Reasons you may be denied life insurance

Death is part of life, but since it’s such a sensitive subject, most people prefer not to think about it. However, the sudden loss of a family member—especially the breadwinner—can send a family into a dwindling financial spiral. Preparing for the financial aspect of death by purchasing a life insurance plan is one of the most responsible things a person can do. Life insurance provides financial support for families and loved ones after the death of the insured person.

Unfortunately, there are factors that may prevent a person from obtaining life insurance. Here are a couple factors that could lead to denial of coverage:

Pre-existing condition

Cancer, heart disease and severe mental-nervous disorders are a few pre-existing conditions that could potentially get you disqualified for life insurance. When insurance companies put any of these conditions under a microscope, they see an individual who is less likely to live as long as someone without the condition. An individual with heart disease, for example, is more prone to have a fatal heart attack. However, don’t assume that these are automatic disqualifications—many cancer patients can be insured depending on the stage of their cancer and whether it was diagnosed early enough or not.


Alcohol is another factor that could disqualify you from life insurance coverage. This doesn’t pertain to the casual drinker, but the chronic user who shows signs of deteriorating health, including liver failure. Insurance companies are also unlikely to cover heavy drinkers since alcoholics are more prone to engage in behaviors that put others at risk in addition to themselves (e.g. drunk or impaired driving). Insurance companies can determine whether you’re a heavy drinker through analyzing results of medical exams—a prerequisite for obtaining coverage—and looking for symptoms like liver damage and high blood pressure.

Providers will also look at your driving record, and will raise premiums (or possibly decline coverage) if they find DUIs in your history.

History of depression and suicide

Insurance companies will deny coverage based on severity of depression. Providers see depression as an existing condition—much like blood pressure—and provide coverage based on the risk. If you have had a history of suicidal actions, insurance companies will likely deny coverage due to the high risk. People who suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may also be denied coverage. Another disqualifying condition would be self-medicating with drugs and alcohol to treat your depression.

Risky activities

Insurance companies may deny you life insurance coverage for engaging in extreme activities like skydiving, base-jumping and scuba diving. These and any sport that poses an unusual amount of risk will be a warning sign for insurance companies. Although it may seem like an easy thing to hide in your application, providers can look at your medical history and see if you’ve been treated for injuries related to extreme sports. Also, remember that there is a period of contestability in all policies. So, if you die in a sports-related accident a provider can deny coverage based on untruthful information on your application.

Will a critical illness disqualify me for life insurance?

The best candidates for an affordable life insurance policy are individuals who are young and in good health. This does not mean, however, that anyone who has ever had a critical illness like diabetes or cancer is completely disqualified from coverage. Thanks to advances in medical treatment, many survivors of long-term illnesses are going on to live long and healthy lives. This shift in the overall health of Americans has also spurred changes to the life insurance industry. As care and outcomes improve, more people may be eligible for a life insurance policy who might not have been able to be covered before.

Martin Feldman, the CEO and president of the Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education (LIFE), told in an interview that individuals who suffered from critical illnesses in the past should not completely rule out the idea of being able to purchase a life insurance policy.

“The rules vary greatly depending on the insurer,” Feldman told the source. “But it is now a lot easier for people with pre-existing conditions to get life insurance policies.”

Surviving and living longer

According to recent findings published in the American Journal of Public Health, Americans are living longer than they have in any point in history. The Harvard University researchers who conducted the study found that improvements to healthcare was the most important contributing factor to the increase in life expectancy. They cited the fact that an individual who suffered from a major heart attack or stroke twenty years ago would most likely have spent the rest of his or her life bedridden. This is rarely the case today, as comprehensive medical care helps former patients move on from their illnesses and live healthy lives.

Major illnesses are also identified much earlier than they once were, resulting in treatment options that are more effective. According to the National Institutes of Health, five-year survival rates of both breast and prostate cancers that are caught early are 98 percent. Forty years ago, only 75 percent of breast cancer patients survived five years, and only 69 percent of individuals with prostate cancer lived past that point.

Life insurance is based on risk. Someone who survived a critical illness in the past, but has little chance of the disease recurring in the future, may qualify for a life insurance policy comparable to one that would be issued to an otherwise healthy person.

Factors that can affect a survivor’s eligibility

If you are shopping for a life insurance policy and have recovered from a major disease, LIFE recommends that you disclose the following information to your life insurance agent:

  • Severity (stage and grade) of the illness.
  • Specific type of illness (cancer, heart disease, etc.)
  • Time elapsed since initial diagnosis and last occurrence of symptoms.
  • Whether or not you are still under the care of a physician and your treatment regimen.
  • Your current health including any residual effects of the illness.

Additionally, you should also provide your agent with any pathology reports or medical records that are relevant to your critical illness and current health. This information is necessary for him or her to be able to find a policy that will fit you.

It’s possible for critical illness survivors to secure a life insurance policy, but they must take the first step in doing research and contacting a qualified agent. For life insurance quotes, use our convenient quote generator to find out which policies you may be eligible for.

Find Out If You Qualify for Life Insurance Coverage

Although the above factors may make it more difficult to obtain life insurance coverage, every life insurance company is different. It’s important to do your research and compare life insurance quotes to find out which companies will insure you, and at what rate. Get started today by using our tool to request a quote online.

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For more information, call an insurance professional at (866) 868-0099 during normal business hours or contact us through our website.

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To get more information about purchasing life insurance with severe medical conditions, contact an insurance professional at LifeInsure.Com today at (866) 868-0099 during normal business hours, or you can contact us through our website 24/7.

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Richard Reich

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Richard Reich CEO and Licensed agent

In my 20+ years as an independent life and disability insurance broker, I have personally assisted thousands of clients with their life and disability insurance needs.  Being independent, I represent many highly-rated insurance companies and, because I am not beholden to any one insurance company, my focus is to find the right company and policy for each individual client. I believe that when people shop for insurance (or anything else, for that matter) on the Internet, they are looking for a simple, non-intrusive, non-pressure method of doing so.  I strive to treat my prospective clients with the utmost respect and I believe an educated prospect can make the right decision without sales pressure. Please feel free to contact me at your convenience.


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