Posted 27 Apr 2020

A Guide to Life Insurance for People Living with Crohn’s Disease

For people with Crohn’s disease, there are a number of main things to consider as well as some background information which we want to help explain to you here. Our iam|INSURED website is a great source of useful guides to show how life insurance works for Crohn’s and other conditions.

What is Crohn’s Disease?

Crohn’s disease is a lifelong (chronic) medical condition so once you have it you then it will remain in your body for the rest of your life. The condition is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) which causes inflammation in your digestive tract. The inflammation that this causes can also very often spread deeper into the layers of affected bowel tissue. Crohn’s disease is usually painful and potentially debilitating which can also sometimes develop into life-threatening complications.

There is currently no known cure for this condition, however, there are therapeutic treatments which can dramatically reduce symptoms. If effectively treated, Crohn’s disease can be mild and you could experience long periods of remission which means that impact on lifestyle can be minimal.

Some of the main symptoms of Crohn’s disease:

  • Abdominal pain and cramps.
  • Blood in stool.
  • Diarrhoea.
  • Tiredness.
  • High Fever.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Mouth sores.

Symptoms for people with more severe Crohn’s disease:

  • Skin, eyes and joints can inflame.
  • Liver and bile duct inflammation.
  • Children may grow more slowly.
  • Slower sexual development in children.

There are several different levels at which a person might experience the impact of this type of condition on the body. Some people with Crohn’s disease might only have the last section of the small intestine (ileum) affected, whereas others it may be confined to the colon. These are the main areas of the body that are affected by Crohn’s disease.

Symptoms of this particular condition can vary dramatically from extremely mild or none at all (remission) to extremely severe and life-threatening. These symptoms can also often build up slowly, but can also be acute and develop very suddenly.

What causes Crohn’s disease?

It is still not known what exactly causes Crohn’s disease to develop and there have been a number of theories over the years by the medical profession. Previously it was suspected that higher levels of stress and a poor diet cause the condition but it is now known that these simply aggravate it. Some of the main things that we now know about Crohn’s disease include:

  • Family History (hereditary) influences can play a part in people developing Crohn’s disease as people like this are potentially more susceptible. This is however not the main cause as most people who develop this condition have no family history or genetic links
  • Immune Systemis also another potential cause whereby a bacteria or virus can potentially result in developing Crohn’s disease. Our immune system is the bodies defence against foreign organisms, this can also result in the immune system attacking the digestive tract

There also a number of risk factors which can play a significant part in whether or not you are likely to develop this type of medical condition such as:

  • Age: most people who are diagnosed are usually under 30 years of age.
  • Nicotine: smokers are more likely to develop Crohn’s disease which is also the most controllable factor.
  • Ethnicity: it is known that people of a certain ethnic background are more likely to develop this condition (e.g. Caucasian, including Eastern European and Jewish decent).
  • Environment can also play a part as people who live in built-up urban and industrial areas, combined with high-fat diets may also lead to developing this condition.

Complications connected to Crohn’s disease

There are several main areas of the body and other related medical conditions that could be impacted as a result of having Crohn’s disease. Some of these conditions can be serious and life threatening which is why it is so important to manage your health with this type of medical condition. Complications connected to Crohn’s disease include:

  • Bowel (e.g. scarring, narrowing and intestinal wall thickness).
  • Ulcers (digestive system, mouth, anus and genital area).
  • Fistulas.
  • Anal Fissure (a small tear in anal lining).
  • Malnutrition.
  • Medication side effects.
  • Colon Cancer.

Crohn’s disease statistics (UK)

According to recent statistics provided by National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) research:

  • 157 of every 100,000 people in the UK have this condition.
  • Approximately 115,000 have been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in the UK.
  • 33% of patients are diagnosed before age 21.
  • Smoking and genetics are suggested to be the two main causes.
  • 5 years after diagnosis 15-20% of people with Crohn’s will have a disability.
  • Most people with Crohn’s disease will live normal active lives.

*statistics from NICE 2014 report on inflammatory bowel disease (https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/qs81/documents/inflammatory-bowel-disease-briefing-paper2).

Can someone with Crohn’s disease get life insurance?

There’s a variety of different levels of symptoms for people living with Crohn’s disease so life insurance terms can be simple in most cases. The majority of people that we help who have been diagnosed with this condition have minor to moderate symptoms. So we generally find it easy to get cover for them. We’ve spoken to thousands of different clients with Crohn’s disease over the past 20 years so we’ve seen lots of different scenarios.

When we complete an application for life insurance for people with Crohn’s disease, we’ll have to ask normal health and lifestyle questions, plus specific questions about this condition. Some of the questions that you’ll be asked about Crohn’s will include:

  • When were you first diagnosed with this condition?
  • Are you awaiting results or referral for any scans, tests, investigations or surgery?
  • Have you suffered any symptoms such as eye problems, joint pain, Liver disease, Anaemia or Bile Duct problems?
  • What treatment are you on (e.g. Steroids, Immunosuppressants or hospital treatment)?
  • Have you had any hospital treatment or treated with medication?
  • When did you last experience any symptoms or flare-up?

These are some of the types of questions that you’ll be asked by some of our team of advisers which gives underwriters information about your medical history. More and more we’re able to get decisions immediately without the need for further medical underwriting (GP Reports) for people with Crohn’s disease.

Has Coronavirus (COVID-19) changed Life Insurance for people with Crohn’s disease?

The recent pandemic which has swept the globe has had a major impact on life insurance underwriting as a whole, but especially for autoimmune conditions such as Crohn’s disease. The life insurance market had to react at the time with certain restrictions being placed on several main areas such as:

  • Amount of cover (sum assured)
  • Certain medical conditions (e.g. diabetes, cardiovascular conditions, neurological conditions and autoimmune diseases)
  • Length of policies (Term)
  • Medical underwriting limits

Most applications that our iam|INSURED experts dealt with through Coronavirus was either accepted with some restrictions or were postponed until after the main period of risk had ended. The majority of people with Crohn’s disease were still able to get life insurance through the COVID-19 pandemic however you may need to review your cover once things relax back to normal again.

Some of the additional questions that were being asked by life insurance providers through Coronavirus included:

  • Are you currently self-isolating?
  • Have you experienced symptoms of Coronavirus?
  • Have you been exposed to the risk of contracting the virus?
  • Do you know anyone with COVID-19?

There is a short term impact on the life insurance market, especially for people with certain medical conditions, which could have a long term effect on life insurance terms as well.

Which are the best life insurance companies for people with Crohn’s disease?

Crohn’s disease has a wide range of severity levels so the best life insurance provider will vary depending on how bad your symptoms are. Most of the more common high street insurance companies offer life insurance for people with Crohn’s so you should be able to get cover fairly easily.

Some insurance underwriters are better than others when it comes to auto-immune conditions like Crohn’s disease. It can be difficult to know which one is best for you, which is where we can help you.

Our many years of experience and close connections with top specialist underwriters means that we’re here to help. Over the past 20 years, we’ve helped thousands of people with Crohn’s disease and other conditions to get the best cover.

We’ll complete a very quick medical questionnaire and then speak to insurance underwriters for you. Our mission is to make sure that our customers get the best cover to protect their families and save money.

Is Critical Illness Cover available with Crohn’s disease?

This type of cover can be essential to make sure that you and your family are protected if you get diagnosed with a serious illness. In most cases, it is possible to get critical illness cover with Crohn’s disease. There are a number of the major insurance providers who would offer this type of cover to you.

Some of the main things that will be considered on an application for critical illness cover for someone with Crohn’s are:

  • When was your last flare-up / attack?
  • What treatment or medication do you take?
  • Do you smoke?
  • Does your condition affect your ability to work or daily living?
  • Have you had any hospitalisation or surgery?

Where the condition is well managed with mild symptoms, you’ll find it pretty straight forward to get cover. If there are some minor complications or if your symptoms are more severe then you could have some restrictions applied.

Critical illness cover terms for people with Crohn’s disease can also vary dramatically between insurers. Let iam|INSURED take the stress and hassle out of searching for the best policies to suit you.

Is Income Protection available for people with Crohn’s disease?

Income protection or accident and sickness style policies can be a lifeline if you’re unable to work. This type of cover would payout if you’re unable to work because you were ill or involved in an accident. For someone with Crohn’s disease, generally, you can get income protection or accident and sickness cover.

There’s a vast range of different types of income protection and accident & sickness policies to suit all budgets and needs. You should be able to get the right cover for you regardless of whether you’ve got Crohn’s. Premiums for income protection can vary dramatically between insurers and depending on your symptoms. It’s very important to get the right advice to make sure that you don’t buy the wrong cover or pay more.

For people with mild to moderate symptoms, it should be pretty straight forward in most cases. There’s a range of different insurers for us to consider in these cases and lots of options to choose from generally. If your symptoms are more severe then you might consider looking at an Accident & Sickness policy. This can work out very cost-effective and give you the cover you need.

How much is Travel Insurance for Crohn’s disease?

It’s important to get the right cover to protect you if you are travelling abroad and especially for conditions like Crohn’s. If you’ve got Crohn’s disease then travel insurance will generally be available for most people. Premiums can vary dramatically between travel insurance companies so it’s best to speak to a specialist.

Most travel insurance companies would offer cover and it is often cheaper to get cover through a medical specialist. Companies that specialise in cover for people with Crohn’s and other conditions understand the risks better.

You must make sure that you tell your travel insurance company about your medical condition and answer all questions accurately. Medical treatment when you’re overseas can be extremely costly so make sure that your cover is good enough. If you’re not covered then you could be at risk of extremely expensive medical procedures.

What are common problems getting life insurance with Crohn’s disease?

There are some potential complications which can cause some possible problems when looking for life insurance. We don’t like to focus too much on the negative points and in this case, there are only a couple of things, including:

  • Colostomy bags can cause some possible issues when applying for life insurance if the bag was fitted recently. If you’ve had a bag fitted and there are issues or you’re awaiting further treatment then you might need to wait.
  • Recent or awaiting surgery can also cause insurance underwriters to ask further questions about your condition or can mean you may need to wait for cover.

Declined cover previously doesn’t have to mean that this is the end of the road so speak to an expert like iam|INSURED you should be able to get at least some cover in most cases so make sure that you speak to one of our experts before you make any decisions.

What Crohn’s disease awareness events are there?

There are several events nationally and internationally, dedicated to raising awareness about Crohn’s, Colitis and other Inflammatory Bowel Diseases. These and other events have been developed by leading health charities to increase awareness about Crohn’s. Events can be to prevent risks, improve treatment or medication and fund research.

Crohn’s disease events include:

  • Crohn’s disease awareness week is a national event in the UK run by the charity, Crohn’s & Colitis UK. The event usually takes place on the 1st week in December and is to raise awareness and funds for Crohn’s research.
  • Crohn’s and Colitis awareness month is a global event in November to increase awareness for people living with the condition.
  • World IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) Day is an event held in May across the globe with most national charities involved.
  • IBD awareness month is held in the United States in December by leading charities to help raise awareness. There are approximately 3 million people in the US living with Crohn’s disease or Colitis which is 1.3% of the population.

Crohn’s charities and support for Crohn’s disease (UK)

There are a number of major charities dedicated to helping people with Crohn’s disease and other inflammatory bowel diseases. These organisations provide vital guidance, help and support for those living with this condition.

Our team of life insurance advisers are some of the leading UK life insurance experts for people with medical conditions like Crohn’s disease. Over the past 20 years, we have helped thousands of people with Crohn’s disease and other medical conditions to get the cover they need to protect their families, homes and business. We offer FREE advice on a wide range of different types of insurance products and services.

We’re passionate about what we do to help our customers to make sure that they get the best cover and help them to save money. Our mission is to make sure that everyone is treated fairly regardless of their health or lifestyle. Check out our incredible Feefo customer reviews, see for yourself what our customers think about what we do.

For more information about getting life insurance, critical illness cover or income protection with Crohn’s disease then you can give our team of experts a call on 01244 732895.

 

Daniel Sharpe-Szunko