Having any type of cancer will automatically knock you out of a preferred rating, says William Tilford, spokesperson for Tilford Consulting. For those with cancer, Tilford says most insurance companies use a flat extra charge of three dollars per five dollars per one thousand dollars of coverage over standard rates.
Individuals with late stage lung cancer and those who continue to smoke while undergoing treatment for lung disease would be uninsurable, Tilford adds.
A small number of lung diseases, such as pulmonary fibrosis, with a life expectancy of three to five years following diagnosis, and are untreatable and uninsurable, Pokorski and Tilford say.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease– which includes asthma, emphysema and chronic bronchitis– is often loosely diagnosed by doctors. This creates frustration for insurers and could result in a less favorable rating for the proposed insured, Tilford says. He says applicants need to provide their medical records stating what type of COPD they have and, in the last year, have undergone a pulmonary function study, which measures lung capacity. It could result in big savings on insurance costs, he says.
He says treatable asthma is rated better than emphysema or chronic bronchitis, which carry standard or substandard rates, depending on the severity of the illness.