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Buying Life Insurance With Preexisting Conditions

While having a preexisting health condition can create obstacles for getting life insurance, it’s not entirely impossible to find a policy that fits your needs.

A preexisting health condition is a medical ailment diagnosed before buying a plan or policy. Examples might include:

  • Asthma
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Hypertension
  • Kidney, liver or heart disease

Many life insurance plans do not cover preexisting conditions, but others may cover them after a determined waiting period.

Can You Get Life Insurance if You Have a Preexisting Condition?

Yes. You can apply for life insurance if you have a preexisting condition. A life insurance agent can help you find a plan that suits your budget and specific needs.

When applying for life insurance through an agent, it's important to be transparent about your health. Gather all your healthcare documents and get as much information regarding your condition as you can. You may need medical records that show your diagnosis, treatment plans and prescription details. This information helps pair you with the insurance company that can best meet your life insurance needs. 

Each company has its own set of conditions they are willing to cover. It’s important to be honest and answer your questions thoroughly, as many insurers will check your answers with your healthcare provider and other sources.

How Life Insurance Works

Typically, when you apply for life insurance, the insurer groups you into one of several rate classes, which are based on several factors, including your health. If you have a preexisting condition, you are considered more "risky" to insure, and so your premiums are likely to be higher as a result. In this example, you would be classified in a different risk class compared to someone without a preexisting condition.

While the name given to each class varies among insurers, the goal is to categorize the risk of insuring you based on your health. Most people qualify for preferred status, but if you have a preexisting condition, you may qualify for a policy that charges a higher premium for a lower benefit because a preexisting medical condition might signal increased healthcare expenses or an early or unexpected death, which increases the risk for the insurer. The following is an example of the standard tiers of health ratings for insurers: 

  • Preferred Plus: Excellent health and no preexisting medical conditions. You don't qualify if you have a preexisting condition. 
  • Preferred: Great health aside from one minor issue, such as slightly elevated blood pressure. 
  • Regular Plus: Good health but you have a low-risk preexisting condition that requires minimal attention or treatment. 
  • Regular: Average health with one or more preexisting conditions that are moderate-risk, such as hypertension or diabetes. 

Guaranteed Acceptance Life Insurance

Guaranteed acceptance life insurance is one policy type that offers acceptance as long as you are within a certain age range. You are also not obligated to take a health exam; however, you typically pay higher premiums for less coverage.

There may be a limit to what the coverage is, and some insurance plans cap death benefits around $25,000. That amount is usually sufficient for end-of-life costs, including funeral and burial fees. 

For more favorable rates, you can opt to take the medical exam, and if the healthcare screening does not go as planned, you can always switch back to a no-exam life insurance, which tends to have much more relaxed underwriting guidelines. 

What To Do if You Have Been Denied Life Insurance

If you’ve been denied life insurance coverage or can’t find a policy with affordable premiums that fits your needs, you may have some options.

The first thing you can do is ask underwriting for a new review of your health records to ensure everything was addressed. If that still does not work, you can wait and consider reapplying for life insurance later once your condition has improved. In the meantime, you can always opt to save and invest the money you would have paid in monthly premiums. 

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