Securing Life Insurance with Sickle Cell Disease

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16 Minute read

Originally published: May 15, 2023

Life Insurance with Sickle Cell Disease in Canada

Talk to one of our experienced advisors today!

16 Minute read
Originally published: May 15, 2023

Life Insurance with Sickle Cell Disease in Canada

Individuals with chronic health issues like sickle cell disease may find it especially difficult to navigate the world of life insurance.  In this blog, we delve into the complexities of securing life insurance with sickle cell disease, exploring everything from how the condition can impact premiums and coverage to strategies for improving your chances of getting insured.

We’ll also provide an overview of the legal protections against genetic discrimination, highlight insurance companies that offer coverage for those with the condition, and answer some frequently asked questions. Through it all, we hope to equip you with the knowledge you need to confidently approach life insurance, no matter the health hurdles you may face.

Overview of Sickle Cell Disease

Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a group of blood disorders typically inherited from a person’s parents. The most common type is known as sickle cell anemia (SCA). It results in an abnormality in the oxygen-carrying protein hemoglobin found in red blood cells.

The key characteristic of SCD is the presence of sickle-shaped red blood cells. Normal red blood cells are round and flexible, allowing them to easily move through blood vessels. In SCD, the red blood cells become rigid and sticky, and they’re shaped like sickles or crescent moons. These irregularly shaped cells can get stuck in small blood vessels, which can slow or block blood flow and oxygen to parts of the body.

Causes: Sickle cell disease is caused by a mutation in the gene that tells your body to make hemoglobin — the iron-rich compound that gives blood its red color, carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body, and returns carbon dioxide from the body to the lungs to be exhaled. This mutation results in the production of abnormal hemoglobin known as hemoglobin S.

Inheritance: Sickle cell disease is inherited in an autosomal recessive manner. This means that both the mother and the father must pass on the defective form of the gene for a child to be affected. If only one parent passes the sickle cell gene to the child, that child will have the sickle cell trait, which means the child would not typically develop the disease, but could pass the trait on to their own children.

Symptoms: Symptoms can vary greatly from person to person and can change over time. They may include anemia (which can lead to fatigue), episodes of pain (“crises”), swelling of hands and feet, frequent infections, and delayed growth in infants and children. Some people have mild symptoms, while others are frequently hospitalized for more severe complications.

Diagnosis: Sickle cell disease is usually diagnosed at birth with newborn screening tests. For those not tested at birth, a blood test can be done later to check for the disease. If the test is positive, further tests will be performed to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment: There’s no universal cure for sickle cell disease, but treatments can help relieve pain, prevent complications, and improve quality of life. They may include medications to reduce pain and prevent complications, blood transfusions, and supplemental oxygen. A potential cure for SCD is hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT), but it’s not an option for everyone due to the significant risks involved.

Prevention: Genetic counseling and testing can help individuals understand their risk of passing the disease to their children. Prenatal testing can also identify if a baby will have the disease or carry the trait.

This disease primarily affects people of African descent, but it can also affect Hispanic, southern European, Middle Eastern, and Asian Indian families. Researchers are working on a variety of treatment and prevention strategies for sickle cell disease, including gene therapy and new medications.

Case Study: Aiden’s Journey Obtaining Life Insurance With Sickle Cell Disease

Life Insurance with Sickle Cell Disease case study

Aiden, a 32-year-old swimming coach living in Toronto, was diagnosed with sickle cell disease at a young age. Despite this, he has been able to manage his condition effectively through regular medical care, a balanced diet, and a healthy lifestyle. He maintains a regular exercise routine and avoids high-risk behaviors like smoking and excessive drinking.

In his early thirties, Aiden started thinking about getting life insurance as a means of ensuring financial stability for his spouse and two young children should anything happen to him. However, he soon discovered that having sickle cell disease can complicate the process.

Aiden’s first application for life insurance was denied due to his condition. Although this was disheartening, he didn’t let it deter him. He decided to work with a broker who specializes in high-risk cases and began to explore different insurance companies and policies.

The broker helped him identify several companies that were willing to work with individuals with chronic conditions like sickle cell disease. These included Assumption Life and Canada Protection Plan, both of which offer no medical life insurance options.

After thoroughly reviewing his options, Aiden opted for a guaranteed issue policy from Assumption Life. While the premiums were somewhat higher than a standard policy, it provided the assurance that his family would be financially protected regardless of any health complications related to his disease. Aiden was satisfied with this decision, knowing that he had secured a safety net for his family while navigating the complex landscape of life insurance with a chronic condition.

Aiden’s story serves as a reminder that, although challenging, it is possible to obtain life insurance with sickle cell disease. By effectively managing his condition, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, working with a knowledgeable broker, and exploring all available options, Aiden was able to find a solution that met his needs and provided peace of mind for his family’s future.

How does Sickle Cell Disease Affect Life Insurance?

Sickle cell disease can significantly affect a person’s ability to secure life insurance for several reasons:

  1. Increased Risk: Life insurance companies assess the risk profile of an individual before issuing a policy. Sickle cell disease is a chronic condition that can lead to serious health complications, including pain crises, infections, stroke, and organ damage. This increased health risk can make it more challenging for an individual with sickle cell disease to secure a life insurance policy.
  2. Higher Premiums: Due to the increased risk associated with sickle cell disease, insurance companies may charge higher premiums to provide coverage. The amount of the increase can vary greatly depending on the severity of the disease, the individual’s overall health, and the specific insurance company’s policies.
  3. Medical Underwriting: The process of applying for life insurance typically involves medical underwriting, where the insurer evaluates an individual’s health status. For those with sickle cell disease, this process may involve providing detailed medical records, undergoing additional medical tests, and potentially facing more scrutiny than a typical applicant.
  4. Limited Coverage Options: Some insurers may limit the types of policies offered to individuals with sickle cell disease or exclude coverage for death related to the disease. For example, a policy might be offered with a graded death benefit, where the full death benefit isn’t available until the policy has been in force for several years.
  5. Possible Denial of Coverage: In some cases, insurers may deny coverage altogether if they perceive the risk as too high. This decision is usually based on the individual’s overall health, the severity and management of their sickle cell disease, and other risk factors like lifestyle or additional health conditions.

Despite these challenges, it’s important to note that insurance policies and their underwriting guidelines can vary significantly from one company to another. Some insurers specialize in high-risk cases and may be more willing to provide coverage to individuals with sickle cell disease. It’s also worth noting that advancements in the treatment and management of sickle cell disease have led to improved life expectancy, which could influence insurers’ assessments of risk over time.

As always, anyone seeking life insurance, particularly those with a chronic condition like sickle cell disease, should consider consulting with an insurance professional or financial advisor to understand their options and navigate the application process.

What Should People with Sickle Cell Disease Look for in a Life Insurance Policy?

People with sickle cell disease face unique challenges when looking for life insurance coverage. While specific needs may vary depending on individual circumstances, here are some general things to consider:

Key Considerations when choosing a life insurance policy
  1. Guaranteed Issue Policies: These are policies that do not require a medical exam or detailed health questionnaire. They’re often more expensive, but they provide an option for those who might struggle to get coverage due to health conditions like sickle cell disease.
  2. Companies Specializing in High-Risk Policies: Some insurance companies specialize in offering policies to high-risk individuals, including those with chronic illnesses. Researching and seeking out these companies may lead to better coverage options and potentially lower premiums.
  3. Comprehensive Coverage: Look for a policy that doesn’t exclude death from complications related to sickle cell disease. Be sure to thoroughly understand any exclusions or restrictions before purchasing a policy.
  4. Graded Benefit Policies: These policies pay only a partial benefit if the insured person dies within the first few years of the policy. After that initial period, they pay the full benefit. This can be a viable option for individuals with health conditions that might otherwise disqualify them from coverage.
  5. Flexible Premium Payments: A policy that offers flexible premium payments could be beneficial, especially considering that managing a chronic illness can sometimes lead to financial instability.
  6. Rider Options: Riders are additional benefits that can be added to a life insurance policy. Some may be particularly useful for people with sickle cell disease, such as a critical illness rider, which provides a lump sum payout if the insured is diagnosed with a specific illness.
  7. Affordable Premiums: While this is a consideration for anyone purchasing life insurance, it’s particularly important for those with chronic illnesses who may also face significant medical expenses.
  8. Reputable Companies: Look for an insurance company with a good reputation for handling claims fairly and promptly, and one that is financially stable.

It’s important for individuals with sickle cell disease to consult with an insurance professional, financial advisor, or a broker who specializes in high-risk cases. They can provide guidance on the best options for their situation and help navigate the complex process of securing life insurance.

How Can People with Sickle Cell Disease Improve their Chances of Getting Life Insurance?

People with sickle cell disease can improve their chances of getting life insurance by adopting a few strategies.

Firstly, managing the disease effectively is critical. Regular check-ups and following the treatment plan outlined by your healthcare provider not only improves your health but also demonstrates to insurance companies that you are proactive about your wellbeing.

A second strategy is maintaining detailed and accurate medical records. These records should clearly show your diagnosis, treatment plan, and how well the disease is being managed. The more comprehensive and positive the medical history, the better the chances of securing coverage.

Thirdly, a healthy lifestyle can also positively impact insurance eligibility. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and abstaining from high-risk behaviors such as smoking or excessive alcohol consumption can contribute to overall health and thus, improve chances of obtaining life insurance.

Fourthly, consider working with an insurance broker, specifically one who has experience with high-risk policies. These professionals understand the ins and outs of the insurance industry and can guide you to companies that are more likely to provide coverage to individuals with sickle cell disease.

Lastly, it’s important to shop around and explore various insurance options. Different insurance companies have different policies and underwriting processes, so it’s beneficial to explore all available options to find the best coverage.

While obtaining life insurance with a chronic condition like sickle cell disease can be challenging, it’s certainly not impossible. With careful management of the disease, diligent record-keeping, healthy lifestyle habits, and professional guidance, individuals with sickle cell disease can improve their chances of securing life insurance coverage.

Talk to an advisor today.

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What are Some Life Insurance Companies that Offer Coverage to People with Sickle Cell Disease?

While life insurance companies may vary in their underwriting process and it’s difficult to provide an exhaustive list, there are insurers known to provide coverage for individuals with chronic diseases like sickle cell disease.

Assumption Life: This company offers a range of policies, including no medical life insurance options. For those with serious health conditions, they offer a guaranteed issue life insurance policy, which requires no medical exam or health questionnaire.

Canada Protection Plan: They provide various life insurance policies, including a simplified issue policy, which has no medical exam and only a few health questions. For those unable to qualify for other plans, they also offer a guaranteed acceptance life policy.

Sun Life Financial: Sun Life is one of Canada’s largest and most well-known insurance providers. They offer various types of coverage and have options for those with chronic health conditions.

Industrial Alliance: This company also offers no medical life insurance options. Their policies range from simplified issue (few health questions and no medical exam) to guaranteed issue (no health questions or medical exam).

BMO Insurance: BMO offers both standard life insurance policies and guaranteed issue policies, which could be suitable for those with sickle cell disease.

What are the Legal Protections for People with Sickle Cell Disease?

Legal protections for individuals with genetic disorders like sickle cell disease vary depending on the province. They aim to protect individuals from discrimination based on their genetic information or health status.

In Canada, the Genetic Non-Discrimination Act, passed in 2017, prohibits requiring genetic testing or the use of the results of a genetic test as a condition of providing goods or services, including insurance. 

Its important to remember that these laws are subject to change, and there can be variations and nuances in how they’re applied, so it’s important to consult with a legal expert or a knowledgeable insurance professional understand the current protections and how they might affect your ability to obtain life insurance.


Securing life insurance when living with sickle cell disease can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. While it’s true that the disease can influence the underwriting process, leading to higher premiums or even denial of coverage, there are still viable options available. From guaranteed issue policies and companies specializing in high-risk cases, to managing the disease effectively and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, there are ways to improve the chances of obtaining life insurance.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about  Life Insurance with Sickle Cell Disease

Yes, it’s possible to get life insurance if you have sickle cell disease. However, the process can be more complex, and you may face higher premiums or restrictions on coverage. Some insurance companies offer guaranteed issue policies that don’t require a medical exam, which could be an option for those with sickle cell disease.

Life insurance premiums are based on risk assessment. Because sickle cell disease is a chronic condition that can lead to serious health complications, insurance companies may consider individuals with this disease as higher risk, which can result in higher premiums.

Effectively managing your disease, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, keeping detailed medical records, and working with an insurance broker experienced in high-risk cases can improve your chances. It’s also beneficial to shop around and explore different insurance companies and policies.

Yes, some insurance companies specialize in high-risk cases and may offer coverage to individuals with sickle cell disease. 

Look for policies that don’t exclude coverage related to your disease, companies that offer flexible premium payments, and policies with optional riders for critical illness. Guaranteed issue policies and companies specializing in high-risk cases can also be good options.

The “best” type of life insurance will depend on your individual circumstances, including the severity of your disease, your overall health, your financial situation, and your family’s needs. Consulting with an insurance professional can help you determine the best type of life insurance for your situation.

Find a solution for what you’re looking for

Navigating the world of life insurance with sickle cell disease may present unique challenges, but with informed decision-making, professional guidance, and persistent exploration of options, it’s entirely possible to secure a policy that offers both peace of mind and financial protection for your loved ones. At Protect Your Wealth, we work with and compare policies and quotes from the best life insurance companies in Canada to ensure the best solution for you and your needs. We provide expert life insurance solutions, including no medical life insurance, critical illness insurance, term life insurance, and permanent life insurance to build the best package to give you the protection you need. 

To schedule a consultation about your income protection goals, or if you have any questions about insurance in Ontario or Canada, please contact Protect Your Wealth or call us at 1-877-654-6119 to talk to an advisor today! We’re proudly based out of Hamilton, and service clients anywhere in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta including areas such as Waterloo, Mississauga, Edmonton, and Nanaimo.

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