The word “hepatitis” is a general term referring to inflammation of the liver. Toxins, certain drugs, some diseases, heavy alcohol use, and bacterial and viral infections can all cause hepatitis.
There are three different types: Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C.
Although each can cause similar symptoms, they have different modes of transmission and affect the liver differently. The life insurance industry evaluates them differently as well.
Underwriting Hepatitis A
When underwriting an applicant with a history of hepatitis A, as long as the condition is completely resolved, the applicant can qualify for the best risk class. In other words, life insurance underwriters don’t care about the fact that the applicant once had hepatitis A.
Underwriting Hepatitis B
The routine medical exam required for most life insurance policies includes blood and liver tests. If these results show elevated transaminases, the underwriters are going to do a little more digging into the applicant’s medical history since these elevated levels are often the first laboratory sign of hepatitis B infection.
Applicants with a history of hepatitis B, if completely resolved and no evidence of being a chronic carrier of hepatitis B, can qualify for Standard and possibly Preferred risk classes.
If the hepatitis B surface antigen remains positive but all liver enzymes are normal, the applicant could be approved, but likely table rated.
A table rating is an extra percentage on top of the Standard rate. The percentage is determined by your risk level.
Cases of cirrhosis or chronic hepatitis B will usually be highly table rated or declined for individual life insurance coverage.
Underwriting Hepatitis C
If an applicant has history of hepatitis C, underwriters are going to evaluate the application carefully.
In addition to liver disease, hepatitis C is also associated with an increased risk of diabetes, kidney disease, hematologic disease, dermatologic conditions, neurologic complications, and autoimmune manifestations. However, studies have shown that successful treatment does decrease the mortality, reduce the effects of the liver damage, and decreases the incidence of cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma and the need for liver transplantation.
Not all life insurance companies underwrite the same, but there are a number of factors generally used for evaluation when underwriting hepatitis C including:
- age at infection
- extent of liver damage
- alcohol use
- laboratory results
- results of any treatment administered
When it comes to life insurance underwriting, the “normal” risk classes are as follows (starting with the best offer possible): Preferred Plus, Preferred, Standard Plus, and Standard. If an applicant does not fit into one of these categories based on their risk assessment they may be table rated or declined.
When an insurance company classifies an applicant with a table rating, this typically means the applicant will have to pay the standard rates plus a certain percentage. Depending on the insurance carrier, an alphabetical or numerical table is used.
|Table Rating (alphabetical)||Table Rating (numerical)||Pricing|
|A||1||Standard + 25%|
|B||2||Standard + 50%|
|C||3||Standard + 75%|
|D||4||Standard + 100%|
|E||5||Standard + 125%|
|F||6||Standard + 150%|
|G||7||Standard + 175%|
|H||8||Standard + 200%|
|I||9||Standard + 225%|
|J||10||Standard + 250%|
Let’s take a look at a couple examples of individuals with history of hepatitis C applying for life insurance to get a better grasp on underwriting and pricing.
Joanne Smith is a 60-year-old with a history of chronic hepatitis C who successfully completed treatment one year ago. Her liver biopsy performed before treatment revealed minimal fibrosis.
The risk class offered Joanne is Standard Plus. Her estimated premium cost for a 20-year $250,000 term policy is about $120 per month.
Donald Johnson is a 50-year old with a history of untreated hepatitis C contracted at age 25. His recent liver biopsy showed mild fibrosis. Donald does not use alcohol and his liver enzymes are elevated less than two times normal.
The risk class offered Donald is Standard Table 3. His estimated premium cost for a 20-year $250,000 term policy is about $140 per month. This is calculated by taking what a standard policy would cost him (roughly $80 per month) and adding 75% on top (80 + 75% = 140).
Ana Jensen is a 45-year old who has a history of untreated chronic hepatitis C with cirrhosis and drinks alcohol daily.
Ana would be declined for life insurance.
See what you’d pay for life insurance
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 different companies to try our best to get an applicant approved.
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 are looking to get an idea on the cost of life insurance if you have hepatitis, 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 ensure you receive the best possible price.
About the writer
Natasha Cornelius, CLU
Senior Editor and Licensed 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.