What should you do if you’ve been declined life insurance?

Find out more about the possible reasons your life insurance application was declined and how you might still be able to take out cover.

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It’s not nice to be turned down for anything, especially something as important as life insurance cover. But this can happen for a variety of reasons.

If you’ve been declined life insurance, read our guide to see what your options are and how you can still get cover.

Why has my life insurance application been declined?

There could be a number of reasons why you’ve been declined, all of which are fairly common.

Insurers look at applicants according to how much of a risk they judge the applicants to be. Meaning, how likely they are to make a claim and cost them money. In the case of life insurance, this relates to the way in which you live your life.

The reason you were declined could have something to do with a pre-existing medical condition, your lifestyle (like smoking or drinking), your job or even a dangerous hobby.

Medical factors affecting a life insurance application

Some life insurance companies require you to undertake a medical exam before they offer you cover. It is possible to find life insurance with no medical, but you will still have to answer a few questions before any cover can be offered.

Sometimes, the answers you provide to the questions asked by the insurer means it sees you as too much of a risk to take on.

A few common examples of medical conditions that could be seen as a risk by life insurance companies include the following:

  • Obesity
  • High glucose or blood sugar
  • History of cancer
  • HIV and AIDS
  • Hepatitis
  • Blood or protein in the urine
  • Elevated liver function
  • High cholesterol, lipids and triglycerides
  • Alcohol lifestyle factors

Some of these conditions can also have an affect if you have a family history of them, even if you don’t suffer from the condition yourself.

It’s important to note that this only refers to the time before you take out the policy. If you develop any of these conditions later on in life, it shouldn’t invalidate your existing cover.

Lifestyle factors affecting a life insurance application

Medical factors play a big role in how life insurance companies assess your level of risk, but lifestyle factors are just as important. This is especially true if you have more than one high-risk lifestyle factor on your application.

Some of the elements that can affect your chances of being accepted for cover include the following:

Smoking, alcohol consumption and drug use

Smoking and excessive drinking are the two main factors that life insurance companies consider high risk. This doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to get life cover if you smoke or drink, but some companies may reject you and your premiums are likely to be higher if you are accepted.

Most insurers will require you to not consume any nicotine products (including cigarettes, e-cigarettes and nicotine replacement products) for 12 months before they class you as a non-smoker. This might change depending on the provider, so check your policy details to know for sure.

Drug use, especially class A drugs, will pose more of a challenge to getting life insurance cover. You might not be able to take out a policy if you use these kinds of substances, but you must always be open and honest when answering questions in your insurance application.

High-risk jobs

Some jobs, such as the following, are considered higher risk by insurers:

  • Logging workers
  • Finishing and related jobs
  • Airline pilots and flight engineers (flight attendants might also fall into this category)
  • Roofers
  • Structural iron and steelworkers
  • Refuse and recyclable material collectors
  • Electrical power-line installers and repairers
  • Drivers (depending on the vehicle you drive and the purpose)
  • Farmers, ranchers and other agricultural managers
  • Construction workers
  • First responders, including police officer and firefighters

A dangerous hobby (like rock climbing, paragliding or deep-water diving) can also get you rejected by some life insurance companies.

Income limitations

While this doesn’t make you higher risk in terms of dying prematurely, insurers can see you as a higher risk for missing payments if you’re in temporary employment, working a zero-hours contract or on a low income.

Previously declined applications

Most insurers will ask if you’ve ever been declined life insurance cover and why. This doesn’t mean you’ll be rejected again as different companies have different acceptance criteria, but you must always answer this question honestly.

Driving record

This doesn’t get asked by all life insurance companies, but some might want to know about your driving record. Insurers use this information to ascertain your risk of being involved in a potentially fatal car accident, which would lead to a claim.

What can I do if my life insurance has been declined on non-medical grounds?

The best thing you can do in this situation is get as much information as you can about why your application was declined.

If the reason is something you can change (like being a smoker, how much you drink or a hobby you can stop taking part in) and you don’t mind making that sacrifice for the sake of getting life insurance cover, then that will likely help your case.

If you are unable or unwilling to change the circumstance that led to you being declined, then don’t. Remember that just because you were denied cover by one insurer, doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find cover elsewhere.

Can I get life insurance after my application has been declined?

Yes. One insurance company declining your application doesn’t mean they all will.

It’s important to remember that insurance companies do not share information about applicants or customers with one another. You might be rejected by another company for the same reasons, but different insurers have different criteria for cover.

If you accidentally apply for cover with the same company that rejected you, you might be declined again. That said, if you have made changes to your lifestyle and health, they might accept you the second time around.

What should I do once my life insurance application has been declined? What are my options?

Your best option is to get as much information about why your application was declined and then work with another provider or an independent adviser to try and secure cover elsewhere.

The following are some of the things you can do to help your chances of getting cover:

    • Discussing the reason you were declined with the insurance company that rejected you.
    • Ensuring all the medical information you provided is correct and up to date.
    • Looking at the reasons you were denied cover and seeing what lifestyle changes you can make (quitting smoking or losing weight, for example).
    • Researching specialist insurers who specialise in or have experience of finding cover for people who were previously declined.

What shouldn’t I do if my life insurance application has been refused?

Whatever you do, never give false or inaccurate information in any insurance application. Doing this can invalidate your cover, meaning you will not get a payout even if all your premiums have been fully paid.

Bottom line

Being denied life insurance cover is less than ideal, but it doesn’t mean you’ll never be able to take out a policy.

Different insurers have different acceptance criteria, and you can go to an independent insurance adviser to help you navigate the options.

The most important thing is to get all the information you can about why your application was denied and to make any lifestyle changes you can in order to make yourself less of an insurance risk.

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