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Pre-existing medical conditions life insurance

Here are some of the TOP TIPS that we know that can help you get more affordable life insurance with pre-existing medical conditions

A photo of Dom Limberg, the author

By Dom Limberg

Published on: 25 May 2022

7 min read

Pre-existing medical conditions life insurance

Life insurance is to protect your family and home if you die and critical illness insurance is for protection against serious illness. If you already have been diagnosed with or suffered from a pre-existing medical condition, then getting cover can be slightly more complicated. 

There are lots of different life insurance options that are available. The fact is that not all are suited to people with pre-existing medical conditions. 

Protecting your family can be even more important to people who have suffered from a pre-existing medical condition. When you are diagnosed with a medical condition, it can be a wake-up call for many. This can give you the incentive to want to sort out your life insurance. 

Unfortunately, it is often more difficult or more expensive to buy life insurance with a pre-existing condition. 

Medical stats UK 

Here are some of the headline figures that we found for the UK in recent studies and reports. 

  • 1 in 10 over 40’s has Type 2 diabetes 
  • 4.7 million people living with diabetes in 2022 
  • 3 million people living with cancer in 2022 
  • 375,000 new cancer cases every year 
  • 26% of adults in England are obese 
  • 38% of adults in England are overweight 
  • 1.3 million stroke survivors in the UK 
  • 100,000 stroke cases every year 

Some of these statistics are alarming and ideally you would have life insurance in place to protect against these potential problems. 

What is a pre-existing medical condition? 

The term pre-existing medical condition refers to a medical or health episode. This can be something that you have suffered in the past, or an existing condition. This includes anything that you have received treatment for or suffered any symptoms from your episode. 

There are two main types of pre-existing medical condition 

  • Acute which is a single episode of a medical condition that you may have suffered at some point in the past. You will be able to make a full recovery from an acute medical condition, or it may be fatal. Some of the most common acute diseases are cancer, heart attack, mental illness and stroke. 
  • Chronic is where you have been diagnosed with a pre-existing medical condition that will become lifelong or that has no known cure. Most chronic medical conditions will require some ongoing treatment or medication to be managed. Common chronic diseases include diabetes, hypertension, epilepsy, asthma, sleep apnoea, Crohn’s disease etc. 

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

Almost always, the answer is yes. The rest will be down to which insurer you choose and what is affordable for you. 

Life insurance is underwritten when you apply for cover. You’ll find that insurers will ask for a lot of information about your health and lifestyle. You will then either be offered an immediate decision for life insurance or be referred for underwriting. 

There are very few instances where at least some life insurance options are available to you. The only situations where you might not be able to get any life insurance with a pre-existing medical condition are: 

  • Terminal diagnosis 
  • Awaiting treatment or surgery 
  • Outstanding investigations 
  • Very recent diagnosis 

Insurers will usually want to see at least a period of consistent management or the results of any outstanding investigations. There are options that might be available to people while they are undergoing treatment etc. 

It is also common for people to be refused life insurance from one insurer and to be accepted by another insurer. This is simply because all insurance providers work off their own underwriting manuals which are very different. 

Some of the most common pre-existing medical conditions for life insurance: 

Typically, each of these conditions will have a wide range of different levels of severity and treatments. Your condition will often be extremely different to someone else that is suffering from the same disease. 

How much is pre-existing medical conditions life insurance? 

Life insurance premiums can vary dramatically between insurers, and especially for people with pre-existing medical conditions. 

It’s difficult to say exactly how much your life insurance premiums will be. This is because there are so many elements to consider. Generally, people with a pre-existing medical condition will be classed as higher risk, and may pay more for cover. 

Some of the key factors for medical life insurance cover: 

  • What type of condition do you have? 
  • When were you diagnosed? 
  • Do you take any treatment or medication? 
  • Have you had any surgery? 
  • How many times have you suffered an attack? 
  • Are there any other related conditions? 
  • Have you recovered from your condition? 

Most life insurance applications will ask for quite a lot of detail about any pre-existing medical condition. So, you should expect to be asked a lot of questions and you might not know the answers to all of them. 

Life insurance premiums will also be based on: 

  • Your age 
  • Sum assured (£’s) 
  • Term (years) 
  • Type of cover 

Each insurer works to its own pricing model and then underwriting criteria. This means there are lots of complicated calculations that go it to pricing for life insurance. 

Note: you should expect for your life insurance premiums to reflect your current health and the potential for added risk of claim. Underwriters assess applications based on risk and claims history which is why certain people pay higher premiums than others. 

Learn more about how to save on life insurance when you have medical conditions.

How does pre-existing medical conditions life insurance work?

The most important thing to remember with pre-existing medical conditions life insurance is that you should not have any exclusions on your policy. Life insurance in the UK generally won’t exclude any pre-existing medical conditions. Any medical conditions will be included and prices will reflect that. 

When you apply for life insurance with a pre-existing medical condition, your application will be reviewed by an underwriter. Each insurer will place its own risk profile for your situation and price your cover accordingly. 

Applying for pre-existing medical conditions life insurance 

  1. Speak to a specialist insurance broker or apply online 
  2. Complete an application (including medical disclosures) 
  3. Accepted application or referred for underwriting 
  4. Medical evidence (GP report) or nurse screening 
  5. Decision (acceptance terms) 

When you have a decision from an insurer, it will often provide the information about that decision and any ‘special terms’ imposed. 

Which are the best insurers for pre-existing medical conditions? 

It’s definitely true to say that certain insurers are better than others when it comes to pre-existing medical conditions. 

We can’t say exactly which life insurance company would be best for you based on your individual needs and circumstances. There are definitely some insurance providers that you should avoid and several that regularly give better decisions for pre-existing medical conditions. 

Some of the best life insurance providers for pre-existing medical conditions include: 

Best insurance providers for more severe pre-existing medical conditions: 

  • Exeter 
  • Royal London 
  • Scottish Widows 

Do I need to disclose pre-existing medical conditions for life insurance? 

The very simple answer is always, YES. If you’re asked for information about a medical condition that you have had or currently have, then you should disclose it. 

There is a thing in life insurance called ‘non-disclosure’ which is where an applicant hasn’t told an insurer about something in their medical records. This can be by accident or on purpose, but the consequences are the same, cover will generally be invalid. 

It also depends on how serious your disclosure is. For example, not disclosing cancer or heart attack might be different to failing to disclose cholesterol or blood pressure. 

Once your life insurance policy has been accepted and it is live, you’ll be sent a copy of your application in the post or by email. You should carefully check this information and correct any errors that you see. 

10 TOP TIPS for pre-existing medical conditions life insurance 

Here are some of the TOP TIPS that we know that can help people to get more affordable life insurance with pre-existing medical conditions. 

  1. Speak to a specialist or expert 
  2. Apply for life insurance as soon as you can (ideally before you’re diagnosed with a health condition) 
  3. Get cover when you’re younger 
  4. Regularly review your life insurance 
  5. Can you improve your health (e.g. stop smoking, lose weight, better management) 
  6. Consider what you can afford and not what you need 
  7. Be honest and open 
  8. Avoid any ‘cheap life insurance’ adverts 
  9. Get proper advice 
  10. Guaranteed life insurance will often exclude pre-existing medical conditions (meaning no medical exams or medical questions)

How to buy life insurance with pre-existing medical conditions 

There are several simple rules to follow to make sure that you get the right life cover with your pre-existing medical condition. 

We recommend speaking to a pre-existing medical conditions life insurance specialist. This will be an ideal place to get this type of cover. A specialist will understand how your medical condition works but also will know which insurance providers are best for you when comparing life insurance quotes.

Resources – Life insurance statistics

Office for National Statistics – People with long-term health conditions in the UK

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