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Life insurance and encephalitis

You may be able to apply for coverage as normal depending on your recovery.


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Having had encephalitis won’t cause an insurance provider to immediately reject your life insurance application, but you may want to hold off on applying right away if you’ve only recently recovered.

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How will encephalitis affect my ability to get life insurance?

Depending on your type of encephalitis, recovery and any ongoing treatments for secondary conditions, it may end up being a nonissue. Because the severity of encephalitis spans a large range, how it affects your ability to get insurance will ultimately depend on your specific experience.

Other factors around your encephalitis might also play a part in how your application is assessed.

Secondary factors that may affect your ability to get life insurance

  • Your age
  • The health of your immune system
  • Whether you’re regularly around disease-carrying pests
  • Continuation of antiseizure medications after recovery
  • Resulting mood disorders or personality changes

What will insurers want to know about my encephalitis

More often than not, encephalitis is caused by a viral infection. However, whether yours was isn’t the only question insurance providers will likely have.

When you’re going to apply, plan on having the following ready:

  • When you were first diagnosed. How long ago you had encephalitis puts the rest of the information you’ll give into context. If it’s only been a short while and you’re still experiencing symptoms, it may be better to apply at a later time once you’ve recovered some.
  • The underlying cause. The cause is important because it provides a better look at how much your health is at risk going forward. A bacterial or viral infection can be treated and more or less dealt with in one go, whereas a post-infectious encephalitis episode can be due to a larger underlying condition that may up your risk factor.
  • Any recent test results or imaging. Brain imaging and spinal tap results can be used by the insurer to determine how severe your condition is.
  • Medications you’re taking. Your medication list would likely be scrutinized regardless, but in the context of encephalitis insurers are generally looking for signs of continuing issues post recovery — such as antianxiety or antiseizure medications.

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What are the different types of encephalitis and how will they affect my rates?

The Mayo Clinic lists two primary categories of encephalitis: primary and secondary. Each will affect your life insurance differently.

  • Primary encephalitis may not affect your rates at all. An infection of the brain directly that causes swelling is considered primary encephalitis. Because the infection can often be treated directly and in full, it’s likely that your rates will go unaffected if you apply after making a full recovery.
  • Secondary encephalitis could affect your rates. An initial infection elsewhere in the body can cause an episode of encephalitis if your immune system is compromised, this type is considered secondary. A weakened immune system is considered a big risk factor to many insurers and can lead to higher premiums.

How much time should I let pass since having had encephalitis before applying?

While the initial recovery from encephalitis can be quick, you may want to wait at least a year following your treatment to apply for life insurance.

Doing so gives you time to recover from secondary issues and symptoms that may not be immediately obvious upon discharge from the hospital. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke states that it can take as little as a week for an acute phase of encephalitis to pass, but months before a full recovery is reached.

Bottom line

While you can get life insurance with encephalitis, it may end up being a waiting game. It’s important to prepare for applying for life insurance when you have a preexisting condition to get a good idea of what you’ll need to gather and how to move forward. Compare life insurance providers to find the best possible rates for someone with your condition.

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