How to buy Life Insurance with Arthritis

8 min Read Published: 01 Dec 2020

Life Insurance and ArthritisArthritis can be a debilitating and painful condition to manage. Even though there are many different types of the condition, the symptoms can be quite similar but vastly different in severity. Those who suffer with Arthritis may go through periods where they find simple daily activities very difficult to complete. So, when it comes to life insurance and illness insurances, it may seem tricky to work out if you can get cover and how much it might cost given your diagnosis.

In this article, I will take you through the different types of arthritis and how these are assessed for life insurance applications. You'll learn what information the insurance company will ask about your condition as well as the outcomes you can expect.

I'll also share the best way to buy your life insurance policy in order to get the best outcome, while also qualifying for £50 cashback when you buy the cover.

What are the most common types of Arthritis

Arthritis is an overarching term used to describe a condition that causes inflammation and stiffness in joints. The joints that are most commonly affected are hands, knees, spine and the hips. The condition may or may not affect your life by limiting your ability to perform certain physical tasks.

The most common types of arthritis are Rheumatoid and Osteo but there are several others too, explained below:

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis - an autoimmune condition that occurs when the body's immune system attacks itself. It affects joints where swelling and stiffness causes painful rubbing of ligaments around the joint.
  • Osteo Arthritis - can occur in any joints and is caused by a number of different factors. Age, injury or other conditions such as gout, obesity or even a family history of the condition can contribute to the joints becoming affected. The ligaments wear down and diminish the protection around the joint causing pain, swelling and stiffness.
  • Psoriatic Arthritis - affects mainly people who suffer with the skin condition, Psoriasis. Again, it affects the tissue around joints causing swelling, stiffness and pain. It can be progressive and if deterioration continues, joints can become deformed and even permanently damaged.
  • Cervical Spondylosis /Degenerative OsteoArthritis - a condition usually associated with age-related wear and manifests in the neck and shoulders. It can also be caused by jobs that require repetitive motion of the neck such as overhead work like painting.
  • Ankylosing Spondylitis - usually occurs in teenagers and young adults, predominantly affecting the spine but can also affect other joints. It can be linked to a gene and in cases that progress, the deterioration can cause spinal joints to become fused resulting in levels of disability.

Other types of arthritis include Enteropathic Arthritis, Secondary Arthritis and Polymyalgia Rheumatica. These are less common types of the condition that may be associated with other medical diagnoses.

Treatment for Arthritis

There are types of Arthritis that can be managed with lifestyle changes alone and in many cases, your doctor will recommend increasing activity to keep the flare-ups at bay. However, many will need medications to alleviate the symptoms and their causes.

The medication that is used to treat your condition may carry its own risks especially ones that are known as TNF blockers and Disease-Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs (DMARDs), such as Methotrexate and Hydroxychloroquine. These tend to be used in the treatment of rheumatic conditions but may carry risks associated with side effects that can affect your lungs, liver or kidneys.

What information do I need to apply for life insurance if I have Arthritis?

Applications for life insurance, critical illness and sick pay insurance ask about your age, occupation, health and hobbies. The largest part of the application asks about your health and the insurer will assess your whole health and not just each condition that you disclose. If you disclose that you currently have or have previously suffered from Arthritis then the insurance company is likely to ask for additional information, explained below.

Life insurance with Arthritis - Additional information required by life insurance companies

  • Your exact diagnosis
  • Date of your diagnosis
  • Description of your symptoms including their impact to your daily tasks
  • Description of the frequency of your symptoms
  • Time elapsed since the last flare-up
  • Details of all treatment and medication
  • Details of any pending treatments or investigations

Will a life insurance company write to my doctor about my Arthritis?

When you apply for life insurance with Arthritis, the answers to your application questions are assessed by underwriters who use very specific guidelines to work out whether they can offer the insurance to you and what to charge. Although the questions are usually quite detailed, the underwriters may need to write to your GP for details of your medical history which will give them a wider and more detailed picture of your condition and how it has impacted you. If this is needed, you'll be asked for your permission (you may have already given your permission as part of your application) to write to your GP directly for the additional information.

You won't need to do anything, however, letting your GP surgery know about the request can sometimes help speed up your doctor's response. The insurer will pay your GP surgery for the completion of its request too. The process of writing to your GP can delay your application but will give you peace of mind that your health has been fully assessed meaning nothing will obstruct a claim should it be necessary.

How is your life insurance application assessed if you have arthritis?

Once the underwriter at the insurance company has all of your health information, they will assess it and they'll mainly focus on:

  • How often you experience symptoms
  • The severity of your symptoms
  • How your condition has progressed over time
  • The impact of the condition on your daily activities
  • How your condition is being treated

The underwriter will look at your whole health and assess the overall risk of having to pay a claim. When it comes to arthritis, an underwriter will focus on whether your condition is controlled. An underwriter would like to see that your condition has been well controlled for a year or more. However, if it takes certain medications to control your condition, this carries additional risk factors, and it may mean that you have to pay a little more for your insurance.

Medications that could increase the cost of your life insurance include DMARDs/TNF Blockers, including, but not limited to Methotrexate, Leflunomide, Hydroxychloroquine and Sulfasalazine.

If your joints are severely affected and cause you a great degree of disability then it will be difficult and expensive to arrange life insurance. You should enlist the help of a specialist life insurance adviser who will be able to do research on your behalf to find a solution that works for you. I explain more about how to do this later in this article

How much will my life insurance cost with Arthritis?

When you apply for life insurance, you start by getting a quotation for the amount of life insurance you want and how long you want it for. At this point, the only factors that are considered are your age and your smoker status. Once your application is assessed and a decision is made, you'll receive a letter or email to say whether your application has been accepted and if so, whether there is an increase to the cost that you were quoted at the beginning.

Increased Life Insurance costs

Increases to life insurance costs are usually worked out in percentages. The lowest increase is a 50% increase where you might pay half of your monthly premium in addition to what you were quoted. A 100% increase will mean that your premium will double, a 200% increase will mean that your premium will treble. If the underwriter works out that your condition cannot be accepted, you will receive a letter to say that your application has been declined. Do remember that receiving a decision to decline your application from one insurer doesn't mean that another life insurer won't accept it. If you'd like some guidance on how to find the right insurer for you, complete this form* to speak to an independent life insurance specialist that can find the best cover for you.

Important Tip - Not all life insurers work to the same guidelines when they assess your health. Some will be more lenient than others when considering your application and when deciding what they will charge. Choosing an insurer that is favourable for your specific health, in advance of applying is the best way to get the cheapest price and outcome.

How much will Life Cover or Critical Illness Cover Cost with Arthritis?

Symptoms / Treatment Underwriting Decision
  • Mild symptoms / Low lifestyle impact.
  • Infrequent flare-ups.
  • Successfully managed with treatment.
  • No DMARDs
  • No effect on organs
No Increase to Quoted Cost
  • Mild/Moderate symptoms / Some lifestyle impact.
  • Infrequent flare-ups.
  • Managed with treatment.
  • No DMARDs
  • No effect on organs
50% Increase to Quoted Cost
  • Moderate Symptoms / Lifestyle tasks impacted.
  • Infrequent flare-ups.
  • Managed with treatment.
  • DMARDs may be prescribed.
  • No effect on organs
50-100% Increase to Quoted Cost
  • Moderate Symptoms / Lifestyle tasks are difficult.
  • Frequent flare-ups.
  • DMARDs may be prescribed
  • No effect on organs.
100-200% Increase to Quoted Cost

Applying for income protection with Arthritis

Income protection insurance, sometimes also called sick pay insurance, provides you with an income if you become incapacitated to work. If you have received a diagnosis of Arthritis, you may be worried about how the condition will affect your ability to do your job. If your work tasks are physical, this may be even more concerning for you.

If you already have a policy that protects your income, don't worry because you do not have to disclose a change to your health after you have started the policy as long as you made full and honest disclosures when you applied. The insurance will carry on protecting you as long as you keep paying your premiums.

If you don't have income protection insurance policy and are looking to arrange this then you should look at the table above that shows outcomes for life insurance and critical illness insurance. Being that the insurance company is going to be assessing your risk of not being able to do your job, they will want to know about any time you have had to take off work and how your condition has progressed. A recent diagnosis might mean that your application would be postponed until there is a better picture of how your condition will progress.

It is possible to arrange income protection insurance but only if your condition is mild and well-controlled. It will also depend on your job - the more physical your work, the more difficult it will be to arrange this type of insurance.

The best way to find a policy to suit you, your job and your condition is to speak with an independent life, critical illness and income protection broker. We explain more in the next section.

Which is the best life insurance company if I have Arthritis?

Having read all about the way that life insurance companies assess Arthritis and the assortment of possible outcomes that may occur, you might be feeling that you need some help to get it right. Applying for personal insurances such as Life, Critical Illness and Income Protection can be difficult to navigate and you might be worried that you've selected the wrong insurance company. You're not alone! Many buyers feel the same way and need guidance.

At Money to the Masses, we have vetted the services offered by a specialist insurance broker, with whom you can arrange a telephone call to discuss your requirements. You'll get access to a trained adviser who specialises in personal insurances and who will carry out in-depth research on your behalf. The service is free and you only pay for your insurance policy premium once you start it.

As well as finding the best rates for your insurance, an independent insurance broker can provide you with free advice on how to put your policy into a trust, which will allow you to nominate your beneficiaries so that any claim monies end up where you intended them and that there are no delays through probate. Inheritance tax can also be avoided by doing it this way. As a Money to the Masses reader, you will receive £50 cashback for arranging your policy too.

If a link has an * beside it this means that it is an affiliated link. If you go via the link, Money to the Masses may receive a small fee which helps keep Money to the Masses free to use. This link can be used if you do not wish to help Money to the Masses and do not wish to qualify for the cashback referred to in the article