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Life Insurance – Pre-Existing Conditions

Last updated: 03. 09. 2020

Life Insurance – Pre-Existing Conditions
Life insurance offers financial security for your family and loved ones no matter what happens in the future. This may be particularly important to you if you have a pre-existing medical condition, especially one that is serious or terminal. While pre-existing medical conditions will push the cost of your life insurance up, and limit the number of insurers willing to cover you, it is not impossible to find coverage. As long as you take the time to compare life insurance policies, and are completely honest with insurers about your condition, you will be able to find the best life insurance deal for you.

What is a pre-existing condition?

A pre-existing condition is the name given to any medical diagnosis you receive before taking out a life insurance policy. Insurers usually have a list of illnesses and medical conditions that they consider to be pre-existing conditions, including cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, asthma, heart disease (such as heart attacks or strokes), and obesity. Medical conditions such as these affect the life insurance policies available to you, because they increase the likelihood that you will make a claim and the insurer will have to make a payout.
 
Pre-existing conditions can affect life insurance policies in a variety of ways. Some insurers may refuse to cover you altogether, while others will charge higher premiums to offset the greater chance of a payout. Depending on your pre-existing condition, an insurer may add an exclusion to your policy. For example, if you have had a stroke in the past then your insurer may add a stroke exclusion. This means that if you were to die from a stroke, your insurer will not have to make a payout to your beneficiaries.
 
Because pre-existing conditions come in many different shapes and sizes, the ways in which they could affect your life insurance deal varies from person to person. This makes it extremely important to be honest and accurate in the information you provide your insurer with regarding your health and your pre-existing conditions, so that they can create the right policy for you.

What information must I provide to secure life insurance?

When applying for life insurance, all insurers will ask for a comprehensive medical history. For pre-existing conditions, insurers will want as much information as possible, such as when you were diagnosed, how severe your medical condition is, whether there are any recurrent problems or long-term implications, and what medication you now take because of your condition. Insurers will want to know about your day-to-day lifestyle and general health as well, including your weight, eating and exercise habits, drinking habits and whether you smoke. Insurers ask for all of this information in order to determine whether you are at high risk of making a claim, which would make your premiums more expensive.
 
You may be asked to provide a copy of your medical record, or an insurer may want to speak to your GP directly. In some cases, your insurer may ask you to undergo a medical before they provide you with a quote, though this is quite unusual. While insurers cannot access any of your medical information without your consent, failure to provide this may result in a refusal to offer you life insurance.
 
It is very important to provide all the medical information asked of you by your insurer, as withholding information could result in rejection of any claim you make in the future. If you do not inform your insurer of your pre-existing condition, your life insurance policy could be rendered invalid. Therefore, to protect the financial position of your family and beneficiaries, you must be completely honest about your medical condition, and read the terms and conditions of your policy thoroughly.

What kind of life insurance policies could I be offered?

Once you have provided all of the relevant information regarding your medical condition, insurers will offer you a quote based on what they believe is the right policy for you, with premiums calculated based on the likelihood of you making a claim. There are a variety of life insurance policies that you could be offered, so it is important to shop around and compare insurers to find the best life insurance deal for you.
 
Policies without Exclusions
 
It is likely that insurers will offer you life insurance with a higher, or ‘loaded’, premium, in which the increased price offsets the increased risk posed by your pre-existing condition. There are no exclusions included in these policies, but your premium is likely to increase with the severity of your condition. Different insurers categorise medical conditions in different ways, so if you compare life insurance deals you may be able to find lower premiums for the same condition.
 
Policies with Exclusions
 
In cases of particularly serious pre-existing conditions, in which the chance of death is highly likely, insurers may refuse to provide coverage for your medical condition. Instead, they will exclude that specific condition from your policy, so if you die because of this your beneficiaries will not receive any payout. Policies with exclusions are likely if you have suffered a severe heart attack or stroke shortly before taking out life insurance, or if you have been suffering from cancer. It is essential that you read the fine print of policies with exclusions, so that you are fully aware of what is covered under your life insurance policy.
 
Life Insurance without Medical Checks
 
Some insurers advertise life insurance policies with ‘guaranteed acceptance with no medical check’. While this may seem like a good way for people with pre-existing conditions to avoid higher premiums, the terms and conditions of such policies mean that you may pay more in premiums than any payout would give your beneficiaries. In addition, such policies often have an initial wait period of between 12 to 24 months. If you die before this wait period ends, the insurer will only pay back what you have paid in premiums, undermining the benefits of taking out life insurance.
Fergus Cole

Author: Fergus Cole

Fergus is a journalist specialising in the personal finance, energy and broadband sectors. He also has a passion for travel and adventure so tries to make the most of this in any spare time he gets.