How to Get Life Insurance with Pre-Existing Conditions

Shopping for life insurance with a pre-existing condition is more difficult than it is for people who are in great health. The good news is that no matter your health concerns, there are policies available to just about everyone, including those with chronic health issues. There are even things you can do to lower the cost of your premiums.

Best Type of Life Insurance for Pre-Existing Conditions

No matter your health status, the right plan and policy amount for you depends on a lot of factors. If you’re married with dependent children, you probably need life insurance that will cover their continued living expenses should you die unexpectedly. You may also be concerned about leaving behind unpaid medical bills that your loved ones will be responsible for. If so, you should look at policies that are substantial enough to take care of these debts.

On the other hand, if you don’t have a lot of debts and don’t support anyone financially, you may only need money to cover your funeral costs and other end-of-life debts. Either way, work with your loved ones, financial planner, and insurance agent to decide on the best life insurance with pre-existing conditions policy for you.

Whole (Permanent) Life Insurance

Whole policies provide permanent coverage, meaning you’ll have coverage as long as you pay your premiums. They also accumulate cash value in addition to providing a death benefit, which can be a powerful source of support for your loved ones if you have a serious health condition.

Term Life Insurance

Term is the cheapest life insurance option no matter your health. That’s because unlike whole policies, it expires, usually in a timeframe of 10 to 30 years.

Final Expense Life Insurance

Also called burial insurance, this type of whole life policy comes in smaller amounts than other policy types (you can find coverage for as little as $5,000). Those who only need a death benefit that covers their funeral, burial or cremation, and other small final expenses often buy this type of coverage alone or alongside another life insurance policy type.

Those looking for life insurance with pre-existing conditions find final expense life insurance appealing, because many companies offer it without requiring a health exam. Instead, you’re just asked to complete a brief health questionnaire. Plus, adults who are too old to apply for other types of coverage can usually still buy these policies.

Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance

Guaranteed life insurance is given to anyone who applies, no matter their age or health. Because it offers guaranteed acceptance, it costs a lot more than other policies. In fact, it usually costs two to three times more than standard policies. Along with burial insurance, it’s often one of the only options for those looking for life insurance with pre-existing conditions that are life-threatening. 

Group Life Insurance through Your Company

Some companies offer life insurance as a perk to their employees. You can purchase it without having to take a medical exam, but there’s usually a cap to how much you can buy, which may not be enough to cover your family’s needs. Your policy is usually canceled if you leave the company.

Tailored Life Insurance Policies

A few life insurance companies offer products designed for people living with certain conditions, such as HIV, diabetes, and cancer. Your acceptance isn’t guaranteed for most of these policies, though.

How to Improve Insurability with a Pre-Existing Condition

While it may be more difficult to get life insurance with a pre-existing condition, it’s not impossible. There are also actions you can take that may boost your odds of qualifying for the policy you want, and you may even be able to get lower premiums.


  • Follow your doctor’s orders. Following your prescribed treatment plan helps keep your condition under control, boosting your overall health and making you less of a risk to providers.
  • Lose excess weight. Those who are overweight or obese are at risk of a variety of health problems, and their pre-existing conditions are usually more severe. If you have an ailment that impacts your nutritional or exercise habits, work with your doctor to create a safe plan to help you lose weight.
  • Practice good health habits. Exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, avoiding alcohol, and quitting smoking all improve your overall wellness and make you a more qualified applicant.

Tips for Buying Life Insurance with a Pre-Existing Condition

Use these tips to find the best policy for you at rates you can afford.

  • Apply as early as possible. Life insurance gets more expensive the older you are. If you have a condition that worsens over time, you could end up paying outrageous premiums if you wait until your senior years.
  • Applying right after a major health event or diagnosis could impact your eligibility and premiums. For example, it may be harder to qualify for certain policies immediately after being diagnosed with diabetes or suffering a stroke. If you are able to get coverage, you may pay very high rates. It may be better to wait to apply until you’ve worked out a treatment plan with your doctor and are working toward improving your condition.
  • Update your provider on any improvements in your condition. If you’re seeing progress with your treatment plan, you can request to take another health exam to see if you qualify for reduced premiums.
  • Don’t lie about your health. Some policy applications don’t require a physical exam or a comprehensive health questionnaire, so you may not be asked about any pre-existing conditions. But if you’re asked for this information and aren’t truthful, the odds are that your provider will find out at some point. When that happens, they will raise your rates, or worse, cancel your policy.


Can you get life insurance if you have pre-existing conditions?

Yes, it’s possible to get life insurance with pre-existing conditions. But you may be limited in the policies you’re eligible for, and you may have to pay higher premiums than someone in good health.

What is considered a pre-existing condition?

While every provider is different, the most common conditions that affect your eligibility and premium rates include:

  • Cancer
  • Heart disease (heart attack, stroke, congestive heart failure, etc.)
  • Type 1 and type 2 diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Asthma
  • Epilepsy
  • Mental health disorders (depression, anxiety, alcoholism, etc.)

How does an insurance company know if you have a pre-existing condition?

Providers learn about your current health status and your medical history during the life insurance exam portion of your application. This usually includes visiting the doctor for a physical exam and completing a comprehensive questionnaire, although some policies (like burial insurance) only ask a few questions and don’t require a doctor’s visit.

You need to be upfront about any health issues you’ve experienced. Your policy may be altered or terminated if your provider finds out you weren’t truthful about your health.

What do I do if I’m denied life insurance because of a pre-existing condition?

If you were denied a policy, it’s worth shopping around and looking at other providers to see what may be available to you. No matter your health or age, there’s a policy type for just about everyone. 

For example, final expense insurance is a great option for anyone looking for life insurance with pre-existing conditions. Lincoln Heritage Funeral Advantage only asks a few health questions, and our policies can be tailored to offer coverage just your funeral costs or to a wide range of other debts you leave behind.

Can You Get Life Insurance with a Pre-Existing Condition?

Yes, you can get life insurance with pre-existing conditions. But you may not qualify for every policy, and the insurance coverage you get will be more expensive than it is for people without pre-existing conditions.

Medical Conditions that Affect the Cost of Life Insurance

Health conditions that affect life insurance rates are those that make you a high risk to the provider. In other words, if you have a medical issue that increases the odds of you dying, you’re going to pay higher rates than healthy people do. There may be some policies you don’t qualify for at all.

The most common medical conditions that affect the cost of life insurance include:

  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Obesity
  • Asthma
  • Epilepsy
  • Certain mental health disorders

When getting life insurance policy quotes, ask any agents you work with about which policies you qualify for based on your health and how your premiums will be impacted by your condition. From there, you can decide if you’d like to apply for coverage.

Life Insurance Exam with a Pre-Existing Condition

Most life insurance policies require applicants to take a physical health exam along with a written questionnaire. This is when you give detailed information about your health, both to the doctor who performs your exam and to the provider via the health forms you submit to them.

As part of a standard life insurance exam, you’ll be asked questions about:

  • Your medical history
  • Your family medical history
  • Lifestyle factors that impact your health

When you have a pre-existing condition, you will need to provide specific information related to it. Expect to give details about:

  • The type of condition you have. For example, someone with a heart murmur that’s been cleared by a doctor will qualify for better insurance than someone with a history of stroke.
  • How long ago you were diagnosed. With most of the pre-existing conditions that affect life insurance rates, the longer you’ve had it, the more likely you are to suffer complications. Most of the time, you’ll pay higher premiums the longer you’ve had a diagnosis.
  • Your current health status. If your condition is under control and regularly monitored by a specialist or your primary physician, you’ll have more life insurance options.

It may be tempting to leave out details about your health in order to receive lower premiums. But it’s important to be completely honest during your exam, on your health questionnaire, and on every other part of your application. If the insurance provider finds out you weren’t truthful, your rates will increase, your policy may be canceled, or your claim may be denied when you pass away.

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