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Life Insurance with Rheumatoid Arthritis in Canada

Life Insurance with Rheumatoid Arthritis in Canada
Life Insurance with Rheumatoid Arthritis in Canada

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is the most common inflammatory autoimmune arthritis, affecting thousands of Canadians. It causes joint destruction, pain, and disability in severe cases. For those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, obtaining life insurance may seem challenging.

The good news is that many affordable policy options exist to ensure you and your family’s financial security.

In this article, we examine rheumatoid arthritis and life insurance in-depth from a Canadian perspective. Continue reading for insights to help you gain optimal coverage for your life insurance with rheumatoid arthritis.

Understanding Rheumatoid Arthritis in Canada

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic systemic disease where the immune system attacks the joints, leading to swelling, stiffness, and joint erosion over time.

Key Facts on RA in Canada

  • Impacts approximately 1% of Canadian adults. [1]
  • Twice as many women as men
  • Usually occurs between 30-50 years of age. [2]
  • Causes billions in direct healthcare costs annually
  • Leading cause of disability in Canada

(source: [1]

While some experience mild symptoms, rheumatoid arthritis can progress and become severe, causing significant joint damage and mobility limitations. Early diagnosis and treatment provide the best outlook.

Diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Doctors diagnose rheumatoid arthritis based on symptoms, physical examination of joints, and certain diagnostic tests. These may include:

  • Blood tests checking for autoantibodies like rheumatoid factor (RF) and anti-CCP.
  • Imaging such as X-rays, ultrasounds, and MRIs to assess joint damage.
  • Analysis of joint fluid for inflammation.

Once diagnosed, rheumatologists grade the condition as mild, moderate or severe based on symptoms, disease progression, and lab results.

Types of Life Insurance with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Canadians with rheumatoid arthritis have several life insurance options:

Term Life Insurance with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Term life insurance with Rheumatoid Arthritis is among the two types of life insurance policies with Rheumatoid Arthritis. It provides pure death benefit protection for a set period, like 10 or 20 years. It does not have a savings or cash value component. Term policies are affordable, and premiums remain level for the initial term before increasing if renewed.

This can be an excellent choice to cover needs like mortgages, debts, and your family’s future income replacement if you pass away prematurely. Even though premiums are typically higher for those with RA, term life still offers protection at a reasonable cost.

Related: Pros and Cons of Term Life Insurance

Permanent Life Insurance with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Whole life insurance and Universal life insurance are types of permanent life insurance with Rheumatoid Arthritis. They offer lifelong coverage along with tax-advantaged savings that grow cash value. The death benefit and premiums are guaranteed for life.

Permanent policies tend to be more expensive overall than term insurance. However, they remain in effect beyond the term length, offer living benefits through withdrawals and loans, and gain cash value over time that can be borrowed against.

No Medical Exam Life Insurance with Rheumatoid Arthritis

For Canadians with advanced rheumatoid arthritis who get declined for traditional coverage, no medical exam life insurance provides an option.

This guaranteed issue or simplified issue plan skips the health questions and medical tests, making approval much easier. The trade-off is higher premiums and lower benefit maximums. Still, they offer some coverage when regular life insurance is unavailable.

Working with an experienced life insurance advisor can help you navigate the choices available based on your health profile and needs.

How Canadian Life Insurers Evaluate Life Insurance with Rheumatoid Arthritis

How Canadian Life Insurers Evaluate Life Insurance with Rheumatoid Arthritis
How Canadian Life Insurers Evaluate Life Insurance with Rheumatoid Arthritis

When reviewing applications, insurers analyze many aspects of an individual’s rheumatoid arthritis profile, including:

Date of Initial RA Diagnosis

The longer one has rheumatoid arthritis, the more likely progressive joint destruction and co-morbidities may develop over time. Recently diagnosed cases have a more favourable prognosis.

Time Since Last RA Flare-Up

The frequency of symptomatic inflammatory flares indicates active rheumatoid disease. Infrequent or no recent flares are better from an insurance risk perspective.

Medications Used to Treat RA

The use of stronger medications like biologics, steroids, and DMARDs indicates a more serious disease. Milder cases may be controlled with NSAIDs and rest during flares.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Lab Test Results

Insurers review diagnostic lab tests for markers of inflammation and autoantibodies associated with rheumatoid arthritis, including:

  • Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR)
  • C-reactive protein (CRP)
  • Rheumatoid factor (RF)

Disability and Loss of Function

The level of joint damage, pain, and loss of mobility guides insurers on mortality risk and life expectancy. Minimal impairment and maintained independence are preferred.

Physician Specialist Care

Seeing a rheumatologist regularly demonstrates appropriate care. Lack of specialist follow-up raises concerns of poorly controlled disease.

Other Associated Health Conditions

RA can lead to issues like heart disease and lung disease over time. Co-existing medical problems must be factored into overall risk.

Considering these factors, insurers classify RA severity when making underwriting and pricing determinations.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Classifications for Life Insurance Purposes

Insurers categorize the severity of rheumatoid arthritis cases based on symptoms, treatment response, disability levels, and other clinical findings:

Mild Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • Symptoms controlled by NSAIDs and rest
  • No deformity or disability
  • Normal or slightly elevated inflammatory markers
  • Rheumatoid factor negative
  • No radiographic joint damage

Moderate Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • Intermittent flares requiring steroids or DMARDs
  • Detectable joint damage on X-rays
  • Rheumatoid factor positive with moderately high levels
  • Some disability but maintain independence

Severe Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • High disease activity and treatment resistance
  • Markedly elevated inflammatory blood markers
  • Significant joint destruction and deformity
  • Major disability with loss of function
  • Reduced life expectancy

These classifications guide insurers on mortality risk, which impacts eligibility and pricing.

What Affects The Approval Rates of Life Insurance with Rheumatoid Arthritis in Canada

What Affects The Approval Rates of Life Insurance with Rheumatoid Arthritis in Canada
life buzz quote in canada new 8 1
What Affects The Approval Rates of Life Insurance with Rheumatoid Arthritis in Canada

Rheumatoid arthritis can make getting approved for life insurance more challenging. Insurers must thoroughly assess the added mortality risks associated with RA when evaluating applications.

Factors that influence eligibility and rates include:

  • Duration of disease – The longer someone has lived with rheumatoid arthritis, the more likely joint and organ damage may occur over time. Recently diagnosed cases have a more positive prognosis overall.
  • The severity of symptoms – Mild and well-managed RA has a lower impact than moderate or severe cases with frequent inflammatory flares and treatment resistance.
  • Level of disability – The loss of mobility and impact on independent living affect insurers’ views of morbidity risk. Minimal impairment is preferred.
  • Medications – Use of drugs like steroids, DMARDs and biologics indicates more serious rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Presence of co-morbidities – RA can lead to other issues like cardiovascular or lung disease that raise risks.
  • Age and lifestyle – Younger applicants with otherwise healthy lifestyles get better rates.

While eligibility for traditional fully underwritten life insurance diminishes as rheumatoid arthritis advances, alternatives like guaranteed issue policies without medical exams provide options for coverage.

Impact of Rheumatoid Arthritis Severity on Life Insurance Costs

On average, here is how rheumatoid arthritis severity influences life insurance premium rates in Canada:

RA SeverityEstimation of Average Rate Increase
Mild0 – 50%
Moderate50 – 200%
Severe100 – 200% (if approved)

For example, applicants with mild rheumatoid arthritis may pay $15 – $35 more in monthly premiums for $500,000 of 20-year term life insurance compared to healthy individuals. Those with moderate RA could pay $40 – $100 more monthly for the same coverage.

Of course, many other factors beyond RA severity also determine policy pricing, like age, gender, lifestyle, and additional pre-existing conditions present.

Getting Coverage with Moderate to Severe Rheumatoid Arthritis

If declined for regular life insurance, below are options those with more advanced rheumatoid arthritis have to gain some coverage:

  • Guaranteed issue life insurance – Offers a small death benefit (typically $25k – $50k) without any medical questions.
  • Simplified issue life insurance – Provides up to $500k of coverage with limited health questions but no exam.
  • Group life insurance – Check availability through employers or associations. Simplified underwriting.
  • Spousal life insurance – A healthy spouse applies for coverage with you as a beneficiary.
  • Critical illness insurance – Provides a lump sum if diagnosed with certain serious conditions.
  • Mortgage life insurance – Offers tax-free payment to cover an outstanding mortgage balance.

While having limited benefits, these solutions offer some layer of financial protection when regular life insurance is unavailable.

How To Apply for Life Insurance with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Here are the steps to take when applying for life insurance with rheumatoid arthritis:

  1. Compare quotes – Get estimated rates from multiple insurers to find affordable options. This shows what’s realistically available based on your RA.
  2. Choose policy benefits & terms – Select appropriate death benefits, terms like 10, 20 or 30 years for needs like final expenses and income replacement. For permanent insurance, choose cash value accumulation options.
  3. Complete application fully – Disclose medical history, doctors, medications, and lab results. Attempting to hide RA severity leads to problems. Transparency gets you the right policy.
  4. Authorize access to records – Sign release forms for insurers to obtain medical records, lab results, and statements from treating physicians. Speeds underwriting.
  5. Complete exam & testing – If required, schedule any needed paramedical exam or medical tests. Typically, it includes a blood draw.
  6. Respond to additional questions – Reply timely if underwriters require clarification or additional details on your RA treatment and prognosis.
  7. Pay premiums once approved – Regularly pay premiums on time once the policy is issued to maintain coverage. Non-payment leads to lapses.

Following these steps helps secure life insurance tailored to your rheumatoid arthritis situation. Having an experienced independent broker assists in simplifying the complex application process.

How to Get Affordable Life Insurance with Rheumatoid Arthritis

How to Get Affordable Life Insurance with Rheumatoid Arthritis
How to Get Affordable Life Insurance with Rheumatoid Arthritis

While rheumatoid arthritis increases premiums, here are tips to secure the most affordable coverage possible:

Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

Sticking to regular activity, eating a nutritious diet, maintaining a healthy body weight, and not smoking can help minimize symptoms and progression.

Treat Early and Consistently

Preventing escalation and further joint damage through early treatment provides a better prognosis to insurers.

Apply During Periods of Low Disease Activity

Avoid applying right after a major flare. Wait until symptoms are well controlled during the current treatment.

Compare Quotes

Rates can vary widely between insurers. Get quotes from at least five carriers.

Adjust Policy Length or Benefit Amount

Consider longer terms like 20 or 30 years or slightly lower death benefits to reduce premiums.

Work with an Experienced Broker

A broker well-versed in higher-risk life insurance can identify the best options for your situation.

Taking proactive measures allows for securing the most favourable rates available for your life insurance with rheumatoid arthritis.

Alternatives to Life Insurance with Rheumatoid Arthritis for Canadians

In addition to traditional life insurance, those with rheumatoid arthritis have supplementary options including:

Critical Illness Insurance

Provides a lump sum payment if diagnosed with certain severe conditions. Some insurers include rheumatoid arthritis as a partial payout illness. Helpful to offset increased healthcare costs.

Disability Insurance

Replaces a portion of income lost if unable to work due to injury or sickness. Can provide vital financial assistance if RA forces stop work.

Extended Medical Insurance

Helps pay for medications, equipment, therapies and services not covered by government plans. Reduces out-of-pocket treatment expenses.

Employer Group Insurance

Many employers offer group life, disability, and critical illness plans with simplified underwriting. Group insurance costs less than individual policies.

A prudent strategy combines individual life insurance with these additional solutions to build a robust financial safety net.

Where To Buy Life Insurance with Rheumatoid Arthritis in Canada

You have several options to purchase life insurance coverage with rheumatoid arthritis in Canada:

  • Independent brokers – Brokers like LifeBuzz shop rates with multiple insurers to get you the best deal. They simplify purchasing insurance for health conditions.
  • Life Insurance Companies – Directly contact insurers like Manulife, Sun Life, Canada Life, and Industrial Alliance. Get quotes from several to compare.
  • Online marketplaces – Services like PolicyMe and let you compare rates from different companies online.
  • Banks – Major Bank-owned insurers like RBC Insurance, TD Insurance, Scotia Insurance, and BMO may offer discounts if you have accounts there.
  • Group plans – Check coverage available from employer or professional/alumni associations. Offer simplified underwriting.

We recommend starting your search with an experienced independent broker working with high-risk cases. They have the expertise to identify your most affordable options.

Related: How to Find the Best Life Insurance Broker in Canada?

How To File A Claim on Life Insurance with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Filing a life insurance claim with rheumatoid arthritis involves:

  • Notification – Beneficiaries or executors should notify the insurer ASAP after the policyholder’s passing by calling them directly.
  • Forms completion – The insurer provides claim forms to be filled out by beneficiaries with details on the death, policy, and payment methods.
  • Documentation – Supply certified death certificates, medical records related to RA diagnosis and treatments, and any other requested documents.
  • Investigation – The insurer thoroughly reviews claim info, checks for potential exclusions, ensures the policy is in force, and requests further details from doctors if needed.
  • Payment – Once approved, the insurer issues the tax-free death benefit payment to designated beneficiaries, usually within 1-2 months from filing. For term policies, coverage ends.

Having an advisor assist with the claims process makes it easier for beneficiaries. The goal is providing the insurer everything needed for timely processing.

In addition to Rheumatoid Arthritis, frequent health conditions influencing your odds of being approved for life insurance are Brain Cancer, Lung Cancer, Breast Cancer, Testicular Cancer, Cervical Cancer, etc. Refer to these articles to learn Life Insurance with Pre-Existing Conditions in Canada:

Takeaway Points

While rheumatoid arthritis poses some challenges for qualifying for traditional life insurance in Canada, viable options exist to gain affordable coverage at competitive rates.

Working with an experienced broker simplifies navigating choices to find optimal insurance protection tailored to your unique situation.

At Life Buzz, our dedicated advisors provide customized policy recommendations for Canadians with all levels of rheumatoid arthritis. Contact us today to receive expert guidance in securing the life insurance coverage you need.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Life Insurance with Rheumatoid Arthritis

How early should I apply for life insurance with rheumatoid arthritis in Canada?

It's recommended to apply for coverage as soon as possible after being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis while still categorized as mild. This maximizes your chances of approval at affordable premium rates before progression or complications occur. Delaying application until RA becomes advanced can jeopardize eligibility.

Can I qualify for preferred rates on life insurance with rheumatoid arthritis in Canada?

Preferred premium ratings like "preferred plus" are very unlikely with rheumatoid arthritis. However, those with exceptionally mild, stable, and well-controlled rheumatoid arthritis may possibly qualify for standard rates with an insurer more favourable towards RA cases.

What medical information is required when applying for life insurance with rheumatoid arthritis in Canada?

You'll need to provide details on diagnosis, rheumatologist visit history, medications tried, latest blood tests showing inflammation markers, any joint imaging, treatment response and level of physical disability. You'll also sign record release forms enabling insurer access.

If I'm on disability assistance, can I still qualify for life insurance with rheumatoid arthritis in Canada?

Yes, personal life insurance is still an option when receiving provincial disability payments related to rheumatoid arthritis. Overall policy amounts available may be limited by income constraints. Guaranteed issue policies without medical underwriting are also feasible.

What is the claim payout amount on life insurance for rheumatoid arthritis in Canada?

The claim payout is simply the full death benefit amount specified in the policy, identical as for any other cause of death. With individual life insurance, the specific cause of death does not influence the claim amount paid.

Can I apply for life insurance with rheumatoid arthritis right after being diagnosed in Canada?

It's optimal to apply immediately after an RA diagnosis rather than postponing the application. Quickly obtaining coverage ensures you lock in approval at the most affordable premium rates possible before any progression or complications arise.

Are certain occupations restricted from getting life insurance with rheumatoid arthritis in Canada?

High-risk jobs like firefighting, law enforcement, construction, and aviation may be difficult if rheumatoid arthritis impairment or medications interfere with safely performing essential occupational duties. Office-based vocations only consider mortality risk.

If I've had joint replacement surgery, can I still qualify for life insurance with rheumatoid arthritis in Canada?

Yes, you can still obtain life insurance even after undergoing joint replacement due to rheumatoid arthritis progression. The insurer will evaluate the prognosis after the operation and the stability of the remaining joints. Guaranteed issue policies are also an alternative if higher risk.

How do I find a life insurance broker experienced with rheumatoid arthritis cases in Canada?

Search online for independent brokers or agencies specifically indicating specialty in higher risk life insurance cases. Verify they have access to leading insurers and a proven track record getting rheumatoid arthritis clients approved.

What medical tests will I need to take when applying for life insurance with rheumatoid arthritis in Canada?

Typical medical tests for life insurance with rheumatoid arthritis include a full paramedical exam with a blood draw, urinalysis, potential imaging tests if joint damage is a concern and the release of medical records. Insurers cover all costs for required medical tests.

How do I find affordable life insurance with rheumatoid arthritis if I've been denied coverage in Canada?

If declined for traditional underwritten life insurance, explore the guaranteed issue and simplified issue policies with no medical exam but limited benefits. Also, contact a specialized high-risk broker to identify niche insurers or tap group life insurance through an employer or association.

Can I still qualify for life insurance with rheumatoid arthritis if treatment is ineffective in Canada?

You can get life insurance even if rheumatoid arthritis treatments such as DMARDs and biologics prove ineffective at controlling progression. Be prepared to provide details on disease severity, disability, inflammation markers, joint imaging and impact on quality of life. A guaranteed issue is an alternative.

Can I qualify for life insurance with rheumatoid arthritis if I have other high-risk conditions too in Canada?

Yes, getting life insurance approval is possible, even with rheumatoid arthritis and additional co-morbid conditions. An experienced independent broker will identify insurers most equipped to underwrite complex multi-risk cases. Bundling all coverage with one carrier saves.

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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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