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Anaphylaxis is a severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. Underreporting and misdiagnosis of anaphylaxis is not uncommon because it’s often confused with other conditions. Because of this, precise statistics of how many people are affected by anaphylaxis are lacking, but it’s thought to be increasing in prevalence. JAMA Internal Medicine estimates that between 3.3 and 43 million Americans may be at risk of anaphylaxis.

What You Should Know About Anaphylaxis

Anaphylaxis is an allergic reaction that can occur anytime within seconds or hours after being exposed to the offending allergen. The most common triggers of anaphylaxis are foods, insect stings, and drugs. Food induced anaphylaxis is more common in young people and drug anaphylaxis is more common in middle age and older individuals.

Possible symptoms include:

  • Swelling of the lips, tongue, and throat;
  • Shortness of breath;
  • Wheezing;
  • Hoarseness;
  • Lightheadedness;
  • Confusion;
  • Loss of consciousness;
  • Fast or slow heart rate;
  • Low blood pressure;
  • Crampy abdominal pain;
  • Vomiting;
  • Diarrhea;
  • Hives;
  • Itchiness;
  • Flushing.

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Anaphylaxis can affect multiple organ systems including:

  • The skin about 90% of the time
  • The respiratory tract about 70% of the time
  • The cardiovascular system about 45% of the time
  • The gastrointestinal tract about 45% of the time
  • The central nervous system about 15% of the time

Treating Anaphylaxis

The treatment of choice for anaphylaxis is intramuscular epinephrine (EpiPen) given as soon as possible after symptoms begin. Although corticosteroids and antihistamines may also be given, they are not a proper substitute for epinephrine. Prescription of an epinephrine autoinjector and instruction on its use may help to treat future anaphylaxis episodes. If a food allergy is the culprit, avoidance of this food is the main source of treatment. For anaphylaxis episodes due to insect stings, allergy shots can help prevent future episodes.

Not all life insurance companies evaluate medical conditions in the same way. Some may be more lenient with anaphylaxis than others.

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How Anaphylaxis Affects Buying Life Insurance

When you apply for life insurance, the life insurance company will review your medical history. If they see risk factors for anaphylaxis, they will take a closer look.

Risk factors for anaphylaxis include:

  • Asthma,
  • Allergic rhinitis,
  • Eczema,
  • Other chronic respiratory diseases,
  • Cardiovascular diseases,
  • Previous history of anaphylaxis.

While the severity of a prior anaphylactic episode does not predict the severity of a future episode, a previous severe reaction may increase the risk of a future severe reaction.

Life insurance companies are all about risk. The cost of your life insurance is determined by your individual risk factors. In other words, if you have any health or lifestyle factors that may contribute to a potential decreased life expectancy, the life insurance companies will rate you accordingly.

After the life insurance company reviews your application and medical history, they place you in a risk class. This risk class determines your life insurance price. If your risk places you outside the standard risk classes, you may be table rated. The table rating system typically means that your pricing for life insurance will be the Standard price plus 25% for every step down the table you are. Tables descend A-J or 1-10 depending on which format the insurance company uses.

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Below are examples of life insurance pricing for a 35-year-old male based on what risk class he would be placed into.

Risk Class Estimated Monthly Price
Preferred Plus $18
Preferred $21
Standard Plus $25
Standard $29
Preferred Tobacco $51
Standard Tobacco $66

Table Rating Estimated Monthly Price –
Estimated Monthly Price –
Table 1 $37 $83
Table 2 $44 $99
Table 3 $51 $116
Table 4 $58 $124
Table 5 $65 $149
Table 6 $73 $165
Table 7 $80 $182
Table 8 $87 $198
Table 9 $94 $215
Table 10 $102 $231

Life Insurance Case Studies for Applicants with a History of Anaphylaxis

Example 1

John Smith is 27 years old with a history of a peanut allergy and had one episode of anaphylaxis six years ago which required hospitalization for breathing difficulties. John sees an allergist on a regular basis, carries an epinephrine autoinjector at all times and diligently avoids foods that contain peanuts. He has no other health or lifestyle risk factors that would affect his life insurance pricing.

John applies for a 30-year $500,000 term life insurance policy. The life insurance company approves him at a Standard Plus risk class and his monthly premiums are $48.

Example 2

Jane Johnson is 60 years old with a history of recurrent episodes of anaphylaxis. Despite a thorough evaluation, a specific allergen has not been detected. Several emergency room visits and use of an epinephrine autoinjector have been required, but she has never had airway obstruction or low blood pressure.

Jane applies for a 10-year $250,000 term life insurance policy. The life insurance company approves her at Table 3 and her monthly premiums are $112.

Example 3

Jim Doe is 50 years old with a history of asthma, peanut allergy, and anaphylaxis. He has been hospitalized four times in the past three years with anaphylaxis, twice requiring a ventilator, refuses to carry an epinephrine autoinjector, and rarely sees a doctor.

Jim would likely not qualify for a traditional life insurance policy and should consider a guaranteed issue life insurance policy instead (these policies are also known as final expense and burial life insurance.)

Applying for Life Insurance with a History of Anaphylaxis

Not all life insurance companies evaluate medical conditions in the same way. Some may be more lenient with anaphylaxis than others. Because of this, working with an independent life insurance broker will be your best bet.

Quotacy is a life insurance broker and we can shop your case across the top-rated life insurance companies we work with you get you the best life insurance rate. Quotacy has years of experience getting clients life insurance coverage, including those with a history of anaphylaxis. Our in-house underwriter has worked in many carrier home offices, knows how to navigate each individual’s health history, and knows which life insurance company would be the best option for your individual case. If you are ready to buy life insurance coverage, get a term life insurance quote now and let’s start the process.

» Learn more: Allergies and Life Insurance 


About the writer

Headshot of Natasha Cornelius, a life insurance writer, for Quotacy, Inc.

Natasha Cornelius

Marketing Content Manager

Natasha is a writer and content editor at Quotacy. She is also co-host of Quotacy’s YouTube series. She can't get enough of life insurance and outside of work is also working toward her Chartered Life Underwriter designation. Connect with her on LinkedIn.