The Lupus Foundation of America estimates that at least 1.5 million Americans have lupus and more than 16,000 new cases are reported annually across the country.  There is currently no cure for lupus.  Treatments focus on improving quality of life through controlling symptoms and minimizing flare-ups.

What is lupus?

Lupus is a chronic inflammatory disease that occurs when your body’s immune system attacks your own tissues and organs.  In people diagnosed with lupus, your immune system cannot tell the difference between foreign invaders and your body’s healthy tissue.  This can end up causing damage to many parts of the body such as:

  • Joints
  • Skin
  • Kidneys
  • Heart
  • Lungs
  • Blood vessels
  • Brain

There is more than one type of lupus.  The most common type, and the one we will focus on today, is Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.  The others are:

  • Discoid lupus erythematosus—causes a skin rash that doesn’t go away.
  • Subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus—causes skin sores on parts of the body exposed to sun.
  • Drug-induced lupus—can be caused by medications.
  • Neonatal lupus—a rare type of lupus that affects newborns.

Lupus can range from mild to life-threatening.  Lupus is not contagious.

Who is at risk for lupus?

Anyone can get lupus, however certain individuals are more prone.  Factors that may increase your risk of lupus include:

  • Your sex. Lupus strikes mostly women with the sex ratio being 10-15:1.
  • Your age. Most people with lupus develop the disease between ages 15 and 44.
  • Your race. Women of color are 2-3 times more likely to develop lupus than Caucasians.

It is rare for lupus to present itself for the first time in the elderly.  Disease activity typically becomes milder and sometimes dormant with increasing age.

What causes lupus?

The actual cause of lupus is unknown.  Research suggests that genes play an important role, but genes alone do not determine who gets lupus.  The Mayo Clinic states that lupus likely results from a combination of your genetics and your environment.  It appears that people with an inherited predisposition for lupus may develop the disease when they come into contact with something in the environment that can trigger lupus.

Some potential triggers include:

  • Exposure to the sun may bring on lupus skin lesions or trigger an internal response in susceptible people.
  • Having an infection can initiate lupus or cause a relapse in some people.
  • Lupus can be triggered by certain types of anti-seizure medications, blood pressure medications and antibiotics.  People who have drug-induced lupus usually see their symptoms go away when they stop taking the medication.

What are the symptoms of lupus?

The symptoms of systemic lupus erythematosus range from benign illness to organ failure.

The most common symptoms include:

  • painful, swollen joints, causing polyarthritis and deformities in some cases
  • unexplained fever
  • fatigue
  • characteristic rash on nose and cheeks (malar or butterfly rash), other rashes and sensitivity to sunlight

Serious symptoms include central nervous system, renal, cardiovascular (heart, vasculitis), and respiratory involvement.

Can I get life insurance if I have lupus?

Individuals with lupus can obtain life insurance but because the disease is commonly chronic and relapsing, it is unlikely you will be a good candidate for the preferred risk classes.

Life insurance risk classes range from Preferred Plus (the best possible offer) to Standard.  If you have risk factors that place you outside of these risk classifications, you will be table rated.  Life insurance companies want to insure as many people as possible and table ratings are used to help offset the costs of insuring someone who is considered risky.  See the tables below for reference.

life insurance risk class

Table Rating Pricing
Table A Standard + 25%
Table B Standard + 50%
Table C Standard + 75%
Table D Standard + 100%
Table E Standard + 125%
Table F Standard + 150%
Table G Standard + 175%
Table H Standard + 200%
Table I Standard + 225%

When life insurance underwriters are evaluating the application of an individual with lupus, they take the following into consideration:

  • Disease duration
  • Duration in remission
  • Symptoms
  • Medication history
  • Response to therapy
  • If there is any renal or cerebral involvement
  • If there is any presence of cardiovascular or respiratory impairment

Let’s take a look at some examples.

Example #1

Jane Smith is 30 years old and was diagnosed with lupus four years ago.  No serious organs have been affected and she currently takes a small prednisone dose daily as treatment.

Jane applies for a 20-year $500,000 term life insurance policy.  She is table rated at Table D.  The cost of this policy at a Standard rate is $35 per month, so because she is rated Table D the life insurance company adds 100% to her monthly premium meaning she will have to pay $70 per month.

Example #2

Liz Jones is 40 years old and was diagnosed with lupus five years ago, but currently has no symptoms and it has been over three years since she has had to partake in any treatment plan.

Liz applies for a 25-year $250,000 term life insurance policy.  She is given the Standard risk classification.  The cost of her policy is approximately $40 per month.

Example #3

Teresa Johnson is 35 years old and was diagnosed with lupus over ten years ago.  She currently is being treated with an immunosuppressant and her lab tests show signs of kidney disease.

Unfortunately Teresa would likely be declined for life insurance.

With certain medical conditions, like lupus, it’s advisable to apply for life insurance sooner rather than later.  With situations like Jane Smith, she was able to be approved at Table D.  While her premiums may be higher than Standard, at least she has coverage in place in case her condition gets worse; however, if her condition improves, like it did with Liz Jones, Jane can opt to apply for a new policy later in life and see if she can lower her premiums.

Individuals with lupus can obtain life insurance but because the disease is commonly chronic and relapsing, it is unlikely you will be a good candidate for the preferred risk classes.

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One 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 have any questions regarding underwriting lupus, 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 a history of lupus, we will need the following information to provide you with an accurate quote.  You can email us at

  1. When were you first diagnosed?
  2. What type of lupus have you been diagnosed with?
  3. Are you on any medications? If yes, please give details.
  4. Is lupus currently present or in remission?
  5. Have you had any of the following?
    • Low blood counts
    • Lung involvement
    • Proteinuria
    • High blood pressure
    • Neurologic disorder
    • Heart involvement
    • Renal insufficiency or failure
  6. What type of treatment have you had?
  7. If treatment has stopped, when was it terminated?
  8. Have steroids ever been prescribed?
  9. Have you smoked cigarettes in the last 12 months?
  10. Do you have any other major health problems (ex. Cancer)?

Give us 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.


About the writer

Headshot of Natasha Cornelius, a life insurance writer, for Quotacy, Inc.

Natasha Cornelius

Marketing Content and Social Media Manager

Natasha is a content manager and editor for Quotacy. She has worked in the life insurance industry since 2010, and making life insurance easier to understand with her writing since 2014. When not at work, you can find her throwing a tennis ball for her pit bull 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.

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