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Various health issues affect term life insurance rates, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD affects an estimated 15.3 million Americans which means that many people suffering from the condition still apply for insurance and are accepted for coverage. Even so, life insurance companies view COPD as a risk, so your term life insurance rates might be affected. The good news is that insurance companies underwrite health impairments like COPD a little differently.

Quotacy is here to dig through the different life insurance companies to help you find affordable term life insurance rates that keep you and your family covered.

Buying Life Insurance with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

COPD is a common medical condition we see with Quotacy clients. It’s a condition our agents are familiar with and have successfully helped people with COPD get life insurance coverage.

If you have COPD, your best chances of getting affordable life insurance is to apply through a broker, like Quotacy. Brokers are not tied to one life insurance company and are able to shop the market.

We want you to get approved and will work hard to help you get coverage. Start the process by getting a free term life insurance quote or keep reading for more in-depth information about life insurance and COPD.

Understanding Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

According to the American Lung Association, as of 2017, more than 15.3 million people have been diagnosed with COPD, but millions more may have the disease without even knowing it. COPD is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. but because so many go undiagnosed this may be higher than previously thought.

What Is COPD?

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a degenerative disorder of the lungs in which there is a reduced ability to expire air. COPD includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Asthma may lead to COPD of the lungs as well.

Causes of COPD

About 80-90% of COPD cases are caused by cigarette smoking. However, not all who smoke get COPD. Obstructive lung disease develops in 10-15% of all cigarette smokers, and individuals who continue to smoke are likely to sustain a more rapid progression of the disease than non-smokers.

For non-smokers, COPD can be caused by long-term exposure to air pollution, secondhand smoke and dust, fumes and chemicals (which are often work-related). In addition, a small amount of people diagnosed with COPD get it because they have a genetic (inherited) condition that affects the body’s ability to produce a protein (Alpha-1) that protects the lungs. This condition is called alpha-1 deficiency-related emphysema.

Diagnosing COPD

To find out if you have COPD, a doctor will:

  • Do a physical exam and listen to your lungs.
  • Ask you questions about your past health and whether you smoke or have been exposed to other things that can irritate your lungs.
  • Have you do breathing tests, including spirometry (more below about this test.)
  • Do chest X-rays and other tests to help rule out other problems that could be causing your symptoms.

The most accurate method of diagnosing COPD is the pulmonary function known as a spirometry. This test measures the amount of air that one can forcefully exhale into a tube. This volume of air is called the FEV1 ratio. A sign of decreased lung function is typically when the FEV1 is lower than normal.

Life insurance companies view COPD as a risk, so your term life insurance rates might be affected. The good news is that insurance companies underwrite health impairments like COPD a little differently.

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Underwriting COPD

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.

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Below is an example of what a life insurance company may rate you depending on the condition of your COPD. The chart is for illustrative purposes only.

DegreeSymptomsTreatmentFEV1Possible Rating
MinimalAsymptomatic, normal exercise tolerance, no chronic oral medications, stable chest x-ray with no more than minimal interstitial markingsNoneGreater than 80% and stable for at least 2 yearsTypical classifications may apply – no table rating
MildNo more than occasional throat clearing or respiratory infectionNone60-80%Table B
ModerateShortness of breath (dyspnea) with moderate exertion such as climbing two flights of stairsInhaler50-60%Table D
SevereDyspnea with mild physical activity such as dressing or walking one blockSteroids, multiple medications40-50%Table G
ExtremeDisabled, dyspnea at rest or with minimal activityHome oxygen< 40%Decline

 
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 A-J or 1-10 depending on which format the insurance company uses. Let’s go over what the premium costs may be for the examples in the previous chart.

If your COPD has a minimal degree of severity, you may qualify for the typical life insurance classes such as Preferred and Standard.  These classes do not have the added on percentage like the Table Ratings.

Example: An otherwise healthy 40-year old male applying for a $500,000 20-year term policy with minimal COPD may be approved for a preferred class. An estimate on his premium cost is $43 per month.

If your COPD has a mild degree of severity, you may be rated Table B.  In this case you would take the standard rating cost plus 50% to calculate the monthly premium.

Example: A 40-year old male with mild COPD applying for a $500,000 20-year term policy would pay an estimated $90 per month if he was rated Table B. The standard price of this policy is an estimated $60 so we take ($60 x 50%) + $60 to equal $90.

If your COPD has a moderate degree of severity, you may be rated Table D.  In this case you would take the standard rating cost plus 100%.

Example: A 40-year old male with moderate COPD applying for a $500,000 20-year term policy would pay an estimated $120 per month.

If your COPD is severe, you may be rated Table G.  In this case you would take the standard rating cost plus 175%.

Example: A 40-year old male with severe COPD applying for a $500,000 20-year term policy would pay an estimated $165 per month.

If your COPD is extremely severe, you may likely be declined.

Keep in mind that life insurance companies all underwrite a little differently. A benefit to working with Quotacy is that we work with multiple A-rated life insurance companies. Shopping your application around to more than one insurance company can only help you. Quotacy will do this behind the scenes so no need for you to hop around applying to different life insurance companies.

Start the process by running quotes online here at Quotacy. Our quoting tool can give you an idea of what life insurance costs, but cannot factor how COPD will affect the pricing. There are just too many variables for online quoting tools to calculate.

To find out exactly how much life insurance will cost you, simply run a quote and apply online and your Quotacy agent will set realistic expectations after reviewing your application. We’ll walk you through the process of buying life insurance and can help answer any questions along the way.

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.