Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is a sleep disorder.
The sufferer frequently stops breathing (apnoea) or has instances of shallow or infrequent breathing during their sleep (hypopnea).
Breathing can repeatedly stop for ten seconds and longer in extreme cases.
People with OSA experience repeated episodes of apnoea and hypopnea during the night.
The lack of oxygen causes the person to come out of deep sleep and into a lighter sleep or wakefulness period to restore breathing.
In one single night, sufferers may experience up to 350 apnoeic events.
Repeated interruptions can leave a person feeling very tired during the day.
OSA is classified minor or major depending on symptoms and response to treatment, impact on personal, work or social life and number of episodes of apnoea’s per hour
The most common sleep disorders I see in clients applying for life insurance are:
Let’s go through each one in turn.
Before I started this job, I didn’t know what sleep apnoea was.
I figured it was just a case of severe snoring.
How wrong I was.
Sleep apnoea is a serious medical condition.
There are three types of sleep apnoea:
If you have a pre-existing heath condition, the first thing we do speak to our panel of underwriters anonymously.
Discussing your medical history helps us to identify the most suitable insurer for your medical condition.
Bu doing so, you avoid applying to companies that will end up being too expensive or, worse, refuse your application.
By completing our research thoroughly, we can save time and obtain the best possible terms for you with the least hassle.
The most important factors the underwriters need at this preliminary stage are:
If an insurer believes they can offer cover, it will write to your GP for a medical report that should have your latest sleep test (polysomnography).
Your GP will also comment on whether you have followed their recommended treatment.
If you can get cover, you can expect a loading on the price of your cover due to the risk to your health.
It depends on whether your condition is mild, moderate or severe (use of a Constant Positive Air Pressure (CPAP) machine) and whether you have any associated conditions (obesity, high blood pressure, heart issues, etc.).
For mild sleep apnoea, you can expect to pay the standard price.
If yours is moderate, you will pay more.
If it’s severe, the insurer may refuse or postpone offer cover.
By how much is impossible to say.
Insomnia is a prolonged inability to sleep properly.
It’s usually associated with an underlying condition such as stress or anxiety.
The insurer will be most interested in this underlying condition.
Insomnia shouldn’t be a problem for life insurance as long as you have addressed the underlying issues causing the symptoms.
If you suffer from narcolepsy (falling asleep during the day), the biggest danger for the insurers is your risk of falling asleep while driving.
Narcolepsy will not usually affect your ability to get life cover.
But the insurers will have to rule out organic brain disease and confirm no history of injuries or accidents.
You don’t need to worry about insomnia and narcolepsy as long as there is no underlying medical condition.
But sleep apnoea is a serious condition that the insurers underwrite strictly.
As a result, if you have the condition and need life insurance, you should work closely with a specialist insurance broker.
The broker will need to have experience in finding policies for people who have the condition and know those companies with the most favourable view of applicants who have sleep apnoea.
If you have sleep apnea and attempt to get life insurance independently, you may waste a lot of time and end up with nothing but decline letters.
Previous declines will put the next insurer on alert.
Because even if the new insurer wants to offer you cover, they’ll doubt themselves due to the previous decline.
This will make it more difficult for you to get cover.
The trick is to avoid a decline by first applying to the most likely company to approve your policy.
If you’d like me to help you find the best insurer, please complete this questionnaire giving full details on the sleep disorder.
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