Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affects over 3 million individuals in the United States alone. Autism Speaks states that 1 in every 54 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. This rider can later on be converted to a standalone permanent life insurance policy without being required to provide proof of insurability.
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.
Many life insurance companies require you to fill out a medical questionnaire about your child, but not all of them. If you have a child with autism, your child can still obtain coverage under a rider that does not ask for any medical information. If you’re interested, contact us directly. A Quotacy agent will be able to give you advice on which life insurance company to go with when you apply online through us.
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—for an individual life insurance policy, not a child rider—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 postpone 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.
Autism and Life Insurance Risk 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.
» Learn more: Providing for a Loved One with Special Needs
If you are looking to get an idea on the cost of life insurance if you or a loved one has autism, it costs nothing to run a quote and apply online. You will have a dedicated Quotacy agent shop your case with our top-rated life insurance companies to help you get approved for coverage at the best price possible.
About the writer
Natasha Cornelius, CLU
Senior Editor and Life Insurance Expert
Natasha Cornelius, CLU, is a writer, editor, and life insurance researcher for Quotacy.com where her goal is to make life insurance more transparent and easier to understand. She has been in the life insurance industry since 2010 and has been writing about life insurance since 2014. Natasha earned her Chartered Life Underwriter designation in 2022. She is also co-host of Quotacy’s YouTube series. Connect with her on LinkedIn.