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Life insurance with pre-existing conditions

Life insurance with pre-existing conditions

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Last updated: 25 May 2021

Life insurance offers financial security for your family and loved ones; 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 may push the cost of your life insurance up and limit the number of insurers willing to cover you, it is possible to find coverage suitable 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. 

The following medical conditions are often included:

  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Epilepsy
  • Asthma
  • Osteoarthritis 
  • Strokes
  • Heart disease  
  • Obesity 

Medical conditions such as these affect the life insurance policies available to you because they can make you high risk; they increase the likelihood that you will make a claim and the insurer will have to make a payout.

Many of the above could also be deemed a critical illness; for more information on this visit our page on critical illness insurance.

How do pre-existing medical conditions affect life insurance?

Pre-existing conditions can affect life insurance policies in a variety of ways. 

Some insurance companies may refuse to cover you altogether, whilst others may charge higher premiums to offset the greater chance of paying out.

Depending on your pre-existing health 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 pass away due to a stroke, your insurer will not have to make a payout to your beneficiaries.

Because pre-existing conditions come in many different formats it makes it extremely important to be honest and accurate in the information you provide your insurer with regard to your health condition and medical history, in order for your life insurance provider to create the right policy for you.

What is the process for getting life insurance policy if you have a pre existing condition?

You will usually need to provide the following:

Comprehensive medical history

When applying for life insurance your insurer 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
  • What medication you now take because of your condition. 

You may be asked to provide a copy of your medical record, or your insurance company may want to speak to your GP directly. 

In some cases, your insurance provider 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.

General lifestyle

Insurers will want to know about your day-to-day lifestyle and general and mental health as well, including your weight, eating and exercise habits, drinking habits and whether you smoke - if you are a smoker we recommend you read our guide on life insurance for smokers.

You life insurance company will ask for all of this information in order to determine whether you are at high risk of making a claim, as this could make your premiums more expensive.

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. 

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 pass away 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 pass away 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.

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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.