Affordable high risk life insurance…um really…sounds like click bait! Those words seem incompatible to most people.
Sure “high risk” is one of those terms that makes ‘ya sweat doesn’t it?
Even writing about it gives ME a little anxiety. OK maybe not – but I know how people feel when it comes to their health!
Hey, I admit when I had my medical exam for life insurance I was a little nervous about the results. I don’t think there is a person on the planet that doesn’t enter the Doctor’s office with a little trepidation.
So what comes to mind when you think of Life Insurance for High Risk Individuals? Bet the usual suspects: Diabetes, Elevated Cholesterol, High Blood Pressure, etc.
But what if I told you that affordable life insurance for high risk people is not only possible but more common than you’d think?
...the REAL question is, do underwriters consider YOU High Risk if you have these conditions? Well, I've got some secrets that will help you comb through all the information that's out there.
But before I dig any deeper into Life Insurance for High Risk People
Let me share a few thoughts. Chances are high risk life insurance policies aren't what you think they are. ESPECIALLY if you have a health condition you think might impact your rates.
Independent life insurance agents, such as those at Policy Architects can really help you navigate all the information out there. Why?
Because we know the ins and outs of the underwriting processes for the best risk life insurance companies and will find the insurer that will look at your situation most favourably. Your choice of life insurance company can literally save you thousands over the course of your term.
Call or Policy Architects RIGHT now. We can help! 1.888.501-9583
OK! So let's get down to business....
What EXACTLY is High Risk Life Insurance?
High Risk is a little bit of a loose term…
…and that’s the main reason I want people to read this article. Leaving things up to your imagination is NEVER a good idea. NO WAY, NO HOW.
I’d like to share a little story with you. My wife had a breast tumor when she was 16 and a brush with a complex cyst as an adult before she applied for life insurance.
Well as you can imagine, she was concerned that she’d be turned down. I tried to assure her that everything would be fine – but I couldn’t make a dent in her worries. Anyway, long story short, as I suspected she was approved with a standard rating! My “I told you so” was music to her ears.
So what’s the deal? Did the life insurance company make a mistake?
Nope! The key is how much your medical condition impacts your life expectancy!
Did you know? According to industry statistics, roughly 80% of life insurance applications are approved at standard or preferred rates. Less than 5% end up as declined!
Yes, siree! This is a little detail most of you searching for “high risk life insurance policies” don’t know. It’s very likely that you’re healthier than you think.
For example, we’ve all wondered “am I overweight?”. Well, this is a formula for underwriters. Life insurance companies maintain height-weight charts that determine your rates. Carrying around a few extra pounds may not have too much of an impact on your premiums. The real kicker is being overweight puts you at risk for any number of other health ailments that WILL cause an issue for you.
So if you’re simply a little heavier than the average person, this doesn’t make you a High Risk Life Insurance applicant. You may be as healthy as an ox and in that case, you’ll go on to get your policy without a problem. You may even qualify for preferred rates.
If on the other hand, you’re two steps away from having a heart attack because you’re obese – that’s a different story altogether.
The thing is life insurance companies are in the business of making money, my friends. Sure they provide an amazing service when it comes to the protection they provide, but they don’t want to insure people who are likely to die before the end of their term. That just doesn’t make sense.
Recent research suggests that being overweight or even obese may not, in and of itself, be the health threat we think it is. A 2012 study from the National Cancer Institute found that moderately obese people actually lived about 3.1 years longer than normal-weight women and men. Another study, published in the European Heart Journal, showed that when obese people are metabolically healthy — which means their blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and other indicators fall within a healthy range — they are at no greater risk of dying from heart disease or cancer than those who are of normal weight.
Affordable High Risk Life Insurance
Which Medical Conditions Are REALLY High Risk?
If you are looking for affordable high risk insurance, I think this list of conditions will make you feel a lot better about your situation.
Especially if aren’t sure if you’ll be penalized for your particular condition. There are a ton of situations where people assume they are High Risk when they’re NOT.
In fact, in some cases, you may still even qualify for the BEST possible rating!
I think this is a really important point to get across. You’re not a doctor and even if you are chances are you’re not an insurance underwriter (otherwise why would you be reading this post). Which means it’s very likely that you have no idea what a particular insurer considers high risk.
So I am going to give you a leg up.
You're Good To GO!
This is the list I find most interesting. None of the following circumstances are considered high risk.
If you're super healthy and have a great family history you may even qualify for Preferred or Elite rates!
Well this is good news because thyroid is a very common condition. As I mentioned above, if your medical issue is well managed and it's not likely to impact how long you live, the underwriters don't penalize you for it.
If you're taking medication and all is well, you're in a good place.
It is estimated that 200 million people in the world have some form of thyroid disease. In Canada there is a staggering number of people affected. Recent studies indicate that 1 in 10 Canadians suffer from a thyroid condition of one type or another! Of those, as many as 50% are undiagnosed!
Yep being overweight in and of itself won't make you high risk. The issue that faces people who carry around some extra pounds is that they are vulnerable to other heath ailments that absolutely WILL make you a higher risk such as heart disease and cancer.
At Policy Architects, we know the risk insurance companies with the most lenient height weight charts for underwriting. Another reason to call us today 1.888.501-9583!
Going with one of these carriers can mean the difference between getting a standard non-smoking rate or being rated. Save thousands of dollars over the life of your policy!
If you're properly medicated and have it under control you aren't considered high risk.
Think about it - this makes perfect sense. When you eliminate the issue, it no longer impacts your lifespan.
So worry not if you're taking care of yourself and your high cholesterol is well managed. BUT please be aware that some insurers want to see you with a clean bill of health for longer than others.
Give us a call at Policy Architects. We can help!
Elevated Blood Pressure
Do you see a trend here? You go to the doctor and are diagnosed with high blood pressure. You take some medication, knock out the stress, eat better and voila!
Your blood pressure is back to normal.
Life insurance companies won't punish you for non existent high blood pressure but many companies want you to be on the straight and narrow for six to twelve months.
Pilot for a Commercial Airline
Major passenger airlines are safe. If you're a pilot or crew member you'll be eligible for preferred or elite rates.
This doesn't hold true for flying small planes though! Once again this is all about risk and private planes simply aren't as safe.
For the decade ending December 2013, 57 per cent of all commercial aviation accidents — and 63 per cent of all fatalities — have involved small air carriers…according to statistics compiled by the safety board. During that time, the country’s so-called air taxi operators suffered 485 accidents — an average of four accidents a month — that resulted in 176 deaths and 106 serious injuries. That’s far above the 49 accidents involving the country’s large airlines and 48 accidents involving commuter operations.
Well Managed Anxiety or Depression
You're mental health absolutely impacts your rates...
...and in fact serious issues like manic depression and PTSD can even get you declined.
BUT if you have well managed anxiety or depression the life insurance companies won't throw you in the high risk pool.
Mild Asthma & Allergies
So just to let you know - not all asthma is created equally.
Some people don't struggle with it the same way as others. If you have mild asthma or allergies you will not be placed in the high risk applicant pile.
If you have life threatening asthma well now that's something different altogether.
Less Than 3 Traffic Tickets in 2 Years
I think some people are shocked that moving violations have an impact on their life insurance rates...
...but think about it. Driving isn't the safest thing on the planet and if you're a speed demon the chances of you getting into a fatal wreck increase.
That being said, they do give you a bit of wiggle room before you become a high risk applicant.
DUI More Than 5 Years Old
...and yet another driving related ding.
Driving under the influence is just plain bad. When in doubt use a designated driver. It's just not worth the risk.
IF you do have a DUI and it happened more than five years ago you have a get out of jail free card in terms of your life insurance rates.
Basal Cell Carcinoma (Skin Cancer)
Yep it's cancer but it's slow moving and not as invasive.
This is the most common type of skin cancer. Basil Cell Carcinoma does't easily spread to other tissues and is treatable. This is why most insurance carriers view it more favourably than the other two forms of skin cancer.
In fact, once your treatment is completed and classified as stage 0, you're likely to get standard rates, maybe even preferred.
Occasional Marijuana Use
If you like to get your buzz on once in a while and smoke the odd joint, or use edibles, worry not.
Provided you haven't used Tobacco in combination with the Marijuana, you'll be eligible for standard non-smoker rates.
Obviously, this means no use of e-cigarettes, tobacco or nicotine in any form, in the last 12 months.
So who is considered an occasional pot smoker? Someone who smokes no more than a few doobies a week.
Underwriting in this area is changing! Read my latest post on Life Insurance and Marijuana here.
Some of Canada’s biggest insurance companies have updated their policies on marijuana use, and the changes are having a major impact on regular users’ premiums.
With recreational use of the drug set to become legal on Oct. 17, marijuana is moving toward mainstream acceptance, and the slow-moving and stodgy world of life insurance is no exception.
In the majority of cases, being pregnant has no affect on your life insurance rates.
I personally know of a 40-year-old woman, who is 3 months pregnant. She received Elite rates!
NOW that's awesome!
The Occasional Cigar
It's unlikely you'll get preferred or Elite rates but if you smoke 12 large cigars or less per year, most Canadian insurance companies will give you a standard non-smoker rate.
Your biggest problem will be finding a place to smoke those stogies!
Proceed with Caution
Next in line are the situations and conditions that will marginally impact your rates.
Sure you're not gonna love the increases but hey you're covered and we can typically get you a standard rate.
Which is pretty darned good if you ask me!
Can diabetics get life insurance they can afford? In many cases yes but If you're a diabetic there are a few things to be aware of.
For those of you with the most common form, Diabetes Type 2, you have an excellent chance of receiving standard non-smoker rates provided your blood sugar levels are well maintained with medication and you live a healthy lifestyle.
Securing life insurance for Diabetics Type 1 is a little more tricky and definitely more expensive. Affordable rates are possible for those of you who have your type 1 diabetes in check and under the following conditions:
- Strict adherence to medications and testing - underwriters like to see documentation and proof (medical records) to know that you’re determined to keep your diabetes under control.
- No complications or hospitalizations related to your diabetes. Eye, foot or skin issues will make it difficult to get decent rates.
NOTE: Be sure to update your doctor (and ask them to amend your files) about any positive steps you are taking or improvements in your health. Your medical records speak for you. Don't leave it to your physician, they are busy and may not record everything.
At Least 12 Months Have Passed Since You Got a DUI
Did you have a DUI or DWI just over a year ago?
Well, you'll be lucky to get a standard rating but it's possible.
You'll have to stay on the straight and narrow plus the insurance company will look at other factors such as:
- Your current age
- DUI history (2 DUI's within 10 years and you're done)
- History & Treatment of Alcohol/ Drug Abuse
- Results of Blood Test for liver enzymes
- History of moving violations, speeding tickets & accidents
- Criminal Record
You're a Speed Demon and Received Multiple Moving Violations
Sorry, If you have more than four speeding tickets in the last 2 years you're probably looking at paying more for your life insurance.
Treated Sleep Apnea
Sleep Apnea can be a serious health issue which insurance underwriters take very seriously.
Rest assured, if your sleep apnea is under control and you're on a prescribed treatment plan documented by your physician, you have an excellent chance of receiving a standard rating, maybe higher.
History of Heart Disease
Do you have a history of risk factors for heart disease? Here are some markers:
- high cholesterol
- extra weight
- type 2 diabetes
- high blood pressure
If so, all is not lost, you can still get life insurance but you just have to take the right steps.
The good news is that you have a better chance of being approved if you take care of yourself...
You know what I mean! Follow your doctors' instructions, take your medications, eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly...
...and for god-sakes, stop smoking!
One more thing. Underwriters love notes: the more, the better. Document, record, write down every little detail. Keeping reliable health records communicates to insurance companies that you're somebody who pays attention to your own health and believe it or not, it CAN make a difference in how you're rated. This is a smart thing to do for anyone trying to find affordable high risk life insurance. However, you're going to have to manage your expectations: you're unlikely to qualify for the best rates with a history of heart disease.
History of Cancer
We all know the statistic - one out of every two Canadians will develop some form of cancer in their lifetime.
Ongoing breakthroughs in the way we treat cancer has forced life insurance companies to update their underwriting protocols. Many forms of cancer are very treatable, especially in the early stages. Which means cancer survivors live longer than ever.
When it comes to traditional life insurance, most survivors are required to be cancer-free for a period of years (anywhere from 2 - 10 years) depending on the type of cancer.
When it comes to a family history of cancer, insurance companies divide people into two basic categories.
Those who've had a family member:
- Die of said cancer, or
- Have life-threatening cancer before the age of 60 or after the age of 60
If you fall into the "before the age of 60" camp, almost all carriers eliminate the "preferred" or "preferred plus (elite)" health class as options.
For those with family members who have passed away or been diagnosed after the age of 60, you'll still be eligible for the better rates.
Read my post on life insurance for cancer patients in Canada here.
Melanoma is the most dangerous and invasive type of skin cancer and also accounts for the majority of skin cancer deaths even though it makes up only 5% of total skin cancers.
If you've been diagnosed with malignant melanoma, life insurance underwriters will want to know if the cancer is localized or whether it spread to other tissues.
Let's hope your cancer is localized and has been surgically removed. If that's the case, you MAY qualify for standard rates after a 6 to 12 month waiting period.
Melanoma that has spread and is being treated with chemotherapy or radiation is a different story.You'll need to be cancer-free for 5 - 10 years to qualify for a life insurance policy at all.
In either case, no medical exam life insurance may be a viable option (see below).
Your Liver Enzymes are Elevated
Do you have elevated Liver Enzymes? Insurance companies don't like to hear anything bad about your liver.
As far as they're concerned, this could mean hepatitis, cirrhosis, excessive alcohol use or liver cancer. Underwriters are most concerned about sustained damage to your liver.
Even if you're taking care of yourself and have tested negative for all serious liver pathologies, a standard rating is unlikely. Your best case scenario is a rated policy. Worst case a decline.
You've Had a Mild Stroke
Obtaining life insurance after having a Stroke can be difficult, but not impossible.
Life insurance companies make a distinction between a "full stroke" and a "mild stroke". A “mini-Stroke” or Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) is life insurance lingo for "mild stroke".
TIAs have a tendency to recur, so if you’ve had one within the last year, you're likely to get "postponed" by the life insurance company.
That's their way of saying, "come back and see us in a year”. So, if you’ve had a TIA within the last 12 months, your coverage is on hold...
...at least with the traditional carriers.
One option - and again this is why it's essential to talk to an independent life insurance agent - is to secure a no medical exam policy to fill the gap while you're waiting to go the traditional route. Checkout my no exam life insurance article now for more information.
If you're over the age of 40, healthy and it's been a few years since your "mini-stroke" diagnosis your best case scenario is standard rate.
Stop & Call Policy Architects NOW
Ok this is where things can get a little dicey.
These are the conditions when a life insurance company considers you high risk.
Did you see how many other situations were NOT!
Bet quite a few of our readers were pleasantly surprised. For those of you who fall outside this criteria, don't lose hope. We've got your back!
If your blood sugar (a1c) level is above 10, then your diabetes is considered uncontrolled and you will have a very difficult time finding a life insurance policy.
Get to the doctor, most importantly listen to the doctor. Take care of yourself, eat a healthy, exercise...baby steps.
You may not be able to turn this train completely around but you can certainly make a massive improvement, that is if you're committed!
A healthy diet is also very important in type 1 diabetes, and insulin dosing needs to be matched with the amount of sugar (called carbohydrate) taken in. Being physically active is also key, and insulin often needs to be reduced at times of physical activity.
You have the C-word and it's invasive
First of all, if you're undergoing treatment for aggressive metastatic cancer, you're not alone.
There isn't anyone reading this whose family hasn't been touched by cancer in some way - we all know someone who has it. In my case, I lost my mother to cancer when I was a boy.
As far as the insurance companies are concerned, you'll need to wait a significant period of time with no recurrence before they'll consider underwriting you.
It goes without saying, every situation is different and it's all about assessing risk. The no medical life insurance market is extremely robust these days and it's quiet possible you could find some coverage there.
If you have a disorder associated with the kidneys such as polycystic kidney disease or glomerulonephritis, your chances of obtaining affordable risk life insurance coverage is limited.
Depending on severity, related conditions and complications you're looking at a rating or decline.
Best, best, best case? Standard, but don't hold your breath.
You've Been Advised to Go for Drug & Alcohol Treatment
DO NOT PASS GO, DO NOT COLLECT $200, GO DIRECTLY TO TREATMENT!
If you've been told to seek treatment for alcohol abuse, you're looking at least a two year waiting period after full rehabilitation before any major carrier will want to touch you.
After that, probably a rating or decline depending on severity, outcomes, complications and related health problems.
Best case scenario: maybe standard rating after 5 or 6 years.
Heart Bypass Surgery, Stents & Angioplasty
The heart's a serious business and insurance companies don't want to take on risk.
At the same time, modern technology is amazing. Stent procedures are now done the same afternoon you check out.
The thing is, life insurance carriers are wary when it comes to matters of the heart. They want to know about any complication before they decide on a rating.
So for now you can assume you will be rated or declined if this is you. This may change as scientific discoveries do but don't lose hope. Even if you have to wait, it's still possible to get life insurance for heart attack victims.
This is a serious issue.
You will be rated or declined depending on severity of the disease, treatment (medication, dosage), hospitalization or ER visits, and evidence of liver damage.
If your recovery is complete and there are no complications, the best case scenario is a standard rating.
Opioid Pain Meds
It's no secret, life insurance companies don't like prescription pain killers like oxycontin, hydrocodone, percocet, dilaudid, etc.
There's a potential for abuse and increased risk when combined with alcohol and negative side effects.
You're looking at a rating or decline depending on dosage, drug and alcohol history, how long you've been on the prescription, etc.
If you're on a serious pain killer for only a limited time, you may get a standard rate.
Received a DUI in the Past Year
Motor Vehicle accidents are one of the the leading causes of death in young people and Insurance companies know this. Often alcohol is part of the equation.
If you're under the age of 25 you'll be postponed for a year and then rated when you apply provided there aren't other extenuating circumstances.
Multiple DUI's will guarantee a decline. No DUI's or careless driving violations for 5 - 10 years and you might qualify for standard.
UNTREATED Sleep Apnea
Untreated Sleep Apnea can put you at risk for all kinds of health issues.
Heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and diabetes are just a few of them. Your chances of getting into a car accident go up as well.
Untreated sleep apnea is a guaranteed postponement. Until you're on a treatment regimen, the insurance carriers won't want to touch you, that includes no-medical companies as well.
Extreme Sports & High Risk Occupations
Like my brother likes to say, "no guts, no glory."
It goes without saying that people who have High Risk Occupations or participate in risky sports or activities, the odds of you dying prematurely are higher compared to the general population.
That being said, it's no surprise that the insurance companies are going to make you pay more cash for your life insurance. Higher risks = higher premiums.
Remember, insurance is all about mitigating risk.
High Risk Professions
- Pilot (Smaller Planes)
- Underground Miner
High Risk Sports
- Scuba Diving
- Hang Gliding
Fun stuff can be dangerous stuff!
So you love skydiving, it's one of your passions.
...and you just so happen to share this information with your independent insurance agent while you're applying for your policy (because honesty is always the best policy).
As a result, they ask you to fill out a special "skydiving" questionnaire where you disclose that you've been skydiving for 5 years, belong to a skydiving club and make 50 plus jumps a year!
Based on your answers the insurance company will probably do one of two things:
- Apply a rating or "flat extra" which means you pay extra above the standard rate by a weighted percentage or,
- Add an exclusion clause to your policy which means if you happen to die while skydiving, too bad, you're not covered - your beneficiaries won't receive a dime!
So what does that mean for my bottom line?
Let's do a little example for fun. Our skydiver - let's call him Coleman - is a 40 year old male, non-smoker, no health issues, looking for $500,000 of Term 20 life insurance:
- A policy from a company like Ivari would cost him $610 per year at standard rates.
However, because he's a skydiver:
- He will likely be charged a flat extra of $2.50 per $1000 of insurance, on top of the standard rate. This means he will pay $1250 per year more on top of the standard rate.
- This is $1860 more per year. That's the equivalent of a 300% rating!
Note: These numbers are reference purposes only and NOT indicative of rates you personally will receive
Does Coleman have any other options for risk life insurance coverage?
This is another good reason why having an independent agent shop the market for you is smart move.
Coleman definitely has more options.
- Secure a No medical simplified issue policy from a company like Canada Protection Plan (CPP). Coleman will answer "yes" to Question #5 in in the last group of questions (Section D): Within the past two years...have you been involved in any hazardous sports, or do you plan to do so within the next year? As a result, he'll be eligible for the same coverage, $500,000 of Term 20 at a cost of $995/ year. That's only the equivalent of a 163% rating, A lot better than 300%!....and, he's totally covered when he jumps out of that plane!
- Sometimes insurance companies will only offer risk life insurance coverage with an exclusion. If that's the case a 50/50 option is a good way to still have coverage but save money. $250,000 of Term 20 with Ivari including an exclusion clause ($365 per year) and $250,000 of simplified elite from CPP insurance ($527.50 per year). Total premiums are $892.50 per year (approx $100 less than going 100% with simplified issue). This way if Coleman dies while skydiving, his family still gets $250,000 and with any other cause of death, the full $500,000 death benefit.
Read one of the best Canada Protection Plan Reviews here!
Life Insurance for High Risk People: A Case Study
The Following is an excerpt from a letter submitted with a Life Insurance application detailing an actual client's health conditions.
* Name and specific details changed to protect client anonymity
Subject: Ahmed, a hospital administrator, 54 year-old, male, non-smoker, has the following:
- Diagnosed with early onset diabetes this year, stabilized on Metformin and routine check ups scheduled quarterly to monitor blood sugar and renew prescriptions
- Elevated cholesterol, maintained with medication for the past 3 years, last reading was 2.3 and doctor would like to get it down to a 2.
- Controlled Sleep apnea for 5 years, continues to use a CPAP machine beside his bed.
- Moderate to severe tinnitus for 6 years, taking Duloxetine and Propranolol to manage it.
- Headaches for the past 3 years helped by Propranolol.
- 50 lbs overweight
- No complications, hospitalization or ER visits related to any of these conditions.
So how was this client rated?
Drum roll please!
If your answer is rated or declined, you're incorrect. This client received a standard, non-smoker rate for his life insurance!
Three things contributed to Amhed receiving standard non-smoker rates on his life insurance policy:
- He used an experienced independent life insurance agent (ahem Policy Architects) who knew none of these health conditions constitute a significant threat to a person's longevity. There is a normal life expectancy for someone who has diabetes and high blood pressure if those conditions are kept in check.
- He used an experienced independent life insurance agent who knew which companies would view him most favourably. For example, Carrier A might underwrite his diabetes at a standard health rating while Carrier B might treat his diabetes as higher risk and give him a rating (higher cost).
- He used an experienced independent life insurance agent whose standard practice is to:
- Submit an ANONYMOUS preliminary underwriting request with detailed information regarding a client's health to various life insurance companies BEFORE choosing the right one, and
- Include a detailed letter to the underwriters during the application process clarifying the clients circumstances
No Medical Exam Life Insurance
No article about life insurance for high risk people would be complete without talking about no medical exam life insurance.
For those of you looking for affordable high risk life insurance, securing a traditional life insurance policy with full underwriting may not be in the cards.
Whether you have a serious health issue, a previous decline or a some pre-existing condition, no medical exam life insurance may be the only viable option for you.
How it works...
You'll be asked to answer a bunch of "yes" and "no" questions organized in sections. The farther you get through the application process without answering "yes" the higher the amount of coverage you qualify for at the best rates.
Surprise! It's USUALLY more expensive than traditional insurance with full underwriting. But you already know that because you read my blog!
The thing is, if you have a more serious medical condition this isn't always the case.
For example, if you have well managed diabetes type 1 it's likely you will receive a rating on a traditional life insurance policy. It's not uncommon for no medial exam life insurance to be less expensive than a RATED policy from a traditional carrier.
There is a rub however. The maximum coverage amounts are lower than the major insurance companies offer.
Again, an independent insurance agent can help you vet traditional insurance companies and also decide if no medical life insurance is a good option for you.
Find out more from my article, "Should You Buy Life Insurance Online Without a Medical Exam".
Why You Should Speak To Policy Architects About
"High Risk Life Insurance Policies"!
Chances are if you're looking for affordable high risk life insurance policies you have a health issue you're worried about.
There is NO better way to find a policy that suits your personal needs than to enlist the help of Policy Architects.
We'll look at your circumstances, do a needs analysis and review the companies that will suit you best.
Did you know in Canada there are more than 30 carriers to consider?
Hmmm contacting even 20 of them is a serious time commitment.
Why not make just ONE call to us? Policy Architects works for you NOT the insurance companies. Call us today at 1.888.501-9583 because stuff happens to the best of us at the worst of times.