Heidi works with top-rated life insurance carriers to bring her clients the highest quality protection at the most competitive prices. She is a wife, mom, and former school teacher, specializing in helping families. As parents, it's our responsibility to ensure our family is financially sound, regardless of what life brings. Her goal is to make the process of obtaining life insurance as simp...

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Benjamin Carr was a licensed insurance agent in Georgia and has two years' experience in life, health, property and casualty coverage. He has worked with State Farm and other risk management firms. He is also a strategic writer and editor with a background in branding, marketing, and quality assurance. He has been in military newsrooms — literally on the frontline of journalism.

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Reviewed by Benji Carr
Former Licensed Life Insurance Agent Benji Carr

UPDATED: Apr 8, 2022

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There’s an age-old discourse about whether life imitates art or art imitates life. Either way, the two are closely connected.

Lupus can even be viewed through an artistic lens (!).

Imagine your life as one big theatrical performance (not too difficult, right?) You are, of course, the star of the show, and those close to you will be playing the requisite supporting roles. Now assign Lupus a role in the production – that of stagehand. Lupus’ job is to be as inconspicuous as possible: to stay behind the scenes, disrupt nothing, and if movement is necessary, attempt to blend in with the scenery. – Sara Gorman, Despite Lupus

Sara’s description of lupus is spot-on. If it’s to be a part of your life, give lupus proper jobs, and keep it organized so disturbance is kept to a minimum.

Case in point – We don’t want lupus to interfere with your ability to purchase life insurance.

And, here’s the good news – if that pesky stagehand is acting up and hindering your efforts to purchase life insurance (let’s say you’ve been declined before), you are not out of choices. There are life insurance options available to you.

Use our Table of Contents below to find everything you need to know about lupus, as well as how it affects life insurance (there are 6 ways).

Lupus 101

Lupus, also known as systemic lupus erythematosus, is an inflammatory autoimmune disease caused when the immune system attacks its own tissues. Like other autoimmune diseases, it is very common, with approximately 200,000 new cases diagnosed annually.

Mount Sinai, a highly rated hospital system based out of New York, published an informative overview of lupus:

Key Lupus Facts (sources: National Institute of Health and Mayo Clinic):

Who gets lupus?

Anyone can get lupus, regardless of age or gender:

  • Affects women most often (about 90%)
    • More common in women of African American, Asian, Hispanic or Native American descent
  • Often diagnosed between the ages of 15 – 44
  • A common condition with more than 1.5 million Americans affected

What are the symptoms of lupus?

  • fatigue
  • pain and swelling in joints
  • skin rashes
  • fevers
  • sun sensitivity
  • hair loss
  • pale or purple fingers or toes
  • oral ulcers
  • arthritis
  • lung, heart, kidney problems

What causes lupus?

The cause of lupus is unknown.

It’s likely that lupus occurs as a result of a combination of genetics and environment. In other words, people with an inherited predisposition for lupus may develop it during an environmental trigger:

  • sunlight
  • infections
  • medications

How are you diagnosed with lupus?

Lupus is difficult to diagnose. No single test exists to diagnose lupus. Rather, physicians use a multitude of tools:

  • complete physical
  • bloodwork
  • skin and kidney biopsies
  • urinalysis
  • antinuclear antibody (ANA) test
  • imaging (x-ray, echocardiogram)

How is lupus treated?

Treatment is dependent on your symptoms. During a flare, additional treatment is often needed.

It’s crucial to collaborate with your physician (family doctor, rheumatologist, clinical immunologist) to create a comprehensive treatment plan.

Common medications include:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS)
  • Corticosteroids
  • Antimalarial drugs
  • Immunosuppressants

Additional forms of treatment include:

  • Counseling
  • Social worker

How can you take action?

Proactive management of lupus has proven to be effective. (Remember, we want that stagehand on point.)

  • Document symptoms
  • Visit physician regularly
  • Focus on a healthy lifestyle –
    • Healthy diet
    • Regular exercise
    • Stress reduction

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Lupus And Life Insurance

It’s very common to shop for life insurance when you have lupus. Here are the six things life insurance carriers will want to know:

1. Date Of Diagnosis

Life insurance carriers will want to know how long you have had lupus.

Here are some specifics on life insurance ratings for lupus for traditional life insurance (note: the higher the table rating, the higher the surcharge you will pay on your life insurance premiums) –

For the most common form of lupus, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)

  • Lupus diagnosed at 20 years or younger – Decline
  • Lupus diagnosed after the age of 20:
    • Diagnosed within the last 12 months – Postpone
    • Diagnosed within the last 1-3 years – Table 8
    • Diagnosed within the last 3-4 years – Table 6
    • Diagnosed within the last 4-5 years – Table 4
    • Diagnosed 5 or more years ago – Standard or Table 2 
  • Note: if diagnosed after the age of 60, subtract 2 Table ratings
  • Also note: if you are on Disability because of lupus – Decline 

2. Type Of Lupus

You will be asked what type of lupus you have. For example, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is the most common form. SLE is most closely associated with the term, “lupus”.

Other less common forms include:

  • Discoid lupus erythematosus (primarily affects the skin and often has more favorable life insurance rates than SLE)
  • Subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus
  • Drug-induced lupus

3. Parts Of Body Affected

Life insurance underwriters will ask you what parts of the body have been affected by lupus.

For example, lupus can affect:

  • skin
  • joints
  • lungs
  • heart
  • kidneys
  • brain
  • blood vessels

If your major organs have been affected by lupus, such as your heart or lungs, it will be difficult to find an approval for traditional life insurance.

4. Is your condition active?

Lupus is elusive in that it can disappear and reappear. You will be asked about how active your lupus is:

  1. Has lupus completely disappeared?
    • If so, when?
    • When did you receive your last treatment?
  2. If your lupus has disappeared, has it reoccurred?
    • If so, when?
    • How often do you experience flares?

5. Treatment

Life insurance carriers are definitely interested in what types of medications and treatments you receive for your lupus. Specifically, they will want to know about:

  • Steroids (corticosteroids, such as Prednisone, are viewed negatively by life insurance companies because of potential negative side effects)
  • Immunosuppressants (again, life insurance companies are concerned with negative side effects)
  • Antimalarial drugs are also a concern
  • If you are under the care of a therapist

6. Health Conditions

Often, additional health conditions are experienced with lupus. For example, you will be asked about the following:

  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • If you have a history of:
    • other autoimmune conditions
    • smoking
    • kidney disease
    • cancer
  • Disability
  • Depression

Let’s consider a few example scenarios for a frame of reference:

  1. Lucy is 29 years old. She’s 5’7″ and 140 lbs. She was diagnosed with lupus (SLE) at 22. She does not use tobacco. Lucy only requires NSAIDS for periodic pain. Lucy lives an active life and is not on disability. She hasn’t experienced additional health conditions. Lucy would likely qualify for Standard to Table 2 traditional life insurance.
  2. Lynn is 35 years old. She’s 5’8″ and 145 lbs. She was diagnosed with lupus (SLE) at 30 years old. She does not use tobacco. After an initial flareup and Prednisone prescription, her symptoms have disappeared. Lynn lives an active life and doesn’t experience underlying health conditions. She is not on disability. Lynn would likely qualify for a Table 2 to 4 traditional life insurance.
  3. Layla is 42 years old. She’s 5’5″ and 138 lbs. She was diagnosed with lupus (SLE) 39. She smokes cigarettes regularly. Layla regularly takes a high-dose of Prednisone to control pain and inflammation associated with her lupus. Additionally, she has been diagnosed with kidney disease. Layla is unable to work and received Disability payments. Layla would receive a Decline for traditional life insurance.

Note: Examples provided are merely for informative purposes. Each applicant is different.

The Bottom Line

If you’re wondering – does life insurance cover lupus, you should know that a lupus diagnosis can impact your life insurance application. However, there are options available, even if you’ve been previously declined. A diagnosis of lupus can be life changing and may affect your quality of life.  It’s important to remember a life with lupus can be managed with support of your healthcare provider.

How To Apply

Not all life insurance carriers view lupus patients in the same light. That’s why it’s essential to partner with an independent life insurance agent who has experience in helping clients with lupus find high-quality life insurance at a competitive price.

Independent agents are not held captive to a particular carrier and have your best interest at heart. You will receive multiple quotes from multiple carriers to find the best policy for you.