Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. There are many distinct subtypes of brain development disorders, but in May of 2013 all autism disorders were merged into one umbrella diagnosis of ASD.
ASD affects over 3 million individuals in the United States alone. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in every 68 American children will be diagnosed with a form of autism. Statistics show that prevalence rates have increased 10 to 17 percent annually in recent years; however, this high percentage may be influenced by the fact that the ability to diagnose autism has improved. On average, autism costs a family $60,000 a year.
Autism and Life Insurance
Can my child with autism get life insurance?
If you’re looking to get life insurance coverage for your child who has been diagnosed with autism, we recommend buying life insurance on yourself and then adding a child rider. A child rider is an add-on you can buy on top of your life insurance policy that covers the life of your child.
Child riders cover any children you have who are under age 18. You can typically purchase a child rider for an extra $50 annually and it will provide $10,000 in coverage for each of your children. What’s better is that you or your child can later convert this rider into a permanent life insurance policy for your child without proving evidence of insurability.
Many life insurance companies require you to fill out a medical questionnaire about your child, but Principal Financial, a company Quotacy works with, does not ask for any medical information. What this means is that even if you have a child with autism, he or she can still be covered with life insurance under a Principal child rider.
If you’re interested, when you apply for life insurance through Quotacy, choose Principal. Your Quotacy agent will contact you to confirm your application and when you go to sign the forms they send you, check that you want to add a child rider.
Life Insurance Underwriting and Autism
Just like the individual with ASD, the disorder itself can be very unique and have many different characteristics. Life insurance is not one-size-fits-all and when you apply, 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.
If an applicant has been diagnosed with autism, they don’t automatically get put into the “autism file”—there is no such thing. Each application, no matter the conditions associated with it, is individually evaluated.
Before we get into examples of autism cases, let’s go over the different general life insurance classes.
In the world of life insurance, when you apply, underwriters will assign a classification to you depending upon many factors. The main factors are your age, gender, and health. These classes range from the “best” at Preferred Plus down to Standard.
» Learn more: What Is a Risk Class and How Does it Affect Me?
If an applicant doesn’t qualify for these typical classes, the underwriters will then “table rate” them. 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. For autism cases, it is not uncommon for an applicant to be table rated.
If you’re applying for a whole life insurance policy and the applicant is still quite young, under the age of 7, for example, the best cases will still likely be table rated because companies would prefer to see how individuals diagnosed with ASD progress as they age. “Best case” applicants diagnosed with ASD typically means the applicant is alert, interactive, high-functioning, continent, and has no psychiatric diagnoses, cerebral palsy, or seizures. For young applicants that may not be a “best case”, insurance companies will often decline, but offer to consider once they are older in years, such as 15 years old.
If an ASD diagnosed applicant is older, such as 15 years or older, the best cases have a chance to be offered Standard. Older applicants that do not have “best case” diagnoses will be considered on an individual basis depending upon the disorder subtype and impairments.
Remember, you cannot buy term life insurance on minor children (typically age 16 or under). Only whole life insurance or child riders.
Unfortunately, not all applicants with ASD will be able to qualify for life insurance; however, 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.
Your best chances of getting approved for life insurance is by working with a life insurance broker, like Quotacy. At Quotacy we work with multiple A-rated life insurance companies. We have the ability to shop cases around to these different companies to try our best to get an applicant approved.
A benefit to working with Quotacy is that we work with multiple A-rated life insurance companies. We have the ability to shop cases around to these different companies to try our best to get an applicant approved.
What is Autism?
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorder and Stroke, autism spectrum disorder refers to a group of complex neurodevelopmental disorders characterized by repetitive and characteristic patterns of behavior and difficulties with social communication and interaction. Autism appears to have its roots in very early brain development. However, the most obvious signs of autism and symptoms of autism tend to emerge between 2 and 3 years of age.
ASD can be associated with intellectual disability, difficulties in motor coordination and attention, and physical health issues such as sleep and gastrointestinal disturbances. Some people with ASD excel in visual skills, music, math and art.
As of now, there is no exact answer to the question “What causes autism?” There also currently is no cure for autism, but there are therapeutic and medicinal treatment options to help with symptoms caused by autism.
» Learn more: Providing for a Loved One with Special Needs
If you have any questions regarding underwriting ASD, 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 for an applicant with ASD, we will need the following information to provide you with an accurate quote.
- What is the diagnosis?
- Have any psychiatric disorders been diagnosed? If so, please state.
- Has any intellectual disability been diagnosed? If so, please state.
- Are physical impairments present? Such as cerebral palsy or seizures? If so, please describe level, type, and frequency.
- Are activities of daily living (ADLs) or instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) appropriate for age? Please give details.
- Is the applicant working or in school? Please give details.
- Is the applicant on any medications? If so, please give details.
- Has the applicant smoked cigarettes in the last 12 months?
- Does the applicant have any other major health problems (ex: cancer, 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.
» Compare: Term life insurance quotes
About the writer
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.