Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are incredibly difficult to deal with, whether it’s happening to you or to someone else. Unfortunately, most cases of Alzheimer’s result in death eventually, although life span can be prolonged with treatment. If you or a loved one is suffering from Alzheimer’s, you’re probably thinking about end-of-life planning, and that includes purchasing a life insurance policy if you don’t have one already. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to get life insurance if you have Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. Here’s what you need to know and how you can find coverage.
Why is it Difficult to Get Life Insurance Coverage with Alzheimer’s?
An Alzheimer’s diagnosis is typically made in the last decade or two of life. When life insurance companies look at potential customers, they assess how likely they are to pass away. They do this to determine the financial risk that they will need to take on when insuring you because if your beneficiaries file a claim, they will need to pay out several thousand dollars. If you have a lifestyle or medical condition that increases your risk of death, then life insurance companies will either charge you much higher premiums to offset the financial risk they are taking, or in some cases, they will deny you coverage altogether. Since a large percentage of Alzheimer’s disease patients end in death, most life insurance companies will deny you coverage if you have it. However, there are some options available for those who have Alzheimer’s.
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is very common, and it is often incredibly devastating for those it affects. It is a brain disorder that slowly affects many neurological functions, including memory, language, and general cognitive ability. It progresses over time, and as of right now is irreversible, although the medical community is working to develop treatments for it. Alzheimer’s typically affects people over the age of 60, although there are rare cases where it appears at a younger age. People who have Alzheimer’s develop abnormal clumps of fibers in the brain, and they lose connections between neurons as well. This prevents the brain from functioning normally.
What Kind of Coverage is Available?
In general, it’s going to be nearly impossible to get a traditional term or whole life insurance policies with Alzheimer’s. However, you can get a guaranteed issue life insurance policy regardless of your health condition. Guaranteed issue policies are generally short-term, inexpensive policies with small death benefits intended to cover funeral costs. These are sometimes called final expense life insurance policies. Some guaranteed issue policies are a bit larger, but they generally can get very expensive. Guaranteed issue policies do not require any medical exam and have extremely limited underwriting. As long as the insured person meets some very basic requirements, the life insurance company will issue the policy and will not decline. These typically work well for older adults who have already paid off their debts and are no longer supporting their family, as is the case for most Alzheimer’s patients.
What can my Family and I do to Prepare?
There are so many important things to do to prepare for end-of-life expenses, no matter how old you are or what your unique situation is. The first thing is to purchase life insurance at a younger age when you are still healthy and you can get coverage more affordably. Although it may not seem as important when you are younger, you will thank yourself later on.
If a loved one already has Alzheimer’s, start by getting them a guaranteed issue life insurance policy, and then work to budget out expenses for the future. There are many things you’ll need to think about beyond funeral expenses – you may also need to pay off medical bills or pay down other debts from earlier in life. Although it can be tough to think about, if you start budgeting now, you’ll end up with fewer issues later on. If you’re unsure of how you’re going to handle financial expenses related to Alzheimer’s, now is a good time to start looking for assistance programs.
How Should I Shop for Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance?
If you and your family are looking for a guaranteed life insurance policy for your loved one, it’s important to shop around to make sure you’re getting the best value for your money. The policies available to you are going to vary widely from company to company, and it’s worth gettings quotes from many different companies just to make sure you’re getting the best deal. Working with an independent insurance agent is often very helpful because they are unbiased and may be able to better help you find what you need. It’s also very important to talk to your insurance agent and ask any questions you might have, no matter what they are, before you sign the policy. Guaranteed issue life insurance can be confusing because there’s often a time requirement before the insurance company will pay the benefit. For example, you’ll usually need to have the policy in place for two to three years before the insurance company will pay the death benefit. However, this rule usually doesn’t apply to accidental deaths.
It’s also important to note that the death benefits of these policies are much lower than a traditional term life policy. Before committing to a guaranteed issue life insurance plan, you should get an estimate for funeral and other end-of-life expenses, and make sure the insurance plan will cover as much of it as you need. You don’t want to be surprised when you get the death benefit later on, and it doesn’t cover as many key expenses as you expected.
Are There Any Other Options?
Someone with Alzheimer’s can apply for a policy that requires traditional underwriting. It is possible to get a policy issued, but it will almost certainly be issued with a substandard rating. This will make it expensive, but probably less expensive than a guaranteed issue policy will be. If the disease has not progressed significantly and the insured person is young enough, it may be worth exhausting this avenue before turning towards other options. It does not cost anything to apply for life insurance so it doesn’t hurt to try. Substandard policies can be hit or miss in terms of getting the policy issued. It can depend upon the insurance companies’ appetite for risk at any given time. Applying for a short term length policy can increase the odds of the policy being issued, but a policy that the insured has a high likelihood of outliving may defeat the purpose of owning life insurance for most of these cases.
If the cost of the policy is extremely high, it may be more valuable to self insure. This means that you pay what the premium would have been into a savings account. You may end up with more money in the long run.
Alzheimer’s is incredibly frustrating and heartbreaking, and it can be painful to think about the future with your life insurance. However, looking for a guaranteed issue life insurance policy will help everyone involved feel a little bit more prepared when you’re dealing with the pain and condition of this disease.