High risk life insurance

Find out what life insurance for high risk people means, what it includes, what isn't covered and whether you qualify for this type of cover.

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Insurance companies calculate your premium based on how likely they think you are to make a claim and cost them money. For life insurance, this usually means people who are older, smokers, heavy drinkers and people with existing medical conditions or risky jobs.

If you fall under these categories, we’ve looked at what you can do to get affordable life cover for your needs.

Insurance companies calculate your premium based on how likely they think you are to make a claim and cost them money. So, for example, if you are an inexperienced driver or have a history of speeding, your car insurance will be more expensive.

We’ve looked at what makes someone high risk for life insurance and what you can do to save money if you fall under this category.

What is high risk life insurance and how does it work?

High risk life insurance is aimed at people who are at a greater risk of death during the policy term.

These people can find it difficult or expensive to get standard life insurance, so specialist cover might be needed.

What factors make an individual a “high risk” on a life insurance application?

Factors can vary by provider, but usually include:

  • Age. Older people are considered higher risk.
  • Pre-existing medical conditions. This can include conditions you’ve previously had, like a history of cancer or stroke, and current conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes.
  • Obesity. A high body mass index (BMI) score puts you at a higher risk group.
  • Address. If you live in an area where life expectancy is lower, you might pay more regardless of your own lifestyle.
  • Smoking. As smoking increases your risk of serious medical conditions, smokers usually pay higher life insurance premiums.
  • Alcohol consumption. If you’re a heavy drinker, you’ll be considered high risk. This is partly because of the health risks associated with excessive drinking, and partly as being drunk puts you at a higher risk of accidents.
  • Job. Certain jobs, like police officer and firefighter, make insurance companies view the person as a higher risk customer.
  • Hobbies. If you engage in risky hobbies such as rock climbing and deep water diving, you are likely to pay higher life insurance premiums. Some companies may exclude these activities from the cover.
  • Travel. Frequent travel to high-risk places, whether for work or as a tourist, might cost you more.

How much is life insurance for high risk customers?

This will vary depending on the provider and level of cover you opt for.

Your premiums will also be affected by how many of the high risk factors apply to you.

The best way to find out how much insurance will cost you is to compare prices from several providers according to your specific circumstances.

Where can I find the best high risk life insurance companies?

You can have a look at our guide to the best life insurance policies to learn more about some of the market’s top providers.

That said, it’s important to remember that what is best for one person, might not be the best for another, especially when it comes to something as personal as life insurance. Make sure you shop around and compare policies to find the best deal for you.

Things to consider when comparing policies include:

  • Price
  • List of covered illnesses
  • Customer reviews for the company and the product
  • Minimum and maximum payouts
  • Rate of successful claims

Should you exclude a pre-existing condition to make your cover cheaper?

This is entirely up to you. Excluding an existing medical condition can make your premiums cheaper, but consider whether the cover would still be worth it without the possibility of receiving a payout to treat or as a result of death by this particular condition.

One way to weigh things up is to calculate how much treatment for this condition costs and if there are any options outside of what’s included on the NHS that can help. The prognosis of the condition will also be worth considering, and whether it can cause further complications that might also be excluded from cover.

Do I need high risk life insurance?

If one or more risk factors listed above apply to you, it’s likely that you’ll need high risk life insurance.

That said, different insurers have different classifications for what constitutes high risk. For example, some insurers might consider a certain job or hobby high risk, while others won’t.

This is why shopping around is a good idea.

How can I make myself less of a high risk?

There are some things that are clearly out of your control, like your age, your pre-existing medical conditions and the life expectancy in the area you live in.

However, making lifestyle choices like quitting smoking, reducing your alcohol intake and not taking part in dangerous activities can all reduce your premium.

Example: Smokers are usually considered high risk

If you've consumed any nicotine products in the last 12 months (including cigarettes, ecigarettes and nicotine replacement products), it's likely the insurer will consider you a smoker and place you in a higher risk category.

You will still get a payout if you die, but your premiums will likely be more expensive in the time leading up to that.

* This is a fictional, but realistic, example.

Pros and cons for high risk life insurance


  • Allows people who may not be offered cover elsewhere to get life insurance
  • Can cover pre-existing medical conditions


  • Usually more expensive than regular life insurance
  • May come with a list of exclusions

Frequently asked questions

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