How Do Pre-Existing Medical Conditions Affect Life Insurance?
People often think that they have to be the picture of health to qualify for a life insurance policy. But there's good news! Health conditions are taken into consideration, but they are generally not automatic disqualifiers. There are also some life insurance policies that allow you to completely forgo the medical exam and long health questionnaire. That means, if you qualify, you could spend your morning sipping coffee at home, instead of waiting to take your medical exam.
If you have a pre-existing medical condition, you might have questions about how it will impact your ability to get life insurance. We're here to help you find answers — and assure you that you may have more options than you think.
than you think.
Can I be approved for life insurance with a serious health condition?
In short, yes, it may be possible to secure life insurance with a pre-existing medical condition. For some health conditions, a simple disclosure may be all that is required of you. However, for many illnesses or physical conditions, you may need to go through additional medical screenings. This might include an EKG test (a test commonly used to monitor the heart and detect problems), cancer testing or a review of your prescription drug records.
In addition to increased medical screening, you should also be prepared for the possibility that you may have to pay a higher premium for your life insurance policy.
How does my health impact the cost of my life insurance policy?
There are several factors, including your health, that are used to determine how much you pay for your life insurance policy (or your "premium rate").
All of those factors can be grouped underneath these key variables:
- How long you want coverage
- How much coverage you need
- Your health and lifestyle
- Your age and gender
When you apply for certain types of life insurance, such as term life insurance or whole life insurance, you are typically required to complete a medical exam and a health questionnaire. The results help give life insurance providers insight into your current health status, your health history, and your family's health history, among other things. All of this information is used to assess your risk of passing away prematurely. As a result, the lower your risk, the lower your premiums may be.
What are common health conditions that can affect my life insurance premium?
Below is a partial list of health conditions that could affect the rate you'll pay for life insurance. However, some health conditions are more common than others. Here's a look at five common health conditions and how a life insurance provider might handle them.
- High blood pressure — One in three American adults1 have high blood pressure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If you do the math, that's about 75 million people. So it's no surprise that high blood pressure is also common in life insurance applicants. Having high blood pressure can put you at risk for a number of serious health conditions, including heart disease and stroke. For that reason, your blood pressure may play a role in the premiums you'll pay. However, if you're effectively managing your high blood pressure — through the care of a doctor and taking medication — it could positively influence your risk assessment.
- High cholesterol — Another common condition in the United States, high cholesterol impacts one out of every three adults.2 High cholesterol can cause coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and a litany of other conditions. The good news is that it, too, is looked upon more favorably by a life insurance provider if it is currently being properly managed or medicated by your physician. Interestingly enough, there are no symptoms for high cholesterol3 As a result, many people don't know that their levels are too high until they get tested, which is why annual check-ups are so important for your health. If you already know your cholesterol is high, consider seeing your doctor for a treatment plan before applying for life insurance. It could be good for your wallet — and your heart.
- Obesity — There's a misconception that obesity will automatically disqualify you from life insurance. While obesity puts you at a greater risk for a number of conditions,4 including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers, it is still very possible to secure a policy if you're overweight. A Body Mass Index (BMI) outside of the normal range could affect your rate, but many could still qualify for a policy that meets your budget and your needs. It's important to speak with a licensed agent about your options.
- Anxiety — Your mental health is just as important as your physical health to your total well-being. Life insurance providers consider anxiety a risk because it's a form of mental illness that can lead to other health problems, such as depression or substance abuse. But there's a silver lining: Anxiety disorders are highly treatable,5 according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Similar to the above conditions, if you have an anxiety disorder, but are managing your symptoms with the help of a primary care physician, your situation may be looked upon more favorably when you seek out life insurance coverage.
- Heart disease — The leading cause of death among both men and women, heart disease causes nearly 610,000 deaths6 each year, according to the CDC. Because heart disease is so prevalent, if you or someone in your family has been affected by the condition, an insurer may require that you take an EKG test to further examine your heart health. Life insurance providers will use this test to help identify your risk category
- Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) — Commonly associated with "acid reflux," GERD affects nearly 20 percent of Americans,7 according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. You might be surprised to see it listed as a condition that can affect the premiums you pay. However, left untreated, GERD can cause serious health issues — from respiratory problems and ulcers to, in rare cases, cancer. Because of this, it can affect your life insurance rates. Luckily, for those with this affliction, treating acid reflux with over-the-counter medication is enough to possibly improve your life insurance standing.
If I'm not able to get a traditional life insurance policy, are there any alternatives for which I might qualify?
It's important to remember that even if you're unfortunately denied for a certain type of life insurance policy, there may be other options still available. At AIG Direct, we offer Guaranteed Issue Whole Life Insurance, as well as Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance. Both provide your family with much needed financial assistance if you were to pass away unexpectedly and neither require a medical exam.
Guaranteed Issue Whole Life Insurance
Guaranteed Issue Whole Life Insurance is attractive for those ages 50 to 85, who want to help ensure their loved ones won't have to shoulder the financial responsibility of medical bills, credit card debt, or funeral costs. As long as you meet the age requirement, you can't be turned down for health reasons. It's permanent coverage, which means that it can last up to a lifetime. Your rates are also locked in for life, even as you age or your health status changes. Coverage is subject to receipt of payment and verification of identity as required by law and is effective upon receipt of policy.
Learn more about Guaranteed Issue Whole Life Insurance
Accidental Death and Dismemberment (AD&D) Insurance
Another option is Accidental Death and Dismemberment (AD&D) Insurance, which is there to protect you and your family should you get seriously injured or killed in an accident. It's designed for people who want guaranteed accidental death insurance, regardless of their health or occupation. So whether you fly planes or teach people how to safely jump out of them, you can't be denied coverage, as long as you meet the age requirements.
It's important to note that AD&D Insurance isn't a life insurance policy. But it can offer some degree of protection for people who might otherwise have none, due to health issues. It's also a more affordable option than a term or whole life policy, typically with a faster approval time.
Learn more about Accidental Death Insurance
If you have a pre-existing medical condition, one of the most important things you can do is be upfront and honest with your agent — and do your research. You might find a valuable option for life insurance, without ever having to put on one of those hospital gowns that never quite closes in the back.
1. https://www.cdc.gov/dhdsp/data_statistics/ fact_sheets/fs_bloodpressure.htm