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Life Insurance with Cirrhosis in Canada

Life Insurance with Cirrhosis in Canada
Life Insurance with Cirrhosis in Canada

Cirrhosis is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition that can make obtaining affordable life insurance coverage more challenging for Canadian patients. However, with proper guidance, it is possible for individuals with cirrhosis to secure the protection their families need.

This guide examines how cirrhosis impacts your life insurance options in Canada, strategies for getting approved, expert tips, common barriers and solutions, pricing considerations, and answers to frequently asked questions when shopping for life insurance with cirrhosis.

Understanding Cirrhosis and Its Impact on Life Insurance in Canada

Let’s start by examining cirrhosis itself and how it affects eligibility for life insurance coverage in the Canadian marketplace.

What is Cirrhosis Exactly?

Cirrhosis is a late-stage liver disease characterized by scarring of the liver tissue, which impairs liver function. Healthy liver tissue is replaced with fibrous scar tissue, preventing the liver from performing its essential functions.

Cirrhosis has various potential causes:

  • Chronic alcoholism
  • Chronic viral hepatitis
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Genetic diseases

Cirrhosis Symptoms and Complications

As cirrhosis advances, it can cause serious complications:

  • Liver failure – the inability of the liver to perform basic functions
  • Portal hypertension – increased blood pressure in the liver’s blood vessels
  • Varices – enlarged veins that can rupture and hemorrhage
  • Ascites – fluid accumulation in the abdominal cavity
  • Hepatic encephalopathy – mental confusion from toxins in the blood
  • Liver cancer – heightened risk of HCC, which has a poor prognosis

Symptoms arising from these complications can include jaundice, fatigue, weakness, loss of appetite, nausea, itching skin, and more.

The Cirrhosis Life Expectancy Reality in Canada

The effect of cirrhosis on life expectancy depends greatly on the stage and severity of liver damage:

  • Early compensated cirrhosis: 12+ years
  • Decompensated cirrhosis: 2-5 years
  • End-stage cirrhosis: less than one year

For end-stage disease, the only life-extending option may be a liver transplant. Otherwise, the condition results in premature death.

Why Cirrhosis Makes Getting Life Insurance Harder

Given the risks of cirrhosis outlined above, Canadian life insurance companies consider the condition to be high-risk when evaluating applicants.

Issuing policies to individuals with cirrhosis poses a greater chance of higher claims and shorter premium payment periods for insurers.

As a result, applicants with cirrhosis face obstacles such as:

  • Requirement for full medical underwriting
  • Potential coverage denials
  • Higher premium rates
  • Lower maximum coverage amounts
  • Exclusions for certain complications

However, there are still avenues to gain coverage, which we will explore in this guide.

Available Types of Life Insurance with Cirrhosis in Canada

Available Types of Life Insurance with Cirrhosis in Canada
Available Types of Life Insurance with Cirrhosis in Canada

Despite the challenges, several life insurance policy types may remain open to individuals with cirrhosis in Canada.

Term Life Insurance with Cirrhosis

Term life insurance with Cirrhosis provides pure death benefit protection for a set period of time – typically 10, 20 or 30 years. It does not build cash value.

With cirrhosis, expect substantial premium increases with term life versus standard rates or potentially even denials from some insurers.

Much depends on the severity of your cirrhosis and the presence of complications. Milder stable cases have better chances. A medical exam will be required, including bloodwork and access to records.

Some policies may exclude death from direct cirrhosis complications.

Related: Term Life Insurance in Canada

Whole Life Insurance with Cirrhosis

Whole life insurance offers lifetime protection as long as premiums are paid. It also builds cash value that can be borrowed against.

Qualifying for whole life insurance with cirrhosis can be more difficult given the lifelong coverage required. Insurers may offer substandard ratings resulting in higher premiums, or decline to issue an individual policy.

A guaranteed issue whole life policy is one option that does not require a medical exam. However, the death benefit is usually limited to $25,000 or less.

Related: How Does Whole Life Insurance Work?

Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance with Cirrhosis

Guaranteed issue life insurance does not require any medical questions or exams. It provides a limited amount of coverage to high-risk applicants.

Typical policy features include:

  • Coverages between $10,000 to $25,000
  • Much higher premiums than medically underwritten insurance
  • No health questions asked

For those who declined regular coverage, guaranteed issue acts as a last resort option with some basic coverage.

Group Life Insurance with Cirrhosis

Group life insurance from an employer normally provides a death benefit of 1-2x your salary.

Benefits include:

  • No medical underwriting is required in most cases
  • Premiums paid by employer

The downsides are lower policy amounts and loss of coverage if you change jobs. It’s not portable.

Having some group insurance is wise, but consider supplementing with higher individual coverage.

Alternatives to Traditional Life Insurance with Cirrhosis for Canadian Patients

Along with regular life insurance, those with cirrhosis could explore these alternative products for added financial protection:

Accelerated Death Benefit Riders

Some life insurance policies offer an accelerated death benefit rider, allowing you to access a % of the death benefit if diagnosed as terminal. Depending on the severity of liver disease, cirrhosis may potentially qualify to trigger this payout option before passing to help cover medical costs. It reduces the remainder of the death benefit.

Living Benefits & Critical Illness Insurance

These policies pay out a lump sum if diagnosed with a major specified disease like cancer, stroke or heart attack. Some may include liver failure or end-stage cirrhosis as triggering events. This cash injection could assist with medical bills or daily living expenses.

Disability Insurance

Since severe cirrhosis can prevent you from working, having disability coverage to replace lost income for a period of time can be a wise financial cushion. The premiums are based on your type of occupation and benefit amount, not your health.

Read more: Life Insurance for High Risk Occupations in Canada

Strategies for Qualifying for Life Insurance with Cirrhosis in Canada

Strategies for Qualifying for Life Insurance with Cirrhosis in Canada
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Strategies for Qualifying for Life Insurance with Cirrhosis in Canada

Qualifying for individual life insurance with a cirrhosis diagnosis in Canada requires smart strategic planning.

Timing Matters – Apply Sooner Than Later

There is often a narrow window after initial diagnosis where your health is most stable before progression. Applying during this period can mean better chances of approval with milder ratings. Don’t wait until your condition becomes severe.

Be Meticulously Thorough Disclosing Health History

Failing to disclose your cirrhosis or related medical history constitutes fraud and will lead to denied claims later. Insurance firms will access all your records, so total transparency is mandatory.

Highlight Any Positive Health Factors

If your overall health is good aside from liver problems, highlight positives like low cholesterol, no diabetes, physical fitness, etc. This can help try to offset the negative cirrhosis impact.

Work Exclusively With a Specialized Broker

Having an expert broker experienced in impaired risk conditions shop your case across multiple insurers is invaluable. They have insider knowledge of the most cirrhosis-friendly underwriters.

Apply to At Least 5 Different Insurance Companies

Every insurer has unique risk appetite. Widening the net and applying to several providers enhances odds of approval with one. The volume of applications boosts the success rate. Some of the major life insurers in Canada are Manulife, Industrial Alliance, Canada Life, RBC Insurance, Assumption Life, etc.

Consider Enrolling in Support Programs

Participating in alcohol or drug treatment programs demonstrates you’re actively managing the disease. This can demonstrate reduced risk to underwriters.

Prepare for Lengthy Underwriting Period

The underwriting process typically takes 2 to 3 months for cirrhosis cases versus a few weeks for standard applicants. There are extra medical inquiries and scrutiny.

Be Ready to Pay Higher Rates

Expect to pay elevated premiums in line with your risk profile. Higher substandard rating classes are typical. This is better than no coverage if declined.

Add Expert Endorsement Letters If Denied

Supplying letters from specialist doctors confirming regular monitoring and stable status may help reverse initial declinations during policy appeals.

Review All Aspects of Offer Carefully

Scrutinize the coverage amounts, premiums, exclusions, timeframes and other policy details before accepting. Ask your broker to negotiate any unsatisfactory clauses.

Why Canadian Patients Still Need Life Insurance with Cirrhosis

Some may question whether life insurance is worthwhile if facing a chronic liver disease. However, protecting loved ones from financial hardship remains crucial, even with health issues.

Consider common reasons Canadians with cirrhosis look to secure coverage:

  • Dependent children – Provide for minors’ future costs in case of premature death from complications
  • Debt repayment – Pay off mortgages, lines of credit and other obligations so as not to pass them to family
  • Final expenses – Cover end-of-life medical and funeral costs to avoid burdening relatives
  • Spousal income replacement – Replace lost income from the primary breadwinner for a stay-at-home spouse
  • Business protection – Fund buy-sell agreements to transfer ownership interest to partners
  • Estate taxes – Pay substantial taxes on assets passed on to beneficiaries
  • Charitable giving – Donate policy death benefit to a cause you care about

Never Decline an Approved Policy Due to High Premiums: Even with higher rates, some coverage is better than declining. Rates based on your risk profile are fair. There are no guarantees you’ll remain insurable later as the disease progresses.

Typical Decline Reasons and Solutions for Life Insurance with Cirrhosis

Common reasons for being declined for life insurance with cirrhosis include:

Cirrhosis FactorPotential Solution
Advanced (decompensated) cirrhosisComplete treatment program; prove longer-term sobriety
Liver enzymes are severely abnormalControl these issues optimally; highlight stability
Multiple other health conditionsImprove diet, fitness, alcohol/drug factors within your control
Alcohol abuse as causeReduce alcohol drug intake; follow specialist’s advice
Daily high-risk behaviorsRoutine testing: explain any fluctuations
Non-compliance with medical careShow commitment to monitoring and care plan
Apply earlier at initial diagnosis before the progressionRoutine testing; explain any fluctuations

Work closely with your doctor to stabilize controllable factors before applying. Supply supporting data to address any denial rationales.

What Affects the Costs of Life Insurance with Cirrhosis in Canada

What Affects the Costs of Life Insurance with Cirrhosis in Canada
What Affects the Costs of Life Insurance with Cirrhosis in Canada

Cirrhosis often leads to increased premium costs for life insurance compared to standard applicants. Key factors determining your rates include:

  • Age – Older applicants generally pay more for coverage
  • Stage of cirrhosis – Early stable disease can mean lower rates versus advanced
  • Presence of complications – Varices, ascites, etc., increase mortality risk factors and premiums
  • Liver enzymes – Abnormalities signal liver damage; affect underwriting
  • Treatment compliance – Following your doctor’s advice helps demonstrate lower risk
  • Overall health – Good physical shape can help counterbalance cirrhosis impact
  • Type of policy – Term, whole life, group, guaranteed issue, etc. have varying costs

To illustrate potential pricing outcomes, here are sample monthly premiums for a $500,000 10-year term policy for a 40-year-old:

Health RatingSample Monthly Premium
Standard policy~$30
Table 2 (200% rating)~$60
Table 4 (400% rating)~$120

Typically, expect ratings from Table 2 to Table 6 (500% of standard premiums), depending on your conditions. A decline is also possible if it is too high.

Expect the application process to take longer and involve more medical scrutiny when applying for life insurance with cirrhosis.

Typical steps include:

  • Meeting with a broker to discuss needs & history
  • Completing an in-depth application questionnaire
  • Scheduling a medical and paramedical exam
  • Having exams and bloodwork done by a nurse at your home
  • Authorizing access to your medical records
  • Potentially undergoing other testing if abnormalities are found
  • Participating in an extensive interview about lifestyle factors
  • Waiting for the underwriter’s decision, which takes longer than normal
  • Possibly appealing and overturning an initial decline with new information
  • Reviewing multiple policy offers and selecting the best option
  • Satisfying any remaining underwriting requirements
  • Paying your first premium to put coverage into effect

This lengthy process requires patience, but it is necessary for insurers to assess your cirrhosis prognosis fully when considering high-risk coverage.

Where to Purchase Life Insurance with Cirrhosis in Canada

You have several options when it comes to where to apply for life insurance with cirrhosis in Canada:

  • Independent brokers – Recommended route. Brokers can shop your case to multiple insurers and advocate for you through the underwriting process. Look for a brokerage experienced in impaired risk conditions.
  • Insurance company websites – You can apply directly via an insurer’s website. Drawback is lack of human guidance.
  • Agents – Some independent agents have useful relationships with specific insurance firm underwriters amenable to conditions like cirrhosis.
  • Online quote platforms – Quote portals like and Kanetix provide rate comparisons but lack agent support. Better to speak directly with a broker.

The best advice is to leverage an experienced independent broker acting on your behalf. Their expertise and access to the most cirrhosis-friendly carriers are invaluable.

Steps for Making a Life Insurance Claim with Cirrhosis

If an insured with cirrhosis passes away while covered, beneficiaries can make a claim by:

  • Contacting the insurance company promptly after death occurs
  • Completing the required claimant paperwork
  • Providing a certified death certificate
  • Supplying records demonstrating policy status and premiums paid
  • Answering any questions the insurer has throughout the claim review
  • Awaiting claim decision and payment (typically within 1-2 weeks)

As long as the policyholder disclosed their cirrhosis properly during underwriting and kept premiums current, the death benefit payout should proceed normally as with standard policies after validating details.

Having copies of policy documents and knowing insurer contacts ahead of time facilitates faster processing for beneficiaries during an already difficult period.

Expert Tips for Finding Affordable Life Insurance with Cirrhosis

Follow these tips from top brokers to secure the most affordable life insurance policy with cirrhosis:

  • Shop many insurers – Apply to at least 6-8 companies for the best selection
  • Split benefits – Divide total coverage needed between 2 policies at different insurers to decrease risk
  • Pay annually – Paying premiums annually rather than monthly can mean discounts
  • Review declines – Carefully examine decline reasons; correct any controllable factors
  • Improve health – Optimize diet, exercise, and alcohol use to stabilize liver prognosis
  • Time applications – Apply after a period of treatment compliance and improved lab results
  • Consider group insurance – Combine group life with lower individual coverage amounts
  • Appeal denials – Supply specialist letters affirming health vigilance to help overturn declines
  • Review exclusions – Ensure any coverage exclusions are acceptable for your needs
  • Leverage competition – Have your broker play insurers against each other to get the best offers

Cirrhosis is considered a pre-existing condition for life insurance applicants. Other diagnoses like Brain Cancer, Lung Cancer, Breast Cancer, Cerebral Palsy, Rheumatoid Arthritis, etc can also negatively impact your eligibility and rates. More aggressive conditions often lower your chances of approval. Refer to these articles for Strategies for securing favorable life insurance with pre-existing conditions in Canada:

Takeaway Tips for Purchasing Life Insurance with Cirrhosis in Canada

In summary, here are key tips Canadian cirrhosis patients should keep in mind when navigating life insurance:

  • Disclose your condition upfront and fully to avoid declined claims later
  • Apply earlier when your health is more stable, if possible
  • Be ready to pay higher premium rates depending on your risk factors
  • Work exclusively with a broker experienced in impaired risk cases
  • Explore all available types of policies – term, whole, group, guaranteed issue
  • Compare multiple insurers since risk appetite varies
  • Consider alternative solutions like living benefits or disability insurance
  • Focus on policies with the best value, not just the lowest premiums alone
  • Appeal denials aggressively with medical endorsements of your health
  • Remember, some coverage is better than none – don’t decline due to cost

Despite challenges, with proper guidance, it is possible to gain coverage for life insurance with cirrhosis in Canada. An experienced broker is key to navigating the process.

Ready to start your life insurance quote? Get an instant quote now from Life Buzz and see your options.

With 20 Top Life Insurance Companies in Canada on our panel plus access to specialized impaired risk carriers, Lifebuzz can help cirrhosis patients access the most suitable policies for their needs. Don’t wait – get a free personalized quote today!

Frequently Asked Questions about Life Insurance with Cirrhosis

See below for answers to some top questions about life insurance with cirrhosis in Canada:

Can I get approved for life insurance with cirrhosis?

Yes, you can get approved but expect higher premiums and difficulty with some types of policies depending on severity. Guaranteed issue life insurance is also an option if declined elsewhere.

How much more will life insurance with cirrhosis cost if I have cirrhosis?

Expect to pay higher premiums, likely with a rating such as Table 2 (200% of standard rates) or Table 4 (400% of standard rates), depending on your health.

Is it better to apply for life insurance with cirrhosis through an agent or insurance company?

Agents and brokers can shop your case to multiple insurers and advocate for you. Direct applicants lack guidance. Independent brokers offer the best experience.

What if I'm declined for life insurance with cirrhosis - should I reapply later?

If declined, correct any controllable health factors and reapply after 6-12 months. Also appeal the decline with doctor letters affirming health improvements.

Can I get permanent insurance, such as whole life insurance with cirrhosis?

It will be very difficult and expensive. Declines are common except in very mild cases. Guaranteed issue whole life is an alternative for basic coverage.

What are my alternative options if I have been denied life insurance with cirrhosis?

If denied traditional coverage, guaranteed issue and group life insurance are options. You may also reapply later if health improves. Reduce controllable risk factors that caused the denial.

Should I wait to apply for life insurance if I was recently diagnosed with cirrhosis?

It's typically best to apply sooner than later, as long as your cirrhosis is stable. Rates may be lower earlier on versus years later when disease has progressed.

Can I still get life insurance with cirrhosis if I have other health conditions?

Yes, but it will be more difficult if you have multiple conditions. Improving diet, exercise, and alcohol use can help stabilize overall health. Highlight improvements to insurers.

Can my individual life insurance with cirrhosis be cancelled if my cirrhosis worsens?

No, deterioration of health does not allow insurers to cancel your individual policy as long as you pay premiums. Make sure to disclose changes.

Are there any discounts available for life insurance with cirrhosis?

Unlike standard policies, those with cirrhosis generally won't qualify for discounts on premiums unfortunately. The increased risk prevents special pricing. However, paying annually rather than monthly may save a little, and improving health factors could help over time.

Can I get life insurance with cirrhosis if I have a liver transplant?

Yes, it is possible to get life insurance after a liver transplant, but the timing matters. Wait at least 12-24 months after transplant when your health is more stable. Insurance companies will still consider you high-risk. Having an experienced broker to help navigate the underwriting process is key.

What causes a life insurance application with cirrhosis to be denied?

Common reasons for denial include late-stage severe cirrhosis, the presence of major complications like varices/ascites/encephalopathy, abnormal liver enzymes, multiple comorbid conditions, continued alcohol abuse, failure to follow treatment protocols, advanced age and other major risks.

Can I appeal if my application for life insurance with cirrhosis is denied?

Yes, a broker can file an appeal if your application is declined. Supplying updated medical records showing health improvements and doctor letters affirming your compliance with care is key. The insurer will re-review your case and may overturn the initial decision with new details.

What medical tests are required when applying for life insurance with cirrhosis?

Expect medical requirements like a paramed exam, bloodwork, liver enzyme test, potentially a liver biopsy, release of your medical records, a telephone interview, and other requirements based on your condition's severity. Insurers will thoroughly investigate your health.

Article Sources:

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Written by Ben Nguyen

Ben Nguyen is an award-winning insurance expert and industry veteran with over 20 years of experience. He is the chairman and director of IDC Insurance Direct Canada Inc., one of Canada's leading online insurance brokerages.

Ben is renowned for his extensive knowledge of life, health, disability, and travel insurance products. He is the prolific author of over 1,000 educational articles published on LifeBuzz, BestInsuranceOnline, and InsuranceDirectCanada. His articles provide Canadians with advice on making smart insurance decisions.

With a Bachelor's degree in Actuarial Science and a Fellow of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries (FCIA) designation, Ben is frequently interviewed by media as an insurance industry spokesperson.

He has received numerous honors including the Insurance Council of Canada’s Pivotal Leadership Award, the Canadian Insurance Hall of Fame induction, and the President’s Medal from the Canadian Institute of Actuaries.

Ben continues to shape the vision and strategy of IDC Insurance Direct as chairman. He is dedicated to advancing the insurance industry through his insightful leadership.

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