How to get life insurance with COPD

Finding Life insurance coverage when you suffer from COPD is no walk in the park.

COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) is a severe respiratory disease that can be tough to evaluate for many insurance companies.

Thankfully, progress has been made in the life insurance to where not all COPD cases are view in the same light.

Finding coverage would depend on the following factors

  • Your current age
  • The type of life insurance coverage you’re seeking
  • The severity of your COPD
  • How your COPD is being treated

1 – Your Current Age

This might sound counterintuitive but for people with COPD, the older you are,the more likely you will qualify for life insurance.

COPD is a progressive disease, it gets  worse with time and can eventually be fatal.

Therefore if you have COPD at young age, the insurance companies see it as a bad sign.

The older you are , the less time the disease has to progress before you reach your life expectancy.

This is one of the times, when it pays to be older.

Here is a direct quote from one of the insurance carriers we offer

“ The younger the applicant the higher the rating.  Ages over 70 may be more favorable.”

However, all hopes is not lost for people under 70., you will probably qualify for a higher rating but your younger age can offset some of the upcharge.

If you’re looking for a smaller policy, coverage for $50,000 or less, carriers are more forgiving.  As long as you’re 50 and older, and your COPD is controlled, we should be able to find you coverage.  More on that later.


2 – The Type of insurance you’re looking for.  

The two most popular types of life insurance out there are Term Life Insurance and Burial Insurance (also called Final Expense Insurance).

The reason they tend to be popular is because their premiums are much more affordable.

Term Life Insurance gets you more coverage ($50,000 to Millions of dollars) for a specific amount of time.  While Burial insurance lasts your whole lifetime but is typically much smaller coverage amounts ($2000 to $50000)

Since the insurance company has a lot more to lose for term life coverage, they make it harder to qualify for.

Their underwriting is much tighter and for COPD patients, it’s almost impossible to get a standard rating.

They will require you go to through a medical exam and will most likely want to order of statement of health from your doctor known as the APS (Attending Physician Statement).  If there are unfavorable lab results, questionable medical issues by the doctors, it’s likely they will decline you life insurance coverage.

However for Burial insurance, underwriting is much looser and most people with well controlled COPD should be able to find one or two companies who will offer coverage.

Burial insurance requires no medical exam, no APS from your doctor, and decisions are usually within a week if not that same day.

This is not to say that all Burial Insurance Carriers will offer standard coverage to COPD patients.  It

is still important to work with a qualified Indpendent Agency who works with multiple carriers to find you not only an insurance carrier who will extend you coverage but one that will do so at an affordable rate.

And of course, we are here to help.


3 – The Severity of your COPD

COPD is described as a Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary disease.  It encompasses both emphysema and Chronic Bronchitis.

When applying for life insurance (especially for term), it’s important to understand how your doctor views your condition.

Is it mild, moderate or severe?  This can be subjective but by knowing your symptoms you can paint a clear picture for the underwriters.

It’s not good enough to know your symptoms, it’s also important to maintain a good record of following up with your physicians and maintain a good track record of following up.

Patients who tend to skip doctor’s appointment are a risk for insurance companies

It is also important to differentiate between Chronic Bronchitis and Emphysema.

One could possibly achieve a Standard rate with a very mild Chronic Bronchitis at an older age.

Emphysema would receive stricter underwriting

4 – How your COPD is being treated.


COPD can be treated with a variety of medications.  The types of treatment recommended by your doctor can be an indicator of the severity of your disease.

Patients who need surgery or take oxygen will most likely be declined 1st day coverage.

They will only be eligible with a “Guarantee Issue” Policy that has a 2 year waiting period. Patients on bronchodilators should be able to get 1st day coverage.

COPD can also be treated by making some lifestyle changes.

Diet and controlled exercise is usually recommended.

It’s also important to note that Smoking is a no-no for insurance companies.  Most insurance companies will decline you have not quite smoking for at least 1 full year.



If you’re someone who’s been diagnosed with COPD, and are in the market for life insurance, here is what you should know about obtaining coverage.

  • The older you’ve been diagnosed, the better the case of landing favorable coverage.
  • You have a much better chance of landing Burial insurance than Term Insurance.  Though possible, Term would require longer and stricter underwriting.
  • Mild Chronic Bronchitis could you get you a standard coverage for term.  The more severe it gets, the higher your premium
  • If you’re a smoker or have been prescribed an oxygen mask, you will most likely be declined for standard coverage.