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10 Health conditions that may affect the cost of your life insurance premiums

Do you have an existing medical condition? See if it's on the list of factors insurers look for when figuring out your rates.


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When deciding whether or not to provide you with a policy, an insurer will look at various risk factors including your occupation, age, gender, smoking habits and any pre-existing conditions.

These risks will directly impact not only your ability to get a policy, but also how much you’ll pay to be insured. Below is a list of conditions that may require additional medical underwriting.

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1. High blood pressure

Since high blood pressure is common, most insurers won’t dismiss you or label you as high risk. However, high blood pressure can lead to a number of troubling diseases such as coronary artery disease, stroke, kidney damage or peripheral artery disease, so it’s important you can prove to your insurer that you’re able to manage your condition.

2. Type 2 diabetes

If you’ve been diagnosed with adult onset diabetes, you may be predisposed to other health issues such as coronary artery disease, peripheral vascular disease, renal failure and blindness — making you a higher risk for life insurers.

If your diabetes is under control and you can show evidence that it’s been well managed, you can reduce your risk to the insurer.

3. Sleep apnoea

Sleep apnoea is a risk in two ways: the resulting lack of sleep and the associated health problems.

Often sleep apnoea goes hand in hand with health conditions such as high blood pressure and coronary artery disease. It’s these conditions which place you in a risk factor category with your insurer.

4. Heart disease

Heart disease encompasses a number of conditions including heart attack and coronary artery disease. To help judge the severity of your heart disease risk, your insurer may look at both your personal medical history and your family’s medical history.

Make sure you provide your insurer with as much information as possible about your heart condition and your family medical history. To improve your chances of getting a policy, take any medical test the insurer asks for to help determine your risk level.

5. Asthma

Asthma is a very common health condition, and as long as you can show medical history to prove that your asthma is well managed (without a history of regular hospital visits), you can generally get approval for life insurance without being penalized.

6. Cancer

This may seem like an uninsurable pre-existing condition, but every cancer diagnosis, treatment and recovery is unique, which is why insurers will treat an applicant with cancer in their medical history individually too — don’t automatically think you can’t be covered with life insurance.

In some cases, an applicant with a cancer diagnosis or history may be monitored by an insurance company for six months to a year before being approved.

7. Weight-related health conditions

Obesity is one of those root conditions that can lead to other health problems such as heart disease or diabetes. The level of risk is determined by your body mass index rating and coverage for obese applicants will likely be more expensive. Insurers also may only cover claims unrelated to their weight, while applicants who are morbidly obese may not be able to secure life insurance at all.

At the same time, weight-related health conditions such as malnourishment or anorexia can also affect life insurance premiums, as these applicants are exposed to a range of health risks because of their poor diet and weakened body. For example, applicants who are currently suffering with anorexia may not be able to obtain life insurance coverage, while others may need to prove they’re in remission before being approved.

8. Organ transplants

An organ transplant is major surgery and can significantly affect both the cost and your ability to take out life insurance. In most cases, if you’re recovering from transplant surgery and not experiencing any complications, you can qualify for life insurance.

9. Mental health conditions

Mental health issues have long been a grey area for insurance companies. Getting life insurance if you suffer from a pre-existing mental health condition such as depression will require the condition be well managed and thoroughly documented..

It may also be difficult to obtain a life insurance policy for people who:

  • Have dementia or Alzheimer’s
  • Have recently been rehabilitated for drug or alcohol use
  • Reside in a hospital or nursing home

10. High cholesterol

Having high cholesterol puts you at significant risk for other health conditions such as vascular conditions, coronary artery disease and stroke. The result is that applicants with high cholesterol are assessed in a similar way to those with high blood pressure — if the condition is well managed and under control, you can often receive competitive life insurance premium rates.

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Bottom line

Life insurance companies need to know about the health conditions you have or might suffer from to make an accurate risk assessment when calculating premium rates.

It’s crucial to note that just because you suffer from one of the conditions listed above, it doesn’t mean you won’t be able to take out life insurance. Use our guide on life insurance with pre-existing conditions to learn more about how it may affect your ability to get coverage.

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