What Can Prevent You from Getting Life Insurance?

When talking about life insurance, especially for seniors, one question often comes up: “Can I qualify for this policy?” This question is one of the most important considerations when purchasing life insurance.

It is on the same level as how much coverage you need and how much you can afford to pay in premiums.

In this article, we will discuss what factors can prevent you from getting life insurance.

Why Insurers Reserve the Right to Deny?

Even though as charitable as insurance companies’ words are, they are still businesses, driven by money and making a profit.

From that perspective, it is understandable why not everyone can be eligible for the most significant life insurance.

It can be confusing when you are denied a life insurance policy. But these simplified factors will help you better understand the insurer’s position.

  • Age
  • Health history
  • Financial status
  • Gender
  • Smoking status
  • Occupation
  • Lifestyle choices (risky hobbies or alcohol abuse)

What insurance providers look for are low-risk clients. What does this mean? If you have a higher risk of dying earlier, there is a lower chance that you can pay enough premium to cover the death benefit.

Therefore, the insurance company will have to pay the death benefit out of its own pockets. They will lose profit.

Understanding Insurance Risk Classes

An insurance risk class is a group of individuals that share similarities in their characteristics. Insurers use these characteristics to determine the risk associated with underwriting a new policy.

The risk class also determines the price of the premium charged for coverage.

Categorizing clients into risk classes is a critical part of an insurance company’s underwriting process. It allows them to estimate whether underwriting a new policy for a client will be profitable.

Insurance carriers categorize their clients in the following risk classes:

Preferred Plus or Elite

It is the lowest-risk class. It is reserved for young people in excellent health. They have to pay the lowest premiums for a life insurance policy.


Clients in excellent health but have definite red flags are classed into this category. Subtle red flags include higher cholesterol levels.

Standard Plus

Reserved for people with above-average health. But particular health measurements like body mass index (BMI) or blood pressure are not ideal.


It is for people associated with typical risks. They are expected to live the average life expectancy. Commonly for people with a health issue in their past or their family history.

Substandard or Rated

Insurance carriers classify people with a higher risk than the standard in various degrees. Carriers approach the ratings differently.

But the common trend is that you may have to pay 25% more than the standard for every level down the ratings. It is reserved for people with health issues or a risky past.


Insurers see smokers as high-risk individuals. You will be asked if you’ve smoked within the past several years.

In some cases, they will test your blood for traces of nicotine in your system. Smokers pay significantly more due to their increased health risk.

The further you go from the preferred plus or elite class, the more you will have to pay in premiums.

Reasons for Denied Life Insurance

reasons for denial

Terrible Health

The risk classes are primarily concerned about your health. Obviously, that is one of the biggest factors when seeking approval to apply for a life insurance policy.

Although there are different levels for people with substandard health, that doesn’t mean that all health problems can be accepted.

Life insurance companies differ in what pre-existing conditions they cover. Some allow applicants even if they have cancer or diabetes,  and others do not.

If you are living with a terrible health issue, it might take you a lot of searching to find a life insurance carrier that will cover you.

Mental Health History

If you have a history of a mental health issue, you may be denied coverage by many life insurance carriers.

Not all carriers look at mental health issues negatively, but many will automatically disqualify you if you have a history of PTSD, self-harm, or anxiety.

Dangerous Lifestyle Choices

If you participate in risky hobbies such as skydiving, rock climbing, or racing cars, you can be denied coverage. Other unsafe lifestyle choices include maintaining an unhealthy diet resulting in an unhealthy weight or smoking.

If the insurer’s underwriting team sees your lifestyle as something that will seriously damage your future health, you might receive higher premium rates or be denied altogether.

Old Age

Generally speaking, it is a lot harder to qualify for life insurance when you’re older than when you were younger. Carriers often see old age as a considerable risk.

Although there are many insurance companies that don’t automatically deny coverage to people up to age 85, the other high-risk factors might prevent you from getting coverage.

High-Risk Jobs

Since many adults spend a third of their time each day at work, it is sensible that insurance companies take your job as a factor when calculating your insurance rates and chances of getting coverage.

After all, some jobs are more dangerous than others.

These jobs include:

  • Police
  • Construction laborers
  • Garbage collectors
  • Pilots
  • Fishers
  • Loggers

Often, it is harder to get approval if you work in a high-risk field. Even if you manage to get approval, you will have to pay higher rates.

Terrible Driving Record

If you have a bad driving record, your chances of getting life insurance coverage are in jeopardy. A terrible driving record points to a higher risk of death.

You may be denied coverage altogether or pay higher rates.

Financial Standing

With many reasons for getting denied, there’s still a chance to get approval, but you will have to face higher rates. But what if you can’t afford those rates?

Even if you manage to get approval despite your high-risk job, but you can’t afford the expensive premium, you will not get coverage.

Insurance companies will look at your credit report or financial history to see if you have an outstanding debt or previous bankruptcies.

Furthermore, the insurer will also examine your income to determine if you can afford coverage.

Criminal Record

An insurance carrier will check whether you have a criminal record before granting you coverage.

The logic behind it is that you may engage in a higher-risk lifestyle if you have a record. If you have a criminal record, don’t worry. Not all hope is lost yet.

Insurance companies examine your criminal record on a case-by-case basis. The circumstances and severity of the crime are considered before denying or granting coverage.

However, if you are currently charged with a felony, you will automatically be denied coverage until you’re tried in court or dismissed.

Additionally, you can’t apply for a life insurance policy while in jail or on probation.

How to Increase Chances of Getting Life Insurance?

increase chances

The prospect of not getting coverage is scary, especially if your family’s financial future is uncertain. But there are steps you can take that will improve your chances of approval.

In general, you have to take active steps to lower your risks of early death.

Maintain Your Health

Even if you live with a pre-existing condition, you can improve your chances of getting life insurance coverage.

Prove that you are aggressively pursuing treatment for your health problems. You can ask a physician to explain the issue and how you’re handling it.

You can also show the insurance company how you’ve improved your health. It will show you’re not succumbing to the risks but overcoming them.

The same principles apply to mental health problems.

Change Your Lifestyle for the Better

Diet and exercise play a massive role in your health. Eating healthier and exercising more will give you better health exam results.

Additionally, giving up smoking and risky hobbies – creating a safer lifestyle for yourself – gives you a higher chance to secure life insurance.

Company Life Insurance

If you’ve been denied insurance due to your line of work, and changing your profession is out of the question, you still have an option.

See if your company offers a group life insurance policy as part of your benefits package. Talking to the HR department will quickly answer your questions regarding this matter.

Get a Grip on Your Finances

Lower your debt burden – this is just plain common sense, even if you’re not applying for life insurance.

Some companies require that you wait for a year after bankruptcy before applying for coverage. Use that time to build a robust financial standing.

Talk to a Life Insurance Agent

talk to us

If you get denied coverage, and you’re running out of options, a life insurance agent is of enormous help. We can give you recommendations based on your unique situations.

We know insurance companies that accept certain health conditions or work with clients with less than appealing finances.

If you’re willing to put in the effort, you won’t run out of options. Improve your health, your lifestyle, and your finances.

Talk to us and do your research. You will find a life insurance provider that won’t deny you coverage.

Linda Chavez

I'm a burial & senior life insurance expert, independent agent, Founder & CEO of Seniors Life Insurance Finder. I have been working in this sector since 2004 and established my own company in 2014. I have a team of seven members, and we are trying hard to share the knowledge we've gathered. We know how difficult often it is to find an affordable policy. Hence, we are doing our best to help you.