Types of Life Insurance for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Can you receive income protection or TPD insurance for chronic fatigue syndrome?

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is the name given to a range of disorders where people experience persistent fatigue.

The fatigue is not due to excessive exertion or other medical conditions and sufferers are unable to get relief from more rest.

While fatigue may be a common symptom of other illnesses, CFS is extremely rare.

Some Australian providers recognise the condition and offer a benefit to people suffering from the ailment and are forced to take time out of work.

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General symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome

  • Chronic fatigue syndrome not only leaves you feeling acutely tired at all times, you also become confused and frustrated
  • It is a disability characterised by a feeling of exhaustion that can not be relieved through sleep or rest
  • Joints will often become sore, swollen and accompanied with a redness
  • Lymph nodes become tender
  • There is muscle pain and a sore throat as well as an impaired memory and loss of concentration

It often leaves the sufferer unable to go to work and when this stage is reached it becomes imperative that income protection insurance is available otherwise the victim stands to suffer a considerable financial loss. Income protection insurance wasn't always available however, as the illness wasn't able to be diagnosed. Chronic fatigue syndrome wasn't always a recognised medical condition.

Even today there is no effective treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome, but the need for solid emotional support is paramount. If you have been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome you may find that you're covered by your insurer if you're forced to miss work. Some income protection insurers even have specific cover for sufferers of the ailment.

Chronic fatigue syndrome is now an accepted medical condition from insurance companies

Before chronic fatigue syndrome became more widely accepted as an illness many insurance companies refused to pay claims for clients suffering from the condition, even after they had been medically diagnosed as sufferers. It got to the stage in Australia where the matter was actually brought up in parliament and certain insurers were accused of being unfair. Since then income protection insurers are now more likely to take the broader position that they will pay a claim if any of their policyholders are:

  1. Not working
  2. Unable to work
  3. Under the care of a properly qualified medical practitioner

This has resulted in one insurance company alone paying out on 90 claims made by chronic fatigue syndrome sufferers in a three year period.

What types of questions might I be asked during the application?

Common questions you may be asked include:

  • Have you been treated for stress, fatigue, sleeplessness or insomnia in the past?
  • Have you seen a doctor or health professional for this condition?
  • Were you also diagnosed with anxiety or depression disorders?
  • Did you have to miss work as a result of fatigue?
  • Did fatigue have an impact on relationships or on your ability to eat or think clearly?
  • Did you experience any related conditions including headaches, dizziness, sore muscles, or irritability?
  • When did symptoms first appear? Do you know what caused the symptoms to first appear?
  • How many episodes do you have during the course of a year and how long do they typically last?
  • Have you taken any medication for fatigue symptoms?
  • What is the contact information for your doctor?

Will I be covered for chronic fatigue syndrome with income protection insurance?

A problem can arise if you have been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome and then wish to take out income protection insurance at some later date:

  • Under a standard cover policy you will most likely not be accepted, or the ailment of chronic fatigue syndrome will be exempted from the cover given. Even if you are offered the cover with the exemption in place you will most likely have to undergo a review of your medical history, a medical examination and provide the company with the results of a blood test. This might result in you getting the cover and at least you will be able to claim for other ailments that are not related to your present condition, including physical injury resulting in disability.
  • You may also be able to obtain full cover by taking advantage of an impaired risk income protection insurance policy. This type of cover will cost you more than the standard cover but it won't exclude you from claiming if your pre-existing chronic fatigue syndrome condition worsened. The biggest downturn with these types of policies is that they will only be available for a short two or five year benefit period. The monthly benefit will most likely also be graded. Despite these restriction you may feel that the coverage you receive is better than nothing and the two or five years available will be enough for you to retrain for another position, or rearrange your finances so you can avoid unnecessary financial hardship.

Speak with an adviser to help you find cover for chronic fatigue syndrome

If you suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and are interested in taking out income protection insurance, an adviser can help you compare different providers to help you find one that is willing to provide cover. Insurance companies have different criteria for assessing applicants and the grounds for assessing or rejecting policy applications. An adviser can help you compare what is on offer and find an affordable option that still provides adequate cover.

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Richard Laycock

Richard is the senior insurance writer at finder.com.au and is on a mission to make insurance easier to understand.

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