Life Insurance For Chronic Illnesses In 2024

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Written by Bob Phillips
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If you have a chronic illness and are wondering what options are available to you for life insurance, you’ve come to the right place. The insurance world can seem confusing and complicated, but not to worry, we’re here to help you understand it. This article was written to help demystify life insurance for those living with a chronic illness, offering comprehensive but easily understood information that will guide you toward making the right decision for your life insurance needs.

Progress in medicine has brought a deeper knowledge and understanding of chronic illness, and changed the landscape of life insurance significantly. Nowadays, numerous insurance providers offer term life along with whole life insurance policies for those who have a chronic illness. We’ll look at these options, as well as exploring how to qualify for life insurance if you have a chronic illness, details about coverage, and more…to help you find the right policy for your unique needs.

Key Takeaways

  • Chronic conditions can have life insurance eligibility

  • A chronic illness is a medical condition that a person can’t completely recover from, often requiring ongoing medical care

  • The majority of life insurance policies cover chronic conditions, and impact life insurance options

Can You Get Life Insurance With A Chronic Illness?

Yes, you can still get life insurance even if you have a chronic illness. You need to understand, though, that your choices might be more limited than someone who doesn’t have a chronic illness, and also that your rates will be higher as well

There are a number of key points that can have an effect on what type of life insurance you can obtain. As a general rule, life insurance providers have more stringent guidelines for those with a chronic illness, and the fact is that all providers don’t offer coverage to these individuals.

There are typically added restrictions for coverage in these cases, so prepare yourself to answer in-depth questions, as well as undergoing a thorough medical exam.

Important: Life insurance for people with chronic illness is available, though the coverage might be limited and potentially more expensive.

How Does Having A Chronic Illness Affect My Life Insurance Eligibility?

If you have a chronic illness, your eligibility for life insurance will be affected. However, much depends on which chronic illness you have, as well as your overall health in general. A lot will depend, too, on which type of life insurance you want to purchase.

If you have a chronic condition such as arthritis, for example, you will find it much easier to secure life insurance than if you have a chronic heart condition or something similarly serious. From an insurer’s point of view, someone with arthritis often has a normal life span, whereas a person with a chronic heart condition is less likely to live to a ripe old age.

With a life insurance company, it’s all about risk. If you have a serious chronic illness, you’re more of a risk. If you have a fairly mild chronic illness, you’re less of a risk and therefore more likely to be approved for coverage.

Important: A life insurance policy can’t be rescinded or have the rates raised if you are diagnosed with a chronic illness after the policy has been issued.

Life Insurance Underwriting Process For Those With A Chronic Illness

While there are many aspects of the underwriting process for life insurance, you can bet this process is going to be more extensive if you have a chronic illness.

An insurer’s underwriters will evaluate and assess a variety of factors, including:

  • Type of chronic illness
  • Age at diagnosis
  • Age
  • Family medical history
  • Treatments
  • Medications
  • Other health conditions
  • Weight
  • The severity of your condition
  • How well managed is your chronic illness
  • Alcohol use
  • Drug use
  • Occupation
  • Tobacco use
  • Gender
  • Lifestyle

You will probably undergo a physical examination, including lab tests and possibly X-Rays. In addition, the underwriter will want to see your medical records and history.

What Do Life Insurance Companies Consider When You Have A Chronic Illness?

Life insurance companies will typically look at a variety of factors if an applicant has a chronic illness.

Here are some of these key factors that an insurer will consider:

  • Your overall health
  • How long you’ve had the chronic illness
  • The severity of the illness
  • Your treatment for the illness
  • Your age at the time of application
  • Your family medical history
  • Your management of the chronic illness
  • Your risk assessment

Best Type Of Life Insurance If You Have Chronic Illness

Those who are living with a chronic illness are not as likely to secure standard, traditional life insurance. Still, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t other options. Here are some types of life insurance that might be best for you if you have a chronic illness.

Group Life Insurance

Group life insurance is usually available through an employer or another type of group, and if it is available to you, it’s probably your best bet for life insurance if you have a chronic illness. There isn’t a medical examination in most cases, and all applicants are accepted, regardless of their health condition.

Simplified Issue Insurance

Simplified Issue insurance can work very well if you have a chronic illness but are overall reasonably healthy. A medical exam isn’t normally required, but you might have to fill out a health questionnaire and provide your medical history, as well. Simplified issue life insurance is more affordable than some types.

Term Life Insurance

Term Life Insurance is one of the most budget conscious life insurance types, besides being easy to secure for many people with a chronic illness. It provides you with life insurance for a specific number of years, and though more expensive than standard insurance, is a viable option if you have been denied coverage due to a chronic illness.


Important: Living benefit riders can also be a lifeline for individuals who have a chronic illness. These optional additions to your policy can allow you to access a portion of your death benefit while still alive to help cover treatment expenses.

How To Buy Life Insurance If You Have A Chronic Illness

Below are four simple steps that will make finding the right life insurance policy easier if you have a chronic illness:

Research Your Options

You’ll need to begin by researching various insurance companies that offer coverage for people with a chronic illness. A lot of insurers offer both term as well as whole life insurance, and you should know and understand the differences between the types in order to determine which is best suited to your circumstances.


Understand The Underwriting Process

In order to qualify for life insurance coverage, you’ll have to undergo an underwriting process. You will have to answer a lot of questions, as well as a thorough medical examination. These things are how an insurance carrier will assess your risk factor as far as issuing life insurance to you.


Considering Group Coverage

If group life insurance is an option to you through your employer or other sort of group, it may well be the most viable option for you. This type of policy usually offers coverage regardless of health conditions you might have, without an exam, even if you have a chronic illness.


Applying For Coverage

After you have done the research and chosen an insurance provider along with a policy that seems to fit your situation, move ahead to making an application for coverage. This might encompass filling out health questionnaires along with a medical examination, access to your credit history, medical records, work history, driving history, and more.


How Much Does Life Insurance Cost If You Have A Chronic Illness?

If you are living with a chronic illness, one of the most important factors in purchasing life insurance is the type of chronic illness. Some chronic illnesses, while certainly anything but pleasant for the ones who suffer from them, are not looked upon by insurers the same as others with more serious outcomes, such as a heart condition.

Your rates, too, will largely depend on your chronic illness as well as your overall health.

A 30 year old non-smoker with a well managed chronic illness can probably expect to pay about $40 monthly for a $500,000 term life insurance policy with a duration of 20 years. Bear in mind that these are just average rates, your actual rates may vary based on your chronic illness and health in general.

Here are some 20 year term life insurance rates with a $500,000 coverage amount for people with a chronic illness, smokers and non-smokers.

Age Gender Non-Smoker Smoker
30 Female $35.86 $83.94
Male $42.65 $102.28
40 Female $53.50 $150.38
Male $67.20 $201.98
50 Female $121.89 $350.75
Male $156.79 $477.30
60 Female $292.86 $805.80
Male $408.85 $1110.39

How To Qualify For Life Insurance If You Have A Chronic Illness

If you have been diagnosed with a chronic illness and want to secure life insurance, here are a few pointers about qualifying for coverage:

  • Monitor your general health and watch for complications of your chronic illness
  • Manage your chronic illness with diet as best you can with lifestyle and diet
  • Be compliant with the treatment and medications prescribed by your physician

The insurer will look at your medical history along with your familial medical history. Don’t try to skate around the truth. If your father died from complications of the same heart condition you have, be honest about it.

Since your primary care doctor probably has all of this information and you’ll be providing it to the insurance underwriter anyway, chances are they’ll find out anyway and you’ll be denied because you attempted to falsify your application.

If you falsify information and the insurance company finds it out later, they’ll almost certainly cancel your policy and you will have a very hard time getting another one.

Can Insurance Companies Deny Coverage Because You Have A Chronic Illness?

Yes, an insurance company can deny coverage because you have a chronic illness. Basically, it all depends on what chronic illness you have. If it’s one that insurers consider chronic but unlikely to cause premature death, they will be likely to issue coverage. On the other hand, if you have a serious chronic illness that shortens your life expectancy, it’s doubtful you will be approved for coverage.

One of the major reasons an applicant may be denied coverage is if they have falsified information or omitted to mention a health problem on their application. Another reason might be if the insurance underwriter decided that your chronic illness is too high risk.

You should be aware that people with a chronic illness usually have a higher insurance premium than others because the condition puts them in a high risk category. An insurance company will abide by its specific guidelines for underwriting. If you fall outside those parameters, they may deny you coverage.

What Will Insurers Ask About Your Condition If You Have A Chronic Illness?

Insurance providers will have multiple questions for applicants with a chronic illness. Here are some questions you can expect to answer:

  1. Severity: The severity of your chronic illness makes a difference. Underwriters make an assessment of how your condition affects your overall health and daily life.
  2. Treatment Plan: The insurance underwriter will evaluate your medications, adherence to medical advice, and your treatment plan.
  3. Health History: Your medical history will be carefully reviewed, along with details about your chronic illness and related complications, if any.
  4. Holistic Assessment: Many insurance providers will take a comprehensive view of your health and want to know how well you’re managing your health overall.
  5. Risk of Mortality: Some types of chronic illness may increase the risk of death during the policy term, which will affect your rates.

Along with these questions for life insurance if you have a chronic illness, an underwriter will probably ask about your family history of heart attack, cancer, or stroke.

Life Insurance Options If You’re Denied Coverage Due To A Chronic Illness

What options do you have if you have been denied life insurance coverage because of a chronic illness?

Rest assured that even if you have been declined for coverage, you still have options. There are a few reasons why your application might have been turned down. For example, you may have applied to an insurance company that doesn’t issue coverage to someone with a chronic illness.

Or, you may have inadvertently given the wrong answer to a question on the application that knocked you out of consideration. Whatever went wrong, coverage is still available to you.

Here are some alternative types of life insurance policies that will be more readily available to you if you have a chronic illness:

  • Simplified Issue Life Insurance: There’s no medical exam required with simplified issue life insurance. It’s usually higher priced, but it might be an attractive option for those with a chronic illness.
  • Guaranteed Acceptance Plans: Also called Guaranteed Issue life insurance, these plans may be a good fit if you have a chronic illness and have been declined for traditional life insurance. They usually don’t require a medical exam, but premiums may be higher.
  • Term life Insurance: Term life is a type of policy that provides you with coverage for a specified  period of time, usually 10 to 30 years. It offers a death benefit to beneficiaries if the policyholder dies during the specific term. If the policyholder does survive the term, the coverage ends and there is no value to the policy. Nor are there investment components or savings.

Important: Guaranteed issue policies are an excellent option if other companies have denied your application for whole, universal, or term life insurance policies.

Tips For Choosing The Right Policy

Here are three tips that could help make your search for life insurance easier if you have a chronic illness:

  1. Understand Your Needs: You will need to have a good estimate of how much life insurance you need, or you won’t know how much to purchase. Calculate your debts, future expenses, auto and home maintenance, income replacement, and more.
  2. Explore Various Policy Types: Familiarize yourself with various types of life insurance such as Guaranteed Issue and Graded Death Benefit policies. Many of these policies have been designed for people with chronic illnesses such as, and other applicants who are deemed high risk for standard coverage. Group life insurance is one type of policy that provides coverage regardless of your health condition.
  3. Use Specialized Services: Use specialized services such as Insuranceopedia, that provides you with quotes from several insurers and helps you with rate comparisons. This will be of assistance to you in locating a policy that suits your needs without blowing your budget.

Information About Chronic Illness

A chronic illness, according to the CDC, (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lasts for a minimum of one year and necessitates medical care on an ongoing basis. Besides impacting your health, a chronic illness limits the normal activities of daily living and has a negative impact on your quality of life.

In the U.S., heart disease, cancer,  diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and asthma, are some of the more common chronic illnesses. Health issues that are related to smoking and alcohol abuse are considered chronic illnesses, too.

Six out of every ten adults in the U.S. live with one chronic illness, while four in ten have two or more.

How you manage your illness, the severity of your illness, and your family history all affect how your chronic illness impacts your insurance options and rates.

According to the World Health Organization, chronic diseases are not contagious, so they aren’t passed from person to person. They are of long duration and typically slow progression. The four main types are:

  1. Diabetes
  2. Cancers,
  3. Chronic respiratory diseases including asthma
  4. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

Other Health Concerns That Can Affect Your Life Insurance

When you apply for life insurance coverage, insurers will assess your health condition to determine how high risk you are in terms of insuring your life. Here are 17 common health conditions that might have a major effect on your life insurance coverage and premiums:

  • Chronic illness: Type 1 or Type 2 chronic illness can increase premiums
  • Cancer: Dependent on type and stage, cancer might impact insurability
  • High Cholesterol: High cholesterol may cause higher rates if not well managed
  • Asthma: Depending on the severity, asthma might affect insurance rates
  • Kidney Disease: Chronic kidney disease could lead to higher insurance costs
  • Substance Use Disorders: A history of drug or alcohol abuse might limit insurability
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis: This chronic condition may cause increased premiums
  • High Blood Pressure: Well controlled high blood pressure will probably have less impact on your insurance rates
  • Liver Disease: Conditions such as cirrhosis may increase your life insurance premium
  • HIV: With advancememnts in modern medical treatment, a lot of insurers offer policies to HIV-positive applicants
  • Lung Disease: Chronic conditions such as COPD can’t raise insurance rates
  • Depression: Mental health conditions like depression can affect coverage
  • Alzheimer’s/Dementia: These can have an effect on insurability
  • Obesity: High BMI can cause increased insurance costs
  • Heart Disease: A condition that may result in increased rates or even denial of coverage
  • Sleep Apnea: Might cause increased premium rates if not well-managed
  • Stroke: A history of stroke may cause increased premiums


Do people with chronic illness qualify for life insurance?

Yes, many do. It basically all depends on which chronic illness you have. It’s much more difficult to secure life insurance coverage with arthritis, for example, than cancer or a heart condition.

What insurance is best for those living with chronic illness?

If you are living with a chronic illness and finding it a challenge to secure standard life insurance, you do have other options available. For example, a Guaranteed Issue life insurance policy may be a good option for you, or term life. Group life, if you can get it, is another good option for life insurance coverage.

Are people with chronic illness classed as having a critical illness in insurance?

Yes, most types of chronic illness are classed as a critical illness for insurance coverage. It generally depends on which type of chronic illness you’re living with, along with your overall health in general.

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