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Life Insurance For People With Asthma

Written by Cody Marchant

Applying for life insurance gets tricky when you have a chronic illness like asthma.

Learn what to expect during the application process and how much it will cost to get life insurance when you are living with asthma.

What Is Asthma?

Asthma is a disease of the lungs. It affects the airways, making them swollen, and air has a hard time moving in and out. This results in the most common symptom of asthma: shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. Asthma is a chronic illness, meaning it is a daily struggle.

There is no common age for asthma, it can start at any stage of life. For example, babies can develop asthma as their lungs are developing and sometimes they might grow out of the symptoms as they grow up.

It’s always possible asthma symptoms will come back again though. Other times, people develop asthma at an older age.

What Causes It?

In the medical community, there is still no explanation for what causes asthma. It typically runs in families and could be inherited. The triggers in an environment are also believed to be of importance.

Although the root causes of asthma are still be pursued, the American Lung Association offers information on how these factors are involved in the development of asthma:

1. Genetics

Asthma tends to runs in families. Genetics play an important role in causing asthma.

If your mom or dad has asthma, then you are more likely to have asthma too.

2. Allergies

Some people are more likely to develop allergies than others, especially if one of their parents has allergies.

Certain allergic conditions are linked to people who get asthma.

3. Respiratory Infections

As the lungs develop in infancy and early childhood, certain respiratory infections have been shown to cause inflammation and damage the lung tissue.

The damage that is caused in infancy or early childhood can impact lung function long-term.

4. Environment

Contact with allergens, certain irritants, or exposure to viral infections as an infant or in early childhood when the immune system isn’t fully mature have been linked to developing asthma.

Exposure to certain chemicals and dust in the workplace may also play a significant role in adult-onset asthma.

How Does It Affect Your Health?

Maybe you’ve heard of someone having an asthma “attack”? People with asthma are extremely sensitive to normal, everyday irritants you are exposed to in the air.

Things like a sudden cold change in the weather, or particles in the air like dust, chemicals, smoke, and pet dander are all considered asthma triggers.

A person with allergies might sneeze or a get a runny nose if they encounter one of these things. But for someone with asthma, a trigger in the air can cause their airways to swell and muscles to constrict so tightly that they struggle to breathe at all. This experience is known as an asthma attack.

The American Lung Association offers these key facts to help people understand asthma and how it affects your health:

  • Asthma is chronic. In other words, you live with it every day.
  • It can be serious, even life-threatening.
  • There is no cure for asthma, but it can be managed so you live a normal, healthy life.
  • Tight feeling in the chest, shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing, are common symptoms of asthma.
  • Poor asthma management can lead to airway remodeling, a serious condition affecting the lungs.

More than 15 million American adults suffer from asthma. If you live with asthma and are worried about how it will affect your life insurance application, you are not alone!

Can You Get Life Insurance if You Have Asthma?

In all honesty, it is more complicated to get life insurance when you do not have a clean bill of health. These may be some of your top concerns:

  • What questions will the insurance companies ask about my asthma?
  • How will the carriers classify my asthma?
  • What health rating can I expect with asthma?
  • How much will I pay for life insurance with asthma?
  • What insurance companies should I apply at?

Don’t worry, we have the answers. The best news is- yes, you can qualify for a quality life insurance policy!

Life insurance companies are in the business of determining risk and reward, it’s how they make money.

When individuals apply for a life insurance policy the insurer asks questions about their demographics, health history, and lifestyle to assess their risk.

What Will Life Insurance Companies Ask About Your Asthma?

Be completely truthful about your asthma from the get-go. Common questions you may be asked about asthma on your application are:

  • When were you originally diagnosed with asthma?
  • How frequent are the attacks?
  • Is your asthma acute and chronic?
  • Is your asthma year-round or seasonal?
  • Do you currently smoke or have you smoked in the past?

It’s important to keep in mind that asthma is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to your overall health. It won’t be the sole factor determining your premium rates.

The more accurate you can be when providing details about your asthma, the better chance you have of getting categorized correctly and offered better rates.

Factors Insurance Companies Check During Your Medical Exam

Some common things that life insurance companies will make note of in a medical examination are:

  • Age of Diagnosis
  • Treatment (i.e. Inhalers, Steroids, Medication etc.)
  • Date of the last attack
  • Any hospitalization
  • Time off work
  • Frequency/severity of symptoms or attacks

Each insurer has a slightly different underwriting process and classifies health conditions in their own way.

Health Classifications for People With Asthma

Based on the answers you provide on your questionnaire and the results your health exam, your asthma will typically be classified in one of the following ways:

Asthma Classification Health Class Rating
Infrequent/Seasonal Season changes cause outbursts, fewer than 6 attacks per year.
Mild Less than one incident per day, lung function greater than 80% on average.
Moderate Frequent attacks, usually once per day or more, with some hospitalization. Steroid treatment occasionally needed lung function 60-80% on average.
Severe Frequent attacks, that usually require hospitalization. Ongoing steroid treatment needed and medication. Lung functions less than 60% on average.

The severity of your asthma will play a role in which risk class you are placed in. You can you the table above to predict which category you might fall in.

Other things such as family health history, use of tobacco products, and lifestyle habits also factor into your risk assessment. The more severe your asthma is, the higher your risk value is. This will affect the premium rates you are offered.

Because life insurance companies have different guidelines, one company might classify an applicant a Table 2, while another company thinks that the applicant can qualify for Standard Plus rates. It’s important to determine where you’ll fall using that company’s criteria.

Asthma Classification Health Class Rating
Infrequent/Seasonal Preferred or Preferred Plus
Mild Preferred
Moderate Standard or Standard Plus
Severe Table 2 Classifications to Declined

Life insurers rank potential customers into tables 1-10. Table one is top tier, the healthiest risk classes, including:

  • Preferred Plus
  • Preferred
  • Standard Plus
  • Standard

Depending on the underwriting guidelines of the company, Table 1 can sometimes include Preferred Smoker, and Standard Smoker classes, for tobacco users who are otherwise in excellent or above-average health.

Table 2 is considered substandard health. These categories often include people with chronic illnesses and preexisting conditions.

Below is a detailed breakdown on Table 1 risk classes:

Preferred Plus

Call it what you like- Preferred Elite, Super Preferred, or Preferred Select- this is the absolute best classification you can get. You are an insurance company’s dream customer!

With the ideal height/weight ratio, and no tobacco use, you’re in peak health. You also have a clear family health history and safe lifestyle. You’ll enjoy the absolute lowest premium rates. You’re basically a VIP in the life insurance world.


Second, only to Preferred Plus, you’ll still like the rates you’re offered. Aside from certain minor health hiccups, like high cholesterol or blood pressure, you’re are the pillar of ideal health.

Standard Plus

In good health, but you might have certain concerning issues that flagged the insurance company that you’ll need to monitor.

You’re still above average health but aren’t in the ideal height/weight range. Your family health history is clean, so insurance companies don’t have reason to worry about any issues in your future.


Height/weight ratio may be less than ideal, you have an average life expectancy, or your health exam came back with a couple minor concerns. The main difference setting you apart from Standard Plus is that your family history.

Reports of family members having cancer, diabetes, or other serious illnesses before age of 60 have the life insurance agency on alert. But your application will definitely still be approved, and you’ll get the insurance you need.

If your asthma is severe, you may end up being classified into Table 2, Substandard health. This is basically because you have a complicated health condition. Asthma is a chronic condition and with frequent attacks, the effects on your life are unpredictable, which makes you more of a risk to insure.

Life Insurance Rates

Preferred Term Life

The rates on the chart below are for both males and females with asthma, who are in the Preferred Health Class, looking for $500,000 in life insurance coverage.

Age Term Male Female
30 10 Year $14/mo. $11/mo.
20 Year $20/mo. $17/mo.
30 Year $32/mo. $26/mo.
40 10 Year $19/mo. $17/mo.
20 Year $30/mo. $25/mo.
30 Year $53/mo. $42/mo.
50 10 Year $43/mo. $35/mo.
20 Year $75/mo. $56/mo.
30 Year $132/mo. $98/mo.
60 10 Year $113/mo. $78/mo.
20 Year $207/mo. $144/mo.
25 Year $372/mo. $254/mo.

Standard Term Life

The rates on the chart below are for both males and females with asthma, who are in the Standard Health Class, looking for $500,000 in life insurance coverage.

Age Term Male Female
30 10 Year $37/mo. $31/mo.
20 Year $55/mo. $47/mo.
30 Year $98/mo. $75/mo.
40 10 Year $51/mo. $45/mo.
20 Year $87/mo. $73/mo.
30 Year $156/mo. $117/mo.
50 10 Year $130/mo. $96/mo.
20 Year $210/mo. $161/mo.
30 Year $401/mo. $278/mo.
60 10 Year $307/mo. $205/mo.
20 Year $580/mo. $403/mo.
25 Year $1,395/mo. $1,079/mo.

Preferred Whole Life

The rates on the chart below are for both males and females with asthma, who are in the Preferred Health Class, looking for $500,000 in life insurance coverage.

Age Male Female
30 $120/mo. $86/mo.
40 $280/mo. $200/mo.
50 $623/mo. $462/mo.
60 $1,310/mo. $936/mo.

Standard Whole Life

The rates on the chart below are for both males and females with asthma, who are in the Preferred Health Class, looking for $500,000 in life insurance coverage.

Age Male Female
30 $502/mo. $376/mo.
40 $788/mo. $584/mo.
50 $1,870/mo. $1,375/mo.
60 $2,044/mo. $1,460/mo.

What if You Also Smoke?

Life insurance companies generally have two levels to cover smokers: Preferred Smoker and Standard Smoker.

Preferred Smoker will cover occasional smokers or people who use smokeless tobacco who are otherwise in excellent health. Having asthma in addition to smoking will most certainly land you in Standard Smoker.

Due to the added health risks, you’ll pay more in premiums as a smoker with asthma- sometimes twice as much as nonsmokers!

Smoking is a well-known cause of severe asthma and is linked to fatal asthma attacks. Life insurance companies take this into consideration as they predict your life expectancy and calculate your premium rates.

The rates displayed in the table below shows life insurance rates for a woman with moderate asthma, moderate tobacco use, and otherwise good health. The face amount of the policy is $100,000.

Age 15 Year Term 30 Year Term Whole Life
30 $35/mo. $52/mo. $288/mo.
40 $52/mo. $85/mo. $472/mo.
50 $113/mo. $229/mo. $1,242/mo.
60 $241/mo. N/A $2,244/mo.

In general, term life insurance is a cheaper option than whole life insurance. For people with health complications, whole life policy rates really start to climb.

Stop and consider what your goals are for purchasing life insurance, and calculate how much coverage you actually need. It’s better to purchase a smaller policy that you can comfortably afford. If you don’t keep up with making premium payments, your policy will be invalid.

Combining asthma with smoking is very dangerous, and when it comes to purchasing life insurance, an expensive combination. If you have asthma and smoke, the best option for you to pursue might end up being a guaranteed issue life insurance policy because it requires no health exam or questionnaire.

Best Life Insurance Companies

Company A.M. Best Rating Customer Reviews
Mutual of Omaha A+ 4.2 / 5
Prudential A+ 4.1 / 5
Banner Life A+ 4.3 / 5

Mutual of Omaha, Prudential, and Banner are three of the top-rated life insurance companies that are well recognized for offering quality life insurance coverage for people with asthma.

When it comes to getting the best rates, shop with companies that have a more lenient underwriting process. There’s no getting around it, asthma is definitely going to be a factor in the premiums you pay for life insurance.

But it’s not the only thing that matters. Apply at the company that will take a holistic view of your situation and offers you the best rates.

Finding the Best Life Insurance Rates

We always recommend speaking with a professional when trying to find the best life insurance company.

Especially for people with health complications which may limit their coverage options, or cause them to pay higher rates.

Give us a call today to speak with one of our independent life insurance agents who can help you compare life insurance policies and rates from dozens of the best life insurance companies on the market.

Or, you can get started with our online life insurance quote tool to find the best life insurance rates for asthmatics quick and easy.

Compare the Best Life Insurance Rates for Asthmatics

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About Growth 360, LLC
About Growth 360, LLC

We work with individuals across the nation to secure the best life insurance rates.

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