A life insurance premium is made up of several main factors before health and lifestyle are taken in to account. These are the things that would be taken in to account to give a base premium, which includes:

  • Age (Note: every time you pass a birthday your premiums will increase)
  • Smoker status (Note: No nicotine or nicotine replacement products for at least 12 months to be classed as a non-smoker)
  • Sum assured (amount of cover)
  • Term (length of policy in years or to age)
  • Type of cover (e.g. level term, decreasing term, family income benefit or whole of life)

Note: Gender– In February 2012 the EU Gender Directive made it illegal to use gender to differentiate between individuals for insurance

What else is used to calculate a life insurance premium?

There are also several other elements that are used to calculate the premium that a person (policyholder) will pay for cover. The following elements are behind the scenes calculations which will also be different for each insurance provider.

Underwriting process

When an application is submitted to an insurer, it will enter one of several potential routes depending on the disclosures. Generally the more complex the disclosures (e.g. medical conditions, hazardous occupations and dangerous activities) the more work that will be required at the back end.

The various types of underwriting processes are:

Underwriting Rules Engine (URE’s) which is where modern technology is used to apply a premium based on disclosures on an online application. Usually an insurer will allow a system (URE) to make a decision up to a set threshold (level of risk)

Manual underwriting is simply where an application will be referred to an underwriter (a person who assesses risk) to calculate a premium. An underwriter will also have certain limits that they will be allowed to go to before the next stage

Nurse screening or telephone medical will be used to gather additional medical evidence via a professional (e.g. nurse). These tests will usually include BMI (height & weight), blood sugar levels, cotinine test (smoker test), and blood pressure

Full GP report (medical report) which will be obtained directly from your GP or Doctor to provide a full breakdown of your medical history. Medical reports are usually for more complicated medical conditions or where symptoms are more severe

Once the underwriting process has been completed by whichever process, a premium will be offered based on information provided. Each insurer has a different set of parameters for each persons circumstances based on their ‘underwriting philosophy’.

Mortality and Morbidity data

All life insurance offices will have a team of actuaries who are mathematical people that calculate risk. These people will constantly be looking at trends in data which help them to make decisions for certain groups or risk categories.

Some of the most common types of morbidity are heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, stroke, diabetes, pneumonia and influenza, Alzheimer’s disease, kidney disease and suicide.

Also co-morbidity is where two conditions occur simultaneously in the same person. The conditions don’t need to be directly linked to a cause, however they may often occur together. Some examples of co-morbidity are depression, diabetes and obesity which often occur together but are not likely to have the same cause.

There is no exact science to how an insurer will calculate a premium for an individual, however the insurer will use this information to calculate risk of death. It is a fair assumption for example that ‘a person in their 50’s is more likely to fall ill or have an existing medical condition to a younger person.’

Costs and margins

Any business will need to make sure that it is profitable and insurance is no different. There is a cost associated to running an insurance company and for processing an application. Each insurer will have their own costs and these will be different depending on the size of provider and how they operate.

There are several main costs that will be taken in to account when processing an application for life insurance. Some of the main costs will include:

Underwriting – a team of underwriters is a cost to a business so that must be taken in to account

Medical evidence – medical reports from a GP or doctor will costs anywhere between £60 and several hundred pounds

NTU rates (not taken up) – every time an application is processed that is either declined or not accepted, there will be a cost associated to that

Lapse rates (cancelled cases) – if a policy is cancelled within a certain period of time then it may then incur cost to the insurer

Generally bigger insurance providers are more efficient than smaller or newer insurance providers so can therefore drive lower premiums. Profit margins for life offices are difficult to project as they are forecasts based on future premium collections and potential claims.

For more information about this subject you can contact one of our team of experts at iam|INSURED on 01244 732896.

Life insurance rates for people with with high blood pressure

Getting life insurance with Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)

Author – Daniel Sharpe-Szunko

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, rarely ever has any visible symptoms, but can increase the chances of dangerous problems like heart attack or stroke. As it has no noticeable indicators, the only way to find out if you have hypertension is to get your blood pressure checked. Untreated high blood pressure can lead to fatal consequences so a check can quite literally save your life.

In this blog we‘ll explain how having hypertension can affect life insurance and travel insurance.

Why we’re able to provide this information

iam|INSURED is a passionate team of experts with over 20 year’s experience helping people with medical conditions to get life insurance. We’ve helped thousands of people to protect their families, homes and businesses regardless of their health. It’s our mission to drive for fair treatment for all of our customers and to help them get the best results.

What is Hypertension?

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is when the pressure of the blood in your arteries is consistently too high. Arteries are the blood vessels that deliver blood from the heart to other areas of your body and you need blood pressure to get the blood moving. Your blood pressure will go up and down during the day depending on if you are exercising or resting. However, if your blood pressure is typically high at all times then it needs to be treated.

Every person’s blood pressure is different so what is high for you may not be high for someone else. This is why it isimportant to get it checked by a medical professional. Hypertension, if left untreated, can lead to serious conditions like heart attack, stroke and kidney failure.

History of Hypertension

Although our understanding of hypertension has only solidified in the past few hundred years sinceStephen Hales, an English Clergyman, made the first published measurement of blood pressure in 1733, human beings have been assessing the health of the heart as far back as 2600 BC. An illness of the heart known as hard blood disease was treated with bleeding from leeches by figures from Hippocrates to Cornelius Celsus. Medieval Persian medical texts refer to a disease named fullness disease,a disease that has the symptoms of what we now call Hypertension.

After the discovery of blood pressure, the physician Richard Bright noted the relationship between cardiac hypertrophy and kidney disease illustrating the dangers high blood pressure can bring to parts of the body other than the heart. Frederick Akbar Mahomed reported decades later of the first example of high blood pressure without kidney disease by using asphygmograph, a mechanical device used to measure blood pressure. This led to the discovery of high blood pressure being a general circulatory disease.

The concept of Hypertension came into practice when the invention of the cuff-based sphygmomanometeroccurred in 1896 byScipione Riva Rocci, allowing blood pressure to be measured in a clinic. In 1911,Eberhard Frank coined the term Essential Hypertension, which describes 95% of hypertensive patients today.

What are the different types of Hypertension?

There are two primary types of hypertension:

Essential Hypertensionis when the cause of the hypertension is unknown. These cases make up around 95% of the people who have the condition. This type of hypertension is diagnosed when your doctor has eliminated all other types of hypertension after noticing an extended period of high blood pressure.

Secondary Hypertensionis a type of hypertension that is caused by another medical condition. It can be caused by anything fromtumours to kidney disease and many medications. This type can often be controlled once the root cause is found.

What are the signs and symptoms of Hypertension?

Hypertension rarely ever has any noticeable symptoms, a dangerous characteristic when the consequences can be so dangerous. Many who have high blood pressure feel fine but it can sometimes result in blurred vision, nosebleeds or headaches in some cases.

It is important to get your blood pressure checked at least every five years as a healthy middle aged adult. More at risk adults should get checked yearly.

What causes Hypertension?

We still don’t know what exactly causes high blood pressure in most cases but there are several factors that can increase the risk.

It is important to get your blood pressure checked regularly after 40 as your chances of hypertension increase as you age. High levels of salt, alcohol consumption and smoking can all contribute to high blood pressure as can lack of exercise and sleep deprivation. It is therefore advised to make healthy lifestyle choices so to decrease your risk.

People of African orCaribbean origin are also moresusceptible to high blood pressure and the condition tends to run in families. If your family has a history of Hypertension itelevates the chances of you contracting it yourself.

As mentioned earlier, the rarer cases of Secondary Hypertension are caused by another health condition or certain medications. The health conditions can range from kidney disease to diabetes. In some cases when medication, like the contraceptive pill, is responsible for the Hypertension, the blood pressure can return to normal once the individual stops taking it.

How can you prevent Hypertension?

Although the exact cause for Hypertension is unknown, there are several steps you can take to decrease your chances of high blood pressure. These include:

  • Exercising for at least twenty minutes each day
  • Eating a healthy, balanced diet and cutting down on salt
  • Keeping to a healthy weight
  • Watching your alcohol consumption

Hypertension is not something many of us will notice so it is important to get your blood pressure checked regularly.

Stroke statistics (UK)

According to Health matters, Public Health England’s (PHEs) professional resource, in 2017:

  • In the UK, high blood pressure is the third biggest risk factor for all disease after smoking and poor diet
  • Around one in three adults in the UK has high blood pressure. In England 31% of men and 26% of women have high blood pressure
  • High blood pressure costs the NHS over £2.1 billion every year
  • Between 50-80% of people with high blood pressure do not take all of their prescribed medication
  • High blood pressure accounts for 12% of all GP appointments in England

Public Health England, Health matters: combating high blood pressure, January 2017 (references).

How does having high blood pressure affect life insurance?

Getting life insurance is something that can seem confusing and potentially frustrating, especially if you’ve got a medical condition. There’s not much help out there for people with conditions like hypertension and often it can feel unfair. In most cases where people have high blood pressure, it’s simple to get life cover though.

Here we’ll look at how high blood pressure is disclosed on a life insurance application and what it means. Life insurance is underwritten at the point of applying which means that you’ll be asked a series of medical, health and lifestyle questions. In these questions an underwriter or system will then offer you a premium based on your answers, plus your age and what your life cover requirements are.

If you’ve got high blood pressure then you’ll also be asked a set of questions that relate to hypertension. These questions will include things like:

Are you awaiting any specific tests, scans or investigations for blood pressure?

  • Have you experienced things like kidney problems, angina, heart attack, stroke, chest pain or eye problems due to hypertension?
  • Are you taking any medication prescribed by your doctor?
  • When did you first have a high blood pressure reading?
  • Have you ever stopped taking your medication without being told to do so?
  • What was the result of your last blood pressure review?
  • How many different medications do your take?

It might seem slightly unusual to have to answer so many questions but this is just part of the process. Hopefully once you’ve answered questions, you’ll be offered life insurance without needing a medical or GP report. It’s also usual to have experienced problems with getting life insurance if you’ve got a medical condition. Lots of the people we speak to have had issues in the past getting cover, but that’s where we can help.

What’s a good blood pressure reading for life insurance?

There are 2 readings that you’ll be given when you have your blood pressure taken by a GP or yourself. The number at the top of the reading is your ‘Systolic’ level and the bottom is your ‘Diastolic’ level.

The levels that are considered normal will also change or vary depending on your age, as these tend to increase as you get older. If your blood pressure is above 160/100 then you would usually be checked 3 times by your GP before being diagnosed with hypertension. If your readings are above 140/90 then it’s usually 5 times before you get fully diagnosed.

Insurers have different tolerances for blood pressure readings depending on how good they are at offering terms for hypertension. Usually we find that if you’ve got a Diastolic reading over 100 then we may need further medical evidence as a rule.

Has Coronavirus affected life insurance for people with high blood pressure?

The simple answer is the short term effects on life insurance rates for people with pre-existing medical conditions is minimal. We’re waiting to see what the long term impact is but expect that things will return to normal within a period of 6 to 12 months.

High blood pressure (hypertension) can be a sign of other problems which can cause other issues connected to COVID-19. It is suspected that there are links with cardiovascular risks as well as respiratory risks with Coronavirus.

There are now several additional questions as a result of COVID-19 which include:

  • Have you tested positive for COVID?
  • Are you self-isolating?
  • Do you currently have any symptoms of COVID?
  • Have you been in contact with anyone who has been suspected or confirmed to have Coronavirus?

As part of the complications potentially that are caused by Coronavirus which can be linked to Hypertension. You should be aware that there are certain other elements to consider as part of the potential restrictions being imposed by insurers as a result of COVID-19.

Some of the additional restrictions have included:

  • Maximum sum assured (amount of cover)
  • Underwriting limits have been reduced
  • Medical evidence restrictions for nurse screening and GP reports

Long term impacts of Coronavirus on the life insurance market for people with hypertension and other medical conditions are still unknown.

Will anything be excluded from my life insurance because of hypertension?

In almost all cases you should find that there will be no exclusions to life cover if you have a medical condition like high blood pressure. There are some more specialist products that are available which may exclude pre-existing medical conditions.

It’s very important to read your documents thoroughly to make sure that you’re fully and properly protected. If you have any doubts whatsoever then you should speak to your insurance company or contact a qualified adviser like iam|INSURED.

All of the mainstream insurers in the UK operate the same way that they would not exclude hypertension or anything related. You should instead find that the premium that you pay may reflect the fact that your cover has factored your health in. You should know that some insurance companies are better than others with pre-existing conditions and some will simply be cheaper.

Is critical illness cover available if I’ve got high blood pressure?

Critical illness cover can provide you with some cover and peace of mind if you’re diagnosed with a serious illness. Many people with medical conditions like hypertension think that this type of cover simply isn’t available which is not usually the case. In many circumstances, this type of policy is available and usually can be simply to get.

If you’ve got mild symptoms with reasonably good readings and only minimal medications or treatment then you’ll be fine to get critical illness cover. Also if you are able to reduce your blood pressure readings then you might also be able to reduce premiums.

Some of the things that can cause concerns for insurers when applying for critical illness cover with hypertension are:

  • Unstable readings
  • High readings
  • Hospitalisation
  • Time of work due to the condition
  • Multiple medications
  • Other complications or related conditions (e.g. Diabetes)

It’s important to make sure that if you are offered critical illness cover that you check your documents thoroughly. Some companies will offer terms (cover) with what is known as, an exclusion, which simply means something you’re not covered for. Exclusions will relate to your current health or any existing medical condition.

Is it possible to get income protection with hypertension?

If you’re employed or self-employed then you might want to consider taking an income protection policy. This will provide you with a monthly income if you’re not able to work because of an accident, injury or sickness. If you don’t receive any sickness pay from your employer and don’t have sufficient savings in place then you should consider this type of cover.

Anyone with a pre-existing medical condition will usually be underwritten when they apply for this policy. Hypertension is considered to be one of the more coverable conditions when it comes to income protection. Most people with well controlled blood pressure on 1 or 2 medications will be able to get this type of cover quickly and easily.

If your symptoms are slightly more severe and your readings are slightly higher then you might find getting cover more difficult. In these situations you shouldn’t be put off because there are other policies and types of cover that will help. There are some unique and exclusive policies that will offer cover and even some where there are no exclusions.

If you’ve applied for income protection in the past and you’ve got raised blood pressure then you should speak to an expert like iam|INSURED to see what can be done.

What does travel insurance cost with hypertension?

For someone who’s been diagnosed with hypertension (high blood pressure), it’s very important to make sure that you’re properly protected while travelling abroad. If you’ve got a fully comprehensive travel policy then you’ll have peace of mind that you’re covered.

Travel insurance policies will cover very basic medical expenses in most cases but with a specialised policy then you’ll get extra. You should disclose any information regarding your condition on the application to be sure.

What you’ll be covered for:

  • Lost, stolen and damaged property
  • Emergency medical treatment and repatriation
  • Cancellation and curtailment
  • Personal liability

Get the best travel cover at the right price for your own peace of mind and your protection.

What are the possible issues for someone with high blood pressure for life cover?

Even though hypertension is a common condition and usually very mild or managed with medication, there can be problems. Life insurance is underwritten based on risk at the time you apply and in the future based on statistics plus claims experience.

Some of the other areas that would be taken in to consideration when applying for life insurance with high blood pressure are:

  • High readings can be a problem if you’ve recently had levels that are well above normal acceptable levels which can vary depending on your age
  • Multiple medications is also something that will be taken in to consideration and especially if they have been changed recently
  • Recent hospitalisation will also flag to underwriters as a possible problem if there has been issues connected to this condition or other related conditions
  • Smokers are usually considered to be a potential problem with some insurers in connection to hypertension

If you’ve had problems getting cover in the past or you want more information about this then you can speak to one of iam|INSURED’s team of experts.

Hypertension awareness events

World Hypertension day is held in May to help raise awareness to people all over the globe and to educate the public about blood pressure problems

Blood Pressure Awareness week in the UK is also known as ‘know your numbers’ to help increase awareness around testing your blood pressure. Usually held in September and run by the Blood Pressure UK charity

National High Blood Pressure Education month is an American event to raise awareness around regular testing

Hypertension and Blood Pressure charities / Support (UK)

Blood Pressure UK
Website:http://www.bloodpressureuk.org/Home
Helpline: 020 7882 6218
Address: Wolfson Institute of Prevention Medicine, Charterhouse Square, London, EC1M 6BQ

British Heart Foundation
Website:https://www.bhf.org.uk/
Helpline: 0300 330 3311
Address: Greater London House, 180 Hampstead Road, London, NW1 7AW

Stroke UK
Website:https://www.stroke.org.uk/
Helpline: 0303 3033 100
Address: 240 City Road, London, EC1V 2PR

NHS Choices (Hypertension)
Emergency: Dial 111
Website:https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/high-blood-pressure-hypertension/

How to get the right life insurance if you suffer from epilepsy

Life insurance premiums and cover options for people with Epilepsy

(Author: Daniel Sharpe-Szunko)

More people are being diagnosed with epilepsy in the UK than ever before and the figure is now over 500,000. This is one of the most common forms of neurological conditions which is most well-known for the seizures it causes.

Epilepsy and life insurance is something that is close to my heart because a good friend who sadly past in his mid 30’s. Tragically he had suffered a brain injury from a fall during a particularly bad seizure. This was devastating to his friends and family as it was unexpected and very sudden.

iam|INSURED is a #1 life insurance expert rated 5* by our customers and our advisers will help you to get the right cover. Our mission is to make sure that everyone we speak to is treated fairly and pays the right price for life insurance.

How does having epilepsy change life insurance?

A life insurance policy is designed to protect your family and takes account of your health or medical condition. Cover for someone who has this particular condition will differ more depending on the type of seizures you have and how many. Some people who suffer from epilepsy have very few seizures which means that they can easily get cover generally.

It is important to understand that some insurance providers are better at underwriting epilepsy than others. You might even find that some insurers can be two or three times the price of others which is shocking. It could also be the case that an insurer might decline your application for cover but others could accept without any problems.

Some of the questions you might be asked about your epilepsy if you apply for life insurance are:

  • What was the cause of your epilepsy (e.g. alcohol, brain swelling or scarring, other medical condition, drug use or medication)?
  • Are you awaiting any scans, tests or investigations?
  • When was your first seizure?
  • Has your treatment changed in the past 6 months?
  • Has your epilepsy caused any cognitive issues or mental health problems?
  • Have you been admitted to hospital because of your epilepsy?

Life insurance can seem unfair and infuriating at times which is totally understandable for someone with epilepsy or other medical conditions. If you’ve experienced this situation then you may feel let down or disillusioned about life insurance. Don’t be disheartened about getting cover for your family and it’s important to know that there are other options.

Is life insurance different for someone with epilepsy?

Life insurance is the same product generally, regardless of your health or medical conditions. It will pay out a cash lump sum to your family or to your beneficiaries if you die which will provide financial security in the future. If you’ve been diagnosed with epilepsy then you’ll need to answer some questions about it and potentially provide a GP report.

The process of applying for life insurance if you’ve got epilepsy might be slightly different than others. This is simply to take account of your medical situation so that there are no questions at the point of claim. You should make sure that you disclose your epilepsy and answer any questions accurately to the best of your knowledge.

Will I need to provide a GP report?

In most cases where the symptoms are mild and seizures are fewer then you’ll probably not have to give medical evidence. The purpose of medical reports is to make sure that your application has been fully assessed and underwritten.

For a lot of neurological conditions, a GP report will be requested but that’s not a bad thing. If you apply for life insurance and you’ve got epilepsy then you’ll probably be asked to provide your GP details. The next stage is underwriting and where your GP report might be requested.

You will also have the option to view your medical report in this instance which means that you’ll be able to check the information before it gets sent to the insurer. In this instance you would need to visit your GP to check the report before it gets sent on. If you’re happy with the information on your medical records then you can skip this step to save time.

Has Coronavirus (COVID-19) changed life insurance rates for epilepsy?

The impacts of COVID-19 are similar for most medical conditions because most insurers have placed similar restrictions. Someone with mild epilepsy looking for life insurance would generally see no change to their application journey. It is only towards the more severe end of the scale where there are changes generally.

There are potential links to additional risks connected to epilepsy medication with extra mortality from Coronavirus. Most people with symptoms of COVID-19 would be postponed for a period of 30 days after symptoms have gone. If you had been exposed to certain circumstances where there is a potential risk of contracting the virus then there could be limitations in cover.

Some Coronavirus questions include:

  • Have you tested positive for coronavirus?
  • Have you been told to self-isolate?
  • Are you experiencing symptoms such as cough, temperature or loss of taste / smell?
  • Do you know anyone with Coronavirus that you’ve been in contact with?

While this situation has been an unprecedented period in history, there’s nothing to suggest that something like this might happen again.

There have been certain limitations that came in to force during the pandemic which caused restrictions for some people. The limits only tended to be towards the severe end of the spectrum where people had complications or control issues. Some of those limits put in place included:

  • Maximum amount of cover available (£1 million max)
  • Restrictions to underwriting levels
  • Some medical evidence requirements restricted

The limits are expected to be temporary, however there could be longer term effects on medical underwriting for life insurance.

Can I get critical illness cover if I’ve got epilepsy?

People with epilepsy can usually get critical illness cover with no real issues, especially where seizures are mild (absent seizures). If you’ve got epilepsy and you’re considering taking out critical illness cover then here’s how it works. You’ll be asked a series of medical questions about your condition as well as the usual general questions about your health, lifestyle and occupation.

The main things that will be taken in to consideration when you’re applying for this type of cover with epilepsy are:

  • Type of seizures you have (e.g. absent or tonic-clonic)
  • Date of diagnosis
  • Frequency of symptoms / seizures

We’ve dealt with thousands of these types of applications over the years so we know which providers offer the best cover as well as cheaper premiums. It’s often the case that some insurers are far better than others in terms of underwriting for epilepsy and especially with more complicated products such as critical illness cover.

You should need to consider that some insurance companies will remove certain elements from your critical illness cover policy connected to your epilepsy. These are called ‘exclusions’ and in this case you might find that certain neurological conditions will be excluded.

Make sure that you check your documentation thoroughly to ensure that you’re satisfied with what you are being offered. And remember that cheap isn’t always best in this situation, it’s more important to have the right cover.

Is income protection available with epilepsy?

Most people with epilepsy work normally with no major restrictions to lifestyle so income protection is important. This is something that’s quite common so here’s a bit more about how it might work for you. If you’ve got epilepsy and want to protect your income then you should be able to get covered in most cases.

If you are only suffering from mild symptoms and you are well controlled then you should be able to get this type of cover quickly and easily. Some people with mild absent seizures that happen infrequently could get accepted for cover immediately with no further medical underwriting. It may be the case that you would not be covered for anything connected to your epilepsy in this instance, this can vary depending on the insurer.

People who suffer from more severe symptoms such as tonic-clonic seizures or more frequent symptoms, could require further medical underwriting. There’s a chance that you could see some providers offer cover with some limitations which could include exclusions or limits to the length of deferment period.

A deferment period is the number of weeks you have before you are able to make a claim, usually in this case it will be a minimum of 13 weeks. This basically means that you would be able to submit your claim once you have been off work for 13 weeks and usually for 12 to 24 months from that point.

There’s also other types of income protection policies that might be more suitable for someone with epilepsy. These more unique and exclusive products would offer cover for shorter claim periods (e.g. 12 months) with no medical underwriting. We offer these policies because they’re ideal for people with medical conditions like epilepsy.

Why is travel insurance different with epilepsy?

If you suffer from epilepsy then it’s important to take out the right travel insurance to make you’re covered with you’re abroad. If you are planning to travel in the future and you need insurance then here’s a bit about how it works. Anyone applying for travel insurance will be asked questions about their health, including questions about epilepsy.

You’ll need to make sure that you provide accurate information about your condition so that you’re properly covered. If anything happens to you while you’re abroad and you failed to disclose this information then your claim could be invalid, and potentially costly.

If you need travel insurance and you’ve got epilepsy, then you’d be protected if you have any issues or seizures while you’re away. Medical treatment in Europe or globally can be extremely expensive which is why travel insurance is so important.

Some travel insurance policies for people with epilepsy will provide:

  • 24 hour medical emergency helplines
  • Medical treatment abroad
  • Replacement medication

Our travel insurance partners work with a panel of leading pre-existing medical conditions travel providers to help get you the best cover for less.

What are the potential issues for someone with epilepsy getting life insurance?

Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological medical conditions with a wide range of potential symptoms, severities and treatments. It’s important to be aware of the possible problems that you might encounter when you apply for life insurance.

We’re always 100% focused on making sure that our customers get a fair price but also that they get the right cover. Here’s what we know are some of the slightly more complex issues around getting life insurance with epilepsy:

  • Recent hospitalisation can cause some concerns for underwriters or multiple hospitalisations can also be an issue. If you’ve had hospital treatment because of your epilepsy then you’ll be asked for information about it
  • Tonic-clonic seizurescan also be a concern for some underwriters because they are classed as more serious than absent seizures
  • Outstanding investigations will also often cause your offer of cover to be postponed until those investigations have been completed and results are available. This is just to ensure that nothing shows up in the results of tests

Many people that we speak to with epilepsy have been refused cover elsewhere or offered premiums that seem high. We’re often able to get you covered even if you’ve had an application declined previously so give us a call.

Epilepsy awareness events

Epilepsy awareness day (Purple Day) usually takes place towards the end of March in the UK and people are encouraged to wear purple to raise awareness for epilepsy

Epilepsy awareness week is also a national event in the UK which also promotes people to wear purple which is the colour used to represent epilepsy. This event usually takes place towards the end of May each year

Epilepsy awareness month takes place in November each year and is a global event to help raise awareness for people suffering from the condition

Epilepsy charities and support (UK)

Epilepsy Society
Website: https://www.epilepsysociety.org.uk
Helpline: 01494 601400
Address: CAN Mezzanine, 49-51 East Road, London, N1 6AH

Epilepsy Action
Website: https://www.epilepsy.org.uk
Helpline: 0808 800 5050
Address: New Anstey House, Gate Way Drive, Yeadon, Leeds, LS19 7XY

Epilepsy Research
Website: https://epilepsyresearch.org.uk
Telephone: 0203 096 7887
Address: CAN Mezzanine, 7-14 Great Dover Street, London, SE1 4YR

Young Epilepsy
Website: https://www.youngepilepsy.org.uk
Helpline: 01342 831342
Address: St. Piers Lane, Lingfield, Surrey, RH7 6PW

NHS Choices – Living with epilepsy
Website: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/epilepsy/living-with/

How to get the right life insurance for someone with Asthma

How to get the right Life Insurance with Asthma

(Author: Daniel Sharpe-Szunko)

Asthma is incredibly common in the UK and can be caused by a number things. It’s good to know which life insurance and travel insurance companies offer the best rates for people with asthma. There’s a lot of things to consider when searching for insurance if you’ve got asthma, so we’ll try to help explain how it all works.

Someone who has asthma can have incredibly mild symptoms or some people can suffer severe and more serious attacks. People with this condition might vary from straight forward to slightly more complex requirements. You should make sure that you disclose the facts about your condition when applying for insurance.

Why are we Asthma insurance experts

iam|INSURED have helped thousands of people with asthma to get the best cover and to save money. Over the past 20 years we’ve developed a great understanding of our customers needs as well as the best ways to get them covered. We know how important life insurance is and especially for people who have a medical condition already.

What is Asthma?

Asthma is a very common lung disorder that can cause intermittent breathing problems. The people affected by asthma can be young or older, but it generally first occurs in childhood. It can also develop in later life for adults but this tends to be more rare.

It is known as a chronic lung disorder as there’s currently no known medical cure for asthma. There are a number of treatments for asthma, most commonly people will use inhalers to relieve symptoms.

The cause of asthma is where there is swelling (inflammation) of the breathing tubes which carry air to the lungs. The tubes then become sensitive and can narrow temporarily which can make them irritated.

Some of the things that can trigger asthma attacks are:

  • Allergies (e.g. Dust mites, animals or pollen)
  • Smoke, pollution and colder air
  • Exercise and exertion
  • Cold, flu and other infections

People with asthma will be told to avoid certain situations to help reduce or control symptoms.

History of Asthma

The first record to respiratory distress, categorised as “noisy breathing” was in China in 2600 BC. The Babylonians (Code of Hammurabi) then wrote records of breathlessness symptoms “if a man’s lungs pant with his work.” (1792-1750 BC).

Hippocrates (known as ‘the father of medicine’) was the first person on record to use the term ‘Asthma’. The word asthma comes from the Greek term for ‘wind’ or ‘to blow’ which is for respiratory distress and panting.

In more modern times, medicines to treat asthma in the 1940’s and 1950’s were adrenaline injections and even suppositories. In 1969 the Allergy and Asthma Medical Group & Research was founded. Since then, there has been various medical advances which include inhaled corticosteroids which target underlying inflammation.

What are the different types of Asthma?

There are several main types of asthma which can be identified usually by an allergist. The type of asthma you have will also have an effect on which type of treatment you receive.

  • Adult-onset asthma is as the name suggests, where someone in later life will develop the condition. This is thought to be caused by lifestyle or environment, or can be where symptoms have remained dormant for many years
  • Allergic asthma is generally caused by allergens like pollen, animal fur or dust particles. It’s not necessarily that people with asthma have allergies and not everyone with asthma has allergies
  • Asthma COPD Overlap Syndrome (ACOS) is where someone has both respiratory conditions. A person with ACOS will be treated for both conditions individually
  • Exercise Induced Bronchoconstriction (EIB)affects a surprisingly large number of athletes. This type of asthma is induced by rigorous exercise and can often be management with medication
  • Non-allergenic asthmais often caused by external factors which can include medications, other illness or environmental influences
  • Occupational asthma which is simply where a job has caused the development of asthma, common in construction for example

What are the symptoms of Asthma?

Asthma is a blockage of the airways and causes difficulty breathing which is the same for adults and children. There are common symptoms which are:

  • Breathlessness
  • Coughing fits
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Wheezing when breathing

These symptoms are normal in most people but will be suspected to be asthma if they’re persistent, frequent or occur in response to certain triggers.

What is an Asthma attack?

There may be periods where asthma symptoms are more severe or acute which are commonly known as ‘attacks’. These attacks can develop quickly or can build up gradually over a period of several days.

Severe asthma attacks can include signs such as:

  • Blue fingers and lips
  • Breathing quickly and erratically
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Feeling faint or fainting
  • Tiredness, disorientation and even complete exhaustion
  • Severe coughing fits and tight chest

What to do if you have an Asthma attack?

Someone who’s having an asthma attack or experiencing symptoms should follow several simple steps:

  • Sit up and breathe slowly while remaining as calm as possible (don’t lie down)
  • Inhalers (blue) are to reduce or prevent symptoms from getting worse so take 1 puff every 30 to 60 seconds
  • Call an ambulance(dial 999) if symptoms remain and do not ease after 10 puffs on your inhaler

Asthma statistics (UK)

The following asthma statistics were provided by Asthma UK which is the UK’s leading charities:

  • Approximately 5.4 million people in the UK have been diagnosed with asthma (1.1 million children and 4.3 million adults)
  • Someone will suffer a potentially fatal asthma attack every 10 seconds in the UK
  • 3 people die from asthma attacks every day in the UK
  • Roughly 200,000 people suffer from severe asthma which causes more debilitating symptoms. Generally people with severe asthma will require hospital treatment because normal treatments will not be enough
  • £1 billion is spent each year by the NHS treating and caring for people with asthma
  • 77,124 hospital admissions due to asthma in 2016/2017
  • 1,484 people died due to an asthma attack in 2017

Is it difficult to get life insurance with Asthma?

Generally it can be straight forward to get life insurance with asthma, especially where symptoms are mild to moderate. Most people with asthma in the UK suffer from less severe symptoms and infrequent attacks. Insurance providers will also usually offer cover without needing to see medical evidence from your GP. This means that you should be able to buy life insurance instantly.

Life insurance premiums can vary from insurer to insurer so it’s important to apply to the right provider. Your insurance rates will be based on how good the insurance provider is at underwriting life insurance with asthma. Some insurance companies have better claims experience than others with this condition, so they would offer lower premiums. Underwriting can also change over time so you might find that if you already have cover with an insurer, they may not be the best provider now.

Which questions do life insurance companies ask about asthma?

A normal life insurance application will ask for information about your health and specific questions about any disclosed medical conditions. Modern life insurance applications are interactive so will drill down in to various questions depending on what you disclose.

Some of the standard questions for asthma include:

  • When were you diagnosed with asthma (what age)?
  • Have you been hospitalised because of your asthma?
  • When did you last have symptoms?
  • Have you required any treatment other than preventer or reliever inhalers?
  • Which type of treatments do you need or have you needed?
  • How regularly do you have any asthma symptoms?
  • Has your asthma meant that you were unable to work or needed any oxygen treatment?
  • How many days have you taken steroid tablets in the last 2 years?

You’ll need to have this information handy when you’re completing an application with your adviser. If you’re unsure then you should check to make sure the information is correct rather than guess.

Does Coronavirus (COVID-19) make a difference if I’ve got asthma and need life insurance?

You might find some slight differences to a standard life insurance application during Coronavirus. There’s a chance that you’ll need to answer specific questions about it and it may alter the decision if you’ve had or got symptoms. It’s difficult to say how long the impact will go on for but this is a big point in history as far as life insurance is concerned.

Coronavirus questions (generic) are:

  • Have you been told to self-isolate by your GP or are you self-isolating?
  • Have you tested positive for Coronavirus?
  • Are you currently experiencing any symptoms (e.g. cough or high temperature)?
  • Have you been in direct contact with someone who’s tested positive for Coronavirus?

There are also certain medical conditions which are considered to be higher risk at this time. Some of those conditions include respiratory conditions such as asthma due to the strong links with difficulty breathing. It has been proven that certain medical conditions are classified as higher risk because of how COVID-19 affects the body.

Any restrictions for someone with asthma tend to be at the higher end of the spectrum so more severe cases. If you’re classed as mild or moderate in terms of your symptoms then life insurance should be absolutely normal.

Other potential asthma restrictions for life insurance due to Coronavirus include:

  • Limits to amount of cover being offered (usually £1 million and over)
  • Underwriting limits for people who are higher risk
  • Medical evidence restrictions (only certain insurance providers)

Any limits should be temporary and would be lifted at the end of the pandemic.

Why do I need life insurance if I’ve got asthma?

Life insurance is the same whether or not you’ve got a medical condition or if you’re in perfect health. You should consider life insurance regardless of your health if you’ve got dependents or financial responsibilities (debt). Most people with asthma live healthy and very normal lives so have the same need as anyone else.

The only thing that should be any different for someone with asthma is the questions and disclosures. If you’ve got children or a mortgage especially then you should get life insurance to protect that.

People with medical conditions like asthma are often put off applying for life insurance which is wrong.

How does critical illness cover work with asthma?

If you’re considering taking out critical illness cover and you’ve got asthma then here’s how it works. A critical illness policy will pay out a lump of you get diagnosed with a serious illness like Cancer, Heart Attack, Stroke and other conditions that have an impact on lifestyle.

Anyone with mild symptoms and no impact on lifestyle should have no problem getting critical illness cover. People with moderate asthma symptoms should also be able to get this type of cover in most cases. If you’ve had certain asthma complications then you might need to answer additional questions or provide medical evidence.

Asthma complications that may cause further questions or require medical evidence are:

  • Hospitalisation (overnight or A&E)
  • Substandard control
  • Steroid treatment
  • Number of inhalers used per year

If you’ve had recent issues with your asthma or if you require more intense treatment then there could be restrictions with critical illness cover. As with most medical conditions, if symptoms are more severe or if there are complications then it can have an effect on your application.

Also, if you’ve applied for this type of cover in the past with asthma and have struggled then it’s worth checking the current situation. Things change over time and especially if your asthma has improved then you should check again.

Is income protection available for people with asthma?

People with asthma generally work full time and will usually have the same income protection requirements as anyone else. You should consider taking out cover to protect your income if you don’t get support from your employer or if you’re self-employed.

Generally if your condition is mild to moderate and you’re not experiencing any issues then you will be fine for this type of cover. Most people in this situation should have absolutely no limitations and will be able to get the cover they need. If you’ve had recent issues with attacks or treatment then you may find other questions are asked.

In some rare occasions where the symptoms are more severe or your treatment is stronger, then there could be some limitations. There are other similar products available for people who are unable to get cover through the normal routes. Income protection can be complicated because of the number of options available. Think about what you need and how much you want to pay then try to fit something that fits your situation.

Why do I need specific travel insurance for asthma?

It’s fair to say that asthma is very common and can be extremely mild with very little or no difference to lifestyle. You should still make sure that you disclose asthma when applying for travel insurance so it’s taken in to consideration.

Most travel insurance policies will include a certain limited level of medical cover for expenses. A travel insurance policy for someone with asthma will also make sure that you’re covered for any asthma related treatment whilst on holiday. Asthma is classed as a pre-existing medical condition for travel insurance and you will be asked about it when you apply.

Does asthma affect travel insurance premiums?

Most policies where asthma is disclosed will take in to account the additional potential medical requirements whilst travelling. The level of impact on the cost of cover will depend on how severe, recent and frequent your symptoms are.

There are a number of other factors which will have an impact on cost, such as destination, length of stay and type of cover. You can shop around to find the right cover and often a more specialist company would be better suited because they are more equipped to help.

Are there any potential problems getting life insurance with asthma?

Asthma is very common amongst adults in the UK and insurance providers are used to dealing with this condition. There are over 4 million adults receiving asthma treatment currently in the UK which means that the level of severity can vary dramatically.

It’s fair to say that most life insurance applications where asthma is disclosed are fine, however there are exceptions.

  • Recent hospitalisations is a concern for insurance companies and especially where there has been steroid treatment. If you’ve been hospitalised recently then it’s likely a GP report will be required to find out more about it
  • Medication / Treatmentwhere the levels required are high to manage and control the asthma. For example if you receive high levels of inhaler prescriptions then you might be asked to provide more information
  • Smokers with asthma are considered to be more of a concern purely because of how that can impact your lung capacity and breathing

Even though these things can be considered more of a risk, it’s still very possible in most cases to get cover. If you’ve applied for life insurance in the past and have been declined then it could simply be that it was the wrong company for you or the wrong time.

Asthma awareness events

World Asthma Day is usually at the beginning of May every year and used as a global event to join people together to help raise awareness. The event is supported mainly by the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) and National Heart and Blood Institute (NHLB) in America

Asthma Awareness Week is a national event in the UK which is to help raise awareness for children and young adults. The event is held in September by Children & Young People’s Health Partnership which is a major UK charity

Asthma & Allergy Awareness Month is held in May in America by the charity Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA)

Asthma charities and support (UK)

Asthma UK
Website: https://www.asthma.org.uk/
Helpline: 0300 222 5800
Address: 18 Mansell Street, London, E1 8AA

Asthma Relief Charity
Website: https://www.asthmarelief.org.uk/
Helpline: 01793 524004
Address: Suite 1A, The Shaftsbury Centre, Percy Street, Swindon, SN2 2AZ

British Lung Foundation
Website: https://www.blf.org.uk/
Helpline: 03000 030 555
Address: 18 Mansell Street, London, E1 8AA

NHS Choices (Asthma)
Emergency: Dial 111
Website: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/asthma/

References:

Asthma UK: https://www.asthma.org.uk/about/media/facts-and-statistics/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIoOvAspGn6QIVzLTtCh3Exw-eEAAYASAAEgKUivD_BwE

Why have I been refused life insurance and can I still get cover?

What to do if you’ve been declined life insurance in the past

(Author – Daniel Sharpe-Szunko)

A lot of people come to us after they’ve been declined life insurance previously. Nobody likes to be turned down for anything and life insurance is no exception. It can feel demoralising or even offensive if you have a medical condition and you get told cover isn’t available.

There are several main reasons why you might have been declined for life insurance by an insurer. It’s important to remember that insurers are all different so just because you’ve been told no before, that’s not always the end of the road. Feeling annoyed or frustrated is totally understandable and it’s natural to question whether applying again is worthwhile.

Why have I been declined life insurance?

You could have been refused cover for several reasons which are unfortunately quite common. Most life insurance applications are declined because of medical conditions, occupation or dangerous activities.

If you’ve applied for cover in the past and your application was refused, then it might be because of:

  • Insurance advisor might not have the expertise and the skills to find an appropriate or suitable insurer
  • Insurance providers have different underwriting philosophies so some may decline cover where others could accept. Your adviser should be able to identify which insurers are best for each situation and persons circumstances
  • Medical disclosures might be incorrect or inaccurate so it might be that there was a simple error with submitting your application
  • Medical evidence may be requested in some instances which can expose additional elements which can cause concern. It’s important to know what might be on your medical report before applying for cover
  • Timing could be wrong so you might have applied when your medical readings were high or not as well controlled. If you’ve made changes to your lifestyle or treatment which has improved your condition then things will have changed
  • Smoking is sometimes a red flag with life insurance and especially with certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular and lung disorders. If you quit smoking more than 12 months ago then definitely try again
  • Underwriting changes could mean that cover which wasn’t available before has now become available. Underwriting philosophies can and do change so you should keep checking just in case this happens

Does being refused life insurance have any impact on future applications?

You should know that insurers do not share personal information about individuals. The only real reason why being declined cover might have an impact in the future, is if you re-apply to the same provider.

It may just be as simple as you didn’t remember which company had declined you in the past, or you didn’t know who they were. It’s a common and simple mistake so don’t worry if this happens. This happens to lots of people and is certainly not an issue so let someone find the right insurance provider for you.

What are the main medical reasons for declined life insurance?

Some of the main things that could cause a medical decline for a life insurance application are:

  • Recent diagnosis such as cancer or heart attack
  • Ongoing treatment which includes chemotherapy and radiotherapy
  • Combinations of conditions such as Diabetes and Heart Attack
  • Undiagnosed conditions where symptoms are identified
  • Outstanding investigations, results or surgeries
  • Higher than normal results or readings (such as blood sugar, cholesterol or blood pressure)

You should know that there are usually other options and solutions in a lot of these instances so don’t be put off. It might also be a case that cover may not be available now through mainstream insurers but there are other options.

Do life insurance companies share medical information?

The simple answer is no they don’t unless it is agreed by the insurance companies and the applicant. Generally this does not happen more often than not because of the potential issues around data protection and sharing of personal data.

Do I have to pay more for life insurance because I’ve been declined?

Again the answer isn’t necessarily yes and some insurance companies might still offer cover and even be cheaper. Insurance underwriting is a complex calculation which is individual to each company and pricing will vary from one company to another.

If you’ve had a quote from a company in the past then by shopping around and applying to the right insurer, you might still be able to get cover cheaper. Your insurance adviser should help you to find which provider is cheapest and who will accept you.