What is Parkinson’s disease?
Parkinson’s disease is a chronic disorder of the central nervous system, which usually appears in patients after age 45. Parkinson’s is characterized by four main clinical features: Tremor, rigidity, stiffness, and slowness of movement.
Tremor at rest is typical of Parkinson’s and is abolished or reduced by voluntary movement. The affected limb frequently shows rigidity, experienced as a resistance to passive movement. A Parkinson’s patient may expedience difficulty in performing simple tasks, such as buttoning a shirt.
As the manifestations of this disease gradually become more sever, the Parkinson’s patient tends to assume a stooped posture and walks with a slow, shuffling gait, and in time, will develop a generalized slowness of all body movements.
This disease becomes progressively disabling with the passage of years. The cause of Parkinson’s is unknown.
Drug therapy improves the signs and symptoms but does not halt or reverse the disease. Unfortunately, drugs used to treat Parkinson’s have significant side effects and, after several years of treatment, the drugs effectiveness wanes.
The long term course of Parkinson’s is progressively downhill. Dementia occurs in one-third to one-half of patients, and they are less tolerant of medication.
Underwriting life insurance with Parkinson’s
There is an increased mortality with Parkinson’s disease over the general population. If there is gait disturbance, mortality is higher due to the risk of falls. If the onset is before the age of 50, this carriers a higher mortality risk.
Underwriting considerations are based on which stage of the disease is present. Below ar the 5 stages of Parkinson’s disease.
- Stage 1- Unilateral involvement
- Stage 2- Bilateral involvement with normal stance
- Stage 3- Bilateral involvement with mild postural imbalance, but able to lead an independent life.
- Stage 4- Bilateral involvement with postural instability; requires substantial help.
- Stage 5- Severe disease; restricted to bed or wheelchair
It is important to remember that each life insurance carrier has their own set of underwriting guidelines. This means they all consider current health, lifestyle differently. This is why it is so important to work with an insurance company who offers the most lenient underwriting guidelines for those with Parkinson’s.
What are table ratings?
Life insurance companies traditionally use something called a table rating when classifying a risk that may be higher than the standard printed rates for each carrier. Typically, a table rating will add an additional 25% per table to the standard rate for the age of the insured. As an example, someone who was rated table B for coverage would have a 50% higher rate (25% x 2 tables) than someone who qualified at the standard rate.
Someone who is approved at a table D would pay 100% higher (25% x 4) than someone approved at the standard rates for their age. Table ratings typically go as high as Table H before an applicant is declined an offer for coverage.
So, let’s take a look out how a company might underwrite someone who presents with Parkinson’s disease. Below is an example of what table rating each Stage might typically fall within:
- Stage I very slowly progressive disease- Table B ( if under age 50, add additional 2 tables)
- Stage II ,slowly progressive disease – Table B ( if under age 50, add additional 2 tables)
- Stage III moderately progressive disease with no dementia – Table C to Table D ( If under age 50, add additional 2 tables)
- Stage IV- usually declination
- Stage V- usually declination
- Guaranteed Issue Option
Joe is a 60 year old male with mild, only slowly progressive disease and no gait abnormality. Joe would typically fall into the Stage I category which comes with a Table B rating or 50% increase in premium above the standard printed rates for the carrier.
How to locate the best carrier?
Fortunately, you have landed on this page. We are experts at finding the right companies for the right situation. An independent agent offers you the best opportunity to find a company that specializes in underwriting Parkinson’s disease. By representing hundreds of insurance companies the independent agent can shop your coverage with those that offer you the best chance for coverage.
But, your agent should be experienced and work with special risk companies. There are over 1,000 life insurance companies in the United States, but only a handful actually have the expertise in underwriting special risks. Don’t waste your time with the large property and casualty companies or with the companies that advertise the most. These are not the companies that specialize in this particular niche.
Questions for coverage
When searching for affordable life insurance protection, it is important to give your agent as much information as possible upfront so that they can research the market. Below you will find some of the most questions your agent will need answered:
- Date of diagnosis?
- What is the current functional stage of your disease? (stage I, II, III, etc.)
- Has there been any evidence of progression?
- Are you currently taking medication?
- Have you had any of the following: Dementia, memory problems, depression, falls, recurrent infections?
- Have you used tobacco products in last 5 years?
- Any other major health problems? I.E. Heart disease, diabetes, cancer, etc.
In addition to the above mentioned questions, it is important to know the amount of protection and the type of protection you are seeking. (term or whole life)
Life Insurance Companies-
Here is a list of some of the life insurance carriers that may offer the most affordable protection for those with a history of Parkinson’s disease:
- Prudential Life
- Banner Life
- Protective Life
- United Of Omaha Life
- John Hancock
- Lincoln National Life
- North American Life
- Phoenix Life
- American General
Thank you for reading this blog. If you are in the market for life insurance and have a history of pre-existing condition such as Parkinson’s disease, please contact us by phone at 1-888-393-9003 or firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation.