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Life Insurance for Someone with Ephysema (COPD)


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Life insurance and mortgage protection are important financial safeguards for anyone, but if you have respiratory issues such as COPD or emphysema, you may be concerned about your ability to get affordable coverage.

Fortunately, there are options available that can provide you with the protection you need.

What is COPD?


COPD stands for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.

It’s a common condition that affects more than 380,000 people in Ireland.

COPD includes chronic bronchitis, emphysema, or a combination of both conditions.

Can you get Life Insurance or Mortgage Protection with COPD?

The good news is that even with respiratory issues, it’s still possible to get life insurance or mortgage protection coverage.

However, the cost and availability of coverage can depend on the severity of your condition.

How Do Insurers Differentiate Mild, Moderate and Severe COPD?

The insurance providers follow the GOLD Criteria:

GOLD 1 – mild: FEV1 ≥80% predicted
GOLD 2 – moderate: 50% ≤ FEV1 <80% predicted
GOLD 3 – severe: 30% ≤ FEV1 <50% predicted
GOLD 4 – very severe: FEV1 <30% predicted.

Both life insurance and mortgage protection should be available if your COPD is classed as mild or moderate (GOLD 1 or 2 above).

Cover may be possible for GOLD 3 but all of the insurers will decline someone who has progressed to GOLD 4.

Life Insurance and COPD

When it comes to life insurance, insurers typically classify COPD as mild, moderate, or severe based on factors such as the frequency and severity of symptoms, the need for medication or oxygen, and any lung function tests you’ve had.

  • Mild: Up to two attacks per year, usually in winter, with little or no breathlessness except on strenuous exertion. No clinical abnormalities between attacks except for smoker’s cough.
  • Moderate: Recurrent exacerbations in summer and winter. Shortness of breath on moderate exertion. Symptoms are continuous.
  • Severe: Continual symptoms with prominent cough and wheeze. Shortness of breath on minimal activity. Substantial time off work.

If you have mild COPD, you may be able to get coverage at standard rates.

However, you can expect to pay a loading if you have moderate COPD.

For severe COPD, life insurance is unlikely.

Mortgage protection and COPD

If you’re getting a mortgage, you’ll need a plan to protect the bank if something happens to you.

Mortgage protection is what the banks need.

As with life insurance, the availability and cost of coverage for mortgage protection can depend on the severity of your COPD.

What factors do insurers consider when underwriting Life Insurance or Mortgage Protection for someone with COPD?


When underwriting coverage for someone with respiratory issues like COPD, insurers will examine several factors, including:

The severity of your condition:

The insurer will consider the stage of your COPD and whether you smoke or have any other medical conditions.

Your age:

Age is a crucial factor in determining the cost of your coverage. The younger you are, the higher your premium will be.

Your overall health:

Insurers will examine your overall health, including any medications you’re taking, your BMI, and whether you have a family history of respiratory issues.

Your lifestyle:

Insurers will also consider your lifestyle, including whether you smoke, drink, or participate in risky activities.

How can you improve your chances of getting affordable coverage?

If you have respiratory issues and want to get affordable coverage, there are several steps you can take:

  1. Work with a broker specialising in high-risk coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.
  2. Be honest about your condition and provide as much information as possible when applying for coverage.
  3. Take steps to improve your overall health, such as quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, and following your doctor’s treatment plan.
  4. Consider applying for coverage when your condition is stable or has improved.
  5. Shop around and compare policies from multiple insurers to find the best coverage at the most affordable price.

Can you get Income Protection with COPD?

Income protection coverage can be more difficult to obtain if you have COPD, particularly if your condition is severe or irreversible.

However, if you have mild or moderate COPD and have been a non-smoker for at least two years, you may be able to get income protection coverage with a respiratory illness exclusion.

Income protection will provide you with a regular income if you cannot work due to illness or injury and can help ensure you can pay your bills and maintain your standard of living.

Case Study: John, a 55-year-old smoker with mild COPD


John is a married father of two who works as a construction worker. He was concerned about his ability to get life insurance or mortgage protection coverage due to his mild COPD and smoking habit.

After reviewing John’s medical history and lifestyle, we learned that

  • He was diagnosed with COPD two years ago
  • Had been smoking for 30 years.
  • John’s COPD was classified as mild.
  • He was taking medication to manage his symptoms.
  • He also had high blood pressure and was overweight.

Thankfully, his pulmonary function tests were good, and there was no damage to his lungs.

We helped John find a policy that provided him with the coverage he needed at a price he could afford.

Because of his mild COPD and smoking habit, John’s premiums were substantially higher than the normal price.

If he quits smoking and reduces his BMI, he can reapply in twelve months to secure a lower price.

With our assistance, John was able to secure the coverage he needed to protect his family and his home.

He was grateful for our help and appreciated our personalised approach to finding him coverage that fit his unique needs and circumstances.

How much is Mortgage Protection with COPD or Emphysema?

If you have mild COPD and are under 45 years old, you could expect to pay a premium increase of 150%,

Let’s say the normal price for your cover is €40 per month

The loading of 150% would bring your premium to €100 (€40 x 1.5 = €60 + €40 = €100).

If you are over 45 years old, you could expect a premium increase of 100%, bringing your premium to €80 (€40 x 1.0 = €40 + €40 = €80).

It’s important to note that these are estimates and that the actual cost of coverage can vary depending on factors such as the insurer, the severity of your COPD, and your overall health and lifestyle.

Over to you

When it comes to getting life insurance or mortgage protection if you have COPD, it’s important to understand that different insurance providers may take different approaches to underwriting coverage.

Insurer A may add a loading of 100%, while insurer B may add 150%, and insurer C may add 200%. This means depending on your chosen insurer; you could pay significantly more for your coverage.

To illustrate this point, let’s say that the normal premium for a life insurance policy is €40.

If you choose Insurer A, with a loading of 100%, your premium will increase to €80 per month. Over a 15-year policy, this would add up to €14,400 in additional costs.

If you choose Insurer B, with a loading of 150%, your premium will increase to €100 per month, or €18,000 in additional costs over 15 years.

And if you choose Insurer C, with a loading of 200%, your premium would increase to €120 per month, or €21,600 in additional costs over 15 years.

Clearly, choosing the wrong insurer can result in you paying through the nose for your policy.

That’s why it’s important to work with a specialist broker ?who can help you find the best coverage at the most affordable price.

By shopping around and comparing policies from multiple insurers, we can find the coverage you need without breaking the bank.

If you’d like my help, complete this questionnaire, and I’ll be right back to you over email.

Thanks for reading

Nick | Protection Broker of the Year ?

This blog was first published in 2017, and we have regularly updated it.

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