Posted 23 Apr 2020

A Comprehensive Guide to Life Insurance for People Living with Multiple Sclerosis

If you’ve got multiple sclerosis and you need some information about how to get life insurance to protect you, family, then please read on. Our mission is to provide support and help to people with medical conditions, assisting them to get the right life cover at the right price.

iam|INSURED is a leading life insurance specialist, and we’ve been helping people with multiple sclerosis (MS) and other medical conditions to get cover for 20 years. Life cover can protect your family and your home, and for people with MS, it’s essential to understand what the best options are, which is where we can help.

Over the past 20 years, our team has helped thousands of people with multiple sclerosis to get the insurance they need to protect their loved ones. It’s important to us to know that we’re doing our utmost to make sure that you’re getting the best cover for your family or your mortgage.

We’ve worked with some of the UK’s top MS experts over the past 20 years as well as working closely with some incredible MS charities. It’s been a privilege to offer support to people with multiple sclerosis and to help raise funds for various MS charities and non-profit organisations.

We want to help you to understand life insurance for ms patients and travel insurance, critical illness cover and income protection with MS too. A lot of people with MS have put off insurance because it can seem difficult or even impossible, which we think is wrong and we want to change this.

What is Multiple Sclerosis?

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a neurological condition which affects the brain and the spinal cord. People with MS have damage to the coating that protects their nerves (myelin) which causes various symptoms, including issues with mobility and blurred vision.

There is a substance in the body called myelin which protects the fibres that make up our nerves in our central nervous system. Myelin helps messages to travel through our bodies quickly between our brain and our body and limbs.

In someone with multiple sclerosis, their immune system (the bodies way of fighting infections), mistakes Myelin as a foreign body, attacking it. That can causes damage to the Myelin, stripping some or all of it off the nerves, sometimes leaving scarring, known as lesions or plaques.

The effect that this process can have on the body causes disruptions to the messages travelling through our central nervous system. These messages can either be slowed considerably, distorted or even blocked completely.

What are the different types of Multiple Sclerosis?

There are three well known and more commonly referred to as types of multiple sclerosis which are:

  • Relapsing-Remitting MS (RRMS): is where people will have intermittent periods of symptoms, known as a relapse which can vary dramatically from one person to another. Roughly 85% of people diagnosed with MS have relapsing-remitting, which is often treatable with a disease-modifying therapy (DMT).
  • Secondary Progressive MS (SPMS): is very often the next stage of the condition beyond relapsing-remitting. In this type of MS, the person will often experience progressively worsening symptoms and disabilities. The main difference between this and relapsing MS is that you would no longer have periods of no symptoms or relapses.
  • Primary Progressive MS (PPMS): is known to affect approximately 10-15% of people diagnosed with MS. The name primary comes from the simple fact that from the very first symptoms, they get progressively worse.

How many people does Multiple Sclerosis affect in the UK?

There are an estimated more than 130,000 people in the UK living with multiple sclerosis and that nearly 7,000 people are newly diagnosed each year. Roughly 1 in 500 people living in the UK have MS, and there are 130 new people diagnosed each week.

These statistics and estimates are provided by MS Society who work in partnership with Public Health England:

  • MS affects more than double the number of females as it does males (per 100,000 people in the UK = 272 females / 106 males).
  • Females between 50 – 59 are three times more likely to get diagnosed with MS.
  • People (both male and female) are most likely to have MS between 60 – 69.
  • MS is more likely to appear in ex-smokers than for the general population.

Statistics are from Public Health England.

Can I get Life Insurance with Multiple Sclerosis?

Life insurance is essential for anyone who has either financial dependents (e.g. children, partner or family members) or to cover for debts such as mortgages, loans and businesses. Some people with medical conditions such as multiple sclerosis feel discouraged in applying for life cover, which is incredibly concerning for us. It is often far easier to get life insurance for people with MS than you might think, and we can help.

The main questions that insurance providers will ask someone with multiple sclerosis are:

  • When were you diagnosed with MS?
  • Which type of multiple sclerosis do you have?
  • What type of treatment or therapies are you receiving or have you received in the past?
  • Do you have any issues eating, swallowing or do you need to spend most of your time in bed?
  • Do you use walking aids (e.g. wheelchair, scooter, walking stick or crutches)?
  • Are you working, or are you able to work?

Your answers to these questions, in addition to general health and lifestyle-related facts, will be taken into consideration. It is even possible to get life insurance accepted without additional medical evidence from your GP, which is a significant step forwards.

Which types of Multiple Sclerosis can get Life Insurance?

Generally, the type of multiple sclerosis will have a bearing on how easy it is to get life cover as well as the severity of your symptoms. People with Relapsing-Remitting MS will be slightly easier to get protection for than people with Primary or Secondary Progressive. Because of how the symptoms and affect on lifestyle, for people with relapsing-remitting MS, these can be less severe than for someone with primary or secondary MS.

It is now possible to even get immediate cover for someone with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, which is a big step in life insurance underwriting. Previously you would have always needed to provide your GP details on your application so that the insurance provider can request to see a copy of your medical history; now this isn’t always the case.

MS life cover is usually available for the vast majority of people with MS regardless of the type of the condition. The same rules apply to life insurance underwriting with multiple sclerosis as any other medical condition and consider your overall health and your lifestyle too.

Which insurance companies are best for Multiple Sclerosis?

Our insurance partners include some of the UK’s biggest and best brands such as Aviva, AIG, Aegon, L&G, Zurich and LV. It is fair to say that some of these insurance companies are better at underwriting different types and severities of medical conditions which is the same for MS.

Our many years of experience and expertise means that we’re able to reasonably quickly identify which insurance companies will be best for you, based on your disclosures to us. We also know from our close links to these insurers that their underwriting philosophies can change quite quickly and dramatically. At the point that I am writing this article to explain which insurance providers are best for MS, this will no doubt have changed by the time you are reading it.

It’s incredibly difficult to say which insurance companies are best for MS because each application is usually very different, but also things change over time. We keep in close contact with underwriters in the top insurance companies to help us to understand any changes and get the best outcomes for you. Something else to consider is that the difference in terms being offered for you by one insurance company will often be very different from another, which is where we can help.

Can I get Critical Illness Cover if I’ve got Multiple Sclerosis?

It’s advisable to consider all types of cover when looking at the best ways to protect your family and your home. Critical illness cover is the second most popular type of cover for people who are looking for financial protection. This type of cover provides you with a lump sum payment which is often tax-free if you have a diagnosis of severe illness such as Cancer, Stroke, HIV, Heart Conditions and MS.

Generally, someone with a family history of multiple sclerosis will be able to get critical illness cover after age 40 if they’re in relatively good health. People diagnosed with MS already usually won’t be eligible for standard critical illness cover. However, there are alternative types of insurance cover available.

Some specialist insurance products are available which would provide cover for non-related conditions such as cancer, HIV or Heart Conditions.

Is Income Protection available for people with Multiple Sclerosis?

There are some income protection style products which are available for people with MS and other pre-existing medical conditions. We’re continually searching for more products such as income protection to help people with multiple sclerosis because of the restrictions that insurers put in place.

Income protection is something that can be important to someone with MS, so there are some options available. We’ve sourced several unique products that will pay out for some time if you’re unable to work due to sickness or injury. Some people wrongly assume that people with MS don’t work which we know isn’t the case, which is why we’ve worked hard to offer cover. MS doesn’t mean that you can’t work and people with mild symptoms can function normally, so we want to make sure you’re protected.

Over the years, we’ve found several products which are exclusive to insurance experts like iam|INSURED because of the work we do. You should speak to one of our team of experts about it, and we’ll be happy to tell you what’s available to you and how much this will cost you each month.

How much does Travel Insurance cost for Multiple Sclerosis?

If you need travel insurance and have multiple sclerosis, then you’ll generally find that prices will be different. Our travel insurance partners offer expert advice for people with MS and other medical conditions to get the best cover from the UK’s best travel insurers. If you’ve got benign, relapsing-remitting or progressive MS then you’ll need to disclose details about your health to us so we can give you the lowest premiums.

Travel insurance is essential for anyone with a pre-existing medical condition, and MS is just as critical because of how unpredictable symptoms can be. You should make sure that you’ve got sufficient cover in place when travelling abroad to protect if anything should happen.

You should make sure that if anything happens to you while you are abroad that you have proper cover to avoid costly medical bills. Medical treatment can be expensive when outside the UK, so your travel insurance policy will protect against this eventuality. It’s essential to disclose everything about your MS to our travel insurance team to make sure that you are correctly covered.

Travel insurance for people with MS will also take account of equipment you may need for mobility such as walking aids or wheelchairs. You may also travel with other special equipment or medication that requires cover which should be taken into consideration by our travel insurance team.

What are common issues for people with MS getting life insurance?

It’s fair to say that not all multiple sclerosis life insurance applications are simple or straight forward so there can be challenges. We’d like to share some of the common problems that we have to overcome when applying for life insurance with this condition. It’s important to remember that just because you have a medical condition, that shouldn’t mean that you can’t get or can’t afford life insurance.

  • Mobility: People with MS can often use walking aids such as sticks, crutches or chairs depending on their symptoms or type of MS. If you use walking aids then we’ll find the best insurer for you based on the equipment you use and how regularly.
  • Complications: Some of the main difficulties connected to MS that would come upon a life insurance application are problems eating, breathing or memory issues. Again these are all relatively common and shouldn’t stop you from getting cover with the right insurance provider.

If you’ve applied for life insurance in the past and either been declined or told that cover will be unaffordable then speak to us. As specialists, we can provide life insurance cover for many more people than many other insurance companies, and we pride ourselves on going the extra mile for our clients.

List of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Awareness Events

Many national and international awareness events have been running for some years to help raise awareness and fundraise for MS:

  • MS Awareness Week: is a UK event which is run by UK based MS charities and often run towards the end of April.
  • World MS Day is held on the 30th of May every year.
  • MS Awareness Month: is held in the United States by the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation.

Multiple Sclerosis Charities and Online Resources

There are several major MS charities and non-profit organisations in the UK that help people with MS to manage on a day-to-day basis, as well as provide vital support. As well as the major charities, there are some local MS support facilities which provide treatment for people with MS. Some of the main MS charities and online resources relating to MS in the UK include:

  • MS-UK: Website: https://www.ms-uk.org. Address: Unsworth House, Hythe Quay, Essex, CO2 8JF. Telephone: 0800 783 0518.
  • MS Trust: Website: https://www.mstrust.org.uk. Address: Spirella Building, Bridge Road, Letchworth Garden City, Hertfordshire, SG6 4ET. Telephone: 0800 032 3839.
  • MS Society: Website: https://www.mssociety.org.uk. Address: 372 Edgeware Road, London, NW2 6ND. Telephone: 0800 800 8000.

The NHS Choices website contains a lot of useful information relating to Multiple Sclerosis: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/multiple-sclerosis/.

We would be delighted to help and to answer any questions that you may have. Please feel free to contact us online or, you can call us on 01244 732890.

Daniel Sharpe-Szunko