How To Get Life Insurance With Down's Syndrome In 2024

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Updated: 17 May 2024
Written by Bob Phillips
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If you need life insurance for someone with Down’s Syndrome, you may be wondering if it’s even available and if so, how much it will cost. The insurance world can be a confounding place with unfamiliar terms and confusing medical jargon. We’re here to help make this process easier for you.

We have conducted extensive research and put together data on life insurance for those with Down’s Syndrome that should help you navigate your way through all of the sometimes mystifying information. We’ve spent a lot of hours looking into the particulars about life insurance and how it works for health conditions such as Down’s Syndrome.

The whole landscape of life insurance for Down’s Syndrome has been bettered by advancements in the medical field, as well as more knowledge of the condition. In this article, we’ll look at coverage, types of life insurance, options for life insurance, qualifying for life insurance, what to do if you’re denied coverage and more, all information that will help you purchase a suitable life insurance policy.

Key Takeaways

  • Life insurance rates are normally higher for those with Down’s Syndrome

  • The life insurance underwriting process for Down’s Syndrome may be longer and more complicated

  • Life insurance is available for those with Down’s Syndrome

Can People With Down's Syndrome Get Life Insurance?

Yes, they can. People with Down’s Syndrome can get life insurance This wasn’t always true. Before medical advancements and a better understanding of Down’s Syndrome altered the insurance industry’s mindset about the condition, those with Down’s Syndrome were often declined for life insurance coverage. But now, many top insurance providers provide whole life insurance, as well as term life insurance, for those living with Down’s Syndrome.

It’s nice to know that life insurance options are available for those with Down’s Syndrome, but bear in mind that not all life insurance companies will offer it. On the other hand, there are a lot of insurance companies that do offer policies for people with Down’s Syndrome.

So, if you need life insurance for someone with the condition, just know that you can get life insurance. The premiums may be a tad higher, but probably nothing too exorbitant.

Important: Life insurance for Down’s Syndrome is available, though the coverage might be limited and potentially more expensive.

How Does Having Down’s Syndrome Affect My Life Insurance?

Standard life insurance policies may not be available for someone with Down’s Syndrome, but fortunately there are insurance providers that offer special coverage. These insurers offer standard rates for life insurance coverage for those with a diagnosis of Down’s Syndrome, especially if their condition is well managed. People with Down’s Syndrome may meet the requirements for group life insurance, or guaranteed issue.

Anyone who is researching information on purchasing life insurance will find the information helpful. The research itself might be challenging, but the peace of mind and security of having life insurance is invaluable.

Please note: If a diagnosis of Down’s Syndrome is made after buying life insurance, the insurer can’t cancel the policy because of the diagnosis. There are only two reasons a life insurance carrier can cancel a policy:

  • Failure to pay premiums
  • Fraudulent statements made on your insurance application

An insurance provider cannot increase premiums due to a diagnosis of Down’s Syndrome after coverage was purchased.

Important: A life insurance policy can’t be rescinded or have the rates raised if you’re diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome after the policy has been issued.

Life Insurance Underwriting Process For Down’s Syndrome

A diagnosis of Down’s Syndrome might complicate the process of buying life insurance to some extent. It might help to have a working knowledge of the underwriting process. Here are 3 main factors that will be addressed in underwriting:

  • Health assessment, including pre-existing conditions that may accompany the main diagnosis of Down’s Syndrome
  • Whether the person is physically and cognitively able to care for himself or herself
  • Life expectancy

People with Down’s Syndrome often have comorbidities that accompany their condition.

They have a higher risk of some health conditions: hearing and vision problems, heart defects, cognitive delays, and thyroid issues. It’s important to take these health concerns into consideration when searching for life insurance.

One of the common health problems in people with Down’s Syndrome is heart defects. About half of babies born with Down’s Syndrome have a type of congenital heart defect. Some of these heart defects require medical intervention, surgery and/or medication, to achieve proper function of the heart.

Vision and hearing problems are something else prevalent in those with Down’s Syndrome. They may have hearing loss due to structural abnormalities in the ears or frequent ear infections. Vision problems, like nearsightedness or crossed-eyes, may exist, too, and need corrective measures.

Thyroid problems are yet another issue for people with Down’s Syndrome. They have an increased risk of developing hypothyroidism,(low thyroid) which means the thyroid gland doesn’t produce the proper amount of hormones. Regular monitoring of thyroid levels along with medication can usually keep this condition under control.

Down’s Syndrome commonly involves mild to moderate intellectual disabilities. But, it’s best to remember that every person with Down’s Syndrome is unique, with individual abilities that can vary widely. Support as needed along with early intervention gives individuals with Down’s Syndrome the opportunity to achieve meaningful milestones and lead happy, fulfilling lives.

All of the above and more are things that an insurance company’s underwriters will consider when deciding on rates or approval of the life insurance.

What Do Life Insurance Companies Consider With Down’s Syndrome As a Diagnosis?

Insurability for Down’s Syndrome will encompass several areas.

For example, underwriters will factor in any other health conditions that he or she may have. They’ll also take a careful look at the cognitive function of the proposed insured. Another key point will be what kind of medication the Down’s Syndrome person is taking, if any.

Perhaps one of the main points that an insurer will think about is that according to the National Association for Down’s Syndrome, the average life expectancy for those with this condition is 60 years. That’s considerably less than most of the population, and since life insurance only pays when the insured dies, it does present an increased risk for the insurer.

Another component of underwriting life insurance for someone with Down’s Syndrome is that in order to purchase a policy, the applicant must have the cognitive ability to comprehend what contract they’re entering into. This is not always possible when someone has Down’s Syndrome.

They must be able to answer medical questions, sign their name, and show an understanding of what life insurance actually is. If unable to do these things, most insurers will deny coverage.

Some insurers also look at areas like someone’s life functionality. For instance, many people with Down’s Syndrome are unable to work full time. Being able to work is an element of the underwriting for life insurance. So is being able to live independently, along with other ADLs (Activities of Daily Living) like dress themselves, carry on a conversation and other everyday things.

Best Type Of Life Insurance For People With Down’s Syndrome

People with Down’s Syndrome have choices for life insurance coverage. Although there are insurers that will decline coverage, there are other companies that will approve an application for coverage of someone with Down’s Syndrome.

Here are some types of life insurance that might offer alternatives to traditional life insurance, and be easier to get:

Term Life Insurance

Term life insurance provides coverage for a specified length of time, typically ten to twenty-five years. It’s less costly than whole life insurance, but probably a wiser choice for someone with Down’s Syndrome. If the goal is to get a fairly large amount of insurance at a low price, term life may be the best option.

Whole Life Insurance

Whole life insurance offers coverage for someone’s entire life. Unlike term life insurance, it doesn’t end after a certain time. Yet another point for whole life insurance is that it builds a cash value that increases over time. Death benefits are guaranteed, too. This type of life insurance will have higher premiums than term life, especially if the insured has Down’s Syndrome.

Group Life Insurance

Group life insurance is a great option if it’s available through an employer. If the proposed insured has access to group life insurance, there’s no exhaustive application or physical exam.

Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance

Anyone with Down’s Syndrome won’t need to worry about being denied coverage with Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance. As its name says, it’s guaranteed and offers coverage to anyone, with any health condition. Guaranteed Issue life insurance has higher rates and lesser coverage than other types, but it’s a possible alternative to traditional insurance for someone with Down’s Syndrome.

Final Expense Life Insurance

Final Expense Life Insurance takes care of the expenses like funeral or burial costs, end of life costs, and more along those lines. This type of policy typically has more flexible underwriting than traditional life insurance. For someone living with Down’s Syndrome, this might be an attractive option.

Important: Living benefit riders can also be a lifeline for individuals living with Down’s Syndrome. These optional additions to your policy can allow you to access a portion of your death benefit while still alive to help cover treatment expenses.

How To Buy Life Insurance If You Have Down's Syndrome

Follow these four tips to simplify buying life insurance with Down's Syndrome:

Research Your Options

Do your research first if you’re shopping around to get life insurance for a person with Down’s Syndrome. Some providers will decline coverage to someone with Down’s Syndrome, but others will offer coverage. Weed out the companies that won’t issue a policy and focus on the ones that will.


Understand the Underwriting Process

Life insurance applications include questions that will reveal your health and medical records. So, the underwriting is probably going to be more detailed if the proposed insured has Down’s Syndrome. The policy may also be more expensive than traditional life insurance, also.


Consider Employer or Group Coverage

If the person needing life insurance has access to life insurance through an employer, it might be a good move to go that route. Group life insurance policies offer coverage regardless of health conditions, making it ideal for someone with Down’s Syndrome.


Apply for Coverage

When you have chosen a life insurance provider offering the coverage needed for a person with Down’s Syndrome, submit the application. This could involve answering various health questions, as well as undergoing a medical exam.


How Much Does Life Insurance Cost If You Have Down’s Syndrome?

Anyone with Down’s Syndrome and applying for life insurance may be called upon to submit a treatment plan ordered by a doctor to procure the best rates. Other companies might not require this.

You can probably rightly assume that premiums for life insurance will be higher than for others who don’t have Down’s Syndrome. This is a case where it might be wise to shop around, as rates can vary significantly between one insurance provider and another. Life insurance is something that it pays to invest some time in researching if you want to get the best rates possible.

Here are some rate examples for various ages with Down’s Syndrome:

Monthly Standard vs. Substandard Rates for Those with Down’s Syndrome

Age Average Monthly Standard Rates Average Monthly Substandard Rates
25 $89.32 $111.65
30 $102.55 $128.15
35 $120.60 $150.75
40 $143.02 $178.78
45 $173.45 $216.64
50 $213.28 $266.32
55 $269.04 $336.25
60 $355.46 $444.29
65 $474.84 $593.50

How To Qualify For Life Insurance With Down’s Syndrome

If you are looking for life insurance for someone with Down’s Syndrome, you might be interested in going through an insurance broker. An insurance broker’s specialty is finding coverage for those with unusual circumstances, such as Down’s Syndrome. They can help you find insurers that have policies tailored to specific needs.

A lot of life insurance policies require that applicants undergo a thorough medical exam. The applicant should prepare for the exam by bringing their medical history and records. If the applicant has a cold, flu, or other health problem; postpone the medical examination until they are in good health again. This can help show the person’s overall well being and hopefully influence the provider’s underwriting process.

While securing life insurance for a person with Down’s Syndrome may have other considerations, it’s important to check out all of your options and get an understanding of the elements involved. If you research insurance companies, work with an insurance broker, and prepare thoroughly, you can boost your chances of finding an insurance policy that provides protection for a person with Down’s Syndrome.

Can Insurance Companies Deny Coverage If You Have Down’s Syndrome?

Yes, life insurance providers may decide to decline coverage, depending on the severity of the Down’s Syndrome and other comorbidities that might be present. You can find coverage for someone with Down’s Syndrome, but be prepared to pay higher than standard rates.

What Will Insurers Ask About Your Condition?

Here are some questions an applicant for life insurance with Down’s Syndrome might be asked:

  • Date of diagnosis: The insurer may ask for the date when Down’s Syndrome was diagnosed
  • Severity of disability: The insurer may ask the degree of intellectual disability and how it affects daily life activities of the person with Down’s Syndrome, communication skills, and his or her ability to live independently
  • Medical history: The provider might ask for the applicant’s medical records to find out if there are other health problems or complications along with the intellectual disability, like seizures or cardiovascular disease, for instance
  • Medications and treatments: The insurance carrier might inquire about any medications or treatments that are being taken by the applicant, if any,  to manage intellectual disability or health conditions
  • Functional limitations: The provider might ask about the applicant’s ability to perform activities of daily living and their level of independence, including whether they need assistance with transportation, personal care, or other activities
  • Employment and education history: An insurance company might ask about employment and education history of the applicant with Down’s Syndrome in order to understand how their intellectual disability has affected their ability to work or get a higher education
  • Lifestyle habits: The insurance carrier might ask about the applicant’s lifestyle habits, such as smoking or drinking, which can impact issuance of the policy

Down’s Syndrome: Life Insurance Options If You Are Denied Coverage

Having an understanding of legal rights and protections is critical when someone deals with denial for life insurance. These rights ensure fair treatment of all applicants for life insurance and help prevent discrimination within the industry. If you are trying to get life insurance for someone with Down’s Syndrome and their application was turned down, you can file an appeal, or try a different type of insurance.

If you think a person with Down’s Syndrome has been unfairly denied life insurance coverage, here are a few sources you might reach out to:

  • Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)
  • Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA)
  • Affordable Care Act (ACA)

If you decide to try a different avenue of coverage instead of traditional life insurance for someone with Down’s Syndrome, a graded death benefit policy may be possibility. This type of policy increases its payout value over time, so the longer it’s in force and active, the greater its benefit.

Group insurance is one of the best options for someone who has been declined for traditional life insurance. There usually isn’t a stringent application or medical examination, and pre-existing conditions are not excluded from coverage.

Guaranteed Issue is another good alternative because it’s literally guaranteed to issue an insurance policy to any applicant. But, it will have a higher premium and less coverage. So it might not be your first pick for alternative life insurance coverage for someone with Down’s Syndrome.

Important: Guaranteed issue policies are an excellent option if other companies have denied your application for whole, universal, or term life insurance policies.

Tips For Choosing The Right Policy

Selecting a life insurance policy for someone with Down’s Syndrome is an important step. Below are a few tips to help you make the best choice and facilitate your search:

Here Are 3 Tips To Make Your Search Easier:

  1. Know Your Needs: It’s possible that a person with Down’s Syndrome won’t really need as much life insurance as someone who is the breadwinner and head of household with a full-time job and a family to support. This is a case of being realistic about benefit amounts and what kind of financial hardship it would create in the event of the insured’s death. The higher the benefit amount, the higher the premium. So don’t over-insure a Down’s Syndrome individual.
  2. Explore Policy Types: A guaranteed issue policy or graded death benefit policy may be a wise choice if a Down’s Syndrome person has applied for traditional life insurance and been denied. These types of life insurance were specifically designed  for people living with critical illnesses, such as Down’s Syndrome.
  3. Use Specialized Services: Specialized services such as Insurancopedia, that will gather quotes from different insurers to help you with rate comparisons are  helpful in finding the right life insurance policy for someone with Down’s Syndrome.

What Is Down’s Syndrome?

Down’s syndrome is a genetic condition that happens when a person is born with an additional copy of chromosome 21. This extra chromosome affects both physical and  mental  development of persons with Down’s syndrome.

Down’s Syndrome is not a disease or an illness; it ‘s simply an anomaly in the number of chromosomes. You should realize that those with Down’s Syndrome have their own unique strengths and abilities, and that these persons are often able to lead happy, fulfilling lives.

People with Down’s Syndrome often have distinctive facial features. Almond shaped eyes, a flattened nasal bridge, and a small mouth are all characteristic of Down’s Syndrome. That said, the appearance of people with Down’s Syndrome can vary widely, just as in the entire population.

The Genetic Basis of Down’s Syndrome

Down’s syndrome is the result of an error in the division of cells, called nondisjunction, that leads to an extra chromosome 21. This extra genetic material changes development, which results in the typical features as well as health problems commonly associated with Down’s Syndrome.

Down’s Syndrome is not hereditary. Rather, it’s something that takes place spontaneously during the forming of reproductive cells. Incidence of Down’s Syndrome is higher with maternal age, but it can occur in any pregnancy, no matter the age of the mother or the family history.

Researchers have made much progress in understanding the genetic foundation of Down’s Syndrome. The extra chromosome (21) interrupts normal functioning of the genetic material involved in different biological processes, which leads to developmental differences of Down’s Syndrome.

Other Health Concerns That Can Affect Your Life Insurance

Insurance providers will evaluate a Down’s Syndrome applicant and then calculate the risk factor to help decide whether they’ll take the risk to insure his/her life. This normally involves an application and a medical exam.

Below is a list of seventeen health conditions that could affect the issuance of a policy, or life insurance rates:

  • Obesity: If you are overweight, and have a high BMI (Body Mass Index) it might increase your rates
  • Heart Disease: Heart disease is a common health condition and may cause denial of life insurance coverage or increased rates
  • Down’s Syndrome: Progress in the field of medicine has meant that many insurance carriers offer life insurance policies to Down’s Syndrome individuals
  • Asthma: Asthma, depending on its severity, could affect your life insurance premiums
  • Cancer: Depending on the stage and type of cancer, it can have a big influence on acceptance or denial of an application for insurance
  • Diabetes: Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes usually cause higher premiums
  • Down’s Syndrome: An application for life insurance will depend on the individual applying for coverage with Down’s Syndrome
  • High Cholesterol: If your cholesterol is consistently over a normal level of  200, you’ll have increased insurance premiums
  • Alzheimer’s/Dementia: These health conditions may come with physical illness such as kidney failure, so they can affect insurability
  • Kidney Disease: Being diagnosed with CKD, or Chronic Kidney Disease, normally means higher insurance premiums
  • Depression: Mental health conditions like depression, schizophrenia and others may impact insurance rates
  • Lung Disease: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD, will usually cause increased premiums
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis: Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune disease, and will probably lead to more expensive premiums
  • Stroke: A history of stroke, or Cardiovascular Accident (CVA) will raise insurance premiums
  • Liver Disease: Cirrhosis of the liver, fatty liver, or other liver disease will raise the cost of your premiums
  • Sleep Apnea: Sleep apnea may cause your premiums to be higher
  • Substance Use Disorders: A history of drug and/or alcohol abuse can affect your insurability


Do You Qualify For Life Insurance If You Have Down's Syndrome?

Some insurance companies will consider insuring someone with Down’s Syndrome, while others won’t. Much depends on the severity of the condition.

This is actually a gray area because strictly speaking, nobody is supposed to be issued insurance coverage that doesn’t have the intellectual ability to understand what they’re buying. They’re also supposed to be capable of working at a job, taking care of their own business and financial affairs, living independently and other activities of daily living.

Some individuals with Down’s Syndrome are capable of all the prerequisites, while others aren’t. So, it boils down to the person with Down’s Syndrome and if they’re intellectually capable of taking out life insurance.

What Insurance Is Best For Down's Syndrome?

If a person has been denied issuance of traditional life insurance coverage because he or she has Down’s Syndrome, it might be wise to consider a Guaranteed Issue policy. There is no medical exam or health questions required.

Is Down's Syndrome Classed As a Critical Illness In Insurance?

Yes, it is. Down’s Syndrome, although its severity may differ from person to person, is usually accompanied by other health problems and shortened longevity. So it’s considered a critical illness.


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