The simple answer is yes – but it will cost you.
Life insurance companies have actuarial departments that analyze statistics of our population. They can gauge how likely people in certain age groups are to die each year. If you’re in a high risk category, the insurance company must charge you more in order to offer coverage.
Life insurance is generally less expensive for younger individuals. It is important to note that your insurability is determined at the time you apply for coverage, and once covered your premium generally won’t change. This is a motivating factor to try and secure coverage while you’re young. If you are in great health when you sign your contract, your premium will be low. If you are sick at the time you sign your contract, your premium will be higher than a healthy person’s – if a company will insure you at all. It’s important to note that you should never tell a company you are healthy if you are not. You could risk voiding your policy if information was changed or withheld.
When You Can and Can’t Get Life Insurance
There are some situations in which life insurance carriers will not give you any coverage at all. Some of these include if you have cancer, if you have HIV or AIDS, if you have other chronic disorders or diseases, and if you’ve been declined for life insurance in the past year.
If you are in poor general health, an insurance company may want to charge you more. Those who smoke, have diabetes, have chronic heart conditions, or who are survivors of certain diseases (like cancer) may be able to get coverage, but at a higher premium rate. If you’re in poor health, you may be able to have your insurance agent negotiate with your insurance company on your behalf. Perhaps you’ve joined a gym and can prove you are exercising three times a week. Maybe you’re seeing a certified nutritionist for long-term help controlling your weight, diabetes, or heart conditions. Showing you are trying to be healthier can sometimes help lower your rates.
There are instances where being temporarily ill may make you temporarily unable to get life insurance. Someone who currently has cancer may not be able to get life insurance. A cancer survivor should be able to get a policy within 3 years of being declared cancer free (up to 5 or 10 years for certain types of cancer).
Don’t Apply with Every Company
While there are companies who are willing to write policies for those who are ill, it is important to talk to your insurance professional about different company guidelines before filling out an application. Every insurance company will ask you if you’ve been declined before, so you’ll want to minimize your risks by avoiding companies that are guaranteed to decline your application.
If the situation is urgent, there are companies that offer “guaranteed issue” policies, but they’re not as fantastic as the television commercials make them out to be. They often offer very low coverage limits and they charge very high premiums. They also have policy stipulations regarding how long you must have the policy before you can get a payment. If you pass away before the policy has taken effect, your family may only get back the actual dollar amount you paid.
There are options out there for those in poor health, but they can be complicated and expensive. Be honest and upfront with your agent about your needs. With accurate information, your insurance professional will be able to guide you in the right direction.