In this article we look at life insurance and how a pre-existing medical condition could impact a life insurance application. We explain what type of medical condition can affect a life insurance application, what information the insurer will need, how a pre-existing medical condition can impact the cost of life cover and how to guarantee the best price. We also explain how to get up to £100 cashback when you buy life cover, read on to find out more.
What is a pre-existing medical condition?
A pre-existing medical condition is defined as any illness or injury that exists prior to taking out life insurance. How that condition impacts your life insurance application will depend on the type of condition and the severity and we go into more detail on this later in this article.
Below is a list of common questions we see relating to pre-existing medical conditions and life insurance:
- Can I get life insurance with Cancer?
- Can I get life insurance with Anxiety, Depression or Mental Illness?
- Can I get life insurance with High Blood Pressure?
- Can I get life insurance with High Cholesterol?
- Can I get life insurance with Diabetes?
- Can I get life insurance with Asthma?
For more information on each of the above conditions and how they impact a life insurance application, simply click on the link to read the full article.
Can I get life insurance with a pre-existing medical condition?
The short answer is yes, however it will depend on the type of pre-existing condition you have and the severity.
A mild condition with no symptoms or treatment required should have no impact on your life insurance and you may find that your application can be accepted straight away with no need for the insurer to write to your doctor.
A more serious condition, one that has complications or requires treatment will likely cause the insurance company to write to your doctor and may result in a 'loading' or 'rating' being applied. A loading or rating is effectively an increase that is applied to your premium due to you posing a higher risk to the insurance company.
It is important to remember that you do not have to accept the proposed increased premium, you are free to apply to an alternative insurance company in the hope that you are offered better terms. We explain the best way to do this later in this article
Do I need to declare a pre-existing medical condition?
It depends. When applying for life insurance you will need to complete an application form either over the phone, via a physical application form or online. You should take care when answering the health questions on a life insurance application because some questions will ask if you have ever suffered from a condition, whereas other questions may ask if you have suffered in the last 5 years or last 3 months. You could theoretically, therefore, have suffered from a condition more than 5 years ago and completely recovered, with no symptoms and no further treatment required, in which case, you wouldn't need to mention it.
A word of warning. Non-disclosure (not mentioning relevant details on an application form) is responsible for the largest percentage of declined life insurance claims and so make sure that you mention everything you can, even if you think it isn't relevant. It can be difficult to remember exact dates and so mention it anyway, just in case.
Will an insurance company write to my doctor?
Possibly, yes, however, don't be concerned. By writing to your doctor, the insurance company can get all of the relevant information that they need in order to make a decision, including the diagnosis date, types of medication and how long you have suffered. Insurers like to write to your doctor so that they can offer an accurate premium and be confident that the policy would pay out should there be a claim in the future.
Contrary to popular belief, life insurance companies do not take any pleasure from declining life insurance claims, especially when it comes to non-disclosure. They take a lot of pride over their claims statistics and so any rejected claims will not only cause emotional stress to the family concerned, it will negatively impact their claims statistics which can invite negative press.
What information do I need to provide?
The additional information you will need to provide on a life insurance application largely depends on the type of condition or illness you have. In most cases, you will be asked to complete a medical questionnaire over the phone and questions will usually include:
- What is the name or type of condition that you have?
- When were you diagnosed?
- When did you last have symptoms?
- Have you had any time off of work?
- Have you had any specialist referrals or hospital admissions?
- Do you take any medication, if so, what is it, how much do you take and how often?
It would be wise to have as much of the above medical information to hand before proceeding with your life insurance application. Occasionally an insurance company may ask that you attend a medical exam but this is usually only required if you wish to buy a large amount of life insurance. The medical exam is paid for and arranged by the insurance company.
What if I already have life insurance?
If you already have life insurance then you should check your paperwork to see what terms were offered at the time. Depending on whether you had a pre-existing condition at the time and how serious it was, you may find that you can get cheaper quotes now, especially if your symptoms are mild or you have fully recovered. Similarly, you may have taken out life insurance prior to suffering a health setback and so it may represent excellent value and will be worth keeping in place.
If you have existing life insurance and you were previously a smoker, it is extremely likely that you could save money by taking out a new life insurance policy. Most insurance companies will treat you as a non-smoker, so long as you haven't had any tobacco or nicotine replacement products in the last year.
Speaking to an independent life insurance specialist can help as they can look at your existing life insurance and compare the cost of taking out a new policy and advise you on the best approach.
What exclusions apply?
Life insurance policies are sold without exclusions which means that if you die for any reason, the policy is guaranteed to pay out. As explained earlier in this article, you may have to pay an increased premium owing to your pre-existing health condition, but crucially, if you die for any reason (including from complications relating to your specific pre-existing condition) then you will be covered.
Types of Life insurance cover
There are many different types of life insurance available, however, the most popular type of life insurance is level term life insurance.
Below we provide a brief description of the different types of life insurance you can buy:
Level term cover
The amount of cover remains level throughout the term of the policy and the life insurance premiums are fixed. Can be used to pay off a mortgage or to provide a guaranteed lump sum.
To understand more about this type of life insurance you should read our article, "What is level term assurance?"
Decreasing term cover
Premiums are fixed but life insurance reduces each year, usually in line with a repayment mortgage.
You can read more about this type of life insurance in our article, "Decreasing term assurance - how it works and when it is useful"
Over 50s life cover
Acceptance is guaranteed meaning you do not have to answer any medical questions about pre-existing medical conditions. Usually taken out to cover a smaller sum assured such as funeral expenses. A good option for those who have been declined level term assurance in the past or who cannot afford the increased premiums.
Our article, "Which is the best over 50s life insurance?" explains more.
Whole of life
This policy has no end term meaning you will pay premiums until you die. This type of policy has an investment element and is less popular than level term assurance as premiums can rise steeply in older age.
You'll find more information about this type of life insurance in our article, "Whole of life insurance - what you need to know"
Family income benefit
A type of term life insurance policy that pays out a monthly or annual income instead of a lump sum upon death. It is usually easier to manage for those left behind if you die.
Critical illness cover
An additional benefit that you can include with most types of life insurance and will pay a lump sum if you are diagnosed with a serious illness that is listed in the terms and conditions of the policy. Common illnesses that are claimed for are cancer, heart attack and stroke. You can read more about this type of cover in our article, 'Best critical illness insurance with pre-existing medical conditions
You'll find the details of this type of life insurance in our article, "What is family income benefit life insurance and should I get it?"
You'll find an overall analysis of the different types of life insurance you can buy and how they suit different scenarios in our article, Types of life insurance explained.
How much does life insurance cost with a pre-existing medical condition?
This depends on several factors including the type of condition you have, the severity, what symptoms you have (if any) and how well it is controlled. Your life insurance application will be assessed by a team of medical underwriters and it is their job to understand the risk that you pose. Each insurance company will have its own unique criteria, meaning it is often difficult to know which insurance company is best to approach. The cheapest insurance company at the initial quote stage may well turn out to be the most expensive once it has been fully medically assessed.
The table below gives an example of how a pre-existing condition such as high blood pressure can impact a life insurance application. The figures are based on a 35-year-old non-smoker applying for £200,000 level term assurance.
The impact of high blood pressure on a life insurance application
|Medication||Associated risks?||Most recent reading||Hospitalised due to high blood pressure?||Decision||Premium|
|No||None||120/80||No||No Increase applied||£8.43|
|Yes||None||150/90||No||50% Increase applied||£12.64|
|Yes||None||150/90||Awaiting investigations||Application postponed||N/A|
|Yes||Heart Attack||150/95||Awaiting investigations||Application declined||N/A|
The key is to understand which insurance company is best based on your own unique situation. Knowing this before you apply will save you time and hassle.
How to get the best life insurance quote with a pre-existing condition
A mistake that people often make when applying for life insurance with a pre-existing condition is going with the company that provides the cheapest initial quote. The cheapest company at the initial quote stage will rarely be the cheapest company once your pre-existing condition has been taken into account. Life insurance applications are assessed by a team of medical underwriters and the set of rules that they use to assess applications changes regularly.
It can be difficult to know which insurance company will provide the cheapest life insurance quote once the application has been medically assessed and so you should speak to an independent life insurance specialist who can do all of the hard work for you. Rather than simply taking a guess or having to apply to multiple insurance companies, a specialist life insurance broker will speak to the insurance companies on your behalf and recommend the best insurance company based on your own unique circumstances.
LifeSearch* is one of the UK's biggest specialist life insurance brokers and it is skilled at speaking to the insurance companies on your behalf ensuring that you get the best and cheapest life insurance. They will also help you to complete the application forms and can even be on hand if your family ever needs to claim, guiding you through the process. Simply complete this short form* to get started with no obligation to take things further. Don't forget, you'll qualify for up to £100 cashback if you take out a policy.
Best life insurance providers for pre-existing medical conditions
There is not one life insurance provider that is best for a particular pre-existing medical condition and so it is often best to speak to an independent insurance specialist who can ask all of the relevant questions to understand your condition fully and offer a recommendation. We have provided a list of the top 10 insurance companies below and give some insight into which insurer is best based on certain criteria.
The top 10 life insurance providers for pre-existing medical conditions:
- Aegon - Typically good for those working overseas
- AIG - Typically good if you have a family history of diabetes
- Aviva - Typically good for younger applicants that are overweight
- Beagle Street - Typically good for dangerous sports or hobbies
- L&G - Typically good for those who work in the armed forces
- LV= - Typically good if you have a family history of raised blood pressure
- Royal London - Typically good for those who want multiple policies
- Scottish Widows - Typically good for heavier drinkers
- Vitality - Typically good for those wanting additional benefits and rewards
- Zurich - Typically good for heavy smokers
The above insurer summaries are for guidance only and are provided to demonstrate that every insurer has a different set of underwriting rules and so is likely to assess your application differently. The best way to understand which insurer is best based on your own pre-existing condition is to speak to an independent specialist.
- A pre-existing medical condition is defined as any illness (or injury) that exists before taking out life insurance.
- Having a pre-existing medical condition does not necessarily mean you will automatically pay more or that you will be declined for life insurance
- If you have existing life insurance it is worth getting a new quote to see if it is cheaper now
- Don't go with the cheapest initial quote, understand which insurer is best based on your pre-existing medical condition
- An independent specialist* can save you time and money by searching the market, comparing quotes and selecting the insurer that will offer the best price and product given your health
If a link has an * beside it this means that it is an affiliated link. If you go via the link, Money to the Masses may receive a small fee which helps keep Money to the Masses free to use. The following link can be used if you do not wish to help Money to the Masses and do not wish to qualify for the cashback referred to in the article - LifeSearch