Tips for Buying Life Insurance if You Have a Serious Health Condition

If you've ever been told that you can't buy life insurance due to a pre-existing medical condition or that your application was rated up due to one or more medical conditions, Life Quotes, Inc. offers these tips for securing a life insurance policy at a rate you can live with.

Life insurance shoppers with heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other common ailments, take heart.  There are strategies that you can employ to obtain life insurance coverage, often at a great price, but a good outcome requires that you properly shop the market or have a good agent do so for you.

The art of life insurance underwriting is based upon some 80 different rating factors, each of which has to be looked at before an offer is made.  So if the website you are visiting only asks a few questions about your health and reveals only "lowball quotes," beware because many more questions will be asked at a later time and, yes, the price will change.  A good agent will tell you this upfront and not sugarcoat the truth.

The best that any agent or website can do is show you preliminary quotes (their best estimate of what the final rate will be) based upon their knowledge of the market and what you tell them about your medical history.  For this reason, we recommend that you always work with an agent who represents at least 30 insurance companies, and is willing to show you the list of such companies.  Life insurance prices vary widely among competing companies, which can add another element of surprise to the process.

Susan Mancione, Sales Director at Life Quotes, Inc., has this advice for life insurance shoppers who have been turned down or rated up:  "The first thing you should do is seek the advice of an agent that you trust to guide you through this process. That can make all the difference. Secondly, if you have a ratable health condition, always obtain a recent letter from your doctor and attach it to your application.  Make sure that the letter describes your history, current medications and their assessment of your outlook.  Attaching this letter at the outset helps reduce uncertainty and gives you, the agent and the life underwriter an accurate picture of your situation."

Once the application is submitted it can take anywhere from 14 to 60 days to complete the entire process, sometimes even longer if your medical records have to be retrieved from numerous doctors.

From there, the life insurance company will closely review the answers you gave to the paramedical examiner. They will also access third party prescription drug databases, check your life insurance activity records at the Medical Information Bureau, or MIB, retrieve your medical records and possibly conduct a separate telephone interview with you.  

Mancione continued, "What life underwriters look for most in an applicant with ratable conditions is whether your condition is stable and improving or getting worse.  Then they look to see if you are in compliance with your doctor's instructions.  Applicants over age 50 should show a history of regular checkups.  Many life insurance companies require that a certain period of time pass, such as 1-3 years, from the onset of certain heart disease and cancers."  

Heart condition:

Heart disease is the #1 cause of death in America and, as such, is looked at very closely by every life insurer.  Although more and more women are being diagnosed with heart conditions, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that between 70 and 89 percent of sudden cardiac events occur in men (as of 2006). A number of factors come into play when life insurers address heart disease, including the type and severity of the disease, as well as the age and documented lifestyle habits of the life insurance applicant.  These documented habits include:

  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Tobacco usage
  • Regular health checkups
  • Complete compliance with doctor's orders

In some cases, heart patients can be considered for a life insurance policy six months after bypass, angioplasty, or the use of stents.

For more, read "How To Obtain Life Insurance When You Have Heart Disease". http://www.lifequotes.com/articles/how-to-obtain-life-insurance-when-you-have-heart-disease/

Diabetes:

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 23.6 million people in the United States have diabetes, and another 6 million are not aware they have it. If left untreated and undiagnosed, diabetes can lead to a number of serious medical conditions. However, if you have the disease under control through diet, schedule regular doctor visits and take your medication faithfully, you may still be able to purchase life insurance at an affordable rate.

For more, see "Diabetes Is Insurable Once You Control It". http://www.lifequotes.com/articles/diabetes-is-insurable-once-you-control-it/

Breast cancer:

The National Cancer Institute estimates that although more than 207,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, more than 167,000 (nearly 81 percent) of these women will become breast cancer survivors. If you've been diagnosed with breast cancer and survived, you may still be insurable, depending on certain underwriting criteria, but expect most life insurers to want a 2-10 year period to pass before they'll consider insuring you.

  • If the tumor was small, early stage and good risk, you can purchase insurance once you've completed treatment and had documented regular follow-up visits with your physician for a period of time specific to each insurance company.
  • For later stage breast cancer, the insurance company may postpone coverage for a period of 2 to 7 years, provided treatment was successful and there has been no recurrence.
  • Also, insurance companies may add on what is called a "flat extra" rate. Common flat extra rates for cancer can vary from $2.50 to $7.00 per $1,000 of coverage for anywhere from the first 5 to 7 years of policy premiums.

Many breast cancer survivors are offered "standard" rates, which can actually vary widely among different companies.  However, depending on the insurer, there are exceptions to this rule, which is why we recommend purchasing coverage through an insurance brokerage general agency or independent agent who can shop the market for you.

For more, see "Life, and Insurance, After Breast Cancer" http://www.lifequotes.com/articles/life-and-insurance-after-breast-cancer/

High blood pressure & cholesterol:

There can be many causes of high blood pressure and cholesterol. These include factors such as weight and the over consumption of fatty foods, but often genetics, age, and gender play important roles as well. Fortunately, both conditions can be controlled and you can still purchase life insurance.

For more, see "The Lowdown On High Blood Pressure and Life Insurance" http://www.lifequotes.com/articles/the-lowdown-on-high-blood-pressure-and-life-insurance/

HIV:

There was a time when being diagnosed with HIV was comparable to a death sentence. However, according to a February 2010 ATHENA National Observational Cohort study, with today's medical advancements and a better understanding of how the disease progresses, the life expectancy of someone with HIV can be extended by seven to 24 years. According to insurance experts, it might be best to get a life insurance policy through an employer, trade association or union. Traditional individual life insurers will not cover HIV. However, if you've lived with HIV for quite some time, you could still get approved for a life insurance policy through an "impaired-risk specialist" or purchase a "guaranteed issue" life insurance plan. Keep in mind, these policies carry with them much higher premium rates, as well as strict limits on the amount of insurance for which you may be eligible, in most cases up to $20,000.  

For more, see "How To Get Life Insurance When You're HIV Positive" at http://www.lifequotes.com/articles/how-to-get-life-insurance-when-you%e2%80%99re-hiv-positive/ and "Medical Tests, Risk and Life Insurance" at http://www.lifequotes.com/articles/medical-tests-risk-and-life-insurance/


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