How to Find Life Insurance When You’re Unhealthy

When you read about life insurance on blogs and websites, it’s easy to assume that you need to be in perfect health to get approved for a policy—at least at a price that won’t break the bank. So if you have a chronic health condition, like diabetes, high blood pressure, or obesity, you might think that you’re out of luck for getting coverage.

But we’ve got good news for you: In many cases, it’s still possible to get life insurance if you have a pre-existing health condition. And depending on the specific condition you have and how serious it is, you might be able to get coverage at a reasonable rate too. Score!

So if you have a health condition that tends to raise eyebrows with insurers, keep reading below. We’ll tell you what you need to know about finding life insurance when you’re unhealthy.

How to find life insurance when you have a medical condition

Shop around

Buying life insurance may not be as expensive as buying a new home or a new car. But it’s still worth shopping around when you’re looking for insurance coverage so you can find the best policy for your needs at the best rate.

Shopping around for a policy is especially important if you have a pre-existing condition. Why? Because different insurers will treat a given medical condition differently in their underwriting process.

For example, some insurers offer better rates to applicants with diabetes whereas others offer better rates to people with a family history of heart disease. For this reason, it’s worth comparing quotes from a few insurers to find the one that will give you the best deal based on your health history.

Buy sooner rather than later

There are some perks to getting older—like being more financially stable and getting the senior’s discount at the movie theatre. But securing a cheaper insurance rate isn’t one of them. That’s because you’re more likely to die when you’re older rather than younger. So if you buy a policy when you’re 40, you’ll pay more for it than if you buy the same policy when you’re 25.

Waiting to buy coverage can get even more costly when you have a pre-existing condition because your condition might get worse as you age. That’s why it can pay off to buy coverage early and lock in a cheaper rate when you’re younger and in better health.

Treat no medical life insurance as a last resort

If you have a pre-existing health condition, you might be tempted to apply for no medical life insurance right from the get-go. When you apply for a no medical insurance policy, your insurer won’t dig as deep into your medical history or make you undergo a life insurance medical exam. So it can be easier to get coverage if you’re not in perfect health.

But there’s usually a trade-off, and it’s a pricey one: in exchange for collecting less information about your health, your insurer will assume you’re a higher-risk applicant and charge you higher premiums. There’s always a catch, right?

So unless you’re looking to burn a hole in your pocket, exhaust your other options for getting coverage before applying for no medical insurance.

What conditions can disqualify me from life insurance?

In most cases, having a pre-existing condition might make your insurance premiums more expensive. But it won’t disqualify you for coverage.

However, there are some health conditions that can make it difficult to get approved for a traditional life insurance policy. Here are the most common conditions that can disqualify you from coverage:

  • Substance use (e.g., alcoholism or drug use)
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disease
  • HIV or AIDS
  • Recent cancer diagnosis or current cancer treatment

That said, even if you have a condition that’s on this list, don’t assume that every insurer will deny you coverage. It’s worth looking into your options to see if there’s an insurer out there that’s willing to sell you a policy based on your particular health history.

Applying for life insurance with a pre-existing condition

Be honest

Having a pre-existing condition is stressful as it is. So we know that the last thing you need is to pay sky-high premiums for a policy or be denied coverage altogether. But at the same time, you definitely don’t want to lie about your health history on your life insurance application.

After all, when you buy an insurance policy, you’re shelling out money every month to protect your family financially if you die and your income disappears. So you don’t want your insurer to cancel your policy or deny a death benefit claim because they discover that you lied about your health on your application. (And we’re also betting that you don’t want to get caught for committing insurance fraud.)

If you’re honest, you might have to pay a bit more for coverage. And yes, there’s a chance that you could get denied coverage. But if you do secure a policy, you’ll be able to breathe easier knowing that your family will be able to count on the coverage if they end up needing it.

Manage your health condition and re-apply

Even if you get stuck paying a high premium for insurance initially, don’t assume that it needs to stay that way. Your insurer is rooting for you to get healthier—after all, it reduces the chance that they’ll have to pay for your death benefit. That’s why many insurers will let you get assessed again within a year or two of buying your policy. If they find that you’re significantly healthier because you’ve been managing your condition effectively, they might drop your premiums for the rest of your policy term. Pretty sweet, right?

Keep in mind that this advice also applies to smokers. If you can show your insurer that you’ve quit smoking for at least 12 months straight, you might be able to lower your monthly premiums. So if you need another reason to quit, think of all the money you could save by paying less for insurance.

What if I get denied life insurance?

If you don’t get approved for life insurance because of a pre-existing health condition, you still have some options on the table:

Try a different insurer

Remember, different insurers treat the same medical condition differently. So even if you’ve been denied coverage by one insurer, it’s worth checking to see if there’s another company that would give someone with your condition more of a break.

Apply for no medical life insurance

As we mentioned earlier, no medical life insurance lets you get coverage without completing a detailed medical review. This makes it easier to buy life insurance if you have a pre-existing condition.

For Canadians, Canada Protection Plan is the leading provider of no medical life insurance. Their policies may be a good fit for you if you haven’t been able to secure a traditional life insurance policy.

Get coverage through your employer

The life insurance that you get through work usually isn’t enough to fully protect your family. And you’ll lose the coverage if you leave your job. But because it gives you insurance through a group plan, you can typically get coverage without undergoing any kind of health review.

So if you’ve exhausted all other options for getting life insurance, it’s a good way to give your family at least a partial financial safety net. And that’s always much better than having no safety net at all.

Laura McKay

COO & Co-Founder

About the Author

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