The term epilepsy denotes any disorder characterized by recurrent, unprovoked seizures. Seizures are disturbances of cerebral function that are electrical discharges in the brain. It may consist of violent shaking, convulsions, absence spells, automatisms (unusual recurrent behaviors), up to loss of consciousness. Epilepsy is quite common and occurs in up to one in every two hundred people.
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that can affect people of all ages. According to the WHO, some 50 million people around the world have epilepsy and an estimated 2.4 million new diagnoses are made each year. The condition has significant implications for life and health insurance because it is associated with loss of productivity, increased healthcare needs and even premature death.
Most underwriters will come across clients with epilepsy. It has been well documented that people with epilepsy have a higher mortality than the normal population. This is due to a number of factors but, as has been emphasized, a certain proportion of the excess mortality is related to the comorbid conditions that often accompany the disease.