Life Insurance Underwriting Strategies for Applicants with Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a chronic degenerative condition of certain cells in the brain. Incident rates rise with age, typically beginning after age 45. Approximately 1% of the population above age 60 has some form of PD. Life expectancy from the date of diagnosis is often 7 – 15 years.
Early diagnosis of PD is often made after the individual experiences involuntary tremors of the extremities. Over time, stiffness, rigidity, and overall slowness of movement become evident. Lack of facial expressiveness, increasing difficulty with speech, and tasks requiring fine motor skills, such as tying a shoe, are the hallmarks of moderate PD. Walking slows and becomes increasingly difficult. Eventually, important activities of daily living can no longer be completed without assistance. Advanced disease may progress to dementia.
There is no established treatment to halt or reverse the progression of PD. Modern medicines can be effective in managing symptoms for a while, increasing the individual’s quality of life. Unfortunately, they lose their effectiveness over time.
Expected Underwriting Outcomes
The good news is that it is often possible to negotiate acceptable offers of insurance for individuals who have been diagnosed with PD. Low table ratings are often possible with insurers that specialize in underwriting impaired risks. Moderate ratings are sometimes assessed for advanced forms of Parkinson’s. Severe PD as evidenced by frequent falls or the onset of dementia may require guaranteed issue or a survivorship policy.
Carrier Selection is Key
Several carriers specialize in underwriting applicants with PD. While conservative insurers often rate or decline individuals diagnosed with the condition, others are often able to offer low or moderate table ratings. Unfortunately there is no one insurer that is consistently best at underwriting individuals with PD. Therefore, it’s best to run the fact pattern by several impaired risk insurers to identify the best match for the applicant.
Pre-formal Underwriting Questions
Answers to the following questions are key to negotiating the best possible offers:
- What is your name?
- What is your date of birth?
- What is your gender?
- When were you first diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease?
- Please describe your current symptoms:
- Has your Parkinson’s Disease been staged? If so, what is the current stage:
- Stage I – Unilateral Involvement
- Stage II – Bilateral involvement, normal stance
- Stage III – Bilateral involvement with mild postural imbalance, but able to lead an independent life
- Stage IV – Bilateral involvement with postural instability; requires substantial help for ADLs
- Stage V – Severe disease and disability, confined to wheel chair or bed
- Have you experienced any of the following:
- Recurrent falls
- Recurrent infections or injuries
- Memory loss or dementia
- Do you live alone or with someone else?
- Are you receiving disability payments from any source?
- What medications are you taking to treat your Parkinson’s Disease?
- Have you had surgical treatment?
- Are you undergoing any type of experimental treatment? If so, please provide details:
- What is your build (height/weight)? ___________ Change past 12 months: _________
- What regular exercise do you do?
- Do you use any form of tobacco or marijuana? If yes, please describe type & frequency of use:
- Are you taking any other prescription medications? If so, please list and what condition(s) they are treating:
- Are there any other medical conditions for which you are being treated? If so, please describe:
- How frequently do you follow-up with your healthcare provider?
- Can you think of other information that would help us negotiate a best possible offer?