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Pre-existing conditions

Getting life insurance with a pre-existing condition

It’s still possible to get life insurance with a pre-existing medical condition – but it may cost a little more

By Mehdi Punjwani

Published: 10 August 2020


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What is a pre-existing condition?

A pre-existing medical condition is an injury, illness or disease that exists when you take out a life insurance policy. You may also have already received medical treatment for the condition..

When you buy life insurance, it’s important to let your insurer know if you have a pre-existing condition.

If you don’t disclose your condition, your insurance will almost certainly be invalidated when you die and your loved ones make a claim – adding more problems to an already stressful time, rather than helping to ease them.

What health issues affect life insurance?

Every insurer has a list of pre-existing conditions that might affect your life insurance, but some of the most common include:

  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Heart disease – including previous heart attacks
  • High blood pressure
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Epilepsy
  • Obesity
  • Asthma
  • Mental health conditions

Depending on the condition, insurers may want to know if you’ve had a health issue in the last three months, in the last three years, in the last five years, or at any point in your life.

Can I get life insurance with a pre-existing condition?

Yes, if you have a pre-existing condition, it’s still possible to get life insurance cover. Some pre-existing conditions might hardly affect you when it comes to buying life insurance. However, if you have a more serious condition – such as heart disease, cancer or you’ve suffered a stroke – you might find it harder to get the cheaper deals.

Some insurers might not cover you if you have a pre-existing medical condition, while others might require you to pay higher premiums. The cost of life insurance, and the range of options available, will depend on the severity of your condition.

In some cases, you may want to get life insurance with an exclusion. This means that your policy will only pay out if you pass away as a result of something other than your pre-existing condition.

The good news is that whatever your condition, it’s still likely that you’ll be able to find an insurance policy that covers it, so you can protect your loved ones when you’re gone.

Can I get life insurance if I’ve had a heart attack?

If you’ve suffered a heart attack, you should still be able to buy life insurance. However, you may find fewer options, and insurers will charge higher premiums. This is because insurers believe people who have previously had a heart attack are at a higher risk if dying early.

Insurers will want to know more about your heart attack before they offer you a deal. Some of the things they may want to know include:

  • When the heart attack occurred
  • How severe it was
  • If you required any surgery
  • If you’ve had a stent fitted
  • If you’ve been prescribed any medications
  • If you’ve had any symptoms since your heart attack

People who have had a heart attack in the past can improve their chances of getting a good deal on life insurance by offering evidence of a healthy lifestyle. For instance, if you smoke, you may be able to expand your options by giving up. Similarly, you can reassure insurers by cutting down on alcohol or losing weight.

Can I get life insurance with cancer?

It’s still possible for cancer survivors to find a good deal on life insurance – but you may face extra obstacles. Life insurance will be more expensive, and chances are you’ll have to choose from a reduced range of options.

Sadly, the same holds if you currently have active cancer. Many ongoing cancer patients can still buy life insurance, but it’s possible that any policy you buy won’t pay out the full amount for the first few years, and coverage tends to be limited.

If you have been successfully treated for cancer in the past, insurers will want to know what kind of cancer you had, what stage it reached, whether it metastasised, and how it was treated. They’ll also ask whether you have any family history of cancer.

If you’re in remission, insurers are likely to ask how long it’s been since you last had symptoms. As a rule of thumb, you’ll often get a better deal on life insurance the longer your cancer’s been in remission

Can I get life insurance if I’ve had a stroke?

If you’ve had a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) – also known as a ‘mini-stroke’ – you should still be able to get life insurance. The deals you get will depend on the severity of your stroke and how long ago it occurred.

If your stroke was very recent, it’s possible that your insurer will offer restricted terms for your cover. Your policy might not pay out if you pass away in the first few years after you take out insurance. Insurers might also add a stroke exclusion, which means that your insurance only pays out if you pass away for reasons not connected with stroke.

Can I get critical illness insurance with a pre-existing condition?

You might find it more difficult to find critical illness insurance if you have a pre-existing condition, but it depends on your condition and your medical history.

Critical illness insurance is a form of cover that pays out a lump sum if you become critically ill. Unlike ordinary life insurance, critical illness insurance pays out to you rather than your loved ones or beneficiaries. These policies help you manage your costs while you’re critically ill.

Because people with some pre-existing conditions are more likely to suffer a critical illness, insurers may be wary of offering you cover. It’s possible that they’ll insist on adding an exclusion to your insurance – this means that your policy will only pay out if you go through a critical illness that isn’t related to your pre-existing condition.

How can I get cheaper life insurance if I have a pre-existing condition?

If you have a pre-existing condition, life insurance might be more expensive – but there are still ways you can keep your premiums low.

The best way to reassure providers is to show that you live a healthy lifestyle. If you had a heart attack several years ago, for instance, getting healthier could convince insurers that you’re less likely to have another. Some things you can do include:

  • Quitting smoking
  • Cutting down on alcohol, or giving up entirely
  • Losing weight

How smoking affects your life insurance premiums

According to MoneySuperMarket data correct as of August 2019

Especially if you have a pre-existing condition, it’s likely that your insurer will want you to visit your doctor for a medical check-up before they offer you a policy. Don’t be intimidated – if you’re in good health despite your condition, this can help you keep your premiums down.

The best way to make sure you don’t pay too much for life insurance is to use a price comparison site like MoneySuperMarket. Our price comparison service automatically sifts through some of the UK’s leading insurers to find the best quote for you, so you can have peace of mind – whatever your circumstances.

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