High risk life insurance – how to get approved if you have pre-existing conditions.

If you’re worried that you may not qualify for life insurance because of a pre-existing condition or because you think you are high risk, you’re in the right place.

If you have a pre-existing condition, there is nothing more important than working with an agent who understands underwriting and each companies underwriting guidelines.

At Insurance Geek, we know underwriting – and we also know that it may be more difficult for some people to qualify for the coverage they need. So we have put together a post to help you understand what it will take to get the coverage you need if you are high risk.

High risk conditions and impairments

There are a number of health conditions that are considered “high risk” to life carriers. These can include:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart Attack
  • Stroke
  • Cancer
  • Depression
  • MS
  • Asthma
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Kidney Disease
  • Lupus
  • Chron’s Disease
  • COPD
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis

Each of these impairments may be underwritten differently – and, while all insurance companies have some parameters in place for policy approval, the underwriting requirements are not identical for each company.

Because of that, it is important that you work with an agent who knows which insurance company – or companies – are more prone to accept applicants with certain types of health conditions. As an example, Insurance Company A may be more apt to approve an applicant with diabetes as versus Company B.


In underwriting, you will be required to provide as much information as possible about your condition. For instance, you may be asked some or all of the following questions:

  • When were you diagnosed with the condition?
  • Do you have a family history of the condition?
  • Have you been hospitalized for your condition?
  • Which medications (if any) do you take for your condition?
  • Are there other ways that you are managing or controlling your condition (such as through diet and / or exercise)?

In addition, for certain health issues, such as diabetes, you may also be asked about your:

  • Most recent A1C level
  • Most recent blood glucose level

When a company is deciding whether or not to approve a high risk applicant, there are different rate classes that an insured may qualify for. These options include:

  • Standard Rate or better
  • Flat Extra
  • Table Rating
  • Flat Extra plus Table Rating

Discovering the cost with a pre-existing condition

Because people with various health issues can present added risk to a high risk life insurance company, the insurer has to “make up” for this risk somehow. Oftentimes it is through a higher premium payment.

One of these methods for determining the premium is to charge a flat extra. This refers to increasing the cost per thousand dollars of coverage for a certain period of time. With that in mind, the added flat extra amount is multiplied by the number of thousands (i.e., 100 thousands for a policy with a $100,000 death benefit) you are insuring.

So, if the base premium for a $100,000 policy is $1,000 per year, and the flat extra cost is $1 per thousand, then the total yearly premium would be $1,100 ($1,000 base premium + [$1 x 100] = $1,100).

Note that after a certain amount of time has passed, the flat extra charge may disappear.

Alternatively, if a table rating is used, there are different rating levels by which the amount of premium will go up. As an example, based on the severity of an applicant’s health condition, a rating of 1 could signify a premium increase of 25%. Likewise, a rating of 2 could signify a 50% premium increase, and so on.

Therefore, if an applicant is rated as a 2, then the cost of the policy would be the base premium rate, plus an additional 50% of that amount.

In some cases, both a flat extra and a table rating may apply. Because any of these ratings or extra charges could increase the policy’s premium significantly, it is essential to have an agent who can go out into the market place and find the best alternative for you. Not only can this save you a great deal of time, but it could also end up saving you hundreds – or even thousands – of dollars per year on your premium.

High risk policy types

In some cases, though, certain health conditions will not be accepted via a fully underwritten policy. This is where guaranteed issue life insurance can be beneficial. With a guaranteed issue policy, the death benefit is often limited to $25,000, possibly $50.000. In addition, if the policy has a graded death benefit, should the insured pass away within the first two years of being covered, only a portion of the face amount will be paid out to the beneficiary.

On the plus side, as its name implies, a guaranteed issue policy will provide you with life coverage – guaranteed (as long as the premium is paid) – and you won’t have to undergo a medical exam in order to qualify.

Before you move forward with the purchase of any type of life insurance, it can be helpful to discuss our needs with an independent agent who understands the underwriting guidelines, and who can walk you through the best method for getting the coverage you need.

High risk life insurance companies

There are certain carriers that are more apt than others to accept applicants who have high risk health conditions. These companies include:

Guaranteed Issue Companies

Gerber Life Insurance

Gerber Life Insurance Company issues policies that cover a variety of different high risk health conditions. Even if you have been declined by other carriers, it is possible to obtain a burial policy through Gerber Life.

See Full Review

AIG Life Insurance

AIG also offers a guaranteed issue life policy option. There is no medical exam required, and no health questions are asked on the application for coverage. The guaranteed issue whole life insurance through AIG can offer a permanent form of protection as well – even if you are not able to obtain coverage through other carriers due to having a high risk condition.

See Full Review

Nationwide Life Insurance

Insurance Geek has access to an exclusive Nationwide product. There is no medical exam required, and only a few questions are asked on the application for coverage. The product offers up to $50,000 in whole life insurance through Nationwide and can offer a permanent form of protection – even if you are not able to obtain coverage through other carriers.

Fully Underwritten Companies

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Prudential Life Insurance

For those who have minor – or even major – pre-existing health conditions, Prudential can be a good choice. For instance, Prudential Life will frequently accept applicants who have diabetes, anxiety, epilepsy, and even some types of heart disease. No fully underwritten carrier can match Prudential underwriting expertise.

See Full Review

Get quotes from an expert

Because there are many variables to consider when applying for life insurance when you have a pre-existing health condition, going through the process with an experienced agent can be highly beneficial.

A high risk life insurance agent knows which insurance carriers are better for those with certain conditions. Plus, an agent who focuses on coverage with impaired risks will be able to guide you through the entire process – including assisting you with the appropriate paperwork and other strategies that can help bring you closer to an approval.

If you’re ready to start the process of securing financial protection for those you love, contact an Insurance Geek today.