Can People With Pre-Existing Conditions Buy Life Insurance?

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Life insurance is one of the practical ways to make sure your family is protected during unexpected life events. While life insurance has evolved over the years to meet all needs, people with pre-existing conditions may have a more difficult time obtaining their desired life insurance.

The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has estimated that 19 to 50 percent of non-elderly Americans experience pre-existing medical conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, and heart disease. These critical conditions can diminish a person’s eligibility for all types of insurance and adversely impact the overall costs.

While a medical issue may make insurance providers more skeptical of your application, it doesn’t mean you are automatically disqualified from all coverage options. Most of the time, expect the process to take longer than usual, with extra steps and meticulous evaluation if you have pre-existing conditions.

We understand it is not easy to lead a life with a medical issue. That’s why the need for life coverage is often intensified for people with medical conditions.

Keep scrolling to know the answer to the question “Is it possible to buy life insurance with pre-existing conditions?” and some options available for high-risk applicants when buying life insurance with pre-existing conditions.


Life Insurance With Pre-existing Conditions: Can People Obtain Life Coverage After a Diagnosis?

Is It Possible to Buy Life Insurance With Pre-Existing Conditions?

The answer is yes. Contrary to popular belief that insurance companies will not or even straight up deny coverage to anyone with pre-existing conditions, it is possible to obtain coverage with a record of medical health conditions or recent diagnosis.

While healthy people have extensive chances of buying whatever policies their hearts desire at competitive rates, people with pre-existing conditions still have options for finding life insurance that meets their particular needs. However, they will be ineligible for convenient term life insurance policies. Most, if not all, insurance companies will raise premium rates for applicants with medical issues.

A pre-existing medical condition won’t necessarily mean you will never get covered. Be aware that your provider might need more time to proceed with your application. In the meantime, you will probably need to go through a much more complicated process, accompanied by an increased possibility of paying higher rates than other peers, depending on the severity of the illness and the types of medically necessary treatments involved.


What Is a Pre-Existing Condition?


A pre-existing condition is any illness or disease present throughout a person’s lifetime or any ailments diagnosed shortly before taking out a life insurance coverage. The term may also describe conditions successfully treated or ones requiring ongoing treatments right when the applicant submits their application.

Each insurance provider has its own definition and medical underwriting process in terms of what counts as pre-existing conditions. Your condition will only sometimes put you in a tricky position where every insurer will refuse to issue coverage.

A vast majority of insurance providers will raise a red flag if you have or have been newly diagnosed with the following ailments or medical issues:

Acid refluxChronic bronchitisMusculoskeletal conditionsSeizure disorders
ADHD or ADDCrohn’s diseaseMigrainesSleep apnea
Alzheimer’s diseaseCystic fibrosisNarcolepsyStrokes (mini-strokes and brain hemorrhage)
AnorexiaDepressionOsteoarthritisSeizure disorders
Asthma & breathing problemsEpilepsyPancreatitis
AutismHigh cholesterolPanic disorder
Bipolar disorderHIV/AIDSPeptic ulcer
Bladder cancerInsomniaPsoriasis
Cancer (lung, prostate, breast, skin, thyroid)Irritable bowel syndromeRenal failure
Cardiovascular or heart problemsKidney diseaseRheumatoid arthritis
Cerebral palsyMultiple sclerosisSchizophrenia


How Pre-Existing Conditions Affect Eligibility and Premium Rates

It comes as no surprise that applying for life insurance with pre-existing conditions can be challenging, given that health is the key factor in determining a person’s eligibility.

Expect your assessment to be longer than usual, and you might be asked more questions than others, followed by the possibility of higher life insurance premiums and limited healthcare options.

To decide which level of health class applicants may fall into, insurers employ a rating system (known as tiers) that aids in calculating premium rates. In addition to current health, life insurance health class requires past medical records and additional lifestyle choices. The system can differ from one insurer to another, but it is created for a single purpose: assessing applicants’ insurable risk.

In general, applicants seeking coverage are classified into:

Health TiersDescription
Preferred Plus
  • Excellent overall health.
  • Lowest premiums.
  • They are within the guidelines of height and weight.
  • They don’t have poor medical records, take regular prescriptions, partake in risky activities, or have a dangerous occupation.
  • They don’t have a history of alcohol abuse in 10 years or tobacco use in 5 years.
  • No one from their families has a history of diseases or dies from cardiovascular or cancer before 65.
  • Perfect health.
  • Second-lowest premiums.
  • They have one or two minor health issues that are manageable or resolved with medication, such as high blood pressure.
  • They may have a family history of diseases and participate in a limited number of risky hobbies.
  • Their families may have a history of disease or chronic conditions.
Standard Plus
  • Better than average health.
  • Third-lowest premiums.
  • They may have minor mid-to-moderate health issues.
  • Their height-to-weight ratio may be slightly over the guidelines.
  • No significant family history of diseases.
  • Most applicants fall into this category.
  • They usually have higher body max index (BMI)
  • They have a few minor health problems accompanied by multiple medications.
  • They have a family history of diseases or cancer, or more than one family member has died of terminal illnesses.

In addition to the tier table above, insurance companies use table ratings for applicants who are extremely obese (BMI between 41 and 48) or have poor physical health.

Rates of the table ratings are increased by 25% for each lower level. In other words, 25% will be added to the standard rate as you move further down the table ratings. Table 1 (or table A) has the lowest policy premiums, whereas table J (or table 10) has the highest rates.

Table RatingPercentage Additional Premium Added to Standard Rates
Table 1Standard rate + 25%
Table 2Standard rate + 50%
Table 3Standard rate + 75%
Table 4Standard rate + 100%
Table 5Standard rate + 125%
Table 6Standard rate + 150%
Table 7Standard rate + 175%
Table 8Standard rate + 200%
Table 9Standard rate + 225%
Table 10Standard rate + 250%

Keep in mind that the two tables above only provide general information. It may not apply entirely to your circumstances, as each insurer designs its terms, determinant criteria, and conditions.

Consider consulting independent insurance brokers or agents to understand your situation better and determine your specific insurable risks if you experience ongoing health conditions.


What Questions to Expect From Insurance Providers?

Before getting started, insurance providers request you undergo a thorough medical underwriting process and submit medical records.

Since you carry higher risks than others, be prepared to get asked more detailed questions regarding your general health status, conditions, and treatment plans (if any), such as:

  • How long have you had the condition?
  • Have you ever been hospitalized or admitted to the hospital recently?
  • Are you taking any prescriptions?
  • Is there a family history of the condition?


Although it might be an unsettling experience to disclose your medical conditions to some extent, it is highly advisable to give honest and accurate details about your conditions to your insurer. Otherwise, you might not be able to obtain coverage.

Unhonest or misleading information may put you and your family at heightened risk of emergencies and potentially face financial hardships if your condition worsens sometimes.


Buying Life Insurance With Pre-Existing Conditions: Available Options


While people with pre-existing conditions may face higher risks of the coverage denial, options are still available when purchasing life insurance with pre-existing conditions. Some potential life insurance options worth looking into include:

  • Group life insurance — You can access this type of coverage through your employer. However, it may only complement your primary coverage as extra protection or benefit, so there is a high chance that it might not satisfy your needs in some situations.
  • Guaranteed issue life insurance — Despite costly policy premiums, this type of policy doesn’t require a medical examination, with guaranteed acceptance. It also doesn’t expire as long as the premiums are paid.


If you have any questions about life insurance with pre-existing conditions, please contact us for a free consultation. 


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