26 Jan 2022

Life insurance and dementia

As we get older, it’s perfectly normal for our memory to be affected, which can impact our mood and behaviour around others. Understandably, many people want to know whether dementia affects their life insurance coverage. In this guide we’ll explore whether you can take out life insurance with dementia, and the implications for any payout.

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What is dementia?

Dementia leads to the loss or decline of the brain’s ability to function as before. A person with dementia may experience difficulties with the following:

  • Thinking
  • Problem-solving
  • Reasoning
  • Memory
  • Speech

Alzheimer's disease, is a specific type of dementia, and the most common cause.

Does Legal & General life insurance cover dementia?

Life insurance on it's own will cover you if you die during the length of the policy. However, if you have added Critical Illness Cover for an extra cost when taking out your life insurance, you may be eligible to make a claim if you receive a definite diagnosis for dementia, including Alzheimer's disease, by a consultant neurologist, psychiatrist or geriatrician. 

There must be permanent symptoms, and the diagnosis must be accompanied by evidence which demonstrates the progressive loss of the ability to remember; reason; and to perceive, understand, express and give effect to ideas.

For full definitions and when you can claim you should check your policy documents. They will also tell you what is and isn't covered by your policy.

Note that the maximum age of taking out life lnsurance with Critical Illness Cover is 67 and the maximum time you can hold a policy for is 50 years (other eligibility criteria may apply). Conditions like Alzheimer’s disease are most common in people aged over 65, and the risk of dementia increases with age.

Can I get life insurance if I have dementia?

If you already have dementia, you usually wouldn’t be eligible to take out a new life insurance or life insurance with critical illness cover policy. We cannot accept applications if. We cannot accept applications if the questions have been answered by a Power of Attorney or other third party.

A dementia diagnosis will not affect the terms of cover for existing customers with this type of life insurance.

An Over 50s Fixed Life Insurance policy may be a option, as there is guaranteed acceptance with no medical questions for UK residents aged 50 to 80. Full cover is payable after one year. Application questions must be answered by the person to be insured.

Will a life insurance provider consider my family's history of dementia?

Your family medical history will be taken in to account when you make a life insurance or life insurance with critical illness cover application.

According to the Alzheimer's Society, while the majority of dementias are not passed down to children and grandchildren, a small proportion of types of dementia have a genetic link. These include Huntington’s disease, Familial Prion disease and frontotemporal dementia (FTD). You may be able to get life insurance even with a family history of dementia without it increasing the cost. However, you should disclose any relevant family medical history in your application so that any claim for a payout is valid, otherwise your claim might not be paid.

What are the symptoms of dementia?

If you think you’re experiencing symptoms of dementia it's a good idea to see a GP especially as Alzheimer’s disease may be hard to identify in its early stages. Here are some common symptoms of dementia to watch out for:

  • Memory problems like forgetting recent events, names and faces
  • Becoming increasingly repetitive, for example repeating questions, behaviours or routines
  • Confusion about the time of day
  • Problems communicating or finding the right words
  • Anxiety and low mood

How to plan ahead following a dementia diagnosis

Receiving a dementia diagnosis can understandably be a challenging time for you and your loved ones. Here are some steps you may wish to consider in order to help you plan your life ahead with dementia.

  • Make a Lasting Power of Atorney (LPA). An LPA is a legal document that enables you to appoint one or more people to make key decisions on your behalf, such as your medical care and financial affairs. Read our guide on Power of Attorney.
  • Living arrangements. You may decide that it’s time to plan your long-term living arrangements following a dementia diagnosis. Your options could include extra support around the home; short-term respite care (perhaps a short stay in a care home); sheltered housing with support on-site; and long-term residential care in a dedicated facility.
  • Other financial arrangements. If you’re in receipt of benefits, an appointeeship gives someone the right to manage benefit payments on your behalf. You may also want to check your life insurance policy in case you can make a claim through Critical Illness Cover.

Support on living with dementia

No one should feel alone when living with dementia, and if you have any questions about your policy following a dementia diagnosis, Legal & General are always happy to talk.

Fortunately, there are some dedicated organisations that are working to make life more manageable for those looking for some extra dementia support. Here is a summary of resources you may find helpful.

  • Alzeimer's Society – a UK care and research charity supporting people with dementia and their carers.
  • Dementia UK – a charity providing specialist support for people with dementia through its Admiral Nurses service.
  • Age UK – advice on later life planning, including services for those with dementia.
  • Carers UK – a national charity for carers.
  • NHS – online resources for people seeking information on dementia support.
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