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Applying for life insurance with health conditions can be a tiring and stressful process, especially if you’re just trying to feel your way through the dark. One thing that worries many applicants is what effect their health status will have on getting qualified for a policy.
In this article, we’ll talk about the most common disease states life insurance companies look for when someone applies for a policy.
You may be surprised to find out that even with certain chronic medical conditions, you can still qualify for a preferred policy (which means you’ll get more favorable rates).
It really pays (lower premiums $$) to shop around and make sure you end up with the company that is best for your situation. Do this yourself or with the help of an experienced independent broker who understands the landscape.
The CDC estimates that more than half of the U.S. population have a chronic health condition. Many more than that, have a health risk that may lead to a chronic health condition. There are far too many (some data says 10,000+) different medical conditions to list and discuss in this guide.
If your health issue is not listed, please contact us. Chances are, we have helped others like you with it before. If not, we know exactly who to speak with to investigate and find you the lowest possible life insurance rates for your situation.
Common Health Issues – Table of Contents
On the mild side, referred to as heartburn. On the more severe side, GERD.
Acid reflux will typically not be a factor when applying for life insurance. This assumes it is well-controlled. If so, top rates such as Preferred are possible. Advanced or chronic conditions that threaten damage to areas of the body such as the esophagus will be factored into life insurance underwriting and result in higher rates.
See more: Life Insurance with Acid Reflux or GERD
A rare condition where the body produces too much growth hormone leading to overgrowth of certain body parts. First symptoms are usually swelling in the hands and feet.
Acromegaly might have a very little effect on your life insurance application, or it could be significant. It’s going to depend much on the progression of the disease and how you are controlling it.
See more: Getting Life Insurance with Acromegaly
Anemia is very common blood condition that affects millions of Americans.
Insurance companies will be mainly concerned with the type of anemia you have and the CBC results (both hemoglobin and hematocrit). If you have an underlying health condition that leads to the anemic condition, this will need to be looked at separately.
Generally speaking, if your iron levels are under control and there is no evidence of other health issues, you can expect to qualify for at least the Standard rate class.
Asthma is by far one of the most common medical conditions to appear on applications for life insurance with health conditions.
Asthma is a chronic breathing disorder in which the airways constrict, causing shortness of breath and difficulty breathing.
If you suffer from asthma, you’re in luck. No, not because you have asthma…that would be mean!
You’re in luck because applicants with asthma are often able to achieve preferred status.
As you may have guessed, the key here is severity.
If your asthma is under control with breathing treatments and you don’t have a history of getting hospitalized several times a year due to asthma complications, then you shouldn’t have to worry when applying for a life insurance policy.
Bundle Branch Block
The most important thing related to BBB and your life insurance application will be the type/severity you have.
1st Degree: Least serious – May be eligible for the Standard rate class
2nd Degree: Moderate and may require a pacemaker – Likely outcome is the substandard table ratings
3rd Degree: Serious, will need a pacemaker – Likely outcome is lower table ratings or only eligible for guaranteed issue policies
Your full medical history as it relates to Bundle Branch Block will be reviewed including electrocardiogram results and any symptoms such as shortness of breath, dizziness, etc will also be taken into account.
Chronic Back Pain
The mere presence of back pain is not a big deal on your life insurance application.
What is important with the underwriters are 2 main things:
- What is the underlying cause?
- What is the treatment plan including drugs used to manage?
Generally speaking, those who are able to manage their pain without drugs or with less intense prescriptions will be viewed as lower risk.
Weight loss surgery can have positive long-term effects on your health including lower blood pressure and a decrease in stress on your organs.
However, the surgery itself is a risk and can have complications which insurance underwriting will be very interested in. If you’ve undergone gastric bypass, you must show very minimal complications over a 12 month period after the surgery. Body weight must also remain relatively stable.
Typical best outcome after a weight loss surgery is going to be a mild sub-standard health rating. You will be paying a little more than “healthy” people but getting life insurance coverage is absolutely possible. The more time that has passed without complications, the better your chances of approval at lower rates.
Yes, it is possible to get approved for life insurance if you suffer from bipolar disorder.
Insurance companies will be looking at the severity, date of diagnosis, treatment plan, and any related experiences such as hospitalization or suicide attempts. After the underwriting period, you will be assigned to a health class that will determine the amount of premiums you’ll pay.
The range of outcomes will be wide, varying from Standard rates for mild and under control conditions, to higher (more expensive) substandard rates for severe conditions and sometimes declines for traditional policies.
Blood clots or vein thrombosis or fairly common and fortunately, most people can still be approved for life insurance after a clot.
Life insurance carriers will be looking at three things, the severity, the frequency, and the how recent the clots occurred. These factors will determine the health class that is assigned and the cost of premium you will be offered.
If there is an underlying cause, such as hypertension, that will be considered as well during the underwriting process.
See more: Getting Life Insurance with Blood Clots
Contrary to what some people think, having cancer does not mean an automatic denial is waiting for you on the other side of the “submit” button.
What carries the most weight here, is the type of cancer, staging, and prognosis.
Some companies may monitor applicants with cancer for 6 months to 1 year before underwriting a policy.
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For most people, Crohn’s Disease is very manageable. It is however considered to be a chronic illness since there is not a known cure.
Generally speaking, life insurance underwriters will want to figure out if your condition has a high chance of leading to more serious issues that can even sometimes be life-threatening and/or require major surgery.
Severity and frequency of the flare-ups will be the most important factors when your specific condition is reviewed.
Most insurance companies are very willing to approve coverage for those with Crohn’s Disease. Your health class and rate you pay will vary, as no 2 cases of Crohn’s are the same.
Cushing’s is a rare condition that can cause concern for life insurance underwriters. The secondary health issues it can lead to such as high blood pressure or weight gain will all be taken into consideration when processing your application.
If controlled, most people can still get life insurance coverage although the premiums you pay will be higher than the standard rates for those in good health.
Depression is something that life insurance companies take very seriously. According to the World Health Organization, 350 million people globally are affected to some degree by depression.
Severe depression can be associated with suicide attempts which will usually eliminate an applicant’s chance of qualifying for Preferred rates.
Applicants with a history of multiple psychiatric hospitalizations and suicide attempts pose the greatest risk, and may not even qualify for a policy.
Typically, you’ll need to have been prescribed by your primary physician and not a psychiatrist in order to qualify for preferred rates.
Diabetes – Type 2
Type 2 diabetes (adult-onset) can greatly impact your policy and rate. Having diabetes, especially for a long period of time, is linked to other dangerous disease states like kidney failure and coronary artery disease.
This is one case where younger age actually works against you.
For example, a 40-year-old diagnosed with type 2 diabetes is more likely to develop life-threatening complications than someone diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 75.
According to Dr. Goldstein of MetLife, a 40-year-old person with diabetes will not usually qualify for a preferred status life insurance policy.
Like with blood pressure, how well your diabetes is controlled is an important factor life insurance companies take into consideration.
Seizures and epilepsy are very common and affect millions of people.
Life insurance companies will take into account the increased risk of death that is associated with any seizures. Things like accidents that may happen during an episode, SUDEP, or an underlying medical cause that leads to the epileptic condition.
Underwriters will be looking at the type of seizures, frequency, and recency of your last episode. Approval for life insurance with epilepsy is ABSOLUTELY possible. Just understand that the range of outcomes can vary widely.
Gestational Diabetes is not typically considered a major risk factor on your life insurance application.
Underwriters will be looking for family history of Type II diabetes and signs of prediabetes such as obesity. The usual additional health checks like blood pressure and cholesterol levels will be considered as well. It usually is best to wait until after the pregnancy is over to apply for life insurance.
People who suffer from Glaucoma can usually get approved for life insurance at reasonable rates such as Standard or Standard Plus.
This assumes no major complications and a stable condition. If the condition is worsening or is considered to be likely to cause full blindness soon, the health class will be lower, most likely in the substandard table ratings.
The treatment plan including medications and any ophthalmologist visits will be reviewed by the underwriters at the insurance company.
A form of arthritis, Gout usually will NOT be a big issue on life insurance applications. If under control, you can still qualify for the best health classes at some carriers.
The frequency of attacks as well as any related health conditions will determine the premium people with gout pay.
See more: Getting Life Insurance with Gout
Most life insurance carriers will not consider an application for at least 6 months following a heart stent procedure. They will issue what is known as a “postpone” which means you can try again later. The reason being that they want to have time to see how your body reacts to the procedure.
Standard rates are possible with only one stent as long as it was a non-emergency procedure and no complications.
Multiple stents, stroke, or previous heart attack will land you in the table ratings which are more expensive. Which table rating you end up with will depend on the specifics of your health and the company you apply at.
High Blood Pressure
Millions of Americans are diagnosed with hypertension, making this one of the most common medical conditions among life insurance applicants.
How your policy is affected comes down to this:
Is your blood pressure controlled or uncontrolled?
If your blood pressure is under control, whether through medication or other means, there’s a good chance you may still qualify for a preferred policy. Keep in mind, the presence of other medical conditions will also play a role in determining your rate.
If your blood pressure is NOT controlled….then you’ll have a tough time qualifying for preferred status. Uncontrolled blood pressure can lead to harmful conditions such as coronary artery disease and kidney disease, just to name a few. This doesn’t mean you can’t still get coverage, you just need to accept the reality that you will pay a higher rate.
So…if your blood pressure is higher than Trump’s perfectly quaffed hair if at all possible, do yourself a favor and get it under control before applying for a life insurance policy.
With so many medications available, and modest dietary adjustments, it can actually be quite easy to reduce your numbers.
High cholesterol is a VERY common condition and the #1 reason for increased rates or flat-out denials.
The main reason insurance companies are concerned with high cholesterol levels is they have been proven to lead to more serious conditions such as heart attacks or coronary artery disease. Generally speaking, higher HDL ratios will mean higher rates.
All companies view things a little differently though so it pays to apply at the right company. Some will also allow for cholesterol medication to be taken without negatively affecting your health class rating, others will not.
If your high cholesterol is a thing of the past and under control, this will usually not hurt you in terms of an underwriting decision.
Millions of people have this condition that results from low blood sugar.
Generally speaking, you can still be approved for life insurance if you are hypoglycemic. The severity of the condition will determine your health class and how much you’ll pay. The biggest concern for the underwriting department will be whether your condition is believed to be a result of diabetes.
Just having a hysterectomy is certainly NOT a reason for denial of life insurance.
Insurance carriers will be mainly concerned with the reason why the procedure was necessary to begin with. In fact, in many cases, it may not affect your life insurance application at all. Depending on the underlying condition, your premiums may increase but denials are usually only seen in cases of uterine cancer.
Kidney disease has many forms and levels of severity. Mild situations like kidney stones can still qualify for top rates and moderate kidney disease can still be approved but you’ll pay more, typically sub-standard rates. Serious conditions are usually not insurable for regular life insurance and may need to look at guaranteed approval policies.
How you manage your condition is very important to the underwriters and will play a big role. There are many things you can do to improve your condition and underwriters will be looking for evidence that you are actively engaged and committed to improving your health.
Most life insurance companies will not view this condition negatively unless it’s considered to be severe.
Kyphosis is normally treatable so as long as you are following a treatment plan and additional complications aren’t present, expect to be eligible for regular rates. “Regular” meaning you aren’t being dinged for the condition. Any other health issues, height/weight, etc will still be taken into account when assigning the rate class.
See more: Getting Life Insurance with Kyphosis
There are 4 types of this auto-immune disease.
Most people with Lupus CAN qualify for life insurance but it will be at sub-standard rates, so you’ll pay more to account for the risk.
See more: Life Insurance with Lupus
This is something you don’t seem to hear about as often when it comes to applying for life insurance with health conditions. But an organ transplant will definitely generate a big red flag on any life insurance application.
In general, organ transplant recipients will probably not receive preferred status due to the associated risks. Some life insurance companies will not underwrite a policy at all for anyone who has received an organ transplant, but this is not the norm.
Kidney transplant recipients have the best chance of getting insured since this represents one of the most routine organ transplants.
Unfortunately, individuals who have received other organ transplants, such as heart or liver, will have a tougher time qualifying for life insurance policies. Keep in mind most companies will assess applications from organ transplant recipients on a case by case basis.
Life insurance approval is very possible for many people with pancreatitis.
Acute – Occurring less often (usually once or twice) and is usually very treatable. Assuming good health otherwise, top rates and health classes can be obtained.
Chronic – More serious in terms of frequency and symptoms. Individuals with chronic pancreatitis will have a hard time getting top rates but can still quality at Standard or sub-standard depending on the damage present to the organs and their overall health picture.
See more: Life insurance with Pancreatitis
It’s somewhat common excess protein in the urine to show up on lab results during the life insurance application process.
In many cases, this may not affect your application or rates at all. I will depend on how much proteinuria is detected and what the underlying cause may be. Once it’s detected, follow up lab tests may be ordered before an underwriting decision is reached. Since the mere presence of urine in the protein does have symptoms, it’s typical for applicants to not even know they have it until after taking the medical exam.
Scleroderma will have an effect on your life insurance application. The extent will be determined by several factors:
- Do you have localized or systemic scleroderma?
- How severe is the condition and has it led to other associated health issues?
- What is your current treatment plan? and what medications do you take for it?
People with this condition cannot qualify for the Preferred rates reserved for super healthy individuals. Standard health class rates are possible for some depending people and others will more severed conditions will be looking at table ratings. These are still approvals but will cost more.
Sleep apnea is a dangerous sleep disorder where a person experiences pauses in breathing during sleep.
If left untreated, chronic sleep apnea can lead to complications, such as heart disease and high blood pressure. Because of these potential complications, life insurance companies are on the lookout for applicants with sleep apnea.
However, there’s no need to lose sleep if you are afflicted with this condition.
Like with the other conditions mentioned, if your sleep apnea is under control, you can still qualify for a preferred policy in the absence of other serious medical conditions.
See more: Life Insurance Approval with Sleep Apnea
Strokes are the 3rd leading cause of death in the United States so life insurance companies certainly do take them seriously during underwriting. However, not all strokes are the same so there is a wide variation in the effect it will have on the premiums you pay.
Generally speaking, a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) or “mini-stroke” will be of less concern to underwriting than a full-on Cerebrovascular Accident (CVA).
Frequency and recency of episodes are 2 of the most important factors that go into determining your health rating. A recent stroke may be cause for a postponement at many carriers. This is nothing more than them wanting to “wait and see” a bit.
The more time that has passed since your most recent stroke, the better off it will be for your rates. That is NOT to suggest waiting though on your life insurance coverage. You can always get approval now for some coverage and then add more later as your stability in the eyes of the insurance companies increases.
Believe it or not, most life insurance companies will look at an applicant’s weight and factor that into their decision. They will typically use the Body Mass Index (BMI) as a gauge.
This would be more of an extreme circumstance.
Unfortunately, obesity is very common; over one-third of Americans are classified as overweight, with another third considered clinically obese.
Companies look at the other end of the weight spectrum too. Applicants with severe anorexia will have a difficult time qualifying for preferred rates. On the other hand, applicants with anorexia that is in remission or under control may still get approved for favorable rates.
Life Insurance with Health Issues – Tips for Paying Low Rates
Shop ’til Ya Drop
If you have any serious health conditions (not just the ones discussed in this article), it’s in your best interest to shop around for different quotes. While there’s no hard rule on how many quotes you should get, the philosophy of “the more, the merrier” is appropriate here.
But…that doesn’t mean you have to scour the internet for hours on end going to site after site. The help of a good independent broker can make the process as simple and painless as possible for you.
Take Control of the Conditions that You Can Control
It goes without saying that conditions like cancer and organ transplants are not something a person can control.
But disease states like high blood pressure and diabetes ARE very controllable with diet and medication.
It will serve you well if you can get a better handle on these conditions before applying for life insurance, possibly resulting in more money left in your pocket.
Always remember that premiums can vary widely between companies.
That’s why it’s SO important that you understand how the different carriers might view your personal situation. Shopping around will result in you getting the best life insurance coverage for your needs at an affordable premium.
Please keep in mind that underwriting guidelines can and DO vary greatly between carriers and this is often a complicated maze for consumers to navigate.
The secret to getting the lowest rate is placing you in a policy with the company that views you in the most favorable light.
The truth is while the quote engine is a great place to start, if you are applying for high-risk life insurance, it’s critical that you work with a broker who understands the complicated guidelines and will fight on your behalf to get the lowest rate for your situation.
We are one of the rare independent brokers that only sell life insurance so our experience and focus on this area benefit our clients greatly.
With recent changes in the industry, there is now an increasing number of options for coverage without a medical exam. We can compare and discuss these options with you.
If you are ready to get started, please fill out a quote request or always feel free to contact us with any questions.
We are here to help and will never pressure you in any way (and it’s FREE)