Can You Get Life Insurance if You Have a Medical Condition?

UPDATED: Mar 26, 2020

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If you’ve been diagnosed with a heart problem, diabetes, cancer, stroke, or some other major medical condition, you might be wondering, “How does this affect my chances of getting life insurance?”

Just because you have a known medical condition doesn’t necessarily mean you have to deprive your family of the long-term financial security a life insurance policy can provide. Here are a few things you should know before you apply for coverage.

What to Expect When Applying for Life Insurance if You Have a Major Medical Condition

  • Longer wait times – Insurance companies will request medical records—often from multiple doctors—to determine your insurability. Depending on how timely—or not so timely—your physicians’ offices respond, you might experience long delays in the approval process.
  • Higher premiums – People with major medical conditions don’t typically qualify for “preferred” (lower) rates. You can anticipate what the industry refers to as “standard” or “sub-standard” (sometimes called “rated”) rates. In other words, you’ll pay more for your policy than healthier people do.
  • Possibility of getting declined – If insurance companies deem your condition too high a risk, they might decline you coverage. Unlike medical insurance, life insurance policies don’t provide the option to exclude certain conditions. You’ll either get a “yes” or a “no.” As I mentioned above, if you get a “yes,” prepare to pay a higher premium.

If you’re concerned about costs, know that you’re not alone. About half of people without life insurance view it as an expense they can’t afford.* When exploring life insurance options, keep in mind that permanent life policies will be more expensive than term life policies. For more budget-friendly premiums, check out term life rates that offer flexibility with their varying policy lengths.

What do Term Life Insurance Companies Consider When Evaluating Your Application?

They’ll want to know some details about you, your condition, and what you’re doing to improve it or prevent it from getting worse.

You will likely need to answer questions related to:

  • Your diagnosis
  • When you were diagnosed
  • Your age when diagnosed
  • What steps you have taken since your diagnosis
  • How well you have your condition under control (as demonstrated by medical records, your current height/weight, and lab test results)
  • What types of treatment you’re undergoing
  • Whether or not you have other medical conditions
  • Whether or not you use tobacco products

Tips For Applying For Term Life Insurance When You Have a Medical Condition

To improve your chances of getting approved at the best rating class possible, you should pay attention to:

  • Visiting your doctor(s) as frequently as they recommend.
  • Take your medication and undergo treatments as your physician prescribes.
  • Keep any other complications under control (for example: high blood pressure, asthma, etc.).
  • Keep yourself as healthy as possible otherwise through diet, managing your weight, and exercise (as recommended by your doctor).

Most of all, keep your medical records up to date. If you can’t provide documentation of how well your condition is under control, life insurance companies will rate your application poorly—and that will cost you!

Don’t Let Fear of Denial Deny Your Family of Peace of Mind

While the risk of insurance companies denying you coverage exists, don’t let that prevent you from looking into giving your family the financial security they need and deserve. You’ll lose nothing by talking with a trusted life insurance professional.

Depending on the medical condition you have, you might gain valuable insight about how to increase your chances of getting approved in the future—even if you’re deemed uninsurable now.

*Source: Insurance Revealed – An online survey conducted in the summer of 2012 by Praxis Research on behalf of ING U.S. and the ING family of life insurance companies.

Tim Bain

Tim is a licensed life insurance agent with 23 years of experience helping people protect their families and businesses with term life insurance. He writes and creates stuff for QuickQuote and other insurance and financial websites. You can find him on Twitter.

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