Life insurance with pre-existing medical conditions

Pre-existing conditions can bump up the cost of your life insurance, making it crucial to shop around and compare quotes before you settle


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For those with pre-existing medical conditions, the idea of getting a life insurance policy can be a daunting prospect. Insurance providers will set your premiums based on the likelihood of them having to pay out, and having a pre-diagnosed health condition will be seen as high-risk. 

You may be worried that your condition will result in excessive fees, or that you'll struggle to even find cover at all. To help you navigate this rather tricky subject, we have put together a quick guide to make sure you're informed when looking for life insurance with pre-existing conditions.

In This Guide:

How do you define a pre-existing condition?

When it comes to life insurance, any injury, illness or disease that you were already suffering from at the time you take out a policy will be classified as a pre-existing medical condition. 

Having a pre-existing condition will unfortunately have an impact on your life insurance premiums. How much of an effect it has depends on the severity of your condition and the criteria of the particular insurer. 

Ailments that will be typically be considered a pre-existing condition include:

  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Asthma
  • Epilepsy
  • Neurological conditions
  • High blood pressure or cholesterol
  • Strokes
  • Mental health conditions including anxiety and depression

Please note that each insurance provider will have a slightly different definition of what qualifies as a pre-existing condition, so make sure to check with the insurer you decide to go for. 

What do I have to tell my insurer?

When applying for a life insurance policy, the company will take a look at your medical history, current lifestyle and general health in order to determine your premiums. One of the first questions they'll ask you, alongside your age, occupation and drinking/smoking habits, is if you have any pre-existing medical conditions.

Once you disclose a pre-existing condition, your insurer will then typically ask you some further questions in order to assess the risk. You may have to provide information on:

  • When you were diagnosed with the condition
  • Any known family history of the condition
  • Any medication you are taking for it
  • Any previous hospital visits due to the condition

Some people might it's smart to omit any of this information in order to get a cheaper quote, but doing so will ultimately void your contract, meaning that you will not receive any payout when it comes to making a claim.

Your insurer may also request to see your medical records from your GP, or undertake a medical examination. Your personal medical history is confidential, so you are not obliged to hand over this information, although failing to do so could mean you're denied cover. 

If you're uncomfortable about sharing your medical records or undergoing a medical exam, it is possible to find life insurance without a medical. However, going for this type of policy may mean missing out on the best rates. 

How will a pre-existing medical condition affect my policy?

This will depend entirely on what kind of medical condition you have. For example , if you are young and have been diagnosed with something that is not life changing, you might find that this does not have a dramatic effect on whether an insurance company will accept your application.

If, however ,you and have suffered from a serious and debilitating illness which poses an immediate risk to your health, then you might find that you are not able to take out a policy at all as you are deemed to be too high of a risk.

If your pre-existing condition is serious and you do find an insurer to cover you, you will find that your premiums will be far higher than usual, which in some cases will prevent the policy from being worth it. Your policy may also come with certain caveats that require you undertake certain tasks such as taking regular medication or treatments in order to mitigate the risk that your current medical situation requires.

What type of policy should I get with a pre-existing condition?

Life insurance is designed to provide a financial safety net to your loved ones should you pass away. There are many different types of life insurance policy, some of which will be more beneficial to you or not depending on your circumstances. Remember to always disclose your pre-existing condition.

  • Level term life insurance: This is a standard life insurance policy in which you agree with your insurer a set payout, term length, and monthly premium. Your beneficiaries will be paid a fixed sum should you die within the term. 
  • Decreasing term life insurance: This is typically cheaper than level term life insurance, but the payout you receive will be smaller the longer you are into your term when a claim is made. These policies are great for people with outstanding debts, such as a mortgage. 
  • Critical illness cover: With this type of cover, you won't have to wait until death to benefit from it, as it pays out upon the diagnosis of any critical illness which may leave you unable to work. However, this doesn't apply to any pre-existing conditions, so disclosing them is vital. Critical illness cover can typically be included as an add-on to your existing life insurance policy, or alternatively can be taken out separately. 

Related guides

We endeavour to keep our users fully informed when it comes to making a purchasing decision. Please read through our handy guides to find the information you need.

Frequently asked questions

Can I take out a policy if I have had a heart attack?

While a heart attack might not always count as a pre-existing medical condition, it will be considered by a policy maker when they decide on your case. If you are still affected by symptoms of the heart attack, then that will certainly come into play when someone is deciding whether you can take out a policy.

What happens if I am cured of a long-standing illness while having a policy that covered it?

Some policies will allow for regular assessments where the cost of your premium will be altered based on your changing state of health.

Can I take out a policy if I have recovered from cancer?

Even if you are fully cured of cancer there is a high chance that you will be deemed a risk of getting it again, which will affect your ability to take out a reasonably priced policy.

Last reviewed: 1 December 2021

Next review: 1 January 2022