Living with M.S.

"Living with M.S. is sort of like training for a long race. The harder you try, and the longer you keep at it, the stronger you become.
Eventually, looking back, you may be amazed at the power you possessed, even when you had no idea it was within your reach." (Linda Ann Nickerson)


Caught in the MS life insurance racket

Does multiple sclerosis affect a person’s insurability? You bet it does.

I recently experienced the process, and I’m pretty steamed about it.

My original life insurance policy came to an end. (Don’t ask.) It was time to take out a new one. So I went through the rigmarole – the mountains of paperwork, the telephone interviews, the detailed medical histories, and the physical exam.

And then they bumped me … and bumped me again … and bumped me again.

Finally, the actuary called to follow up on a few of the personal details. She revealed that my MS diagnosis nearly disqualified me altogether.


She said her staff had applied with more than 20 insurance companies before finding one that would take on my case.

Maybe it’s time for a little background.

Yes, I received a diagnosis about five years ago. And I began treatment with daily self-injections, once- or twice-annual MRIs and neurological exams, and the whole deal.

I also continued riding horses nearly daily and began training for cross-country runs. I completed numerous 5K and 10K races and evena half marathon.

My lab results, weight, lifestyle, and overall health earned high points in the exam process.

“You’re my healthiest client,” the actuary confessed. “In fact, I’m 20 years younger than you are, and you are way healthier than I am. But you’re still almost uninsurable.”

And yet, my life insurance premiums more than doubled because of the MS tag.

“If you can get your MS diagnosis reversed, we might be able to revisit your application,” she said.

Oh, really? Wonder how often that happens.

So I did a little digging and discovered that many MSers have trouble finding affordable life insurance, particularly if they try to apply after their diagnoses. Several have discovered they were able to procure term life insurance policies at high premiums, but not whole-life policies.

Other MSers have been declined for life insurance across the board and have relied upon other investment plans, hoping to save enough to provide something for their heirs.

It can be far easier to renew existing (pre-diagnosis) life insurance policies than to let them run out and try for new ones after MS has made the scene.

Yeah, that’s a domestic argument, waiting to happen. (Again, don’t ask.)

Color me miffed, but also relieved to be insured at all.

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  1. I'm glad to see this. My recent issue wasn't with life insurance, but with long-term health care. Like you, Linda, I consider myself highly insurable, but talked to many agencies and insurance brokers who said that checking that little box next to "MS" will automatically reject you. If they want to look at it that way, I'm a perfect moneymaker for them! Thought they were in the business for the same. And then they have the ignorance and audacity to "encourage you to re-apply in 6 months". Seriously - what would have changed in that time, other than the calendar? 'Nuff already! It's time for insurance reform in this area.

  2. Dealing with life insurance and other policies can truly put a damper on your life. There are so many stipulations for insurance policies that it can be difficult to know what you're getting out of a current plan. This is why it's important to go with a company that has the experience and history of helping people with their finances.

    Joshua Duncan @ Focus Insurance Group

  3. Yes, it's a sad state. You and other MS sufferers have enough to cope with yet it seems underwriters, insurers and actuaries find this hard to accept. As increasing numbers of the population reach older age and suffer infirmity, disabilities and ailments it's possible this could change. However, like you I feel I won't be holding my breath too long!

    Derek Walsh @ Simply Insure


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