About Epilepsy & Seizures
Epilepsy, or seizure disorder, is a neurological condition that comes from abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Epilepsy is a chronic disorder that is typically diagnosed once there has been a history of two or more seizures that were not provoked by a specific preceding cause. According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 3 million Americans have epilepsy. The incidence is highest in early childhood and has recently begun to become more prevalent in the elderly.
Types & Causes of Epilepsy
Epilepsy is categorized as being either symptomatic or idiopathic. Causes of symptomatic or acquired epilepsy may include genetic birth factors, infections, toxins, alcohol withdrawal, trauma, circulatory and metabolic disorders, tumors, and degenerative diseases. It is termed idiopathic if there is no evidence of an organic brain lesion and no known underlying cause. The majority of cases of epilepsy are idiopathic.
Seizures can be subdivided into partial and generalized seizures. Partial seizures are localized to one area of the brain and are either simple or complex. Simple partial seizures have no alteration of consciousness, while complex partial seizures have altered consciousness.
Generalized seizures involve both sides of the brain or the entire brain. Types of generalized seizures include tonic-clonic or myoclonic (grand mal) seizures, absence (petit mal) seizures, as well as atonic, tonic, and clonic seizures. Status epilepticus is a medical emergency in which there is a prolonged continuous seizure or multiple seizures without full recovery of consciousness in between and is associated with a high mortality rate that can be up to 20% or higher per episode.
Evaluation & Treatment of Epilepsy
Evaluation and treatment for epilepsy is typically done via electroencephalography (EEG). An EEG measures the electrical activity of the brain and can help confirm that epilepsy is present. This may also help classify the type of epilepsy. Imaging of the brain can also be a useful tool for evaluating seizures and is usually done with an MRI or CT scan. The goal of epilepsy treatment is to eliminate or reduce the seizure activity with minimal side effects of the treatment. While most epileptics will achieve adequate seizure control with medicines, up to one-third will not.
Life Insurance Underwriting for Epilepsy & Seizures
Here are the primary questions to ask a proposed insured who presents with a history of epilepsy or seizures:
- Age of onset or diagnosis? How long/time since diagnosis?
- Type of seizures? Is there any known cause, or are they idiopathic?
- Number of seizures, on average, per year?
- If they’ve ceased, when was the last?
- Has there been adequate work up including EEG, MRI, or CT scan?
- How is it being treated? Have there been any surgeries?
- Any complications? Status epilepticus? Alcohol misuse?
The underwriting of an applicant with epilepsy or seizures looks to several factors including the type of epilepsy or seizures, any known cause, frequency of the seizures, level of control, and any complications. Standard to low/moderate table ratings are typical, depending on the details. We even have a few carriers that indicate Preferred offers may be possible in the ideal circumstances. Please see the Epilepsy/Seizure Disorder questionnaire that will help you gather the pertinent info that we’ll need to help evaluate your case.Download the Questionnaire
As always, we’re here to help answer your questions, and provide the best underwriting services possible to help you place your case.
Click here to contact our underwriter, Mike Woods, with specific underwriting questions about epilepsy and seizures.