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How to Get Cheap Life Insurance with Pre-Existing Medical Conditions

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When it comes to life insurance, a wide range of health problems can be considered as pre-existing medical conditions and can either increase your rates or cause you to not qualify for coverage. However, depending on what type of medical problems you have, you can typically find an insurance company that will provide cheap quotes for the coverage you need.

Term life insurance is typically the cheapest form of coverage, even if you have a pre-existing medical condition, but not everyone passes the underwriting. There are also policies with limited underwriting, such as no medical exam or guaranteed issue policies, which have higher quotes but accept a wider range of medical problems. With any of these policies, you may be limited in the death benefit available, but should be able to find enough coverage to cover final expenses and offer reasonable support to your family in case you pass away.

Term Life Insurance with Pre-Existing Conditions

Term life insurance offers coverage for a specified period of time, typically between 5 to 35 years, and your beneficiary will receive a payout if you pass during that period of time. If you qualify for term life insurance coverage, a pre-existing condition will raise your quotes significantly. However, the benefit of going with term life insurance is that you can choose a much higher death benefit than is typically available for products with limited underwriting. For example, if you have a pre-existing condition and want a $350,000 death benefit to cover your mortgage, you will only be able to get this amount of coverage through a term life insurance policy.

Term life insurance quotes are determined in large part by your health, and insurers have four standard tiers of health ratings. Premiums vary a small amount within a given health tier but, if you have a significant enough medical condition to change tiers, the quotes you are offered will be much higher.

Health TiersDescription
Preferred PlusPerfect health. You won’t qualify if you have a pre-existing medical condition.
PreferredPerfect health besides one minor issue, such as slightly elevated blood pressure.
Regular PlusYou can have a pre-existing condition that is low-risk or has a small impact on your general health (such as asthma).
RegularAverage health. Whether you qualify for this tier depends upon the insurer, but they will often accept pre-existing conditions that are moderate-risk, such as diabetes.

Each insurer has its own health requirements and set of conditions they're willing to insure. So, if you have a pre-existing condition, you will want to consult with an independent insurance agent. These agents represent multiple companies and have the expertise to determine which insurer will get you the best rates.

No Medical Exam & Simplified Issue Life Insurance with Pre-Existing Conditions

Simplified issue and no medical exam policies are either term or permanent life insurance policies with limited underwriting. There’s no medical exam and, depending on the insurer, there may be fewer health questions during the application. While simplified issue policies have lower maximum death benefits as compared to fully underwritten policies, you can find coverage up to $250,000 with some insurers.

When applying for simplified issue life insurance, you’ll be asked several health questions to determine whether you qualify for coverage and, if so, what premiums you qualify for. It’s important to be honest as insurers regularly check your answers against multiple databases and can cancel your coverage if they find any discrepancies. Depending on the insurer, you might be disqualified from coverage if:

  • You’re in a nursing home or treatment facility
  • You’re mobility is impaired and you require a wheelchair
  • You’ve been diagnosed with a high-risk illness such as cancer, HIV, or kidney disease
  • You’re on dialysis
  • In the past 2 years you’ve been diagnosed with a disease, such as diabetes, or haven’t gotten it moderated consistently with medication
  • You have cognitive impairments

For a healthy person, we don’t recommend simplified issue policies since you’ll pay more for the same coverage, since the insurer is taking on greater risk. Some agents will feature the convenience of no medical exam policies, but the time saved from undergoing a medical exam (which typically takes less than an hour and can be scheduled wherever is most convenient) doesn’t make up for the additional cost of higher premiums over several years. However, these policies are a good alternative if you don’t qualify for fully underwritten term life insurance or your pre-existing medical condition is significant enough that most insurers will not accept it.

Guaranteed Acceptance Life Insurance with Pre-Existing Conditions

Guaranteed acceptance policies are typically whole life insurance policies, meaning they offer coverage for your lifetime so long as you continue to pay premiums. During the application process there are no health questions and you don’t have to take a medical exam, so these policies are a great alternative if you have quite severe pre-existing conditions.

Death benefits for guaranteed acceptance policies are generally limited to less than $25,000. So, if you want enough coverage for your end-of-life costs (a funeral, for example, costs about $10,000), guaranteed acceptance coverage should be sufficient. Unfortunately, if you have a severe enough pre-existing condition that you wouldn’t qualify for non-guaranteed coverage, you’re unlikely to find any insurer that offers over $50,000 in death benefits.

Additionally, guaranteed acceptance policies usually have a 2 to 3 year period post-purchase during which your beneficiary will receive little to no payout upon your death. For example, if you die within the first 2 years of purchasing Colonial Penn’s guaranteed acceptance policy, your beneficiary just receives the sum of your premium payments plus 7% interest compounded annually.

For a particular amount of coverage, a guaranteed acceptance policy will almost always be the most expensive option since the insurer accepts all applicants. Given the high quotes, we don’t recommend guaranteed acceptance life insurance if you’re healthy enough to qualify for term life insurance. In some cases, depending on your medical conditions and insurer, quotes can be so high that you pay more in premiums over the life of the policy than your beneficiary receives as a payout.

Common Pre-Existing Medical Conditions

In the context of life insurance, pre-existing medical conditions can refer to a wide range of health issues, from heart disease to obesity. Here are some of the most common health problems that could impact your ability to get life insurance or cause you to pay higher premiums:

Pre-Existing Conditions
Acid refluxADHD or ADDAlzheimer's diseaseAnemia
Anorexia or bulimiaArthritisAsthmaAutism
Bipolar disorderBladder cancerBlindnessBreast cancer
Cardiovascular or heart diseaseChronic bronchitisCrohn's diseaseCystic fibrosis
Heart murmurHeart palpitationsHeart patients requiring a pacemakerHigh cholesterol
HIV or AIDSInsomniaIrritable bowel syndromeKidney stones
Lung cancerMigrainesMultiple sclerosisNarcolepsy
Panic disorderPeptic ulcerProstate cancerPsoriasis
Pulmonary heart diseaseRenal failureRheumatoid arthritisSchizophrenia
Skin cancerSleep apneaThyroid cancerTuberculosis

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.