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Life insurance with a pre-existing condition

Can I get an affordable life insurance policy with a pre-existing medical condition?

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Depending on which type of pre-existing health condition you have, you can typically still qualify for life insurance coverage. The severity of your health condition will determine if you’ll be denied coverage, pay higher rates, or still be able to score a cheap rate. However, it’s crucial that you disclose any relevant medical history during your application process. The failure to do so could result in a canceled policy, or even worse, a denied claim when you or your family needs it most.

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What’s considered a pre-existing medical condition?

When it comes to life insurance, a pre-existing medical condition is usually a detrimental health situation that’s present before the beginning of your policy. Insurers will want to know about the time period of an illness, whether short-term or long-term and if it was hereditary.

Definitions vary from company to company, so if you have a pre-existing medical condition and are trying to purchase a new insurance policy, it’s important to be aware of which conditions qualify as a pre-existing condition.

Why do some life insurers exclude pre-existing conditions?

Companies may exclude pre-existing conditions to minimize the risk of insuring someone that has a high percentage of filing a payable claim.

Tips for buying life insurance with a pre-existing condition

A pre-existing condition like diabetes or heart disease can complicate the application process — but it doesn’t mean you’ll be denied coverage. To boost your chances of approval and get the best possible rates, follow these steps:

How to get life insurance if you’re sick

Types of no-medical exam policies

If you don’t want to take a medical exam for whatever reason, there are two types of policies to choose from:

  • Simplified issue policies require you to fill out a health questionnaire of around 20 yes or no questions, and coverage isn’t guaranteed.
  • Guaranteed issue policies skip the health questionnaire and medical exam, so there are no questions asked. These policies are typically more expensive because coverage is guaranteed.
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What details about my medical history will insurers want to know?

When purchasing an insurance plan with a pre-existing medical condition or illness, you’ll need to disclose personal information. However, the details can vary depending on your condition and the insurance company you’re applying with.

1. Information about specific conditions

Be upfront with your insurer if you have any of the following conditions:

  • Asthma, sleeping disorders
  • High cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes or high blood sugar
  • Skin problems such as cancers, moles or tumors
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Serious disorders like cancer, epilepsy, heart conditions, anemia, kidney or bladder disease or thyroid conditions
  • Cancer

2. General medical information

When applying, let the insurer know if you’ve been in the hospital, been prescribed medication or any of the following:

  1. Made a previous claim because of an illness.
  2. Have had symptoms that made you seek medical advice or a professional health practitioner.
  3. You’re awaiting tests or medical treatment.
  4. Missed work because of a condition.

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What questions should I be prepared to answer about my condition?

Questions you could be asked for specific conditions include:

Will I need to inform my insurer if my condition changes?

You’ll need to disclose any changes in circumstances before your insurer provides you with coverage.

Guides for approval

Click any of the topics below to get a deep dive into how these particular preexisting and chronic conditions might affect your premium and application.

Can I get life insurance if I’m HIV-positive?

Yes, but it might be challenging — and your options will be limited. Though HIV is now a manageable condition, the insurance industry still views HIV-positive people as too risky to insure. And since the medical exam tests for HIV, that means most insurers will automatically decline people with HIV. There are a few ways you can go about getting coverage:

  • Buy a guaranteed issue policy. This policy skips the health questionnaire and medical exam, and all applicants are approved. However, since the insurer doesn’t have a complete picture of the person they’re covering, it’s one of the most expensive policies on the market.
  • Join group life insurance. If your employer offers life insurance as part of its workplace benefits, opt into it. It will most likely be capped at a small amount, like $50,000, but at least you’ll have a base level of coverage in case something happens to you.

Does life insurance cover loss of limbs or eyes?

Traditional life insurance policies don’t cover losses of body parts. If this coverage is important to you, look into accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) insurance.

This policy pays out a lump sum to your beneficiaries if you die in an accident, and if you lose a limb, finger or toe in an accident. If you’re injured, you may only receive a percentage of the full benefit based on the body part/s affected and the severity of your injuries.

What types of medical exams will I need to take?

When applying for life insurance, you may undergo one of the following types of medical tests:

  • A checkup. This checkup will record your weight and height, and may include a blood pressure and urine test.
  • A checkup and a blood test. In addition to a checkup, your doctor or nurse will also take some blood to see whether you’re HIV positive – or if you have illnesses such as hepatitis. The insurer may also request a cholesterol reading.
  • Medical records. This is a detailed medical history report completed by a physician and sent off to your insurer.

Are these medical exams necessary?

Medical tests aren’t required for all types of life insurance, however, submitting to a test could get you lower premiums. Insurers prefer applicants take these tests because it can give them the most accurate information about your health.
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The underwriting process explained

During the underwriting process, your insurer will look at various risk factors that can affect the probability of paying out a life insurance claim. It can generally be broken down into eight risk groups:

  • Medical history. You should let your insurer know of any hereditary problems, illnesses or diseases, injuries, psychological issues or any ongoing symptoms you may have.
  • Family medical history. Family history is an important indicator for ailments that are known to have familial links such as cancer, depression or congenital heart defects.
  • Lifestyle. You should inform your insurer if you’re a smoker, drinker, or taking any prescription or non-prescription drugs.
  • Occupation. Your occupation, hours you work, your title and the size of the company you work for are all important factors.
  • Financial situation. Your insurer will want to make sure that the amount you’re being insured for is logical and that you’ll be able to to pay the premium.
  • Hazardous hobbies. This will be assessed depending on both the type of activity and your level of competency.
  • Location. Your insurer will look at your access to medical facilities and the likelihood of natural disasters in the areas you work and live.
  • Current risk. Any risks that may pose an immediate threat such as civil disorder or natural disasters.

Life insurance and medical tests

You may be asked to get a medical screening before getting approved for life insurance. This is common with older applicants and for those who want to be insured for a large amount of money. Based on your test results, your life insurance provider looks for:

  • Heart disease. Coronary heart disease kills more people than any other disease in America. Insurers will assess your blood pressure to determine if you have high cholesterol, which is an indicator of coronary artery disease. Also, depending on your age and medical history, you may need to have an electrocardiogram to check for an irregular heartbeat.
  • HIV. HIV has the potential to become AIDS. If you’ve contracted HIV, antibodies or antigens will have developed in response to the virus and will be present in your blood.
  • Diabetes. People with chronic diabetes are more likely to suffer a heart attack, kidney disease, stroke and many other unsavory health conditions. Your blood and urine may be tested for unusually high glucose levels, which can be an indicator that your body is not processing sugars properly.
  • Kidney disease. Kidney disease can lead to kidney failure and if you don’t receive dialysis or a transplant the disease can be fatal. Your blood will be checked for high levels of blood urea nitrogen and your urine for high levels of creatinine, protein and red blood cells.
  • Liver disease. Liver disease can develop into liver cancer or cause gastrointestinal bleeding. Your blood will be screened for signs of a high bilirubin levels or elevated levels of enzymes which normally appear in liver cells.
  • Cancer. Some forms of cancer can be identified through blood and urine tests. Blood cancers such as leukemia can be identified in your blood and bladder — kidney cancer can be identified in your urine. The levels of prostate specific antigens can also be a sign of prostate cancer.

What are the most common pre-existing conditions

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Aplastic anemia
  • Cancer
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Chronic liver disease
  • Coma
  • Coronary artery angioplasty
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Diplegia (Cerebral palsy)
  • Encephalitis
  • Epilepsy
  • HIV accidental infection
  • Heart attack
  • Heart conditions
  • Hepatitis
  • Hereditary health issues
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Loss of hearing
  • Major organ transplant
  • Mental illness
  • Motor neuron disease (MND)
  • Major organ transplant
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Musculoskeletal injuries
  • Obesity
  • Occupationally acquired HIV
  • Out of hospital cardiac arrest
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Skin cancer
  • Sleep apnea
  • Stroke
  • Terminal illness

Will I need to disclose my results of genetic testing?

If you’ve previously undergone genetic testing for hereditary diseases, then you could be required to disclose the results of those tests to your insurer.

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