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Asthma is a fairly common health issue; more than 22 million Americans are asthmatic.  Because of this relatively high number, we can assume that many individuals who apply for life insurance mention this condition on their application.  While having asthma may affect your life insurance premium costs, it surely does not mean you can’t get life insurance.

Life insurance carriers all follow a different set of underwriting guidelines.  This means that each carrier will rate a certain condition differently.  While one company may decide to give an applicant a Preferred Plus rating for a certain condition, another company may offer only Standard.  This is where Quotacy  can help you.  We have relationships with many of the best life insurance carriers and know the idiosyncrasies of each.  Once we know your unique situation, we will shop your case at the appropriate carriers to help you get the best possible coverage.

What is Asthma?

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways characterized by episodes of reversible airflow obstruction and manifest by symptoms that may include coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing and chest tightness.  The cause of asthma, while unknown, is felt to involve an interaction of genetic and environmental factors, and rather than being a homogeneous disorder, different types of asthma are felt to exist.

While asthma may commence at any age, most are diagnosed during childhood.  Diagnosis is made based upon history, physical examination, and pulmonary function testing, although specialized testing called a methacholine challenge is occasionally performed when the diagnosis is evasive.

What are the Categories of Asthma?

Asthma can essentially be divided into two categories, based on how it is triggered.

  • Extrinsic – asthma that is triggered by an allergic reaction.
  • Intristic – asthma that is triggered by factors other than allergies such as anxiety, stress, exercise, cold air, dry air, hyperventilation, smoke, viruses or other irritants.

Other than the “type,” asthma also gets categorized based on the severity of your condition.  There are four categories of asthma severity.

  • Intermittent
  • Mild Persistent
  • Moderate Persistent
  • Severe Persistent

Severity is based upon a number of variables, including the frequency of symptoms, presence of nighttime awakenings, use of short acting medications for symptom control, and interference with normal activity and lung function.  It is possible for the severity class to change over time.

Underwriting Asthma

The underwriting of asthma takes into account several variables, including severity, overall control, compliance with prescribed medications and medical appointments, the number of exacerbations, and the need for short acting medications and oral corticosteroids.

The chart below is an example of how a life insurance company may classify the severity of an applicant’s asthma.

SeveritySignificant Episode
Per Year
Description and Therapy
Intermittent≤ 2
    • Any number of inhalers of any kind, including steroids
  • No injections of epinephrine /adrenaline
  • No aerosolized (nebulized) bronchodilator
  • One continuous oral medication, but no steroid
  • Short course tapering oral steroid up to 1 per year
  • No hospitalization for asthma or other respiratory disease in past 2 years
Mild Persistent≤ 4
  • Any number of inhalers of any kind, including steroids
  • Injections of epinephrine /adrenaline ≤4 per year
  • Short course of aerosolized (nebulized) bronchodilator ≤4 per year
  • Any number of continuous oral medications, but no steroid
  • Short course tapering oral steroid ≤2 per year
  • No hospitalization for asthma or other respiratory disease in past 1 year
Moderate Persistent≤ 5
  • Any number of inhalers of any kind, including steroids
  • Injections of adrenaline ≤5 per year
  • Short course of aerosolized (nebulized) bronchodilator up to 5 per year
  • Any number of continuous oral medications, which may include low dose oral steroid (≤10 mg daily)
  • Short course oral steroid boost ≤4 per year
  • No hospitalization for asthma or other respiratory disease in past six months
Severe Persistent≥ 6
  • Persistent wheezing or dyspnea that limits activity
  • FEV 1 ≤1 liter at all times, including between episodes
  • Home oxygen

When you apply for life insurance, underwriters review the complete application and all the records that go along with it.  They then decide how much coverage and at what cost to offer the applicant, unless they decide to deny or post-pone the application.

For applicants with asthma, you can be classified anywhere between the best rating of Preferred Plus to being 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.

We’ll take a look at an example applicant and breakdown what their pricing may be depending upon their rating.


John Doe is a 35 year old male who was diagnosed with asthma as a child.  Depending upon the severity of his asthma, tobacco use, and if there are any other issues that the underwriters may consider a risk, the chart below can be used as an estimate of his monthly payments were he to buy a 30-year, $150,000 term life insurance policy.  If he is an extremely healthy individual with no negative family health history, and his only issue was mild, well-controlled, asthma, there is a chance a carrier would offer him the best rating of Preferred Plus.

In the world of life insurance, “Table A” is the same as “Table 1.”  Carriers use one or the other.  For the example below, we’ll go with the numerical Tables.

Risk ClassPricing Per Month
(rounded to the nearest whole number)
Preferred Plus$18
Standard Plus$25
Preferred Tobacco$51
Standard Tobacco$66


Table Rated Risk ClassPricing Per Month –
Non Tobacco
(rounded to the nearest whole number)
Pricing Per Month –
(rounded to the nearest whole number)
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

Each life insurance company has a different set of guidelines they follow when underwriting an applicant.  Because of these different guidelines, when one company may deem an applicant a Table 2, another company may decide that applicant can qualify for Standard Plus rates.  A benefit to working with Quotacy is that we work with multiple A-rated life insurance companies.  Our shopping your application around to more than one insurance company can only help you.

A benefit to working with Quotacy is that we work with multiple A-rated life insurance companies.  Our shopping your application around to more than one insurance company can only help you.

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Quotacy has years of experience getting clients life insurance coverage, including asthmatics.  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.

If you have any questions regarding underwriting asthma, feel free to contact us or jot us a message in the Comment section below.  If you are looking to get an idea on the cost of life insurance if you have asthma, we will need the following information to provide you with an accurate quote.

  1. Date of when you were first diagnosed.
  2. Have you ever been hospitalized for this condition? If so, please give details.
  3. How many episodes of asthma have you had in the past year that required you to go to the ER or see your physician for treatment?
  4. Have you ever smoked? If so, how many cigarettes per day?  If a former smoker, on what date did you quit?
  5. Are you on any medications (include inhalers and any medications taken on an “as needed” basis)? If yes, please give details.
  6. Have pulmonary function tests (a breathing test) ever been done? If so, what were the most recent test results?
  7. Do you have abnormalities on an ECG or x-ray? If so, please give details.
  8. Do you have any other major health problems (ex. Heart disease, etc.)? If so, please give details.

Give us a 2-3 business days to respond with some individualized and thorough information.  Quotacy is here to help make the life insurance buying process easier for you.

Related Posts:

What is a Risk Class and How Does it Affect Me?

Will I Be Rated Preferred or Standard?

How Much Life Insurance Coverage Do You Need?

About the writer

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

Natasha Cornelius

Writer, Editor, and Co-host of Quotacy's Q&A Fridays

Natasha is the content manager and editor for Quotacy. She has been in the life insurance industry since 2010 and has been making life insurance easier to understand with her writing since 2014. When not at work, she's probably studying and working toward her Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) designation while throwing a tennis ball for her pitbull mix, Emmett, or curled up on her couch watching Netflix. If it’s football season, the Packers game will be on. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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