Jeff is a well-known speaker and expert in life insurance and financial planning. He has been featured and quoted in Nerdwallet, Bloomberg, Forbes, U.S. News & Money, USA Today, and other leading finance websites. He is a licensed life insurance agent and has helped over 3000 people secure life insurance. He is licensed in all 50 states & DC. Jeff has spoken at top insurance conferen...

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Written by Jeff Root
Licensed Life Insurance Agent Jeff Root

Benjamin Carr was a licensed insurance agent in Georgia and has two years' experience in life, health, property and casualty coverage. He has worked with State Farm and other risk management firms. He is also a strategic writer and editor with a background in branding, marketing, and quality assurance. He has been in military newsrooms — literally on the frontline of journalism.

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Reviewed by Benji Carr
Former Licensed Life Insurance Agent Benji Carr

UPDATED: Jun 28, 2022

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Trying to find out how to get life insurance with a medical condition? You’ve come to the right place.

It’s easy to secure life insurance when you’re healthy and young. However, it gets a bit more complicated buying life insurance with medical problems.

It doesn’t have to be complicated though.

Here are a few basic questions that we’ll be answering in this article to help give you the best chance at coverage:

  • How do I get life insurance with a pre-existing conditions?
  • Will a life insurance company offer a policy for my pre-existing condition?
  • Which company is best for life insurance with pre-existing conditions?
  • What type of life insurance is available for my pre-existing condition?

We’ll go over these questions and more.

Let’s get started!

How to Get Life Insurance with Pre-Existing Condition

life insurance with a pre-existing conditionWhen it comes to life insurance, it pretty much boils down to qualifying. Can you qualify for the life insurance product – from the life insurance company you’re applying with?

Whether you are buying a fully underwritten life insurance policy or No Medical Exam life insurance, you’ll need to qualify based on that company’s underwriting guidelines.

The life insurance shoppers who are the healthiest will qualify for #1 health class rating: Preferred Plus (also known as Preferred Best).

The next best health rating is Preferred (#2) which will be slightly more expensive than “Preferred Best”. As the health class ratings go up, so do the life insurance rates.

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Life Insurance Health Class Ratings

If you qualify for a life insurance policy, you’ll be approved for a health class rating. Every life insurance company has health class ratings and their premiums are based on each rating.

Your premiums get more expensive the higher up you go in ratings. The majority of life insurance companies have around 12 to 15 health class ratings.

Standard and Substandard Rates

The list below will show you the health class ratings from least expensive to most expensive.

The first 4 ratings are for the healthiest applicants.

Ratings 5-14 are called “Sub-standard Ratings” or “Table Ratings.” Table ratings increase your rates over the Standard rates in increments of 25 percent.

The following list is from the least expensive to the most expensive, respectively:

  1. Preferred Best (Also known as Preferred Plus)
  2. Preferred
  3. Standard Plus
  4. Standard
  5. Table 1/A (Standard +25 percent)
  6. Table 2/B (Standard +50 percent)
  7. Table 3/C (Standard +75 percent)
  8. Table 4/D (Standard +100 percent)
  9. Table 5/E (Standard +125 percent)
  10. Table 6/F (Standard +150 percent)
  11. Table 7/G (Standard +175 percent)
  12. Table 8/H (Standard +200 percent)
  13. Table 9/I (Standard +225 percent)
  14. Table 10/J (Standard +250 percent)

Table ratings can go all the way up to Table 16/P, which adds 400 percent to the standard rate. Most companies use the same system. Some health conditions can easily qualify for preferred rates.

For example, perhaps you have something minor like a slightly elevated cholesterol level. Some people with more serious health conditions may only qualify for Table Rated or Substandard rates.

You may even be denied life insurance for certain health problems.

Will a life insurance company offer a policy for my pre-existing condition?

One of the biggest misunderstandings is how life insurance companies qualify and approve applicants. Every life insurance company has their own unique underwriting criteria. This means that every company will look at you differently.

When you’re shopping for pre-existing medical condition life insurance – knowledge is power! It is extremely important to know that some life insurance companies will look at your health condition more kindly than others.

Generally speaking, life insurance companies will look closely at heart disease, obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes, as well as other health conditions. The more conditions and medications you take will lead to higher premiums.

For more significant health conditions like cancer, stroke, and heart attacks – you might qualify for the highest substandard ratings or even denied.

How you’ve managed your health will play a part.

  1. When were you diagnosed?
  2. How are you managing your health?
  3. Has your issue been resolved or in remission?

These are just a few of the questions that life insurance companies will be wanting to know.

Which company is best for life insurance with pre-existing conditions?

There is no “best” life insurance company for all situations. You are unique – Your age, gender, health, finances, life insurance goals and more.

Every factor about you will affect which life insurance company may be the best fit for you.

Let me show you a basic example.

We have 2 people in perfect health who want to apply for life insurance. Both are wanting 20 year term for $500,000. One is 25 years old and the other is 45.

The only difference is their age. Just the one factor of age will cause both of them to apply with different companies. Age is one of the many factors that determine what company you will apply with.

Now it’s even more significant when you start to add additional factors, especially preexisting health conditions. It makes a huge difference how much you’ll pay and if you’ll be approved or denied.

Every factor about you will help decide which life insurance company to possibly apply with or eliminate from consideration.

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How to choose the right company

So now you have an idea that every factor about you helps determine which life insurance companies to apply with.

The first step in determining the best life insurance company for your health condition is contacting an independent life insurance agent. A life insurance agent who specializes in preexisting conditions and high risk health conditions is key to securing coverage.

Your life insurance agent needs to get to know your situation in order to research the best companies that you can qualify with.

They will ask you details about your health, lifestyle, finances, and life insurance goals. The information that you provide will help them navigate through the underwriting guidelines – and locate the best carriers.

Once your agent completes this initial “pre-screen,” they will begin researching life insurance companies.

If your health condition is not severe, your agent will be able to quickly cross reference with life insurance company underwriting guides and make recommendations.

What if you have a complex pre-existing medical condition? A good agent will send out anonymous “Quick Quotes” via email directly to the life insurance company underwriters.

The underwriters will read the details of your health and provide an approximate health class rating based on the information in the quick quote.

Your agent will gather up all of the quick quotes and provide you with the results in order for you to decide who to apply with.

What type of life insurance is available for my pre-existing condition?

Not all life insurance policies are available for all pre-existing conditions. It’s also company dependent, as well.

Remember, you have to qualify for life insurance.

Let’s go over some basic life insurance types to get an understanding of what is available to you.

Fully Underwritten Life Insurance with pre-existing conditions

A fully underwritten life insurance policy is typically how life insurance is purchased. A medical exam is required for a fully underwritten policy. Once the exam is completed it is sent to the life insurance company to analyze.

The life insurance company may also order:

  • medical records
  • medication database
  • motor vehicle report

and more depending on your individual case.

Depending on your pre existing medical condition, a fully underwritten policy may or may not be the right choice.

Your life insurance agent will be extremely important. They will be key in finding which companies will give you the best shot at an approval at the lowest rate.

Fully underwritten life insurance policies also have higher face amounts. For example, if you’re looking for $1 million dollar life insurance, you’re going to have to go for a policy that requires a medical exam.

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No Exam Life Insurance for preexisting conditions

A no medical exam life insurance policy is also called a “Simplified Issue Life Insurance.”

You do not need to take a medical exam to purchase this life insurance policy. The no medical exam life insurance policy will have a list of qualifying questions that you must pass in order to qualify.

Every company that offers a No Exam option will have their own qualifying questions. Again, your agent will help find which life insurance companies will approve or deny you based on your preexisting conditions.

Simplified Issue life insurance has a lower maximum death benefit compared to fully underwritten policies.  A $500,000 life insurance policy is possible depending on the life insurance company.

More companies are coming into the No Exam market which is making it very competitive. You will sometimes pay a little more for a Simplified Issue policy, but that isn’t always the case. This is especially true with life insurance with pre existing conditions.

Here is an example how a No Exam policy premium may be less expensive. If you applied for a fully underwritten policy and you were approved at a high table rating.

You’re likely going to be paying more than if you applied and were approved at Standard with a No Exam policy.

Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance for pre existing conditions

If you can’t qualify for a Fully Underwritten or Simplified Issue life insurance policy – don’t despair. There are life insurance policies that are guaranteed no matter your health.

A Guaranteed Issue life insurance policy will not have a maximum death benefit similar to fully underwritten or Simplified Issue policies.

Guaranteed Issue life insurance varies from company to company, but typically has a maximum benefit of $25,000. You can always “stack” multiple policies if more coverage is needed.

Securing the Best Coverage

As mentioned earlier, working with an independent life insurance agent is key to securing the best rates. We work extremely hard to find the best life insurance companies at the lowest price.

We shop from over sixty top rated companies to be sure you’re getting the best rate possible.

What if they don’t offer the best rate? We’ll simply take the results of your application and pivot to the next life insurance company that will.