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

A recent diagnosis or recovery from illness might make you think about taking out life insurance, but you may be worried about how your condition affects cover. Here, we explore pre-existing medical conditions with life insurance to give you a clear picture of what to expect.

What is a pre-existing condition?

A pre-existing medical condition is any illness, injury or condition you’ve had or currently have.

What’s classed as a pre-existing condition will vary by provider, but it usually includes:

  • Asthma or other breathing conditions
  • Cancer
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney illnesses
  • Heart conditions including angina
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Neurological conditions such as epilepsy and multiple sclerosis
  • Stroke

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

Yes, you can get life insurance even if you have a pre-existing medical condition. However, you’ll need to bear in mind that your choice of provider may be limited.

Based on your medical history, you may also find that policies cost more compared to someone with no history of illness.

How does a pre-existing condition affect my life insurance?

If you have or have had a medical condition, life insurance providers will usually want to know more about it. This could include asking you:

• What the illness or condition was (or is) • When you were first diagnosed • What treatment you’ve had for it • If you’re taking any medication for your illness

You’ll also be asked standard questions about your lifestyle and general health, for instance, whether you smoke or drink alcohol (and if so, how much). Other questions could be about your height and weight and how much exercise you do each week.

Will I need a medical to get life insurance?

This will depend on the answers you give to the questions you’re asked. If the provider needs to better understand your overall health, they may ask you to have a medical. If this happens, the provider should cover the cost and arrange the check-up at a time and place that’s convenient to you.

What happens at a medical exam?

A nurse or doctor will measure your height and weight to work out your body mass index (BMI). Your BMI indicates whether you’re underweight, overweight or just right.

Your blood pressure will also be taken and often your glucose and protein levels will be checked.

What life insurance can I get with a pre-existing health condition?

If you’ve got a pre-existing health condition and your application is accepted, you’ll usually be offered:

A life insurance policy with exclusions

An exclusion is something that’s not covered by your policy. In life insurance, exclusions will typically include your pre-existing condition and any conditions that are closely related.

For example, if you have angina, the provider may only accept your application if angina is excluded from the policy. Other closely related conditions may also be excluded, such as heart attack or stroke. If you pass away because of one of these conditions, your policy won’t pay out.

A life insurance policy without exclusions

Even if you’ve got a pre-existing condition, some providers may offer you cover without exclusions. In other words, you’ll be covered even if you die from an illness you already have or have had (subject to any other policy terms).

If you have an existing health condition and are offered a policy without exclusions, it’s likely to come with a higher-than-average premium.

Do I need to tell life insurance providers about a pre-existing condition?

Most providers will specifically ask about pre-existing medical conditions so it’s important to be upfront and honest about your health. If not, it can invalidate your policy which means the provider can refuse to pay out should you pass away.

Do life insurance providers contact my GP?

In some cases, yes, life insurance providers may contact your doctor or other health professional (with your permission).

If they do, it will usually be to verify what you’ve said in your application or to clarify any health conditions or treatment you’ve had. For example, if you’ve had cancer but are in remission, providers might need to know more about your diagnosis and treatment.

Does all life insurance ask about pre-existing conditions?

No, over 50s life insurance is one type of policy that typically guarantees acceptance, regardless of your medical history.

To be eligible, you’ll need to be at least 50 years old and resident in the UK. There are usually maximum age caps and most plans will only accept applicants up to age 80 or 85.

What should I know about over 50s life insurance plans?

Most over 50s plans are whole of life policies. Typically, this means you’ll need to pay a set premium every month from when you take out the policy to when you die.

The amount of money that is paid out by an over 50s plan is usually less than the amount from other types of life insurance. So, if you’re taking out life insurance to cover big expenses like a mortgage, an over 50s plan might not be enough.

For more information about how these plans work, take a look at our guide to over 50s life insurance.

Does family history of illness affect life insurance?

It can do, but it will depend on what those illnesses are and your own overall health and medical history.

Some inherited cancers (for example, breast and bowel cancer) can lead to higher premiums or policy exclusions.

Understanding your life insurance options

Life insurance can be a valuable safety net – removing financial stress from your loved ones when you pass away. It is of course, important to be clear about what’s available. To help you with this, we’ve put together an extensive guide to life insurance so that the policy you choose suits your needs.


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