How To Get Life Insurance With Pre-Existing Conditions

secure Editorial Standards

SmartFinancial Offers Unbiased, Fact-based Information. Our fact-checked articles are intended to educate insurance shoppers so they can make the right buying decisions. Learn More

Buying life insurance is possible even if you have a pre-existing condition, like obesity, HIV or heart disease. However, you will likely face higher rates, especially for conditions that increase your mortality rate. Find out what life insurance options are available and tips for keeping your premium affordable.

What Is a Pre-Existing Condition?

A pre-existing condition is a health problem diagnosed or treatment issued prior to purchasing life insurance. Common types of pre-existing conditions may include (but are not limited to):

  • Anxiety
  • Asthma
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Blood disorders
  • Cancer
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy
  • HIV
  • Heart disease
  • Heart transplants
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Heart failure history
  • Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS)
  • Lupus
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Obesity
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Posttrauamtic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Schizophrenia
  • Smoking
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Uncontrolled sleep apnea

How Do Pre-Existing Conditions Impact Life Insurance Rates?

Assuming all other factors are equal, premiums will likely be higher for someone with a pre-existing condition than someone without. Life insurance issues a cash payout to your beneficiaries upon your death — therefore, premiums will increase when you carry predictors that increase your mortality rate.

Which Pre-Existing Conditions Impact Eligibility for Life Insurance?

While any type of pre-existing condition can affect your chances of getting approved for life insurance, some insurers may consider certain chronic medical conditions as uninsurable. Those with lupus, HIV, kidney failure or some other life-threatening disease may find it especially challenging to find a life insurer that will accept their application.

What Are the Best Life Insurance Options if You Have Pre-Existing Conditions?

If your pre-existing conditions make it difficult to buy life insurance, consider other coverage options, like your employer’s group health plan or a simplified acceptance policy.

Your Employer

Joining a group plan through your employer can be an affordable way to gain life insurance coverage. In group plans, employers can cover a portion of your life insurance costs. That’s money back in your pocket.

If you leave your employer, you may have the option to convert the policy into a private insurance plan with the same insurer — although, you will likely pay a higher premium. Still, this can be a preferred option if you need coverage but you’re continually denied in the private marketplace.

Simplified Acceptance Policy

A “simplified acceptance'' or “simplified issue” policy is an insurance policy that is easy to qualify for with no physical exam requirement. While eligibility requirements are far more relaxed, higher costs are often the downside. Charging higher premiums is how the insurance company offsets the risk of underlying issues that would otherwise be discovered in a medical examination.

Simplified acceptance policies are also a good option if you need coverage quickly. You can skip long underwriting processes and receive coverage as soon as your application is accepted and your premium confirmed.

Consult an Agent or Broker

If your own search for life insurance coverage was fruitless, you may find some results by working with an insurance broker. An insurance broker will likely have more experience in the life insurance industry and may discover potential solutions you did not think to consider. Just make sure you work with a professional with relevant credentials.

Buy Early

To preface, this tip is for individuals who do not have a diagnosed chronic condition but it exists in their family’s medical history. There are two big advantages of buying life insurance for kids: First, it locks in a lower rate. Life insurance costs increase with age and buying a permanent life policy while your child is young guarantees that premium for life — even if they develop a chronic health condition later in life.

Here’s how the cost of a term life policy with a $500,000 death benefit can increase in cost with age. These sample quotes are for a male who does not smoke.


Monthly Premium



















The second advantage is guaranteed future insurability. As mentioned, a permanent life policy can cover you for life — from when you’re young and healthy to old and diagnosed with several health problems.

Consider Final Expense Insurance

Also called “burial insurance” or “funeral insurance,” final expense insurance pays for your funeral costs.

Unlike life insurance, in which the death benefit can be spent however desired, the lump sum payout from final expense insurance will prioritize funeral-related expenses.

This can include cremation, the burial plot and the funeral service. Leftover proceeds can be used to pay outstanding debts.

Life Insurance With Pre-existing Conditions - Compare Quotes

How To Buy Life Insurance With a Pre-Existing Condition

Buying life insurance with pre-existing conditions can be daunting but that shouldn’t stop you from providing financial protection for your loved ones when you die. The steps below will walk you through the process of buying life insurance.

Step 1: Assess Your Coverage Needs

How much coverage you need will often depend on your current financial situation and whether others depend on you financially. For example, if you’re the sole provider for your family and you have a mortgage, then you may want to purchase enough coverage to pay off your loan if you die. Otherwise, your spouse may default on payments and potentially lose the house.

You will also want to choose the type of policy you want. Term life and whole life policies are among the most common types of life insurance. When shopping around in the next step, you can also ask the agent which products they recommend.

Step 2: Shop Around

Compiling quotes from multiple life insurance companies can help you secure the most affordable rate. Spend extra time on this step because you will likely face higher premiums due to your pre-existing condition. To provide an accurate quote, life insurance companies may request certain documents and details about your lifestyle:

  • Medical records and history
  • Current and past medication and drugs
  • Annual income
  • Name of primary care physician and other doctors
  • Occupation
  • Lifestyle (e.g., tobacco, alcohol or drug use, high-risk recreational activities)

Customer service is an important deciding factor, as well. Ask your friends and family if they have life insurance and if they’re satisfied with their carriers. Third-party rating platforms, like J.D. Power, also lend insight into a company’s overall customer satisfaction.

Do not lie on your life insurance application. Some people will lie on their life insurance applications in hopes of receiving a lower premium. For example, they may lie about chewing tobacco or their drug abuse.

If you’re caught lying on your application, the insurance company may give you a chance to revise your application or deny you outright.

If you’re caught after you’ve already purchased the policy, the insurer may cancel your policy or even sue for fraud.

Step 3: Undergo a Medical Exam

After deciding on a life insurance company, the agent should walk you through the steps for scheduling a life insurance medical exam, which usually consists of a questionnaire and a basic physical exam. The carrier may cover these costs. According to Guardian Life, medical exams typically take 15 to 45 minutes and include the following:

  • Blood pressure reading
  • Blood test
  • Cognitive ability test
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG)
  • Measure height, weight and vitals
  • Nicotine and drug test
  • Treadmill stress test
  • Urine sample
  • X-rays

Step 4: Designate a Beneficiary

If the life insurance company approves your application, it’s time to designate a beneficiary. A life insurance beneficiary is an individual who received the death benefit in a life insurance policy and is usually a family member, like a spouse or child.

Don’t neglect this step and keep it updated throughout your life. If there is no beneficiary, then the death benefit goes to your estate, which can create an undesired taxable event.

Step 5: Maintain Your Payments

Coverage begins when you start making your premium payments. Falling behind on your premiums risks a lapse in coverage. If you die and you have not maintained your premiums, your beneficiary may be denied death benefits — even if you’ve had a payment track record for several years.


What will disqualify you from life insurance?

Generally, having a chronic condition that significantly increases your mortality rate can contribute to denials on life insurance applications. Life insurance for people with pre-existing conditions can still be possible but you may need to spend more time shopping around for an affordable rate.

Can you get life insurance if you’re currently sick?

Buying life insurance is possible if you’re sick — with COVID-19, for instance — or have a pre-existing condition but it can be challenging because some insurers may deny your application. If your application is approved, you may face higher premiums if your condition increases your likelihood of dying early.

What happens if you’re denied life insurance?

Buying life insurance is still possible even if your application was recently denied. If you carry some high-risk fatality indicator, like a terminal illness, you may need to cast a wide net and shop around with multiple insurers to find one that will cover you.

Key Takeaways

  • A pre-existing condition is a health problem, such as obesity, diabetes or cancer, that was diagnosed before you purchased a life insurance plan.
  • Insurers charge higher premiums for individuals with pre-existing conditions because some illnesses increase your mortality rate, resulting in a subsequent death benefit payout.
  • A simplified issue life insurance policy may be a good coverage option for those with pre-existing conditions because there is no requirement to undergo a medical examination — albeit, you are usually charged higher premiums.

Life insurance will provide your loved ones with financial assistance in the event of your death. To help you choose the right life insurance company, SmartFinancial matches you with a policy based on your coverage needs and budget. Just enter your zip code below or call 855.214.2291 to receive your free life insurance quotes.


Get a Free Life Insurance Quote Online Now.