Life insurance for people with digestive diseases

Crohn’s, IBS, celiac disease, or other digestive-related medical conditions, sometimes lead to higher life insurance rates. But if your condition is well-maintained, it’s possible to get competitive premiums.

Rebecca Shoenthal author photo

By

Rebecca Shoenthal

Rebecca Shoenthal

Licensed Insurance Expert

Rebecca Shoenthal is an insurance editor and licensed Life, Health, and Disability agent at Policygenius in New York City. Previously, she worked as a nonfiction book editor. She has a B.A. in Media and Journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Published March 9, 2021|6 min read

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Illnesses, diseases, and other medical conditions can affect how much you’ll pay for a life insurance policy. Insurance underwriters use your age, health history, and gender – even your credit score and driving record – to determine how risky you are to insure. 

Digestive diseases such as Crohn's disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis, and celiac disease, affect millions of Americans each year. Learn how having these conditions can affect your life insurance rates and eligibility, and which life insurance company is best for you depending on your diagnosis. 

Key Takeaways

  • Digestive diseases and gastrointestinal conditions are unlikely to affect your ability to get insured

  • If your condition is more severe or not well controlled, you may pay more for life insurance

  • Different companies have different guidelines for chronic or pre-existing medical conditions and rates will vary

How your health affects life insurance rates

When you apply for a life insurance policy, insurers determine your health classification during underwriting. Your classification then plays a big role in how much your premiums will cost.

Other factors are considered, such as your age and hobbies. But in general, the healthier you are, the less you’ll pay for life insurance. 

Chronic illnesses, underlying medical conditions, or a more complicated history (such as cancer or diabetes) all impact your health classification. 

But not every condition is the same. Minor health problems, for example, won’t play as big a role as conditions that insurance companies determine riskier for premature death. 

From best to worst, the classifications are: Preferred Plus, Preferred, Standard Plus, and Standard. Table ratings are life insurance health classifications that fall below Standard, also referred to as Substandard ratings. 

What-are-life-insurance-classifications

→ Learn more about life insurance health classifications

The life insurance medical exam

Most life insurance companies require a paramedical exam as part of underwriting. Some insurers offer no medical exam life insurance, but for the most part, this physical is unavoidable if you have any sort of underlying health issues, including digestive problems. 

The medical exam isn’t complicated: the insurance company covers the cost and a physician comes to your home or office to make it more convenient for you. 

If your medical exam results aren’t straightforward (for example, if you have one of the below conditions) you may be required to submit additional documentation, called an Attending Physician Statement (APS). An aps is a statement from your doctor that details your specific health condition for the insurance company and allows them to make an informed rate classification decision. 

Questions insurers will ask on your application

Insurance companies ask specific questions when you apply based on your health history. If you have a digestive disease, you can expect to answer some of the questions below. 

Question                                            Crohn's diseaseIBSUlcerative colitisCeliac diseaseDiverticulitis 
What’s the date of your first diagnosis/onset?                   X              X  X                 X             X              
What parts of your GI tract are most affected?                   X                 X                                                
Any dysplasia?                                                   X                 X                                                
Any extraintestinal diseases?                                    X                 X                                                
What medications are taking?                                     X              X  X                                X              
What’s the date of your last colonoscopy?                        X                 X                                                
What’s the date of your last flare-up/acute presence of symptoms?               X                     X             X              
Frequency of flare-ups/symptoms?                                                X                     X                             
Any progression of flare-ups over the last 5 years?                             X                                                    
How is your condition being managed?                                                                  X             X              

Sample rates for digestive disorders: Preferred vs. Standard

People with digestive diseases may not qualify for the best possible premium rates, but could qualify for Standard rates with certain insurers. While the cost of life insurance for someone with these conditions will be greater than someone of the same age without any health complications, it’s not as prohibitive as you might think.

As an example, below are sample average rates for a $500,000, 20-year term policy for a male applicant with a Preferred health classification compared to a Standard health classification.

Preferred vs. Standard rates

Age of applicantPreferredStandard 
25              $27.16   $39.08   
35              $30.66   $45.13   
45              $61.05   $96.05   
55              $152.57  $241.35  
65              $499.80  $782.31  

Methodology: Rates are calculated for a male non-smoker obtaining a 20-year, $500,000 term life insurance policy. Quotes are based on a composite of policies from AIG, Banner, Brighthouse, Lincoln, Mutual of Omaha, Pacific Life, Protective, Prudential, SBLI, and Transamerica and may vary by carrier, term, coverage amount, health class, and state. Not all policies are available in all states. Rate illustration valid as of 10/08/2021.

The best life insurance companies for people with Crohn's disease

Having Crohn’s disease will affect your life insurance rates more severely than most other inflammatory bowel disorders (IBD). This disease leads to digestive tract inflammation and can cause fatigue, weight loss, abdominal pain, and malnutrition. But if your Crohn’s is well-managed and you don’t have any other major health concerns, you’ll likely still be able to get insured, just at a higher rate than if you didn’t have the disease. 

That’s because according to the Mayo Clinic, there’s no known cure for Crohn’s and it can lead to life-threatening health complications, including blood clots and abscesses in the intestinal wall. 

Most of our partners offer Standard or below rates to those with Crohn’s disease, but Lincoln and Transamerica tend to look more favorably at the disease when determining classifications. An APS will likely be requested if you have Crohn’s disease, regardless of which company you apply to. 

Insurance companyBest possible health classNotes                                               
Lincoln          Preferred Plus            No recent flare ups, well-controlled                
Transamerica     Standard                  Mild to moderate, depends of diagnosis date and age 

The best life insurance companies for people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is unlikely to affect your life insurance rates. It’s seen by insurers as a less serious digestive disorder because it’s fairly common and doesn’t typically lead to life-threatening complications. Most people with IBS, which affects the large intestine, are able to control the disorder with diet and lifestyle changes. But still, some insurance companies won’t offer their best rates if you have a history of IBS.

We recommend comparing quotes from AIG, Banner, Brighthouse, and SBLI, since those companies look more favorably at those with IBS. An APS will most likely be requested. 

Insurance companyBest possible health classNotes                                           
AIG              Preferred Plus            If not taking medications                       
Banner           Preferred Plus            No known complications                          
Brighthouse      Preferred Plus            No recent flare-ups, controlled with medication 
SBLI             Preferred Plus            Not symptomatic                                 

The best life insurance companies for people with ulcerative colitis

Ulcerative colitis is another type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that affects the large intestine and rectum. Similar to Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis will not affect your ability to get insurance, but only some insurers will offer competitive rates and some will not insure you due to the possibility of life-threatening complications from the disease. You’ll pay more if you’ve had recent flare-ups – including weight loss and abdominal pain – or if you aren’t able to manage your symptoms. 

Banner, Mutual of Omaha, and Pacific offer Standard Plus rates (the best you’ll find if you have ulcerative colitis). We recommend shopping around with them first to try to secure lower premiums. An APS will likely be requested, regardless of which company you apply to.

Insurance companyBest possible health classNotes
BannerStandard PlusRecent flare ups OK
Mutual of OmahaStandard PlusDiagnosis 7+ years ago, no flare ups in 5+ years, controlled with medication and diet
PacificStandard PlusMild symptoms limited to colon, no dysplasia, no extra intestinal disease, no use of steroids in 5+ years

The best life insurance companies for people with celiac disease

Life insurance shoppers with celiac disease who are following a gluten-free diet can still get competitive premiums if their condition is well-managed. Celiac disease is viewed differently by different insurers, but it’s unlikely to disqualify you from coverage. 

Celiac disease is a chronic digestive and autoimmune disorder that leads to damage in the small intestine. If untreated, it can lead to life-threatening complications, including coronary artery disease, cancer, or other autoimmune diseases like type 1 diabetes or multiple sclerosis (MS), according to the Celiac Disease Foundation

Banner, Lincoln, and SBLI offer the most affordable coverage, depending on frequency and recency of flare-ups. As with most other digestive disorders, an APS statement from your doctor will likely be requested if you have celiac disease. 

Insurance companyBest possible health classNotes                                    
Banner           Standard Plus             Stable for 5+ years, no adverse features 
Lincoln          Preferred                 No flare ups in 5+ years                 
SBLI             Preferred Plus            Depends on symptoms and management       

The best life insurance companies for people with diverticulitis

Diverticulitis is a type of diverticular disease caused by inflammation or infection in the intestines. It rarely causes life-threatening complications, so getting insured with this condition isn’t complicated and several insurance companies will offer their best possible rates if your symptoms are under control.

Brighthouse, Lincoln, Protective, and Prudential look most favorably upon those with diverticulitis. Start by comparing rates with those companies and go from there. An APS will most likely be requested.

Insurance companyBest possible health classNotes                                                                   
Brighthouse      Preferred Plus            Treated with no complications                                           
Lincoln          Preferred Plus            Controlled with diet and exercise, no medications, treated 6+ years ago 
Protective       Preferred Plus            Controlled with diet and exercise, no medications, treated 6+ years ago 
Prudential       Preferred Plus            Controlled with diet and exercise, no medications, treated 6+ years ago 

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Other life insurance options for people with digestive diseases

If you’re unable to find affordable life insurance due to complications with Crohn’s, IBS, celiac disease, diverticulitis, or ulcerative colitis, additional health conditions, or other factors, there are other options. 

Wait and reapply

If your application for life insurance was declined by the insurer, you may be able to make some lifestyle changes and reapply for coverage in the future. Many insurance companies look more favorably at those with gastrointestinal conditions who are seeking treatment, or who have their symptoms under control for five or more years. 

Group life insurance

Group life insurance won’t offer enough coverage to fully protect your family if something happens, but it’s better than having no coverage at all, so we recommend taking advantage of this perk if it’s available through your employer. Group life policies do not typically require underwriting, so even if you have a pre-existing medical condition, you can get some insurance.

→ Learn more about the different types of life insurance

For the most part, a digestive health issue will not seriously affect your ability to get life insurance. Some insurance companies might not offer their best possible premium rates, but these digestive diseases won’t prevent you from getting the financial protection you need. 

Life insurance for digestive diseases FAQs

Does COVID-19 affect the life insurance application process or eligibility?

Due to the ever-changing nature of the coronavirus pandemic, some insurers are modifying processes and/or imposing coverage restrictions on certain health conditions or age groups. Speak to a Policygenius agent for free to find out how to get the most affordable policy.

What disqualifies you from getting life insurance?

Serious, life-threatening health conditions, advanced age, and risky hobbies can all affect your ability to get life insurance.

Can you be denied life insurance for a pre-existing condition?

The milder and more well-managed your health condition, the more likely you are to get competitive coverage. If you have a chronic or pre-existing health condition that is more severe, you may not qualify for traditional life insurance.