≡ Menu

Life Insurance, Spina Bifida, Frequently Asked Questions

Life insurance is a crucial component of financial protection, providing a safety net for loved ones in the event of an untimely passing. However, obtaining life insurance with Spina Bifida can be a daunting task due to the condition’s inherent risks. In this article, we delve into the world of life insurance for individuals with Spina Bifida, exploring the challenges they may face, strategies to secure coverage, and alternative options to ensure financial stability.

By shedding light on this topic, we aim to empower individuals with Spina Bifida to navigate the complexities of life insurance and make informed decisions for a secure future.

Understanding Spina Bifida

Spina Bifida is a congenital condition that affects the development of the spinal cord and the bones surrounding it. It occurs during fetal development when the neural tube, which eventually forms the brain and spinal cord, fails to close completely. This incomplete closure can result in various degrees of spinal cord and nerve damage, leading to a range of symptoms and health complications.


The exact causes of Spina Bifida are not fully understood, but it is believed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Certain risk factors, such as a family history of Spina Bifida, maternal obesity, and inadequate intake of folic acid during pregnancy, may increase the chances of a baby developing this condition.


The severity of symptoms associated with Spina Bifida can vary widely depending on the type and location of the spinal cord defect. The three main types of Spina Bifida are occulta, meningocele, and myelomeningocele. Occulta is the mildest form, often causing no symptoms or only minor spinal abnormalities. Meningocele involves the protrusion of the protective covering of the spinal cord through an opening in the vertebrae, resulting in a sac-like structure. Myelomeningocele is the most severe form, characterized by the protrusion of both the protective covering and the spinal cord itself, often leading to significant nerve damage.

Common symptoms of Spina Bifida may include:

  • Visible sac or opening on the back
  • Weakness or paralysis in the legs
  • Problems with bladder and bowel control
  • Hydrocephalus (accumulation of fluid in the brain)
  • Orthopedic issues, such as scoliosis or clubfoot
  • Learning disabilities and cognitive challenges


There is no cure for Spina Bifida, but early intervention and treatment can significantly improve an individual’s quality of life. Treatment approaches may include surgical interventions to repair the spinal cord defect and address associated complications like hydrocephalus. Physical therapy, occupational therapy, and assistive devices are often recommended to enhance mobility and independence. Ongoing medical management is crucial to monitor and manage potential health issues related to Spina Bifida.

Worst Case Scenario:

In severe cases of Spina Bifida, individuals may experience significant physical and cognitive disabilities. The condition can lead to permanent paralysis, loss of bladder and bowel control, and complications related to hydrocephalus. The impact on an individual’s quality of life and independence can be substantial, requiring extensive medical care, long-term support, and adaptive equipment.

Impact on One’s Life Insurance Application

When it comes to obtaining life insurance with Spina Bifida, the severity of the condition plays a significant role in the application process. Insurance companies assess the risks associated with pre-existing medical conditions to determine the insurability and premium rates for applicants. Here’s a breakdown of how Spina Bifida severity can impact a life insurance application:

Mild Spina Bifida: For individuals with mild Spina Bifida, such as those with the occulta type, where there are no or minimal symptoms, it may be possible to qualify for life insurance coverage. In some cases, applicants may be able to secure a substandard or table rate, which means they will pay higher premiums compared to individuals without pre-existing conditions. However, the ability to obtain coverage will depend on the insurance company’s underwriting guidelines and the overall health of the applicant.

Moderate to Severe Spina Bifida: When Spina Bifida is moderate or severe, such as with meningocele or myelomeningocele, where there are more pronounced symptoms and significant nerve damage, the likelihood of being denied life insurance coverage increases. Insurance companies typically consider the potential risks associated with severe forms of Spina Bifida, including the increased probability of health complications, mobility limitations, and potential impact on life expectancy.

Insurance providers rely on actuarial data and risk assessments to determine the eligibility and premiums for applicants. Severe Spina Bifida cases may be perceived as high-risk, resulting in a denial of coverage due to the potential financial liability associated with the condition.

Alternative Options: In cases where individuals with moderate to severe Spina Bifida are unable to secure traditional life insurance coverage, alternative options should be explored.  Alternative options such as Guaranteed issue life insurance policies, accidental death insurance, and group life insurance through an employer when available.

Factors that will be considered during underwriting

During the underwriting process for life insurance with Spina Bifida, several factors will be considered by insurance companies to assess the risk and determine the insurability and premium rates. Here are some key factors that typically influence the underwriting decision:

  1. Medical History: The applicant’s medical history, including the type and severity of Spina Bifida, will be thoroughly evaluated. The underwriter will review medical records, diagnostic tests, and any relevant surgeries or treatments related to the condition. They will assess the overall health status and look for any associated complications or comorbidities.
  2. Symptoms and Functional Limitations: The impact of Spina Bifida on daily functioning and activities will be considered. The underwriter may assess the individual’s mobility, level of independence, and any limitations or disabilities resulting from the condition.
  3. Treatment and Medications: The underwriter will evaluate the treatment plan and adherence to medical recommendations. They may consider whether the applicant is receiving regular medical care, following prescribed medications, and undergoing any necessary therapies or surgeries.
  4. Complications and Health Risks: Potential complications associated with Spina Bifida, such as hydrocephalus, bladder and bowel issues, orthopedic problems, and cognitive challenges, will be taken into account. The underwriter will assess the severity and stability of these complications and their impact on the applicant’s overall health.
  5. Functional Assessments: Functional assessments may be conducted to determine the individual’s physical abilities, such as mobility, strength, and range of motion. These assessments can provide additional insights into the applicant’s functional limitations and overall health status.
  6. Medical Documentation: The underwriter will review medical records, including specialist reports, hospitalization records, and any relevant imaging or diagnostic tests. These documents provide crucial information about the applicant’s Spina Bifida diagnosis, treatments, and ongoing management.
  7. Lifestyle Factors: Lifestyle factors, such as smoking, alcohol consumption, and participation in risky activities, may also be taken into consideration during the underwriting process. These factors can influence the overall health and mortality risk of the applicant.

It’s important to note that different insurance companies may have varying underwriting guidelines and risk tolerance levels for Spina Bifida. Therefore, it is beneficial to work with an experienced insurance agent or broker who can navigate the underwriting process and find insurance providers that specialize in covering individuals with pre-existing conditions.

Tips to Improve One’s Chances of Getting Insured

Securing life insurance with Spina Bifida can be challenging, but there are steps individuals can take to improve their chances of obtaining coverage. Here are some tips to increase insurability and potentially secure life insurance:

  1. Research and Compare Insurance Providers: Not all insurance companies have the same underwriting guidelines or policies regarding pre-existing conditions. Research and compare different insurance providers to find those that are more lenient or specialize in covering individuals with Spina Bifida. Working with an experienced insurance agent or broker can be invaluable in identifying suitable options.
  2. Maintain Good Overall Health: While Spina Bifida is a pre-existing condition, insurers consider an individual’s overall health when assessing risk. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, managing any comorbidities, and following recommended medical treatments can improve the overall health profile and increase the chances of obtaining coverage.
  3. Gather and Organize Medical Documentation: Prepare comprehensive and up-to-date medical records related to Spina Bifida. This includes reports from specialists, diagnostic tests, surgical procedures, and a detailed treatment history. Having organized and complete medical documentation will help insurance underwriters evaluate the condition accurately.
  4. Provide Additional Information: Along with medical records, consider including a detailed personal statement that highlights your management of Spina Bifida, adherence to treatment plans, and overall lifestyle choices. This can help underwriters understand your commitment to health and managing the condition effectively.
  5. Work with an Experienced Insurance Agent or Broker: An insurance professional who is knowledgeable about Spina Bifida and familiar with insurers’ underwriting processes can guide you through the application process. They can help you present your case effectively, provide recommendations on suitable insurance providers, and negotiate on your behalf.
  6. Consider Specialized Insurance Policies: Explore specialized life insurance policies designed for individuals with pre-existing conditions. These policies may have more flexible underwriting guidelines and higher acceptance rates for individuals with Spina Bifida.
  7. Be Realistic about Coverage Limits and Premiums: Understand that coverage limits and premium rates may differ for individuals with Spina Bifida. Being realistic about the potential cost of coverage and available policy options will help you make informed decisions.

Remember, each insurance company has its own underwriting process, so it’s essential to be patient and persistent in your search for suitable coverage. By following these tips and seeking professional guidance, you can improve your chances of securing life insurance coverage that provides financial security for you and your loved ones.

Final thoughts…

Obtaining life insurance with Spina Bifida may present challenges, but it is not impossible. By understanding the factors that insurance companies consider during the underwriting process and taking proactive steps, individuals with Spina Bifida can improve their chances of securing coverage. Researching and comparing insurance providers, maintaining good overall health, gathering comprehensive medical documentation, and working with experienced insurance professionals are crucial steps to navigating the application process successfully.

While traditional coverage may not always be attainable, exploring alternative options such as guaranteed issue life insurance policies or accidental death insurance that can provide financial security.

Remember, financial planning is essential for everyone, including individuals with Spina Bifida, and securing appropriate life insurance coverage can contribute to a more secure future.