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Denied life insurance

Life insurance applications typically get denied for health reasons. Learn your next steps.

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A denied life insurance application means that an insurance company may see your health history or lifestyle as too risky to insure. However, it’s worth asking a representative for the reason you were declined, since mistakes happen or the company may not have all the correct information.

Why was I denied a life insurance policy?

The most common reasons for a denied life insurance application involve the applicant’s health. Some of the common medical issues that insurance companies balk at:

1. High cholesterol, blood pressure or glucose

Heart disease and stroke are leading causes of death in America, and high cholesterol or blood pressure levels can turn into either health condition. If you have several heart disease risk factors like uncontrolled high blood pressure, a life insurance company could reject your application.

Along the same lines, high blood sugar can lead to type 2 diabetes, a condition with other possible health problems to follow. The good news is that you can find other companies who will take you on, but you could get better rates by showing successful treatments.

2. Being overweight or obese

Being overweight puts you at a higher risk for multiple health problems, including heart disease and diabetes. While carrying a little extra weight doesn’t mean that your life insurance application will be rejected, you could see higher premiums.

Insurance companies typically use the Body Mass Index (BMI) to assess your weight compared to your build. If you have a BMI over 25, you may be considered overweight. Keep in mind that companies combine this with other factors to get a clear picture of your health when setting your premiums or approving your application.

3. Positive drug test or heavy alcohol use

If you return a positive test for illegally used drugs, don’t expect any company to insure you if the test was recent. Illicit drugs pose many health risks, and drug users may find themselves in dangerous situations like being unaware of their surroundings or actions.

In addition, you may be tested for signs of heavy alcohol use. The presence of carbohydrate-deficient transferrin (CDT) in your blood or signs of elevated liver function are telltale signs that you’re a heavy drinker.

To get life insurance after an addiction, most companies require that you stay clean for two to five years. An independent agent can help you find the best policy and company based on your specific drug history.

4. Mental illness

If you suffer from a mental illness like depression or anxiety, you can find a life insurance policy. However, the insurance company will consider the seriousness of your condition and your treatment’s success when deciding whether or not to insure you.

If you’re considered a risky applicant, you still might be able to buy a policy through your employer or a guaranteed issue policy that doesn’t require a health exam. Guaranteed issue policies aren’t common and typically offer less coverage for a higher price than standard policies.

5. HIV or AIDS

HIV and AIDS may be seen as serious conditions that impact your longterm health, even lowering your life expectancy if these conditions are left untreated. Many life insurance companies test for HIV and will deny coverage if you’re positive.

You still can buy life insurance if you have pre-existing medical conditions through your employer or a guaranteed issue policy, both of which won’t require a medical exam.

6. Cancer

If you’ve had cancer in the past, you have a chance at getting a traditional life insurance policy, but not with every company. Your insurance company will determine your risk level based on the type of cancer you had, how far it progressed and how long you’ve been in remission.

7. Hepatitis

If you test positive for Hepatitis B or C, your application may get rejected by some life insurance companies until your condition is treated. You can choose to buy a low-coverage policy with an insurance company that will accept you. Otherwise, you can wait to reapply until your condition has been treated, and you can relay all the details of your condition and treatment.

8. Blood or protein in urine

The presence of blood or protein in your urine could suggest serious kidney problems, or it could signal something far less sinister. If you want to qualify for coverage, you may need further testing to figure out the exact problem.

9. Hazardous job or hobby

If your work environment or personal hobbies risk more health problems or injuries than the average person’s activities, some insurance companies may not cover you. Along with risky jobs, your insurance application could get rejected if you’re a skydiver, pilot, scuba diver or if you regularly participate in extreme sports. Examples of risky jobs or hobbies that may not be covered:

  • Commercial fisherman
  • Firefighters
  • Miner
  • Police
  • Tree logger
  • Participate in extreme sports
  • Pilot
  • Rock climber
  • Scuba diver
  • Skydiver

Not every insurance company will deny you if you’re involved in high-risk activities, but you can expect to pay higher premiums whether you buy a traditional or guaranteed issue policy.

10. Poor driving record

Car accidents commonly cause serious injuries or death for people otherwise in perfect health. With this in mind, if you’ve been involved in multiple accidents, have DUIs on your record or had your license suspended or revoked, it won’t look good on your life insurance application.

Will I be denied life insurance for COVID-19?

It’s possible that you’ll be denied life insurance during the COVID-19 pandemic, but you shouldn’t get denied as long as you’re healthy. If you currently have the coronavirus, a life insurance insurance company might ask you to wait for a full recovery before applying.

Some companies have tightened criteria for new applicants, with lower age limits or stricter health requirements. However, this isn’t the case across all insurance companies, so you should find life insurance options even if you’re considered a higher risk for getting the virus.

What to do if you’re denied life insurance

If your life insurance application is rejected, you have options to find the coverage you need:

  1. See if your denial was a mistake. You have the right to know why your application was rejected. It may include your occupation type or because of medical exams. It’s entirely possible that a mistake was made. Always run any medical records used for denial past your doctor for a second opinion. You may be able to prove some initial test results were incorrect or that your condition is manageable.
  2. Work with an independent agent. An independent life insurance agent can help you find a different company that will approve you for coverage. The agent also can go over your different policy options, giving you a higher chance of getting your application approved.
  3. Buy life insurance through your employer. Because employer-sponsored policies involve large numbers of people at once, life insurance companies may accept people considered too risky by other companies. These group policies also may be discounted by the company or subsidized through your employer, giving you a lower premium than you’d pay elsewhere.

Can I reapply for life insurance after getting denied?

The short answer is yes, in most cases. Some life insurance companies will deny an application where another company is willing to take on your risk. So if one company won’t issue any coverage, you typically can find options elsewhere.

You can also wait to reapply while working on reducing any risks you can. For example, you can work with your doctor to quit smoking, reduce high cholesterol or lose weight.

In cases where you’re still considered too risky, you might qualify for a guaranteed issue or final expense policy.

Can I reapply with the same company?

You can reapply for life insurance with the same company if they denied you for a specific coverage amount or type of policy but they have other policy options available. If you’re diagnosed with a health condition, the company may require you to wait for treatment results before issuing the policy you wanted.

However, if your denial was a simple mistake like a paperwork error, you can reapply for the same policy and coverage level with the proper paperwork.

Compare life insurance policies

Name Product Issue age Minimum Coverage Maximum Coverage Term Lengths Medical Exam Required
Prudential
18 - 75 years old
$100,000
$10,000,000
10, 15, 20, 30 years
Yes
Customize your term life insurance with a long list of life and disability riders. Get a free quote on Policygenius.
Transamerica
18 - 75 years old
$25,000
$10,000,000
10, 15, 20, 25, 30 years
Depends on policy
Purchase a policy worth anywhere from $25,000 to $10 million, with the option to skip the medical exam. Get a free quote on Policygenius.
MassMutual
18 - 80 years old
$2,000
$10,000,000
10, 15, 20, 25, 30 years
Depends on policy
Purchase term life insurance up to age 80 with Finder's #1 ranked company. Get a free quote from this A+ rated insurer on Policygenius.
AIG
AIG
20 - 85 years old
$5,000
$2,000,000
10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35 years
Yes
Buy term life insurance all the way up to age 85, and choose a policy that lasts up to an incredible 35 years. Get a free quote on Policygenius.
John Hancock
18 - 65 years old
$25,000
$1,000,000
10, 15, 20 years
Depends on policy
Score a low rate on term life insurance with discounts and rewards for your healthy habits. Get a free quote on Policygenius.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Bottom line

Your life insurance application may get rejected for a number of reasons, but typically the insurance company deems some factor about you as high risk. You could lower your risk in some cases, or look at several life insurance policies from other companies to compare and get approved.

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