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

Taking out a life insurance policy can offer peace of mind for you and your family. But if you suffer from a chronic health condition or have a history of medical problems, your options for life insurance could be affected. Depending on what type of medical issues you have, you should be able to find cover, it may just be a case of finding the right insurance provider.

In this guide we'll help you to understand your options when it comes to finding life cover when you have a pre-existing medical condition.

What is a pre-existing medical condition?

A pre-existing medical condition is any illness, injury or disease you have before or at the time of taking out your life insurance policy.

Each insurance provider will have a list of conditions they consider to be pre-existing. These could include:

  • Asthma
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy
  • Heart disease, including heart attacks or strokes
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure

What is life insurance?

Life insurance is designed to pay out a lump sum in the event of your death. It can provide valuable reassurance for you and your family, knowing they will have some financial support to contribute towards funeral costs or any other financial commitments.

You choose the amount of cover you need and how long you need it for as well as the type of policy. You will pay a premium, usually monthly, to your chosen insurance provider. In return, your family should receive a pay-out if you die while covered by the policy

Can I get life insurance if I have a pre-existing medical condition?

The short answer is yes, you can. But if you do have a medical condition, you might have to pay higher premiums. That's because you are seen as 'higher risk' in the eyes of the insurer. The number of insurance providers willing to cover you may also be reduced, but that's not to say you won't find one to suit your needs.

Life insurance policies are accessed according to your individual circumstances and the effect your medical conditions have on your cover will depend on the type of condition you have and when you were last affected by it. It's important to be completely upfront with your chosen insurance provider about all medical conditions you have or have had in the past when asked, as failure to do so could invalidate your policy and leave your loved ones unable to make a claim.

Unfortunately, if you have outstanding medical investigations or an ongoing serious medical condition it may prove difficult to find a provider willing to offer you cover.

What types of life insurance are available?

There are different policies available which offer different levels of cover, depending on your individual needs.

Level term life insurance - This type of cover allows you to choose the amount your loved ones will receive as a pay-out after your death and allows you to choose how long you are covered for. The amount of cover provided by a level term life insurance policy will not change throughout the policy term. Find out more with our guide to level term life insurance.

Mortgage protection life insurance - This is also known as decreasing term life insurance. This type of life insurance is designed to pay off your outstanding repayment mortgage in the event of your death. The amount of cover decreases broadly in line with your outstanding mortgage amount. Find out more with our guide to mortgage protection insurance.

Critical illness cover - This can be purchased alongside or integrated into level term life insurance or mortgage protection insurance and will pay out if you're diagnosed with a specified critical illness during the term of the policy. Find out more with our guide to critical illness cover.

old couple
Dad and child holding hands

Why should I get life insurance?

While no one likes to think about leaving their loved ones behind, have you considered how they would cope financially after you're gone? If you have dependants who rely on your income, such as children or a partner, a life insurance policy could help cover the cost of any bills or debts you leave behind, such as an outstanding mortgage, credit card bills or funeral costs.

Life insurance may be beneficial if you are:

A single parent - As a single parent, you may only have your salary to rely on to run your household, so who would pay the mortgage if you were no longer there? Life insurance could provide you with the peace of mind that comes with knowing your children would be provided for after your passing.

The sole breadwinner - If you're the main breadwinner in your household, your family may not be able to cope financially without your salary coming in. Life insurance could help towards replacing this lost income should you die.

A stay-at-home parent - Although a stay-at-home parent may not bring home a salary, their role has enormous value. A stay-at-home parent acts as childminder, cook and housekeeper to the whole family. If the worst were to happen to you, could your partner afford to reduce their working hours or give up work completely to take on those responsibilities or hire someone to look after your children? If the answer is no, purchasing life insurance could be a prudent decision.

What questions will insurers ask?

Any life insurance provider looking to provide you with cover must decide whether you are an acceptable risk, and that means taking into account a number of factors. When you go to get a quote for a life insurance policy, you'll be asked some questions about your health and lifestyle. This may include:

  • your weight
  • your drinking habits
  • your smoking status

If you have a pre-existing medical condition, you may be asked to provide details including, when you were diagnosed and what type of medication, if any, you take for this condition to allow the insurer to assess how severe your condition is.

In most instances, the life insurance company will be able to offer cover without the need for a medical. But if you have suffered a medical condition, your provider may write to your doctor and ask you to have a medical examination to determine the state of your health and ultimately the cost of your premiums.

Can I get life insurance if I have cancer?

If you are currently living with cancer, it's unlikely you will be able to obtain a policy. However, if you have had cancer in the past and are now in remission, you may be able to get life cover, but it's likely your premiums will be more expensive.

When deciding whether to offer you cover and what terms, your life insurance provider will take into account the type of cancer you had and how advanced it was. Most insurers will also want to know when you were diagnosed and when you last had treatment. Your insurer may also require that a specified recovery period has passed before they will approve an application.

With your permission, your insurance provider may ask to contact your doctor asking for medical details regarding your cancer and you may have to undergo a medical examination before they'll issue your policy.

What can I do to lower cost of a life insurance policy?

While you can't do anything about your medical history, there are some lifestyle changes you can make to potentially lower your insurance premiums.

Quit smoking - Smoking can lower your life expectancy, meaning the insurance provider will likely see you as a high-risk applicant. By quitting smoking, you may live longer, meaning the insurer is less likely to have to pay out during the policy term.

Lose weight - Obesity can contribute to a range of ailments, from diabetes to heart disease. By losing weight, you can lower your risk of an early death, and hopefully reduce your life insurance premiums.

Reduce/eliminate alcohol intake - Excessive alcohol intake can be a risk factor for several types of cancer and liver problems. By reducing the units of alcohol you consume, or stopping drinking altogether, your insurance provider could see you as a lower risk thus avoiding increased premiums.

Shop around - Getting a quote for you life insurance from a comparison service such as Compare Cover could help you to get the best possible cover for your individual circumstances and budget. We work with leading insurance providers to allow you to compare quotes for level term life insurance, mortgage protection insurance and critical illness cover.


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