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Can I get life insurance with pre-existing health conditions?

by Mark Cluett
6 min read

A major selling point for many insurance companies is that you can and should get life insurance when you are young and healthy before the appearance of any pre-existing health conditions. Your premiums are potentially much lower, and the curveballs life throws at you than can affect insurance rates have not yet left the pitcher’s hand.


In reality, life is not always so ideal. Canadians are susceptible to health events and chronic illnesses at any age. According to Stats Canada, more than one in five Canadian adults live with one of cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic respiratory disease, or diabetes. 

If you are a Canadian with health problems, you might think that getting life insurance is impossible. Whether you’ve applied and been declined, or haven’t even started the process because you don’t think you’ll get approved, there are still options for you. 

Obtaining life insurance with health issues is possible – here’s how.

Can I qualify for life insurance if I have medical problems or pre-existing health conditions?

As mentioned, chronic illnesses and health problems can sometimes put a hard stop on your shopping for the right life insurance policy. The calculations used to determine someone’s eligibility for life insurance use past health scares and family medical histories to determine the risk involved in insuring your life. However, the primary factor they consider is your current health. While medical advances allow for those with pre-existing conditions and chronic illnesses to live a long life, health problems are still a risk factor in the eyes of insurance underwriters. 

Speaking with an experienced insurance advisor can be advantageous in this situation. They can guide you towards specialized policies and companies that are more accommodating of policy seekers with unique health circumstances. Keep in mind, there will most likely be more medical questions and heightened underwriting once you disclose any previous health problems; a pre-existing condition will potentially raise your insurance premiums, but modified policies and policies with exclusions for specific ailments are possible. Keep in mind, that only 4% of those who apply for life insurance are declined.

A licensed insurance broker can help you navigate your options and potentially find a policy that fits your needs.

Read more: Life Insurance With Diabetes.

Or book some time with our advisors

What if I don’t qualify for life insurance coverage due to my pre-existing health conditions?

If you don’t qualify for traditional – or fully underwritten – term life insurance, you may still have options. Some Canadian life insurance companies offer non-medical life insurance policies that suit the needs of those seeking coverage in these situations.

Accelerated issue life insurance allows for a medical exam waiver if certain metrics are met. A real-time questionnaire is part of the process. It evaluates age, the amount of desired coverage, and a medical overview based on your profile and previous answers. 

The ability to get a policy without a medical exam is the primary draw of an accelerated issue policy and they typically offer up to $1-million in coverage. Why may this not be the greatest fit? Quite simply, the questions are designed to determine whether you have any pre-existing conditions or health problems. You need to speak to a knowledgeable insurance advisor to see if you could navigate the edge cases of accelerated issue to receive coverage. 

The second type of non-medical insurance is a simplified issue. The brief, standardized application administers a short health questionnaire which may not be as comprehensive as accelerated underwriting. If you qualify for simplified issue life insurance, there is no need for medical underwriting. It typically offers up to $500,000 in coverage for a higher premium than accelerated underwriting.

No medical life insurance

While the questionnaire is brief, it serves the same purpose as the one above – to identify potential health risks in applicants. You should consult an insurance advisor before jumping into it; they can help you determine if you might qualify.  

The last type of non-medical insurance is guaranteed issue. It requires no health-related questionnaire or a medical exam and offers guaranteed acceptance regardless of medical history. It allows for life insurance with health issues at the cost of raised premiums and a lower death benefit (typically in the $25,000 to $50,000 range). Generally, you cannot claim the benefit until at least 2 years after you enact the policy. 

Head here to see a comparison of all three non-medical life insurance options, their coverage limitations, issue times, and more.

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How do I get life insurance if I have health problems or pre-existing conditions?

Speak with one of our licensed advisors. As we mentioned, we have the experience to help you determine what insurance company will offer you the best rates or suggest a non-medical or guaranteed policy that takes into account your health conditions when you apply. Schedule a call with us – we’re happy to discuss your coverage options and find answers for any of your lingering questions.

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