Parkinson’s Disease & Life Insurance
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We understand that you can be diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and live a full and active life, with little symptoms, but that it can also cause a significant impact on the health of some individuals.
My father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in his early 50s, so I know from first hand experience, just how much this condition can affect a person. Our job is to listen to how you live with Parkinson’s disease, your treatments and coping strategies, and find an insurer that can support you.
Things we need to know:
- When were you diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease?
- What medication do you take?
- Do you require mobility aids?
- Are you able to work?
- Are you able to drive?
- Are you planning surgery, for example deep brain stimulation?
Individuals with Parkinson’s disease can consider Life Insurance for the same reasons that any other person may do. Protecting your family from funeral expenses, mortgage repayments and general maintenance of lifestyle, are all factors that can contribute to the reasons for purchasing Life Insurance. Having Parkinson’s disease does not usually give you a shorter life span, but for many it does bring home the realisation of how fragile and unpredictable life can be.
You can still apply for Life Insurance if you have Parkinson’s disease, but you are likely to pay a higher policy premium than someone without the condition. The increase in the premium you will pay will be dependent upon the insurance provider you choose, the amount of benefit you require, the term you have chosen, and the severity of your symptoms.
If you have any surgery planned, it is likely that insurers on the standard market will postpone your application for Life Insurance, until after you have recovered from the operation. If this is the case or you are starting to show signs of dementia, then you will need to look at Life Insurance with specialist insurers.
Critical Illness Cover is available with some insurers on the standard market, depending upon the severity of your Parkinsons’ disease. The insurer will want to see a report from your GP to confirm your overall health, how long you have had symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, medications and treatments in use, and how the condition affects your daily living. You may be asked if you are still allowed to hold a UK driving license and if you require the use of mobility aids. Any offer of Critical Illness Cover you are given will come with an exclusion for claims related to Parkinson’s disease and may have an increased premium.
If you are awaiting surgery or are showing symptoms of a higher severity e.g. dementia, then you will need to look at specialist insurers for the Critical Illness Cover.
At the present time there are no mainstream insurance providers who are able to offer personal Income Protection if you have Parkinson’s disease. There are some specialist Income Protection policies that you may be eligible for, but these come with strict acceptance criteria.You may want to consider applying for Accident, Sickness and Unemployment cover, if standard Income Protection is not available. This policy will provide a monthly income replacement if you are unable to work due to ill health or involuntary redundancy. Accident, Sickness and Unemployment cover is not medically underwritten, so you can take this policy out without detailing your Parkinson’s disease. But, if you do make a claim on the policy there will an exclusion for anything linked to your Parkinson’s disease.
What is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s disease is a chronic neurological condition that results in the brain progressively producing lower amounts of dopamine. Dopamine is the primary neurotransmitter that coordinates brain functions with the body’s nervous system. As dopamine levels reduce the body starts to lose its ability to control the regular functions of the nervous system. It is one of the most common neurodegenerative disorders.
Also: Parkinsonism, paralysis agitans, hypokinetic rigid syndrome, stage 1 Parkinson’s disease, stage 2 Parkinson’s disease, stage 3 Parkinson’s disease, stage 4 Parkinson’s disease, stage 5 Parkinson’s disease
Linked with: Dementia, chronic neurological disorders
Parkinson’s disease is a condition that you cannot forget about or pretend is not there. For the sufferer the tremors can be a constant reminder of the condition. Even if the tremors are not visible to those around them, the individual will constantly be aware of internal tremors that are happening. With the correct medications a person with Parkinson’s disease can live a full and active life. However, it is essential that medication is taken at very precise times during the day to ensure that the medication is working to its best.
Individuals with the condition can sometimes appear disorientated, be slurring their words and stumbling, if their medication is not regularly monitored and updated with the illness’ progression. Simple things such as understanding pedestrian crossings, choosing between a cup of tea or a coffee, and leaving the house without an alarm and box full of medication, can be daily difficulties faced by an individual with Parkinson’s disease. People with Parkinson’s disease have to adapt their lives to a cycle of medication, with their daily routine often set onto a 4 hourly cycle of medication.
Some examples of problems experienced by individuals who have Parkinson’s disease include:
- Body tremors
- Continence issues
- Extreme compulsive behaviour e.g. gambling, shopping, eating etc.
- Fine movement problems e.g. cutting up food, writing, fastening buttons etc.
- Loss of facial expression
- Loss of facial expressions and struggle swallowing
- Loss of smell (anosmia)
- Muscle rigidity
- Seizing up of joints (rigidity)
- Sleep apnea and extreme fatigue
- Slowness of movements (bradykinesia)
- Uncontrollable body tremors
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Yes we can. We are sorry to hear that you have been declined Life Insurance because you have Parkinson’s disease. There are a quite a few insurers on the standard market that can offer Life Insurance to people with Parkinson’s disease. If your Parkinson’s disease has progressed towards stage four severity, then you may find that you need to speak with a specialist insurer for Life Insurance.
You can get life insurance, but for now it’s all about the timing. Insurers on the standard market are going to want there to be a bit more time since your operation, before they can offer Life Insurance. They want to make sure that you are fully recovered from the operation and that your symptoms are showing as stable over time. While you wait to be able to access Life Insurance with standard insurers, you can arrange for cover with a specialist insurer.
Maybe. Insurers are only interested in the health of your close family members: blood related mother, father, sisters, brothers. One family member with Parkinson’s disease, wont typically cause the insurer much concern. Two or more family members, or a family member diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s disease, may lead to the insurer offering Life Insurance at non-standard rates.
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Review by Alice on 12th May 2017
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