How to Get Life Insurance With Pre-Existing Conditions

What Are Preexisting Conditions?

Preexisting conditions are health problems that you’re aware of when you apply for insurance coverage. For example, if you received care for a particular condition, it is likely a preexisting condition. When it comes to life insurance, the conditions that demand the most attention are chronic conditions that could potentially lead to an earlier-than-anticipated death.


What if I’m denied life insurance due to health problems?

If you’re denied coverage because of your health, you still have options. While traditional life insurance might not be an option for you, you still have choices like group life insurance and guaranteed issue life insurance.

  • Group life insurance is often offered by employers for a highly affordable premium. If you take part in a group life insurance policy via your employer’s benefits, your health conditions most likely won’t be taken into consideration. However, the death benefit will be limited, and the policy is only valid when you have that job. You might also be able to access supplemental life insurance through your employer.
  • Guaranteed issue life insurance is a type of life insurance that doesn’t require you to undergo a medical exam or complete a health questionnaire. It’s often the recommended life insurance for cancer patients and others with serious conditions if they don’t qualify for traditional life insurance. Because you can get a guaranteed life insurance policy quickly and with no questions asked, it will be significantly more expensive than traditional policies. And there may be a rule that if you die within a few years of purchasing the policy, the insurer will simply return your premium payments to your family rather than paying out the death benefit.

How do pre-existing conditions impact my life Insurance rates?

Pre-existing conditions can have a negative impact when it comes time to determine your life insurance premium rate and coverage options. Insurance carriers use a tiered system to determine the risk of covering you. In general, policyholders are broken into four classifications:

  • Super Preferred (or Preferred Plus)
  • Preferred
  • Standard (or Regular)
  • Substandard

Those with more pre-existing conditions are usually placed in the lower-tier classifications, resulting in a higher premium or even coverage denial. The higher your perceived risk due to pre-existing conditions, the more expensive your premium rate will be. However, certain pre-existing conditions are considered higher risk than others. To determine the severity of your condition, insurance carriers will assess each case based on the following criteria:

  • Severity of medical condition
  • Whether the issue is current or not
  • When the diagnosis first occurred
  • Lifestyle considerations that could further increase a person’s risk, such as habitual drinking or smoking

The Bottom Line

It’s ideal to buy life insurance when you have perfect health, but that’s not in the cards for everybody. If you need life insurance with preexisting conditions, discuss your health with an experienced insurance professional, and evaluate resources you already have available (such as workplace coverage and existing insurance policies). You may need to pay higher premiums or jump through extra hoops, but it’s certainly possible to buy life insurance with serious health issues.

Are my life insurance quotes accurate?

Our comprehensive life insurance search engine will compare cheap term insurance quotes from over 100 quality insurance companies.

Our life insurance calculator provides you with instant life insurance quotes without entering personal information, financial information, or medical history. 

Our free life insurance comparison software will give a rough idea of how affordable coverage can be for your family!

Eventually, we may collect more health information to provide you with the most accurate quotes possible.

Most of the time, your final policy will be within 10% of what we quoted you online.

What to expect during the application process

When you apply for term or permanent insurance with a substantial death benefit (as opposed to a modest “final expenses” policy) there will be an application and underwriting process:  The insurer gathers your information, evaluates your age, health (with a medical exam) and other risk factors, weighs them against the length and amount of coverage you want, then decides if you are insurable – and at what cost. These are the basic steps:

1. Get a quote

There are a number of online quoting tools that can give you a quick cost assessment, and these can be especially helpful for people with simple coverage needs who are looking for term coverage. However, if you have a medical condition the initial quotes may not reflect your actual cost. It may be a good idea to speak with a broker or agent about your situation. Guardian can put you in touch with a financial representative who can help you get a quote and guide you to the solutions best suited to your needs.

2. Collect documents

Like any other process, you’ll need to provide certain basic facts about yourself, so make sure to have the following items handy:

  • Driver’s license, passport, birth certificate or other proof of identity
  • Pay stubs, employment letter, tax return or other proof of income
  • Signed lease, property tax statement, utility bill or other proof of residency

3. Complete the application form

There will be a paper or online form that asks for more detailed information than provided when you first got your quote, and there may be questions about hobbies or other activities that could present a risk to your health. You’ll also be asked to give the insurance company permission to access medical and financial records to verify your information, such as an Attending Physician Statement from your doctor. After the form is completed there may be a follow-up phone call from the insurance company to check that your details are correct and get answers to any subsequent questions.

4. Get a medical exam

An appointment will be set up with a nurse or paramedical examiner, who can usually meet you at your home or office. The exam takes about 30 minutes, and the examiner will check your height, weight, and blood pressure, draw blood, and possibly ask for a urine sample. Depending on your preexisting condition, you may also be asked to undergo added testing during this visit.

At this point, all the information gathered will be given to an underwriter at the insurance company, who will evaluate all your risk factors, assign a rate classification, and calculate your final premiums.

5. Sign your policy and start paying premiums

The insurance company will send the finalized policy to you. It’s a paper contract that outlines all the terms and conditions of your policy including coverage amount, premiums, method of payment, riders, exclusions, and so on. Read it carefully. When you are satisfied that you understand your policy and agree to the terms, sign two copies and mail one back to the insurer. Keep your copy in a safe place – and let your beneficiaries know where it is.

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 do I do if Ive been denied life insurance coverage?

Sometimes, individuals may have life-threatening or untreatable pre-existing conditions which make them a much higher risk than others. Even people who have a history of drug and alcohol abuse may be denied life insurance coverage if they have no history of receiving rehabilitation services for their addiction. If you’ve been denied coverage from multiple carriers, the best way to move forward and find the right plan is by enlisting the help of an independent broker. These professionals have access to many different insurance companies and, due to their experience, will likely know some tips and tricks to help you find coverage.

Alternatively, you may be able to resubmit your application for coverage after waiting for a specified amount of time. Some insurance carriers will consider you if you’ve been previously denied for coverage and you’re able to illustrate an improvement to your condition. For instance, if you have Hepatitis C and are denied coverage but then receive treatment over the course of a year and are considered cured, you can resubmit an application for coverage.

Guaranteed acceptance life insurance with preexisting conditions

Guaranteed acceptance policies are typically whole life insurance policies, meaning they offer coverage for your lifetime so long as you continue to pay premiums. During the application process there are no health questions and you don’t have to take a medical exam, so these policies are a great alternative if you have quite severe preexisting conditions.

Death benefits for guaranteed acceptance policies are generally limited to less than $25,000. If you want enough coverage for end-of-life costs such as a funeral, guaranteed acceptance coverage should be sufficient. Unfortunately, if you have a severe enough preexisting condition that you wouldn’t qualify for non-guaranteed coverage, you’re unlikely to find any insurer that offers over $50,000 in death benefits.

Additionally, guaranteed acceptance policies usually have a two- to three-year period after purchase during which your beneficiary will receive little to no payout if you die. For example, if you die within the first two years of purchasing Colonial Penn’s guaranteed acceptance policy, your beneficiary just receives the sum of your premium payments plus 7% interest compounded annually.

For a particular amount of coverage, a guaranteed acceptance policy will almost always be the most expensive option since the insurer accepts all applicants. Given the high quotes, we don’t recommend guaranteed acceptance life insurance if you’re healthy enough to qualify for term life insurance. In some cases, depending on your medical conditions and insurer, quotes can be so high that you pay more in premiums over the life of the policy than your beneficiary receives as a payout.

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