Ron Attias is a licensed insurance broker. He has no particular loyalty to any one insurance company, so he is able to shop all major insurance carriers. This means that you always get the BEST plan at the LOWEST price. Each plan can be customized to fit your specific healthcare needs and budget.

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insur...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers CSR for 4 Years Leslie Kasperowicz

UPDATED: Jul 10, 2019

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Getting the best for life insurance with asthma or any other pre-existing condition for that matter, highly depends on the severity of the ailment, how well it’s managed, and how compliant you are with your doctor’s orders.

In this article, you will learn the questions the life insurance company’s underwriter will ask when you apply, how your asthma condition could affect your rates and sample rates for which you may qualify. Let’s take a more in-depth look!

What Is Asthma?

Asthma is a chronic lung disease that inflames the airways. It is distinguished by shortness of breath and wheezing (a whistling sound when you breathe), chest tightness, and coughing. While the cause of asthma isn’t known, the assumption is that genetics plays a significant role, as do respiratory infections and environmental exposure to certain triggers.

Most children with asthma have parents that had childhood asthma. In the United States, over 25 million people are suffering from asthma, and 7 million of these are children. Asthma has no cure, and the main goal of treatment is to control the disease by preventing the attacks in the first place, or quick relief during an attack (such as with the use of inhalers).

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What Are the Insurance Companies Looking for When Insuring Asthma Patients?

asthma questionnaire infographic

Any health condition will trigger a different set of questions reviewed during underwriting. The underwriter will be assessing the risk you (and your asthma) pose to the company by reviewing the answers you provide on your application.

In some cases, they will also order medical records to get a more in-depth look at your risk mortality. When insuring asthma patients, there are six critical questions you need to be prepared to answer. Let’s review each one.

Date When First Diagnosed

Asthma is known to occur during childhood, and actually the longer you have had it and have been able to manage it, the better it is from the underwriter’s standpoint.

Being diagnosed 30 years ago versus being diagnosed 3 weeks ago have vastly different implications.  When asthma is diagnosed later in life, the symptoms are typically more persistent, whereas children tend to have less recurrent symptoms.

What Type of Asthma Has Been Diagnosed?

Not all asthma types are a call for concern to the underwriter. Different forms can trigger distinct episodes that make asthma worse in certain individuals. It will also explain the treatment and medication used or lack thereof.

There are six types of asthma:

  1. Allergic asthma – also called seasonal asthma, it is triggered by an allergic reaction to mold, pollens, pet dander, and even food.
  2. Asthma without allergies – usually an upper respiratory infection, such as cold or flu, sets off this asthma.
  3. Aspirin-exacerbated respiratory disease – some people are allergic to aspirin. If they take aspirin, they can develop a runny nose, sneezing, and difficulty breathing.
  4. Exercise-induced asthma – for these asthma sufferers, any physical exercise can lead to difficulty breathing and chest tightness.
  5. Cough variant – this is a dry, hacking cough type of asthma.
  6. Occupational asthma – this asthma is triggered by something at your job. It could trigger by smoke, new paint, or chlorine, for example.

The Frequency and Severity of Attacks

When the underwriter asks about the severity, they refer to significant episodes. For example, being admitted to the hospital or receiving an injection after an attack. The frequency will help bring to light the seriousness of your condition. The longer it has been since your last episode and the less often you have them, the better rates you can get.

What Medications (Including Inhalers) Do You Use?

The type of medication and how long you have been using it will also be contributing factors on your rates. Controlling your asthma with steroids versus an inhaler will hurt your life insurance rates. The type of medications used, along with the dosage and frequency just add another factor to revealing the severity of your condition.

Have Pulmonary Function Tests ( Breathing Tests) Ever Been Done?

Lung function tests are performed to evaluate the lungs’ efficiency. The most common one is spirometry, which measures the amount of air the lungs can hold and also how forcefully you can empty air from your lungs. This test is used to screen for asthma or COPD. This will not be required if you have seasonal to moderate asthma.

Do You Smoke?

You might think that I’m joking by asking this question. Asthmatics are known to have issues with heavy breathing, chest tightness, and coughing, so you wouldn’t think they would smoke. But some do struggle with this addiction.

If you a smoker, you will get the smoker rates (which are 2-3 times as much as regular rates), in addition to the asthma rates, if you can even get approved. This would be a costly life insurance policy. If you have severe asthma and are a smoker, your policy will most likely get denied.

What Other Questions Will the Underwriter Ask?

Some asthma conditions will trigger an APS (attending physician statement) request by the underwriter. While most do not, the severity and frequency of and the attacks will be the main factors of the decision.  Other information in which the underwriter will be interested:

  • Current age
  • Gender
  • State of residence
  • Height and weight
  • Income and liabilities
  • Occupation
  • High-risk hobbies (if any)
  • Current and past health history
  • Family history
  • Foreign travel
  • Smoking habits
  • Alcohol habits
  • Driving history
  • Criminal history
  • Prescription usage

Related: What do life insurance companies test for in underwriting?

What Rate Class Can I Qualify for If I Have Asthma?

Take this part with a grain of salt. It’s impossible to classify an individual without knowing his/her health issues. However, if asthma is the ONLY health condition you have, this may help you in estimating your rate class. The severity of asthma is in direct proportion to the symptoms, prescriptions, treatment, and lung functions, among other variables.

  • Intermittent asthma may qualify for preferred. This is reserved for the seasonal asthma type. The medication used is an inhaler and no steroids, having had no respiratory disease in the past 2 years, and no hospitalization. Less than two significant episodes per year.
  • Seasonal asthma taking two medications or less, you can qualify for preferred rate class.
  • Mild asthma may qualify for table B. Can use oral medications but nor steroids. Less than 4 episodes per year, can include epinephrine injections. No hospitalization in the past year.
  • Moderately severe may qualify for table D to G. Less than 5 episodes per year. Steroids are allowed, including adrenaline shots. No hospitalization in the past six months.
  • Severe asthma will be declined. Home oxygen.

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Life Insurance with Asthma Sample Monthly Rates

40-Year-Old Male Nonsmoker on a 20-Year Term

 Health Class $100,000 $250,000 $500,000
 Preferred $13.03 $21.66 $37.63
 Standard  $18.23 $32.59 $59.94
 Table B $23.49 $41.67 $75.60
 Table D $29.57 $53.81 $98.96
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40-Year-Old Female Nonsmoker on a 20-Year Term

 Health Class $100,000 $250,000 $500,000
 Preferred $11.43 $18.81 $32.38
 Standard  $16.10 $28.87 $51.93
 Table B  $20.34 $34.41 $62.63
 Table D $25.37 $44.03 $81.66
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50-Year-Old Male Nonsmoker on a 20-Year Term

 Health Class $100,000 $250,000 $500,000
 Preferred $26.53 $49.44 $91.18
 Standard  $37.36 $77.31 $143.59
 Table B $49.22 $98.11 $187.19
 Table D $63.87 $129.06 $247.74
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50-Year-Old Female Nonsmoker on a 20-Year Term

 Health Class $100,000 $250,000 $500,000
 Preferred $19.92 $37.80 $69.08
 Standard $29.05 $58.36 $110.95
 Table B $38.98 $73.17 $137.23
 Table D $50.22 $94.63 $181.13
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60-Year-Old Male Nonsmoker on a 20-Year Term

 Health Class $100,000 $250,000 $500,000
 Preferred $64.79 $127.83 $243.38
 Standard $91.85 $204.70 $392.71
 Table B $126.00 $251.41 $492.75
 Table D $166.25 $333.37 $655.15
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60-Year-Old Female Nonsmoker on a 20-Year Term

 Health Class $100,000 $250,000 $500,000
 Preferred $42.96 $92.97 $170.12
 Standard $65.62 $143.50 $273.89
 Table B $86.10 $175.83 $337.70
 Table D $113.05 $232.60 $448.42
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Bottom Line

The severity of your asthma condition is also related to how your day to day life is affected. Changing medications often or not following your doctor’s orders will significantly raise the rates even more. It’s also worth mentioning that choosing the best life insurance company for your asthma severity and overall health will yield the best results when it comes to prices.

Where one company will rate you table 2, another could offer a standard rate. You can go ahead and run the quotes on this page for a free, no-obligation quote.