Getting Life Insurance With Crohn’s Disease


Crohn’s disease affects about one out of every 300 people in the United States. That means that there are more than 1 million people who have the condition. Can you get life insurance with Crohn’s disease? In most cases, the answer is yes, but there are a few things you should know if you plan to get a policy.

What Is Crohn’s Disease?

Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease. It can affect any part of the digestive tract from the mouth to the anus. Typical symptoms include abdominal pain, fever, diarrhea and weight loss. Less common symptoms may manifest themselves outside the digestive tract, and include skin rashes, eye inflammation, fatigue, and even arthritis. In extreme cases, there can also be bowel obstructions which may increase the risk of developing colorectal cancer.

The exact cause of Crohn’s disease is not well understood. It is thought to be caused by immune system factors, as well as bacterial and environmental influences. It manifests itself as a chronic inflammatory disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks the gastrointestinal tract.

For the most part, Crohn’s disease is considered to be primarily related to genetics, though there is a strong link between Crohn’s disease and tobacco use (the incidence of the condition is about twice as high in smokers as with non-smokers).

Diagnosis is usually determined by a biopsy, as well as medical imaging to determine the appearance of the bowel wall. The incidence of the disease is equally likely between males and females.

How Life Insurance Companies View Crohn’s Disease

As with many health conditions, how life insurance companies view Crohn’s disease depends on the severity of the condition. But it does present certain definite risks from an insurance standpoint.

Overall, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) – including Crohn’s disease – results in approximately 35,000 deaths per year. Though it is generally not viewed as a fatal disease, there is a slightly reduced life expectancy associated with Crohn’s disease.

Generally speaking, the more severe cases of Crohn’s disease are when the onset of the condition occurs in the teens or twenties. However, it’s often noted that each case of Crohn’s disease is unique to the individual, which causes significant discrepancies in how each company views the condition from a life insurance standpoint.

If a person has only a single episode of the disease, and requires little or no medical treatment, that person can often receive standard or even preferred ratings.

More severe cases, especially those involving multiple episodes, require very specific underwriting. This is where there is a bit of a gray area – since no case is typical, each life insurance underwriting consideration will be at least a little bit different.

Mitigating Factors

As noted earlier, the severity of the condition plays a major role when it comes to life insurance. In cases of mild to moderate Crohn’s disease, where person has been prescribed a corticosteroid to deal with temporary symptoms, life insurance approval is highly probable, though it may result in a less than preferred rating for premium purposes.

If you have been hospitalized or undergone surgery for the condition, you would be considered a higher risk. As well, age of diagnosis is also a factor. The younger than you are when the disease is diagnosed, the higher risk you will be assigned. This typically includes cases diagnosed prior to the patient turning 45.

The time has passed since your last episode is also a very important factor. You will generally be eligible for a standard rating if the last occurrence was at least three years ago. An episode occurring within the past 12 months will almost certainly result in a higher premium.

Severe Crohn’s disease is more problematic. It is characterized by surgeries, multiple hospitalizations, ongoing use of corticosteroids, bleeding, inflammation, and significant weight loss. Cases of severe Crohn’s disease will be viewed on an individual basis. They will typically be approved, but at higher premium rates.

In extreme cases, such as those involving dysphasia (brain impairment) or sclerosing cholangitis (obstruction of bile ducts in the liver), the application may be declined entirely.

The life insurance company will also carefully consider any other risk factors that you may be subject to, including Crohn’s disease. Naturally if you’re a smoker, or obese, or have some other substantial health condition, both approval and premium rate will be more complicated.

How You Manage the Condition Will Have a Major Impact on the Outcome

Since there are no medications or surgeries that can cure Crohn’s disease, maintaining a proactive approach to the condition is important in the life insurance application process.

You will need to demonstrate that you’re doing your best to manage the condition, including regularly consulting with your physician, maintaining a preferred dietary plan, having regular tests (such as colonoscopies), and taking any prescribed medication.

Beyond specific regimens for managing your Crohn’s disease, you’ll also have to do your best to maintain good overall health. This will include regular exercise routine, maintaining proportionate weight to height, and avoiding behaviors such as illicit drug use and tobacco use.

Applying with a Crohn’s Disease-Friendly Life Insurance Company is Everything!

Beyond properly managing your health condition, the single most important step in applying for life insurance is making sure that you do so only with those insurance companies and take a positive view of applicants who have Crohn’s disease.

There are such companies available, but you will need to engage the services of a competent insurance agent in order to know who those companies are, and how best to make application to them.

We can help with that. We work with many different life insurance companies, including those who are more accommodating when it comes to Crohn’s disease. Give us a call, and put our knowledge and experience to work for you.