According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 3 million Americans have epilepsy. 1 in 26 people will develop epilepsy in their lifetime, and the incidence is highest in early childhood and growing fastest in the elderly. Epilepsy is the 4th most common neurological condition and many people with this condition apply for life insurance every day. Having epilepsy does not mean you cannot get life insurance coverage.
What is Epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a chronic condition characterized by a history of two or more seizures that were not directly provoked by a preceding specific cause. Seizures result from abnormal electrical activity in the brain.
A number of drugs are available and can control most seizures, and many epileptics must take these medications throughout their lives. All drugs, however, have some side effects. Certain drugs are preferred for the control of particular seizure types and some epileptics must take more than one medication to control their seizures. If someone has been seizure-free for a certain amount of time, often four years, the physician and patient may decide to discontinue medication for a trial period.
What are the Categories of Epilepsy?
Epilepsy is categorized as being symptomatic or idiopathic.
Epilepsy is symptomatic when the underlying cause is known. Some of the many possible causes of symptomatic epilepsy include genetic and birth factors, infection, brain trauma, stroke, tumors, and drug intoxication or withdrawal, including alcohol.
Epilepsy is idiopathic when there is no underlying cause known. The majority of epilepsy cases are idiopathic.
Seizures themselves are also split into different categories: Partial, Generalized, and Status Epilepticus.
Partial seizures may present itself in a variety of ways, depending upon the part of the brain that is involved. For example, a partial seizure may present with focal motor activity, such as movement of a part of the body, or a sensory symptom, such as a change in vision.
Generalized seizures are often associated with impaired consciousness. With tonic-clonic seizures, which used to be called grand mal seizures, there is loss of consciousness and muscle stiffening followed by contractions. Someone experiencing an absence seizure, which is also known as a petit mal seizure, will have impaired consciousness and may appear to be staring off into space. After a seizure ends, confusion, drowsiness, and headache may be observed.
Status epilepticus is when there is a prolonged continuous seizure or multiple seizures without full recovery of consciousness in between.
The underwriting of an applicant with epilepsy takes several factors into consideration, including the type of epilepsy, any known cause, control, compliance with treatment and follow up, results of testing, complications, and the presence of coexisting impairments.
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 epilepsy, 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 A-J or 1-10 depending on which format the insurance company uses.
Applicant 1 is a 40-year-old female applying for a $500,000 20-year term policy. She has a history of idiopathic generalized tonic-clonic seizures since childhood which are stable, is compliant with her medication, and has not had a seizure in six years.
This applicant may be Standard Plus and we estimate her monthly premiums to be $44.
Applicant 2 is a 50-year-old male applying for a $500,000 20-year term policy. He has a history of symptomatic epilepsy caused by a vascular malformation in the brain. Five seizures have occurred in the last two months, the applicant is not compliant with his medications, and the last three neurologist appointments have been missed.
This applicant would likely be declined.
Applicant 3 is a 30-year-old female applying for a $500,000 20-year term policy. She has a history of idiopathic generalized tonic-clonic seizures which is stable and last had a seizure three years ago.
This applicant may be Table 2 and we estimate her monthly premiums to be $51.
Applicant 4 is a 35-year-old male applying for a $500,000 20-year term policy. He has a history of idiopathic generalized epilepsy diagnosed in childhood and has been seizure free off medications for over five years. The applicant is stable and otherwise healthy.
This applicant can be Preferred and we estimate his monthly premiums to be $29.
*The examples shown are for illustrative purpose only.
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.
Quotacy has years of experience getting clients life insurance coverage, including epileptics. 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.
Quotacy has years of experience getting clients life insurance coverage, including epileptics.
If you have any questions regarding underwriting epilepsy, 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 epilepsy, we will need the following information to provide you with an accurate quote.
- Date of first diagnosis/type of seizure:
- Type of seizure:
- Number or frequency of episodes and date of last episode:
- Are you on any medications? If yes, please give details.
- Have you been hospitalized for treatment of epilepsy? If yes, please give details.
- Have you smoked in the last 12 months?
- Do you have any other major health problems (ex: heart disease, etc.)? If yes, 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.
Image credit to: Jonathan Perez
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.