Posted 1 Jun 2020

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
Helpline: 01494 601400
Address: CAN Mezzanine, 49-51 East Road, London, N1 6AH

Epilepsy Action
Helpline: 0808 800 5050
Address: New Anstey House, Gate Way Drive, Yeadon, Leeds, LS19 7XY

Epilepsy Research
Telephone: 0203 096 7887
Address: CAN Mezzanine, 7-14 Great Dover Street, London, SE1 4YR

Young Epilepsy
Helpline: 01342 831342
Address: St. Piers Lane, Lingfield, Surrey, RH7 6PW

NHS Choices – Living with epilepsy

Daniel Sharpe-Szunko