When you take out any insurance, insurers will calculate your level of risk so they can decide whether or not to insure you and how much it should cost. This is what’s called the ‘underwriting’ process.

Income protection policies cover you in case you can’t work for any health reason. Since it’s a health-related insurance product, insurers will need to know about your health before agreeing to cover you. It’s important to be completely honest and accurate during the medical underwriting process to make sure you don’t invalidate your policy down the line.

Depending on how severe your epilepsy is, you might find it more difficult or more expensive to get insured. This is because insurers may consider you a higher risk to insure (so they’ll charge more to carry that risk or place an exclusion on your condition) or too high risk (so they won’t be willing to insure you at all).

Can I buy income protection if I’ve got epilepsy?

You might be able to buy income protection if you’ve got epilepsy, but it depends on the information you provide about your condition and its severity. Anyone who applies for income protection has to answer questions about their health and lifestyle, which includes questions about their:

  • Personal health history
  • Family health history
  • Height and weight (BMI)
  • Smoking status

All of this will be taken into account during the underwriting process, as the insurer evaluates how much of a ‘risk’ you are to insure and how much you should pay to be covered.

Getting help from an adviser can really help if you’ve got a health condition like epilepsy, as they’ll quickly be able to filter out the insurers most likely to accept your application, who offer the best terms for you and your circumstances.

What will insurers ask about my epilepsy?

If you’ve got epilepsy, it’s likely you’ll be required to provide the following info during the underwriting process:

  • When you were diagnosed with epilepsy
  • The cause of your epilepsy (if known)
  • What type of epilepsy you have
  • Whether you’re receiving treatment for your epilepsy
  • How many epileptic fits you have per year
  • When you last had an epileptic fit
  • Whether you’ve ever required surgery for your condition
  • Whether your condition has ever caused psychological or intellectual impairment
  • Whether you’re awaiting any surgery, referrals, tests or test results for your condition

How will my epilepsy affect my income protection application?

Typically, there are a few possible outcomes when you apply for income protection insurance but disclose a pre-existing health condition like epilepsy. These include:

  1. Your application being accepted on standard rates – this is only likely to happen in very mild cases of epilepsy (e.g. petit mal)
  2. Your application being accepted but with a ‘loading’ on the price  (i.e. your rates will be higher than they would be for someone without epilepsy) – again this is only likely to happen in relatively mild cases
  3. Your application being accepted with an exclusion placed on the policy relating to your condition – this is likely to happen with more severe cases of epilepsy
  4. Your application being declined – this could happen if your condition is very severe

Why are some people too high risk for insurers?

It’s true that having a health condition like epilepsy could make you ineligible for products like life insurance and income protection insurance, especially if it’s severe. The same is true of other health conditions. The reason insurers exclude some people on the basis of their health is so that they can offer a product that is fairly priced for the majority of people.

What’s the logic behind this? People with an existing or previous health condition (especially if severe) are more likely to claim on health-related insurance products, so insurers would need to charge more in average monthly premiums if they were to carry the risk of covering these people. A higher rate of claims by people with severe health issues would drive the price up for everyone. This is deemed unfair by insurers, so they tend to decline covering people with severe health issues.

Why it’s important to disclose your epilepsy

When applying for income protection, it’s extremely important to answer all the health questions honestly. If you don’t disclose that you’ve got epilepsy, even if it’s mild or you haven’t experienced symptoms for a long time, you risk invalidating your policy and it not paying out in the future. Not being honest during medical underwriting is the most common reason for claims not being paid out by insurers.

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  • You can apply for income protection even if you have an existing health condition like epilepsy
  • If you have epilepsy, you must disclose it during the application process, otherwise you risk invalidating your policy in the future
  • If you disclose that you have epilepsy when applying for income protection, extra medical information will be required from you during the underwriting process
  • In mild cases of epilepsy, insurers might accept your application as normal or accept it but charge a higher premium
  • In more severe cases of epilepsy, insurers accept your application but add an exclusion to your policy or decline your application