As a general rule, securing various types of insurance including life, disability and long term care coverage when you are young and healthy, is the best advice. But all too often, MS or other health conditions that typically strike early in life get diagnosed before many of us have seriously considered investing in these types of financial safeguards. However, people with MS are still wise to look into insurance, even after their diagnosis, and the sooner, the better!
In a recent survey about insurance issues, members of the National MS Society indicated that securing life insurance was not generally a problem, despite their MS. In truth, many of our members may have had life insurance before their diagnosis. And while there is no reason MS should automatically disqualify anyone from a life insurance policy, you may not get the full coverage you are looking for and you may be charged a higher premium.
Clearly, it is in your best interest to try to find a policy that does not limit the value of your life insurance policy in any way, so keep shopping. A licensed insurance broker who knows about the MS and is willing to work on your behalf may be your best option. Contact your local chapter to ask if they can refer you to a knowledgeable resource.
Long term care insurance, which helps pay for home care and/or nursing home services, is not as available to people with MS. At this writing, we are aware of only one commercial insurer, Penn Treaty Network (http://www.penntreaty.com/, 1-800-789-5191) willing to sell these policies to eligible people with MS, which can also vary depending on your state of residence. Eligibility is generally limited to those able to perform all the activities of daily living, such as walking, bathing, or eating.
Disability insurance is often provided as a benefit of employment, and some self-employed people purchase it on their own. Disability insurance benefits help replace some of your income should you need to retire early due to your MS. Unfortunately, people with MS who try to purchase a disability insurance policy after their diagnosis will be disappointed. We are not aware of any commercial insurer willing to issue a disability policy to a person with MS. Remember that the Social Security Administration provides disability insurance benefits to all individuals deemed eligible by law. Read more about Social Security Disability Insurance on other parts of this website.
Finally, a word of caution about filling out application and claim forms of insurance companies. As tempting as it may be not to disclose a diagnosis of MS on an application or other form when asked about your medical history, failure to provide accurate information is a fraudulent act and violators can and will be punished to the full extent of the law.