Pre-existing medical conditions and life insurance

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A guide to pre-existing medical conditions

Taking out a life insurance policy can offer peace of mind that your family will be financially secure – whatever may happen in the future. Learn about the possible effects on life insurance if you’ve suffered an illness or serious medical condition.

What is a pre-existing medical condition?

A pre-existing medical condition can be any illness, injury or disease that existed before or at the time of taking out an insurance policy. An insurance provider will have a list of ailments that they consider to be pre-existing conditions. The list could include:

  • Asthma
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy
  • Heart disease, including heart attacks or strokes
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Neurological conditions, such as cerebral palsy
  • Kidney illnesses

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

Yes, you can. However, if you have a medical issue, it can affect the premiums you pay. That’s because the number of insurance providers who are willing to cover you could be limited.

Also, it’s important to be aware that a provider could refuse to pay out for a claim if you withheld information about any prior illnesses or conditions when applying for a policy. It’s important to read all the terms and conditions of your policy (and make sure you understand them), so that there are no unpleasant surprises for your loved ones if they need to make a claim.

Can I still get cover if I’ve had a heart attack?

If you’ve had a heart attack or you have a heart condition, you could still get cover. But you might find it’s harder to secure a policy and it may be more expensive. That’s because, in the eyes of an insurance provider, you’re a higher risk compared to someone who’s never had a heart attack.

A provider may ask you for more details, such as:

  • How severe the heart attack was
  • When the heart attack happened  
  • Whether or not you had surgery, and if there are any long-term implications or recurrent problems
  • What  type of medication you’re on, if any.

You’ll also be asked questions about your health and lifestyle, such as whether you smoke, your drinking habits and how much you weigh. 

Can I get life insurance if I have diabetes?

It’s still possible to get life insurance cover if you have diabetes. However, the type you suffer from makes a difference:

  • Type 1 diabetes With type 1 diabetes typically diagnosed from an early age, insurance providers may be less strict, in the knowledge that you’ve had the condition under control for a number of years.
  • Type 2 diabetes Many providers might not offer you insurance. This is because type 2 diabetes can be harder to manage, leading to greater health complications and conditions. You could still find cover if you shop around, but your premium is likely to be considerably higher.

Frequently asked questions

Can my pre-existing medical condition be covered by life insurance?

There are many pre-existing medical conditions that are covered by life insurance, but it largely depends on the insurance provider and how serious your condition is. Every case is different and your application will be evaluated depending on your condition.

The best way to find out if your particular condition is covered is to speak directly with the life insurance provider. They’ll be able to offer assistance and advice on the type of cover you’ll be eligible for.

Can you get life insurance after cancer diagnosis?

Being diagnosed with cancer doesn’t immediately exclude you from getting life insurance cover, but it does make it more difficult and can’t be guaranteed. It’s likely to be more expensive and you may find that certain conditions aren’t included in your policy. Each case is unique, though, so the best way to find out is by Searching for a quote

How could a stroke affect my life insurance premium?

If you’ve had a stroke, your premium could increase - but this will depend on several factors, including the type of stroke you’ve had. In the eyes of a provider, it’s more likely that you’ll make a claim and your policy will reflect that risk. So, if you’ve had a serious illness, or a heart attack or stroke, then it’s likely your premium will be higher.

The insurance provider could insist on adding a stroke exclusion into your policy. This means that if you were to die as a result of a stroke (or anything relating to a stroke), then they won’t make a pay-out to your beneficiaries.

What can I do to lower the cost of a policy?

Proving that you’ve taken steps towards a healthier lifestyle could reduce the cost of a life insurance policy. If your heart attack or stroke happened several years ago and you continue to take good care of yourself – exercising regularly, not smoking or drinking too much and maintaining a balanced diet – then you might be able reduce the cost of your premium. While it can be hard to determine the exact cause of a stroke, there are several risk factors that increase the chance of them happening. High blood pressure is one factor; as is diabetes.

Before you’re offered a life insurance policy, you may be asked to have a medical. If having a medical is a concern for you, you can learn more about life insurance with no medical.

How are premiums for life insurance calculated?

Each insurance provider will respond differently to potential risks when it comes to life insurance, which is why you need to consider all of your options before choosing a policy.  A quote will be affected by your age, plus the amount of cover and the policy length you choose. Find out more about how your age might affect your life insurance policy.

Can I get life insurance without a medical check?

If you have a pre-existing condition, you’ll most likely be asked to have a medical or give permission for your provider to access a doctor’s report.

If you’re over 50 years old, you might want to consider over 50s life cover. This offers guaranteed acceptance without the need for a medical check, regardless of your lifestyle or any pre-existing conditions you may have.

There are conditions attached, so make sure you consider the details of the policy carefully if you decide to go for this type of cover.

Can I get critical illness cover if I have an existing medical condition?

You might find it difficult to get critical illness insurance if you have a pre-existing condition. This is because there could be a higher risk of you becoming critically ill because of your condition.

In some cases, you may be able to get critical illness cover with an added exclusion. In other words, you’ll only get a pay-out for an illness that has nothing to do with your pre-existing condition.

Again, it can depend very much on the type of condition you have and your medical history.

Kamran Altaf

From the Life team

What our expert says

“Even if you don’t consider your condition that serious, it’s important to be totally upfront and honest when answering questions about your health history and lifestyle. Even leaving out the slightest thing could invalidate your policy.

Life insurance with a pre-existing condition is likely to be more expensive. But by shopping around, it will be easier to find an affordable deal that suits you.”

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