Guide to life insurance if you have pre-existing medical conditions
- If you have an existing medical condition, the impact on your search for life insurance will depend on its severity and your individual circumstances
- Declare the information you're asked for honestly and accurately
- You're likely to have less choice of life insurers and may have to pay a higher premium; excluding the particular condition from cover is another option
- Be careful if you find a policy offering guaranteed acceptance with no medical checks
- For help finding the right policy, speak to an adviser such as Gocompare.com's partner LifeSearch
Cancer survivors, those with diabetes, people with a history of heart problems and many others who have endured - or continue to live with - serious medical conditions form a large proportion of society.
Such people are likely to be only too aware of the value of life insurance and may be keen to find the right policy to help their loved ones when they're gone.
But if you have a pre-existing medical condition, it's unfortunately a fact that your search for a policy will be more tricky.
Depending on the severity of the condition, fewer insurers will offer you a quote, the restricted choice playing a part in driving up premiums.
Perhaps more significant, though, will be the fact that an existing health condition is likely to mean that insurers will see more of a risk of having to pay out on the policy, again increasing the cost you face in arranging cover.
While these facts are hard to avoid, there are a variety of measures you can take to try to counteract them, starting, of course, by shopping around.
Using a comparison service such as Gocompare.com can help give you an idea of the sort of pricing and policy options you have available to you through one quick and easy search.
As a back-up and addition to this service, you can speak to our partners LifeSearch for fee-free, impartial advice that could help you find providers specialising in life insurance for those with pre-existing medical conditions.
Request a call back through our main life insurance landing page, or by calling 0800 072 1145.¥
What questions will insurers ask?
When you apply for life insurance, the provider will look at areas such as your medical history and whether you're currently taking medication.
This may involve the insurer asking to see your medical record, to speak to your GP and/or requesting that you undergo a medical before offering a quote.
Undergoing a medical tends to be a more unusual request, but it may become more likely if you have a pre-existing condition.
Insurers CAN'T access your medical records without your consent, but if you refuse this consent then the insurer may well refuse to offer you a policy.
As outlined by the Equality Act 2010,† if you have a condition that's considered curable or manageable it may be against the law to charge you more for life insurance because of it.
Whatever you do, make sure that the answers you give to insurers are honest and accurate. If you make a fraudulent declaration, any policy you take out is likely to be invalid and will mean that you've broken the law.
You can read more about some of the issues to think about in our article on insurers' access to medical records.
What sort of policies may be offered?
After the necessary checks have been made, any life insurance deal you're offered will depend on the nature of your condition and your other individual circumstances.
Policies without exclusions
It may simply be a matter of a policy coming with a so-called 'loaded' premium, meaning you pay an increased price to cover the increased risk. This may be referred to as a 'policy without exclusions'.
This could be an option presented to you if, for example, you have high blood pressure.
The cost of a 'loaded' premium is likely to increase with the severity of a condition, and you should be aware that different insurers will categorise different medical conditions in their own way.
Policies with exclusions
With particularly serious conditions you may find that there aren't any regular cover options available, even if you're prepared to pay a higher, loaded premium.
Another option to consider is excluding the specific pre-existing condition from the insurance at all.
This may be referred to as a 'policy with exclusions'.
This could mean, for example, if you've suffered from cancer, you could then arrange life insurance that wouldn't pay out if you died from that cancer, but would if you died from another cause.
Should you decide on a policy like this, ensure you're fully aware of what is and isn't covered, considering things such as when a death may be considered to have been a result of the original cancer.
Speaking to an adviser such as LifeSearch should give you access to a wide range of the market, but there might be other specialist insurers or brokers to consider.
You may also want to think about contacting a charity or support group that specialises in the medical condition you have; for example, a cancer charity might be able to offer more specific help about arranging life insurance if you're a cancer survivor.
Life insurance without medical checks
If you have medical conditions and you're looking for life insurance, your search may have led you to options promising 'guaranteed acceptance with no medical check'.
You need to be aware that such policies are a specific type of life insurance, more properly known as over 50s lifelong protection.
While such products may be suitable for some people, there are also significant negative points to consider, including the fact that you may well end up paying in more in premiums than your estate eventually gets out as a payout.
Also, although there's no medical check there will be an initial wait period, which is typically 12-24 months; if you die in this time your estate will only receive back the premiums you've paid in.
Cutting the cost of life insurance with medical conditions
You don't want to compromise on the standard of your life insurance cover, and this may especially be the case if you have pre-existing medical conditions, but read our article to find more about the many and varied ways you can cut the cost of life insurance and still get the policy you need.
As ever, our first suggestion is to shop around and compare your options to help you find the right deal at the right price.
When it comes to vehicles and properties, loyalty very rarely pays and you're likely to benefit by changing insurance provider at regular intervals.
With life insurance, though, premiums rise as you age and if your health deteriorates, meaning that you need to think carefully before dropping an existing policy for a new one.
A change in circumstance - perhaps the adoption of a healthier lifestyle - may make it worthwhile switching, but as a first priority think about telling your existing insurer about the change; you may benefit with a cut in your premium.
Also, if you're a cancer survivor or have recovered from another serious illness, you should think about the timing of when you arrange, or change, a policy.
Cover may be at its most difficult and expensive to arrange in the early years after your recovery because of the danger of a condition returning.
If your recovery continues, over time it may become cheaper and easier to find the right insurance; but remember that age also plays a part in the calculation of a premium.
Such complications only emphasise how valuable it can be to get guidance from a qualified source, such as the expert advisers at LifeSearch.
By Sean Davies