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Great Life Insurance Tips for Sickle Cell Applicants.

At InsuranceBrokersUSA, we work with dozens of the top carriers, including the best final expense and burial insurance companies. However, just because you have sickle cell anemia does not mean you have must go this route. For agents who don’t have any experience working with clients that have been diagnosed with sickle cell anemia, knowing what it means to be a carrier for the trait vs those who actually have sickle cell anemia can be a confusing issue during the life insurance application process.

And let’s face it…

Buying life insurance isn’t necessarily the most “fun” thing to do in the world and often times the whole process will make some people super nervous!  So nervous in fact, that they’ll often times confuse these two conditions when completing their life insurance application which can and will significantly complicate the process of getting insured!

So, for this reason…

Let’s just take a brief moment to define what it means to have sickle cell anemia and what it means to be a carrier of the sickle cell gene.

Sickle Cell Anemia…

Is a severe form of anemia in which a mutated gene is hereditarily passed from one generation to the next that distorts the hemoglobin within the red bloods cells causing them to take on a “crescent” shape at low oxygen levels.

While rare, it’s important to note that approximately 1 in 13 African Americans will be carriers for the sickle cell trait.

Symptoms and complications associated with having sickle cell will include:

  • Sudden pain in the chest as well as joint areas.
  • Dizziness, fatigue, and other symptoms associated with low levels of oxygen including shortness of breath and light headedness.
  • General feeling of malaise, or discomfort.
  • As well as inflamed appendages, such as one’s toes and or fingers.

Carrier of the Sickle Cell Trait.

The primary reason why sickle cell anemia is such a rare condition despite the fact that approximately 1 in 13 African Americans are carriers is because the sickle cell trait lies on what is called a “recessive gene”, which means that as long as you possess the more dominate healthy gene, you’ll generally not experience any of the medical problems associated with sickle cell anemia.

So, what does this mean when it comes to buying life insurance?

What this means when it comes time to purchase a life insurance policy is that for those who are simply just “carriers” of the sickle cell trait, you should still be eligible for a Preferred or Preferred Plus rate class assuming that you would otherwise be eligible for fully underwritten life insurance.

That being said however…

When it comes time to helping those who actually “have” sickle cell anemia, the process of getting insured is going to become significantly more difficult and you may need to consider simplified issue or guaranteed issue life insurance.

In fact, once we know that an applicant has been diagnosed with sickle cell anemia, the first thing that we’re going to want to know about is:

“How much life insurance are you looking for?”

We want to know the answer to this question because having sickle cell anemia will already disqualify you from being able to qualify for a simplified issue life insurance policy, now we just want to know if we need to potentially pursue a fully underwritten term or whole life insurance policy or can we simply take a look at a guaranteed issue life insurance policy?

Now you may be asking:

“What’s the difference between a fully underwritten term or whole life insurance policy vs a guaranteed issue?

Which is a great question, so much so we’ve actually written individual articles on each, so that you can get a better idea about the differences of each type of insurance policy and how each will both have their own pros and cons.

But rather than make you read those articles as well, let’s just provide a brief summary right here so that you can get a basic idea of how these policies will differ.

Fully underwritten term or whole life insurance policies will be policies…

That will require you to qualify for coverage, they will require you to:

  • Take a medical exam.
  • Answer health related questions.
  • Allow for a prescription database check to be preformed.
  • Release your DMV records.
  • And allow for a criminal background check to be preformed as well.


Guaranteed issue life insurance policies will not require a medical exam, nor will they require you to answer any type of health related questions.  The problem is that these types of policies will:

  • Generally, only provide about $25,000 in coverage.
  • Typically cost more “dollar for dollar” than other more traditional types of policies.
  • And will contain a graded death benefit

Now because of these disadvantages….

Associated with a guaranteed issue life insurance policy, we here at JustBuryMe are always going to try to pursue a fully underwritten term or whole life insurance policy should your insurance needs exceed $25,000 dollars in coverage. For those who only need $25,000 or less, simplified issue or guaranteed issue policies are available for burial insurance and final expense insurance.

The only problem is that in general, most applicants who suffer from sickle cell anemia are going to find that they are either automatically declined due to their condition, or they will only qualify for insurance at a significant rating below Standard.

How are insurance companies going to determine the rate that you will qualify for?

Insurance companies are going to look at many factors when it comes to underwriting an application from someone who has been diagnosed with sickle cell anemia, because the truth is, not all cases will present themselves with the same level of severity.

This is why the insurance companies will ask questions such as:

  • How are you treating your sickle cell anemia?
  • What medications are you taking to treat your sickle cell anemia?
  • Do you receive regular blood transfusions?
  • How often do you see your doctor/doctors regarding your condition?
  • Have you ever been hospitalized due to your condition?
  • Are you currently working now?
  • In the past 12 month’s have you applied for or received any type of disability benefits?

As you can see by these questions, unless your condition is really sever, its next to impossible for one to really predict the outcome of an insurance application until it’s reviewed by an insurance underwriter.

You see…

In addition to having the results of your medical exam, insurance companies will also typically order your medical records as well which will generally provide an accurate picture of what your overall health is like, which in turn will provide the insurance underwriter with a much better understanding of what “type” of “risk” your application represents.

Now we know…

That we’ve discussed quite a bit here in the article, and while we don’t expect you to become an expert in any of this overnight, we do hope that you’ll see that even if you do have sickle cell anemia, there’s still a really good chance you will be able to qualify for “some” type of life insurance, you just need to know what your options are.

And that’s what we’re here for!  So give us a call today and see what we can do for you!

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