Seniors with pre-existing conditions are wary about buying life insurance for themselves. They worry that their age and condition will affect the rates of the policy they want.
There are a lot of factors that affect the price of premiums in a life insurance policy.
One big factor is age. The older you are, the more expensive premiums get. Another big factor is medical conditions.
However, the good news is you can buy life insurance for seniors with pre-existing conditions and at lower costs of premiums!
We will show you the right path.
Most Common Pre-Existing Conditions
What are the conditions that might make insurance rates higher for you? And, what do pre-existing medical conditions even mean?
Medical conditions, with respect to life insurance, are any health issues that you live with prior to applying for insurance coverage.
Here are the most common pre-existing conditions that insurance carriers look for in applicants.
- Heart disease
- Mental health problems (e.g. depression or dementia)
It’s important to note, however, that the list may vary depending on the insurer and on the life insurance policy you are interested in.
It’s also important to remember that carriers might also inquire after your lifestyle to see whether you are at risk of developing a serious medical condition.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), a nonprofit organization with a strong focus on US health issues, about 27% of all American adults under 65 years old have pre-existing conditions that make getting insured a problem.
The study says that older working Americans ranging from 55 to 64 years old are the most likely group to develop these declinable conditions.
Women are more likely than men to have these conditions, the study continues. These conditions most often persist through one’s senior years.
As a senior living with a chronic and persistent illness, it’s imperative to have safeguards in place, such as being insured. But living with one of the diseases listed above makes it harder to get insured.
Why Pre-Existing Condition Matters When Buying Insurance
When buying life insurance, a big consideration the insurers make is the policyholder’s mortality risk.
The potential policyholder’s mortality risk predicts their life expectancy based on the following factors.
- Family history
- Smoking status
- Lifestyle (whether they partake in risky hobbies or activities like skydiving)
All of these factors are taken into account in the company’s underwriting process. It allows the company to calculate the premium that should be charged for the applicant’s coverage.
Life insurance carriers categorized applicants into risk classes. They are also known as the health class of life insurance. These classes are used to predict how likely the company will have to pay out benefits if the applicant dies.
The risk class you’re assigned to directly affects the insurance rates you’re gonna have to pay.
Here’s a simplified view of how risk classes compare with one another:
Elite/Preferred Plus: this category holds the lowest risk. People assigned in this class are young and in excellent health. They pay the lowest premiums.
Preferred: people in excellent health but with a cause for concern are assigned in this class. They pay slightly more for premiums than the elite class. Red flags include subtle signs such as high cholesterol.
Standard Plus: people with above-average health but with concerning blood pressure or body mass index (BMI) are categorized in standard plus.
Standard: people with an average life expectancy are in this category. These people may have had medical problems in their family history or their past.
Substandard/Rated: if you have a higher risk than standard, you’re subject to various ratings of substandard. The ratings differ slightly among insurers.
Smoker: smokers pay more in premiums due to the increased danger to their health. Insurers ask whether you smoke or have smoked in the past.
A test for the presence of nicotine in your blood may also be necessary. Vaping is viewed by many insurers as equal to smoking in analyzing risk.
Moreover, having a medical condition automatically increases your mortality risk.
In fact, before the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was introduced in March 2010, people with pre-existing conditions were denied coverage without a second thought.
This act changed the situation for seniors with pre-existing conditions, except if they have a grandfathered plan.
A grandfathered health plan is one that’s been introduced before the ACA was passed.
Life Insurance Options for Seniors with Pre-Existing Conditions
Having a pre-existing condition does not mean you can’t buy a life insurance policy. You have options available.
However, you have to carefully analyze your health to determine the best policy for you.
The different life insurance policies offer advantages and disadvantages for different people living with different pre-existing conditions.
Term Life Insurance
In term life insurance, you only have coverage during a pre-set period. Most of the time, that period is only ten years for seniors. You’d have to pay premiums during the term.
However, if you outlive the term, the coverage was for nothing. There are insurers that will give a small refund, but others offer only a renewal or a conversion of the term policy into a whole life insurance policy.
If you choose to renew, the term will only last a year and the premiums will be a lot more expensive than the previous term.
So, it’s best to not rush through this. You can renew your coverage until you’re 85 years old. However, after 85 years you can get whole life insurance.
Term life insurance is a good option for those with pre-existing conditions that are under control. Term life is the most cost-effective and popular choice for people who knows they need coverage soon.
However, the more serious your conditions are, the more expensive premiums can be. Plus, there’s a chance you can’t qualify for coverage. But there are options for these extreme conditions.
Whole Life Insurance
Whole life insurance provides lifelong coverage that will never expire as long as you pay the premiums. This policy is more expensive than a term policy.
If you have pre-existing conditions, it may be hard to qualify for this policy. But there are a lot of insurers that accept applicants with these conditions.
You may have to take a medical exam, be tested for cancer, or take an EKG test (monitors the heart and detects problems).
Be prepared to pay higher premiums in a whole life insurance policy compared to a term life policy.
Whole life insurance is perhaps the best option for seniors with not-so-serious medical conditions.
For a condition like diabetes, insurers will only look at the last three years of your medical history in the underwriting process. If your condition seems controlled, you can qualify for coverage.
This is perfect for seniors with a controlled health condition and needs substantial coverage for their families.
If you don’t need coverage amounting to $100,000, or a payout that will serve as an inheritance for your family, the next option may be for you.
Final Expense Life Insurance
Final expense life insurance is nothing more than a smaller scale whole life insurance with a glorified and marketable name.
The policy also called burial or funeral insurance is a whole life insurance policy that has a small payout upon death. The death benefit is meant to cover only the funeral of the policyholder, hence the name.
Since the death benefit is small, you won’t have to pay a lot for premiums in a final expense life insurance policy.
It’s a very affordable option for someone with a health condition. Final expense life insurance is simple, you’re covered as long as you pay premiums on time.
With many insurance providers, there is no medical examination required to qualify for this policy.
So, it is a great fit for seniors with serious conditions that immediately disqualifies them from other insurance policies.
It’s also a great fit for those who don’t need much coverage. Average funeral costs easily go as high as $9000.
Depending on the material of the casket, headstone, urn, or flowers, that price may be higher.
You need a final expense insurance policy to not give your family 9000 or more reasons for stress.
Guaranteed Acceptance Life Insurance
As the name implies, this type of life insurance guarantees acceptance even if you have a severe condition.
You don’t need to take a medical exam to qualify. It is typically a form of whole life insurance, you’ll get the coverage your entire lifetime as long as you’re paying premiums.
The thing about this is that coverage is generally limited to $25,000. And if you have a severe pre-existing condition that disqualifies you from non-guaranteed coverage, it’s highly unlikely you’ll find coverage above $50,000.
Furthermore, a guaranteed acceptance life insurance policy generally has a waiting period of 2-3 years.
If you die during this time after signing the contract, your beneficiaries will receive little to no payout at all. Read this to learn how to avoid the waiting period.
Another drawback with this type of life insurance is the cost of the premiums. It’s usually 2-3 times that of a typical whole life insurance premium. However, there’s a short approval process.
You should also be aware that some insurers use a graded death benefit when issuing guaranteed issue life insurance with pre-existing conditions.
If your insurer uses this, your family will only be paid 110-120 percent of the premiums you paid if you die naturally within the first 2-3 years.
If you die due to an accident, however, the insurer will pay your family the policy’s full face amount.
But, if you die accidentally (car accident, perhaps) the insurer will pay the full face amount of the policy.
Tips to Lower the Costs of Insurance
Follow Treatment Plan
It’s imperative to insurers that you’re doing everything in your power to live for as long as you can. They don’t want to risk paying out a huge death benefit when the premiums they’ve received are only a fraction of the benefit.
Follow you’re treatment plan. Strive to be as healthy as your condition allows. Exercise if you can and maintain a healthy diet. Take your medication. If you live healthily, your premiums might reflect that.
Improve Your Health
If you have been accepted even with a medical condition, the rates you are paying are most likely high. Improve your health. Get your condition under control.
Once you’ve reigned in your pre-existing condition, you can request a new medical exam and lower your premium rates.
This process works depending on the underwriters of the insurance company you have a contract with.
Some underwriters refuse to approve a new medical exam and to readjust premium rates. Some have a six-month waiting period before having another exam.
Getting a new policy from another company might be your best option to save on premiums.
Talk to the Right Insurance Agent
The right insurance agent can get you in contact with an impaired risk specialist. Impaired risk specialists are brokers who know which insurance providers are more likely to accept seniors with your condition.
The agent can also suggest which companies offer the best prices.
This can not only save you from tons of denied applications but can ultimately give you the lowest premium rates.
Apply at the Right Time
Applying right after a cancer diagnosis will likely result in a denial. It’s better to apply a short while after finding out that you have a condition.
This gives you better chances of acceptance and lower rates if your records show that your treatment plan is working.
Apply for Life Insurance Today!
Now you know the basics of how life insurance works for seniors with pre-existing conditions. You can apply.
You have options. And you can lower the costs.
Don’t let your pre-existing medical condition stop you from getting coverage.