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Asthma, The Hidden Life Insurance Costs

Real Life Story

A routine life insurance consultation with a 35-year old male client was proceeding normally until the man stated off-handedly, "Oh yeah, I have asthma but it is not a big deal - I only rarely have attacks." Tai Lopez had to explain to the client that in fact, life insurance companies do consider asthma to be a "big deal." Life insurance underwriters never meet an applicant in person. Instead they use pure statistics to determine the life insurance applicant's risks. In the case of an individual with asthma, his or her odds of having a major asthma attack leading to complications or death (as uncommon as that may be) are considerably higher than they are for a non-asthmatic individual. This young client also stated that since he only recently had started having attacks his asthma should not affect his premiums. Unfortunately he was wrong again. As counterintuitive as it might seem life insurance companies would rather underwrite someone who has had asthma for many years than someone who has only had asthma for a short period of time. From the viewpoint of a life insurance company the saying holds true that "the devil you know is better than the devil you don't know." In other words it is better (from a lower premium rate standpoint) to be a lifelong asthmatic with a clear pattern of attacks then a newly diagnosed asthmatic with no history or predictability. As Tai expected, after applying for life insurance this young man ended up receiving increased ratings and a higher premium. Fortunately the premiums were still affordable.

I Have Asthma. Now What?

Asthma is a fairly common health issue that comes up on many life insurance applications. Life insurance companies can be very picky about this issue and will want lots of detailed information about your asthma history. The more accurate the information you provide your broker, the more he or she will be able to help you in maneuvering past the asthma issue on your application. You should be prepared for a longer than normal application period since the insurance company will order your medical records from your doctors which is often a slow process. Also you should be prepared for more expensive premium rates compared to a non- asthmatic. While underwriters are interested in the type of asthma you have, they are primarily interested in how often you have asthma attacks, how severe the attacks are, and what you do to manage your condition, such as inhaler use, smoking habits, and lifestyle choices. Generally the more frequent the attacks, the higher the severity of your attacks, and the worse you manage your condition, the poorer a rating you will receive. Moreover, things like continued smoking, steroid treatment, and/or chronic bronchitis will only further decrease your ratings and increase the premium rates.

Asthma's Effect on Insurance Rates

The tables below assume that you do not expose yourself to serious environmental risks and that you do not smoke. Note that if you undergo regular steroid treatments you will receive at least two additional tables on your rating. Any combination of smoking, exposing yourself to environmental risk, and receiving steroid treatments will receive even more table ratings.

For severe cases where asthma is complicated by chronic bronchitis, you will be rated under guidelines for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.

If you continue to smoke while suffering from deteriorating emphysema, you will likely be declined.





Seasonal; six attacks or less per year


Six attacks or more per year


Lungs return to normal between attacks; no asthma-related disabilities


Serious attacks requiring regular medication; occasional steroid treatment


Serious attacks requiring continuous medication and steroid treatment.


Expected Ratings

Type of Asthma Attack

Last attack within previous two years

Last attack more than two years ago but less than four years ago

Last attack more than four years ago

Infrequent Mild




Infrequent Moderate

Standard - Table 2



Infrequent Severe

Table 2 - Table 4

Table 2


Often Mild

Standard - Table 2

Standard - Table 2


Often Moderate

Table 2 - Table 4

Standard - Table 2


Often Severe

Table 4 - Decline

Table 2 - Decline

Standard - Decline

More Information on Asthma

Asthma is a condition where the airway narrows making it difficult to breathe. Usually the condition will reverse, though it is possible to complicate into death. The narrowing is triggered by any number of irritants which will lead to a so-called "asthma attack" whereby the bronchial reactivity increases. Asthma can be triggered by things such as allergens, pollutants, cigarette smoke, dust, exercise, animal dander, and even cold weather. Individuals with severe asthma, if not careful to manage the condition, may develop complications such as emphysema or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.

Asthma is generally divided into three categories, depending on how it is triggered. The first type is "extrinsic asthma" defined as being facilitated by an allergic reaction. Next is "intrinsic asthma" which is an infective asthma with no identifiable allergen. Finally there is "exercised induced asthma" that is triggered by vigorous exercise.

Important Things to Know for Those with Asthma

What are some of the issues that interest underwriters?

  • What is the date when your disorder was first diagnosed?

  • Is your asthma acute and chronic?

  • Do you have a history of smoking, or do you currently smoke?

  • Have you ever used steroids to treat your asthma?

  • How many attacks do you have in a given year?

  • How is the severity of your asthma rated?

  • What are the results of your Pulmonary Function Tests?

What can I do to help the underwriting process?

Make sure you disclose detailed information about your asthma condition. Please also provide the names of any of the physicians or hospitals that have ever treated you for your asthma. To speed up the process consider calling your doctor's office so they will have medical records pulled from their files and copied when the insurance underwriter calls to order them. To speed the process up even more, go down to your doctor's office and pick up a copy of your records then forward them to the underwriter . Make sure they include all information on your asthma condition going back 5 to 10 years.

Need Our Help?

Tai Lopez, CFP, CLU, ChFC, MDRT Member, is one of the top life insurance agents in the world (by volume of applications, premium placed, and face amount inforce), having helped thousands of clients buy nearly half a billion dollars worth of life insurance. He and his staff at LLG Advanced Insurance Services have extensive experience in helping individuals maneuver the complications of buying life insurance for clients with newly diagnosed asthma as well as for life long asthmatics. Remember that life insurance agents vary tremendously in their skill and experience and it is critical you find an independent agent who knows the right companies to use, the proper way to word your application, and how to be your advocate with the underwriter on ratings and premium rates for your asthma.

Please take a moment to fill out our contact form below and let us give you a free consultation over the phone. We can research your specific asthma history with up to 200 life insurance companies and find you the lowest priced, highest quality plan available. We know the right companies to go to and how to interact directly with the underwriters for you during the application process.

Complete the following form, or call us toll-free at 888-854-7526 if you would like to speak with someone or get more information.

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