Use our life insurance calculator to find out how much life insurance you need to give you and your family ultimate peace of mind.
The numbers don’t lie: the younger you are, the lower your monthly premium cost will be for a life insurance policy. (So no matter if you’ve got goals to start a family someday or own your own home or business, locking in a low rate now can save you money in the future.)
But another big way your life insurance premium can be affected is the current state of your health. If you have a pre-existing condition, for example, you might have been denied life insurance in the past or thought you never could be accepted. Though it might come with a few extra steps, it actually is possible to get life insurance coverage for your loved ones if you have a pre-existing condition.
Keep reading — we’ll show you how.
What is a pre-existing condition?
A pre-existing condition includes any health issue that you had (or currently have) before you applied for term life or whole life insurance coverage. Some conditions could be:
Mental health concerns (for example, depression)
However, qualifying pre-existing conditions can vary depending on the policy and provider you’re interested in purchasing. For instance, some providers might categorize high cholesterol as a pre-existing condition, while others may not. And good news: because of advancements in the medical field, many of these conditions are being diagnosed and treated more effectively than ever before. This means if you’ve been successfully treating a condition and it has since stabilized, you may still be able to find affordable term life insurance coverage.
Why pre-existing conditions affect life insurance
The reason pre-existing conditions can affect your life insurance policy is based on one simple fact: depending on your situation, a pre-existing health condition might cause an early or unexpected death during your policy term (if you’re choosing a term life insurance policy). Similar to how your accident history correlates to your car insurance premium, you might have a more expensive policy than someone of your same age and gender (but with no pre-existing conditions). Simply put, premiums aren’t one-size-fits-all, as these factors are taken into consideration during the application process:
Type of pre-existing condition
Your current health condition
How long it’s been since your diagnosis
Your age and lifestyle
Unfortunately, in some cases, if the risk is too high, your insurance provider might deny coverage altogether. This is why it’s important to shop around for a policy.
Applying for life insurance: What to expect
Applying for term life insurance is a relatively easy process. Here’s a glimpse into how it all works:
1. Calculate your needs.
First things first, you need to know how much term life insurance to purchase. (And here’s something shocking: most families don’t get enough.) There are a lot of factors at play here, like your income, debt, estimated funeral expenses, familial obligations, and more. In a few cases, your employer-sponsored free life insurance benefit may cover all these costs, but most only scratch the surface.
2. Get your quote.
Most life insurance quotes are free and don’t come with strings attached. Be sure to get a few quotes from different life insurance providers, as prices can vary drastically.
3. Submit your application.
When you’re ready, it’s time to complete the application form. Typically, there will be a paper or online form that asks for more detailed information than what you’ve previously provided when you first got your quote. Be prepared to give your insurance company access to your medical and financial records to verify your identity and information. There may be a follow-up call with the provider to double-check that everything is correct and to confirm all your form answers.
4. Get a medical exam.
An appointment will be set up with a nurse or other healthcare provider to perform a physical. Your height, weight, and blood pressure will be checked, and you may be asked to draw blood and provide a urine sample. Depending on your pre-existing condition (if you have one), additional testing could be required.
5. Sign your policy and start coverage.
If your application is accepted, your insurance provider will send you the finalized policy and contract. Make sure to take your time reading all the details. If you agree to the terms, sign on the dotted line and begin to pay your monthly premium. (Tip: keep a copy of your policy in a safe place — and let your beneficiaries know where it is. You know, just in case.)
What to do if you are denied life insurance
Whether it’s because of a pre-existing condition or another reason, there are times when you could be denied life insurance. Or your application might have been accepted, but the premium is out of your budget. If either happens to you, don’t stress. You have a few options.
Focus on what you can control.
If there are ways to manage your pre-existing condition and improve your health, now’s the time to act. If you have medication, make sure to take it. If you can start an exercise and healthful eating regimen, do it. If you’re leading a healthy lifestyle and taking measures to manage your condition, your premiums could reflect it.
Invest the money you would have paid in premiums.
If your goal with life insurance is to financially help your beneficiaries, starting a well-managed investment account could help you achieve this.
Keep applying for life insurance.
You can always apply (and re-apply) for life insurance. There are a number of life insurance providers out there. Consider applying to others until you potentially find the right fit. (It’s free, after all.)
Take a second look at your employer’s life insurance benefit.
In some cases, you can add to your existing life insurance policy through your employer (which is typically one times your annual salary) at a discounted group rate. Talk to your HR representative to learn your employer’s policy terms and additional options.
Consider guaranteed issue life insurance.
Guaranteed issue life insurance doesn't require medical exams, making it an attractive option for those with pre-existing health conditions — as long as you’re within a certain age range. (Which depends on the provider.) There are a few terms and conditions to this that you should be aware of in the decision process, however.
For example, many guaranteed issue life insurance policies cap death benefits (paid out to your beneficiaries if something were to happen to you) at $25,000, and your coverage premiums are significantly higher than traditional term life insurance policies. But if your budget is flexible and the coverage would give you more peace of mind, guaranteed issue life insurance could be the best option for you and your family.
How to make the most out of your life insurance policy with a pre-existing condition
If you have a pre-existing condition and your life insurance application was recently accepted, chances are you want to make the most out of what you’re paying for. And it’s easy with a life insurance rider. (Or a few!)
Riders are additional features you can purchase to add to your term life policy so you can tailor it to best fit what you need and increase coverage. They are attached to your basic policy — usually at the time of signup.
Your life insurance rider options depend on where you get your term life policy from.
Waiver of premium: If you become critically ill, injured, or disabled, it may be difficult to pay your monthly life insurance premiums. This option can waive your insurance premium payments until you are able to return to work full-time, ensuring your policy is still active.
Accidental death: In the case of a fatal accident, this rider pays out an accidental death benefit to your beneficiary (that’s above the current benefit limit of the policy). This rider is ideal for those who work in a hazardous occupation or can’t afford to buy sufficient life insurance coverage — but make sure to read the fine print. Certain insurance companies can be very specific when it comes to defining “accidental death” and other terms.
Children's term life insurance: A children’s term life insurance rider can provide coverage for every child in your family for the same price. So if you have two or more children under the designated age, this can be a cost-effective way to purchase coverage for all your children — with one low premium! Coverage is typically available for children 15 days of age to 18-25 years of age, but this depends.
Accelerated death benefit: This rider would allow you to receive a portion of your life insurance benefit early, and is often a standard feature of a life insurance policy. Meaning, you can opt in at the time of signup to include this rider at no extra charge (unless you decline when you apply). Some insurers may require an additional premium, just FYI. If you are diagnosed with a chronic, critical, or terminal illness, this option will allow you to receive most of your benefit payout prior to your death and help offset costs associated with your condition, like long-term care.
While it might be taboo to think about, life insurance is one of the best ways to keep you and your family covered if the unexpected happens. And it’s one of the best financial decisions you can make — especially if you have a pre-existing health condition. There are many options out there for you, so don’t be discouraged!