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Life Insurance and Rheumatoid Arthritis: Buyer’s Guide

May 14, 2021
Our goal is to educate and advise on life insurance options, so you can feel confident in making the right choice, whether that’s through Quotacy or somewhere else. To ensure we provide accurate and trustworthy information, our writers follow strict editorial standards.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is the most common type of autoimmune arthritis. About 1% of all populations are affected, women 2 to 3 times more commonly than men. Onset may be at any age, but most often occurs between ages 25 and 50. Rheumatoid arthritis can reduce expectation of life by approximately 3 to 12 years.

Learn about other pre-existing conditions, how they impact rates, and what your alternatives are.

Buying Life Insurance with Rheumatoid Arthritis

If you have rheumatoid arthritis, 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 rheumatoid arthritis.

Underwriting Rheumatoid Arthritis

Life insurers have to consider many things when it comes to rheumatoid arthritis. Not only do they need to consider the fact that an applicant’s lifespan may be reduced, but many prescriptions used to treat RA have significant side effects and with severe cases the disease may be causing other organs besides the joints to be declining.

A higher mortality risk for those diagnosed with RA is associated with a younger age at onset, a longer duration of disease, concurrent presence of other health problems, and characteristics of more severe and progressive disease, such as infection and GI bleeding.

The rating underwriters give an applicant with RA will depend upon the severity of the disease.

Most underwriting guides classify severity in the follow ways:

  • Mild: Minimal pain, slight pain or stiffness in peripheral joints, no or minimal swelling and no deformity. No continuous treatment required; physical therapy and occasional use of aspirin and anti-rheumatic drugs. Negative rheumatoid factor (RF); ESR less than or equal to 30 mm/hr or normal C reactive protein (CRP). No erosions on X-ray. Able to carry out all normal activities of daily living (ADLs).
  • Moderate: Moderate pain and stiffness, more extensive joint involvement, slight deformity or limitation of movement in affected joints. Frequent or continuous drug therapy. RF positive in moderately raised titer. ESR less than or equal 55mm/hr or slightly increased CRP. Able to carry out most or all ADLs with limited difficulty or assistance.
  • Severe: Chronic active disease, no complete freedom from pain, moderate or marked deformities with serious restrictions of movement and impairment of function. Lesions, i.e. nodules, pulmonary fibrosis. Continuous treatment which includes oral steroids, abatacept (Orencia), anakinra (Kineret), azathioprine (Imuran), cyclosporine, gold salts, or rituximab (Rituxan). Rheumatoid nodules. Rheumatoid factor positive in high titer. ESR greater than 55mm/hr or greatly increased CRP. Able to perform few ADLs, requiring significant extra time or help.

It is possible for those with mild rheumatoid arthritis to not be table rated. A table rating is given when a life insurance underwriter deems an applicant too high of a risk to insure at a standard rate. The table rating means the applicant will have to pay a price increase on top of the standard premium price to offset the risk the company is taking by insuring that person.

As an example, if the insurance company classifies you as Table D, also called Table 4 depending on the company, then this means you will pay the standard price plus 100%. See the table below for an illustration of how table rating pricing work.

Table Rating (alphabetical)Table Rating (numerical)Pricing
A1Standard + 25%
B2Standard + 50%
C3Standard + 75%
D4Standard + 100%
E5Standard + 125%
F6Standard + 150%
G7Standard + 175%
H8Standard + 200%
I9Standard + 225%
J10Standard + 250%

Let’s take a look at some case studies to see how insurers may underwrite an applicant with rheumatoid arthritis and how much it may cost.

Case Studies*

Case Study #1

Applicant 1 is a 55-year-old woman who was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis about five years ago. She is currently working full-time and plays golf once a week. She has occasional joint discomfort that responds to ibuprofen and has required no other treatment.

She can qualify for Standard Plus and for a 20-year term policy with $250,000 in coverage her premiums could be as low as $59 per month.

Case Study #2

Applicant 2 is a 55-year-old woman who has had rheumatoid arthritis for several years. She is active in her community and participates in several volunteer organizations. She is limited by occasional diffuse joint pain and stiffness that have improved considerably with the use of methotrexate and a biologic agent.

She can qualify for Table B and for a 20-year term policy with $250,000 in coverage her premiums would be approximately $130 per month.

Case Study #3

Applicant 3 is a 58-year-old man who has been unable to work for the past three years due to severely deformed joints resulting from rheumatoid arthritis that began in his early 20s. He has undergone many joint replacements as well as cervical spine surgery for instability due to rheumatoid arthritis. He has recently experienced increasing shortness of breath, and his physician has been unable to determine whether his lungs have been affected by rheumatoid arthritis, its treatment with methotrexate, or perhaps both.

He would likely be declined for coverage.

*The examples shown are for illustrative purpose only.

See what you’d pay for life insurance

Comparison shop prices on custom coverage amounts from the nation’s top carriers with Quotacy.

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. We have the ability to shop cases around to these 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 rheumatoid arthritis, 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.

Note: Life insurance quotes used in this article accurate as of May 14, 2021. These are only estimates and your life insurance costs may be higher or lower.


  1. Jennifer Simmons

    I am looking for life insurance for and or term any amount of $250,000. I was diagnosed with rheumatoid rightists in April 2008. I am 100% active taking only ibuprofen as I do not have significant pain. I do have a slight joint stiffness in the mornings but it is controlled with ibuprofen or Aleve

    • Natasha Cornelius

      Hi Jennifer,

      We have had many clients diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in the past and we work hard to find the best fit life insurance company for you to get you coverage. Feel free to contact our agents directly if you have any questions, otherwise, go ahead and apply right online. There is a section in the online application where you can disclose your diagnosis and then after you submit the app, your Quotacy agent will follow up letting you know your life insurance options.


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