Getting life insurance is pretty straightforward if you’re the right age and in good health. But it might not be quite as simple if you have a pre-existing health condition. You may even wonder if you’re eligible for life insurance at all.
In this guide, we’re covering everything you need to know about life insurance policies when you already have a medical condition. So read on and find out if you can still get covered.
What constitutes a pre-existing condition?
A pre-existing condition is something you have that’s medically related and was an issue before you decided to enquire about a life insurance policy. Some pre-existing conditions are more severe than others, though they can all affect a potential life insurance policy in some capacity.
**Generally speaking, the following pre-existing conditions may raise concerns with life insurance providers: **
- Heart disease
- High cholesterol
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD
Insurers all have their underwriting process, so it’s not one rule that fits all. However, they may align on many topics. Therefore, it’s best to check the terms and conditions with each provider and their stance on pre-existing conditions before you go about getting a policy.
Can I be approved for life insurance with a pre-existing condition?
The short answer is yes, you absolutely can get life insurance with a pre-existing condition. However, the overall picture is more complex, and much of your eligibility comes down to the type of condition you have, its current status, and other aspects, such as your age and lifestyle.
Life insurance providers are continually looking at the risk factor involved, so they’ll take all factors into account. It really comes down to the type of pre-existing condition you have, and you might need to pay higher premiums or undertake additional tests before getting insured.
Which medical conditions mostly affect life insurance?
When applying for a life insurance policy, the provider will most likely look at your current health status as well as the medical history in your family. Factors taken into consideration will include the type of condition you have, its severity, and the life expectancy involved with the condition.
So if you suffer from mild GERD or have arthritis, it’s unlikely you will face as many roadblocks to getting life insurance as you would if you had heart disease. Your current health condition also plays a role–if it’s under control and you’re in good health, you’re more likely to qualify for coverage.
Other key elements factored in by most insurers include:
- The length of time since your diagnosis
- Risk of complications
- Age and lifestyle
- Potential to undergo a medical exam
As each of the above increases, the higher the chance that you’ll need to pay a more expensive premium. In the worst-case scenario, you might not even be able to get a policy–or you’ll be restricted to what you can get (more on that shortly). However, the lower the risk, the lower the policy.
What’s the best type of life insurance for a pre-existing condition?
We’ve established that a pre-existing condition doesn’t mean you won’t automatically be turned down for a policy. With that in mind, it’s worth exploring the best option for you if you currently have a medical condition that could affect your ability to get coverage.
Tailored life insurance policy
Some insurers might not be able to give you access to their basic policies but are happy to tailor unique coverage if you have a pre-existing condition. After applying for a standard policy, they will likely get in touch to discuss bespoke options if necessary.
Even if you’ve got pre-existing health problems, you may be able to get group life insurance through your employer. It won’t be as thorough as an individual policy, but you should get some form of coverage–and it’s unlikely you’ll need to take a medical exam.
Term life insurance
The most cost-effective–but also limited–type of coverage, term life insurance lasts for a set period of time–typically anywhere between 5-30 years. You can lock in your protection for a set time and may qualify for a policy if your pre-existing condition is under control. Once the term ends, you will no longer be covered for life insurance and will need to renew at your age when the term ends.
Permanent life insurance
Unlike term, a permanent policy doesn’t expire. It’s typically more expensive than term options, but the premiums stay the same the entire time, so there’s a good argument that it’s more valuable in the long run. A perm policy also gives you benefits while you’re still alive, such as wealth accumulation through its cash value element that also happens to be tax-free. With a perm policy, you pay into two pots: the death benefit and cash value. Both grow over time, and you can dip into the cash-value aspect while you’re still alive and use it on anything you want. This could be a good policy to consider if you have a pre-existing condition to have some cash to draw from in the event of an emergency or if you are severely ill, you may be able to take your death benefit out early. Like a term policy, the status of your pre-existing condition plays a role in whether or not you’re eligible for permanent coverage.
Accidental death and dismemberment insurance
If in the worst-case scenario, you don’t qualify for a term or permanent policy, you can explore going down the route of accidental death and dismemberment insurance. Headline-grabbing name aside, this type of coverage pays out in the event of accidental death. That means your medical history doesn’t come into play unless your pre-existing condition contributed to your accidental death.
What can I expect during the application process?
Again, the exact process you’ll go through depends on the provider. But there are some basic expectations during the application process for applicants getting life insurance with a pre-existing condition:
- Get a quote – without one, you’ll have no idea about how much you need to pay for a life insurance policy. You can use an online tool for a quote or call the life insurance company directly.
- Get your information ready – be prepared with things like your driver’s license number, SSN, primary care physician, and medications information. If you’re signing up family members you should have their information as well.
- Fill out the application – you’ll likely need to speak briefly with a life insurance agent over a 5-10min call to answer some health and lifestyle-related information. This is where you will need to disclose your pre-existing condition.
- Medical exam – the insurer may want to carry out a medical exam. If this is the case, they will be in touch to arrange a time. The exam usually takes around 30 minutes, though there may be some restrictions in place due to Covid. However, you can also choose from non-med options if a medical exam is inconvenient for you.
Lastly, the underwriter will collate all the information and make an informed decision about whether or not you qualify for life insurance and the premium on offer. If you can get coverage and are happy with the details, all that’s left to do is sign the policy and start paying your premiums.
In conclusion: Life insurance with a pre-existing condition
Getting life insurance with a pre-existing condition can be harder than if you’re completely healthy, but it is still possible. You don’t need to be left frustrated and may be able to find life insurance that’s right for you, even if your health isn’t in tip-top shape at the time of getting coverage. The most important thing is to get it as early and as young as possible so you get the best rates possible and the most likely chance to get approved.