I started Insurance Blog by Chris™ because I have a passion for insurance. Here at the blog, our job is to educate and inform people about the best insurance for them. Since then, we have grown into national brands with a large team of researchers helping people understand all forms of insurance.

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Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health insu...

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Reviewed by Rachael Brennan
Licensed Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Nov 19, 2021

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It’s often easier and less expensive to buy life insurance when you are young and healthy.

That’s because your life can change, and you may develop health conditions as you age. 

But life doesn’t always go as planned, and you may have gotten a medical diagnosis before securing a life insurance policy.

So, can you get life insurance with pre existing conditions? 

Yes, but it may require more time and effort to find the right insurer and policy. If you don’t know what to look for, you may see higher rates or the insurer may deny your application.

Here’s how to buy life insurance with pre existing conditions.

What is a pre-existing condition?

A pre existing condition is a medical issue you were diagnosed with or a condition that existed before applying for life insurance.

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, up to 50% of Americans have a pre-existing condition that could affect their eligibility and the final cost of life insurance.

What will disqualify you from life insurance? 

You might be familiar with some of the most common examples of pre existing conditions for life insurance:

  • Asthma
  • Cancer
  • Anxiety
  • Diabetes
  • Acid reflux
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Obesity

When you’re applying for life insurance with pre existing medical conditions, every insurer can approach underwriting differently. 

Some are more risk-averse and not willing to accept applications from people with significant pre existing conditions. 

But others?

They might insure applicants with medical conditions but can charge a higher rate.

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Can you get life insurance with pre existing conditions?

Life insurance uses a complex system of rating tiers and requirements that determine your insurability and premium.

Typically, the following factors are considered:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Tobacco or nicotine usage
  • Health status and medical history
  • Driving record
  • Lifestyle and hobbies

 

Even if you have a pre existing condition, don’t let it keep you away from getting the life insurance coverage you need.

A pre existing condition does not mean an automatic decline of coverage.

When you fill out an application, you’ll likely answer several health questions. Insurers call this a “fully underwritten” application.

Keep in mind that you must be honest and open in filling out your application. 

Life insurance companies can deny payout of the death benefit to your beneficiary if you don’t include specifics about your health or lifestyle.

The cost of life insurance with pre existing conditions

When the insurer reviews your application, your data is compared against the policy’s requirements. 

Companies generally use four classifications to determine the cost of life insurance:

  • Preferred Plus: Excellent health, ideal height/weight radio
  • Preferred: Very good health, minor medical conditions
  • Standard Plus: Good health, not ideal height/weight ratio
  • Standard: Not ideal height/weight ratio, complicated family history

There’s also a broader category called Substandard or Table ratings. 

You may fall into this classification if your family health history is complicated or you experienced a recent serious health issue.

Someone in the Preferred Plus category might pay $25 per month when purchasing a 20-year term policy for $500,000 in coverage.

For every step down in classification, you can expect to pay about 25% more.

 

Best life insurance for people with pre existing conditions

Many life insurers will cover applicants with pre existing conditions. But it can be time consuming to sift through the fine print to know which insurance company is best for you.

Here’s how to know what insurance will cover pre existing conditions.

Best tailored life insurance

Some insurance companies cater to applicants with specific health conditions:

  • AIG: If you have high blood pressure or diabetes.
  • Prudential: If you use recreational marijuana, have diabetes or DUIs.
  • Fidelity: If you have cancer.
  • Guardian Life: If you have HIV.

Guaranteed issue life insurance

If you want to skip the exam, you might consider guaranteed issue life insurance from:

Many guaranteed issue companies offer policies up to $1 million.

But there’s a catch: 

Even for healthy applicants, you could pay 30% to 50% more than a policy that requires a medical exam.

Group life insurance 

If your employer, an affiliated association or labor organization offers group life insurance, sign up. It’s an excellent option for life insurance with pre existing conditions. 

The biggest downside to group life insurance plans is that they typically terminate when you leave that employer, group or organization. 

You are then stuck having to find new life insurance at an older age, possibly with health conditions you did not have previously.

Accidental death and dismemberment insurance

If you cannot pass the requirements for traditional life insurance, consider an Accidental Death and Dismemberment (AD&D) policy

It is a limited form of insurance that pays benefits to your beneficiaries if the cause of death is an accident, like a traffic accident, fall or drowning. 

It may also cover a partial payout if you lose a bodily appendage or sight because of an accident.

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Tips for buying life insurance with pre existing conditions

If you have a pre existing condition, work with an agent who has access to various companies and policies. 

Some insurers might be more willing to overlook specific pre existing conditions than others. An experienced agent will know which life insurance company will be more likely to approve your application.

What to do if you’re denied life insurance

Timing is everything when applying for life insurance. Typically, the sooner you apply, the better. 

But what happens if you’re denied?

It depends.

If you recently received a new diagnosis for a severe illness, it may be better to wait a little while before applying. Your chances of insurability will be better if you can bring your condition under control with treatment or medication.

You could also focus on taking steps to improve your lifestyle. 

But don’t give up. Apply with a different insurer, see if you’re eligible for a group policy through your employer or an organization, and consider guaranteed issue life insurance.

Life insurance with medical conditions is possible

If you work with a reputable agent, there is no need to fear a life insurance application. Your agent will do their best to find you the right life insurance policy with pre existing conditions.

Even if an insurer ultimately denies you, you can try another company. 

But don’t go crazy. Applying for too many life insurance policies is like applying for too many credit cards – it raises red flags.

If you can’t get a policy, consider opening an investment account and contribute the premiums you would otherwise pay for life insurance. At a minimum, you could save enough to cover burial costs and final expenses. 

And at best, you can build a nest egg that covers your mortgage and can provide an income for your loved ones after you’re gone.