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Having a medical condition does not automatically disqualify you from getting approved for life insurance coverage. However, your medical condition will likely affect the cost of your life insurance. Today we’ll discuss your options and how to get the best deal on a life insurance policy even if you have a pre-existing medical condition.

Why does a medical condition affect buying life insurance?

The approval and pricing of a life insurance policy is determined by the amount of risk the insurance company takes on by accepting you. The insurance company pays out typically hundreds of thousands of dollars to a beneficiary if/when an insured person dies.

» Calculate: Life insurance needs calculator

If you have a serious medical condition, your risk of dying sooner rather than later is higher. This translates to the insurance company more than likely paying out a large sum of cash sooner. To make up for this higher risk, individuals with medical conditions pay higher premiums.

How are my life insurance costs determined if I have medical condition?

There are several factors—not just your health—that are evaluated by the insurance company to determine how much your premiums will cost.

Other than your health, common risk factors include:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Tobacco use
  • Family history
  • Occupation
  • Hobbies

The insurance company will review your application, medical exam results, prescription record, and (usually) medical history records to determine your risk class. Risk classes are categories that life insurance companies use to group people with similar health and lifestyle risks. For example, cigarette smokers are categorized into different risk classes than non-smokers.

If your level of risk is higher than average, you may be considered a substandard risk and be given a table rating. This is an increase of premium to offset the extra risk. Table ratings can start at Table 1 and run down to Table 16. While some insurance companies treat table ratings a little differently, for the most part, each table rating adds an extra 25% to the final cost of the policy.

This process of evaluating your risk factors and assigning you a risk class is called underwriting.

Risk Classes
For Non-Tobacco Users For Tobacco Users
Preferred Plus Preferred Tobacco
Standard Plus Standard Tobacco
Table Ratings (Substandard)

How do I get the best deal on life insurance if I have a medical condition?

Not all life insurance companies evaluate medical conditions in the same way. Some are more lenient when underwriting certain conditions and therefore will give a better risk class, which means your premiums are lower.

A life insurance broker, like Quotacy, will shop to multiple top-rated life insurance companies to find the specific company that will be the most lenient with your medical condition. We have access to over 25 different life insurance companies to find you the best life insurance policy for your needs and budget. ADHD, diabetes, sleep apnea, anxiety, depression, and asthma are some of the more common medical issues we see and can find life insurance coverage for.

When you apply online through Quotacy, your dedicated agent will first review your application before sending it into the insurance company you chose. If you have a medical condition and the insurance company you chose has a history of not treating it very favorably, we’ll reach out to the other insurance companies we work with to find out which one will offer you the best risk class.

If we discover better options available from a different insurance company, we’ll present these options to you. It’s your decision if you would like to switch and apply with this other company or stick with the one you originally chose. Your agent will also let you know if your final price is likely to be different than you original quote.

If your final cost is expected to be higher based on your medical condition, your Quotacy agent will work with you to help you adjust your policy to better fit within your budget. We’re here to make sure you get the best price possible.

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What if I don’t qualify for traditional life insurance?

If your Quotacy agent discovers that none of our life insurance companies are willing to offer you coverage, you may have other life insurance options which include guaranteed issue life insurance and accidental death and dismemberment insurance.

» Compare: Term life insurance quotes

Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance

Guaranteed issue life insurance is a type of life insurance that you cannot be denied coverage for no matter your medical history. When applying for a guaranteed issue policy, you do not need to take a medical exam nor do you need to fill out any medical questionnaires.

Guaranteed issue life insurance is designed for people ages 50-80 who just want to leave behind enough money to cover funeral costs and other end-of-life expenses. The coverage available for a guaranteed issue policy is often quite low, typically between $10,000 and $50,000.

Because life insurance companies do not require any medical underwriting to approve guaranteed issue, the premiums are very high compared to a traditional life insurance policy. For example, the estimated cost for a 60-year-old male who buys a $15,000 guaranteed issue life insurance policy costs about $109 per month.

Guaranteed issue life insurance does last your entire life; however, there is often a graded death benefit. This means that the full death benefit won’t pay out until a certain time period has passed, usually two years, unless your death is caused by an accident. If you die within this time period only the premiums you paid are given to your beneficiary, not the death benefit proceeds.

Example 1:

Sue Johnson is 65 years old and has cancer. She cannot qualify for a traditional life insurance policy so she purchases a $10,000 guaranteed issue life insurance policy for $63 per month that has a two-year graded death benefit. One year later she succumbs to the disease and dies. The life insurance company sends Sue’s beneficiaries the total amount Sue had paid in premiums plus some interest.

Example 2:

Richard Smith is 55 years old and cannot qualify for traditional life insurance due to advanced heart disease. He purchases a $12,000 guaranteed issue life insurance policy for $80 per month that has a two-year graded death benefit. One year later Richard is in a car accident and dies as a result of his injury, nothing to do with his heart disease. The insurance company pays his beneficiaries the full $12,000 death benefit.

Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance

Accidental death and dismemberment insurance (AD&D) is another option if you are declined for traditional life insurance. AD&D insurance is easy to qualify for and quite affordable, but these policies only pay out if you are killed or injured in an accident. Death resulting from illness would not be covered.


Richard Smith is 55 years old and cannot qualify for traditional life insurance due to advanced heart disease. He purchases a $250,000 AD&D insurance policy for $23 per month. One year later Richard is in a car accident and dies as a result of his injury, nothing to do with his heart disease. The insurance company pays his beneficiaries the full $250,000 death benefit.

Getting a Life Insurance Policy with a Pre-Existing Condition

Even with a pre-existing condition, you have life insurance coverage options. Here are the steps to find the best life insurance policy.

Step 1 – Work with a life insurance broker

Again, a broker has access to multiple insurance companies; they are not tied to just one. A good broker should shop your case around to find you the best deal. Quotacy will be your advocate and work hard to find you a policy to protect your family.

Step 2 – Be honest and upfront on your life insurance application

The more information you provide about your medical condition, the better we can shop your case to the right insurance company the first time around. Your Quotacy agent only knows what you tell him or her. We want to set realistic expectations upfront so there are no unpleasant surprises.

Information your Quotacy agent would like to know includes:

  • Date of diagnosis
  • Description of how it is currently or was being treated
  • Current status of medical condition
  • Medications you’re taking

Step 3 – Take the medical exam

Guaranteed issue life insurance and accidental death and dismemberment insurance policies do not require medical exams in order to buy life insurance. However, most people get the best life insurance policy if they are willing to take a medical exam. Traditional life insurance provides higher death benefit amounts for your money. If you end up being declined for traditional life insurance then consider the no-exam type policies.

Start the process by getting a free term life insurance quote today. Applying online through Quotacy is the easiest way to buy life insurance.

Watch the Life Insurance and Pre-Existing Conditions Video

About the writer

Headshot of Natasha Cornelius, a life insurance writer, for Quotacy, Inc.

Natasha Cornelius, CLU

Senior Editor and Licensed Life Insurance Expert

Natasha Cornelius, CLU, is a writer, editor, and life insurance researcher for Quotacy.com where her goal is to make life insurance more transparent and easier to understand. She has been in the life insurance industry since 2010 and has been writing about life insurance since 2014. Natasha earned her Chartered Life Underwriter designation in 2022. She is also co-host of Quotacy’s YouTube series. Connect with her on LinkedIn.