What kind of health problems make it hard to buy life insurance?

All life insurance companies are trying to do is estimate your life expectancy. If for some reason, you're classified as high risk, the premium rate will automatically rise. So, for example, if you work in an industry with a high rate of accidents, or enjoy hang-gliding at weekends, this may suggest a higher risk of early death. It's exactly the same if you're diagnosed with a serious disease or there's a history of disease in your family. But this is not all bad news. The fact you may have a pre-existing condition does not, of itself, prevent you from buying cover. It just means the policy may have to be subject to riders or the premium rate will be adjusted. As with everything in life, there's always a way of approaching the problem to give yourself a good chance of a favorable outcome.

When it comes to the practice of underwriting, i.e. deciding who to insure, there are a significant number of factors taken into account. Obviously the number depends on the company and the way it has drawn up its mortality and sickness tables. When you use a site like this to get a quote, you're only asked a few questions. This gives you an average or ballpark quote based on only a few of the factors. When you later go through the medical examination for higher value policies, you will be asked very detailed questions and your answers can cause a significant revision of the original quotes. Never rely on the life insurance quotes you receive online. They are there simply as a stepping stone to more detailed negotiation over your medical issues.

The first fact you need to recognize is that many of the general life insurance companies prefer not to deal with high risk individuals and therefore either refuse cover or quote deterrent rates. The only way to get a realistic quote is to ask your regular physician for a formal report setting out the diagnosis, your current state of health, and a prognosis. Send this to the companies who have some track record in dealing with higher risk individuals. Only when the insurers have an accurate initial assessment of your health, can they begin to give you a realistic quote.

This begins what can be quite a long process if your medical records have to be obtained from different doctors and specialists. The life insurance companies will also check your health insurance claims. Heart patients can be considered for insurance six months after being fitted with stents. Individuals whose diabetes is under control can be insured. With breast cancer, you can be insured following surgery but expect to be asked to wait for up to two years. With other forms of cancer, insurers use the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database to assess the risks. If you have survived treatment for more than five years, there's a chance of cover.