Life insurance with pre-existing medical conditions

Contrary to what many believe, having a pre-existing medical condition doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be denied cover. In fact, many insurance companies will accept individuals who have certain pre-existing medical conditions. The requirement, however, is that you openly disclose these conditions beforehand so that the provider can conduct a fair risk analysis.

There are a handful of instances where a person might be disqualified from receiving comprehensive life insurance cover. Most applications are rejected as a result of policyholders not accurately disclosing all of their personal information, especially where health and lifestyle factors are concerned.

In This Guide:

What is a pre-existing medical condition?

A pre-existing medical condition can be defined as any illness, injury or disease that existed before an individual's life insurance application has been submitted. Insurance companies differ with regard to what type of ailments they consider to be pre-existing conditions.

Generally, the list could include:

  • Heart disease and other heart conditions
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy
  • Cancer
  • Asthma
  • Obesity

By doing a life insurance comparison, you will have more of an in-depth idea of what the different insurance providers are happy to cover and what they feel is too risky to cover at the time of your query/application.

The risk of non-disclosure

When you apply for a life insurance policy, you will be asked several questions. It's very important that you answer all of the questions honestly with as much detail as possible.

Typically, examples of questions asked can include:

  • What is your medical history?
  • What is your smoking status?
  • Do you follow a healthy and active lifestyle?
  • Do you have any hazardous pursuits?
  • What is your occupation?
  • What is your income?
  • Do you have any existing life insurance policies?

'Non-disclosure' is a term that will appear often when you read and complete life insurance application forms. This is because it acts as a reminder that the failure to provide information about your medical history or lifestyle (often with the intent of trying to get a low premium) can disqualify you from receiving comprehensive life insurance altogether.

In the event where you omit information to get a cheap life insurance rate, you need to be aware that this information could be brought to light when a claim is made. This might result in a reduced pay-out or a completely rejected claim (please remember to read your policy's terms and conditions in this regard).

Answering underwriting questions

While a consultant or a broker will be happy to assist you with completing all of the relevant forms, there are a few points you may want to keep in mind when answering underwriting questions. These points will help to ensure that you supply all of the necessary information so that you can reduce the chances of your application or a claim being rejected.

Remember to:

  • Complete the forms yourself - especially the sections that require details of your medical history and lifestyle. If someone fills this in on your behalf, they could forget to add important information or they may not be aware of your whole medical background.
  • Stick to straight forward honest answers (beating around the bush will do more harm than good).
  • Be as detailed as possible. Even if you feel your answer is long and drawn out, we recommend that you rather overcompensate than leave out smaller details.
  • Be completely honest about your habits and the lifestyle you follow. At this point, you need to own up if you have any bad habits or harmful addictions.
  • Answer in accordance with the terms and conditions of the policy you are applying for.
  • If your occupation poses a threat to your health, then you need to make sure that you provide this information when you fill in your forms.

Keep your insurance provider updated on your pre-existing conditions

Pre-existing conditions can change. Sometimes they worsen but they can also be cured. Either way, each change will affect your policy plan, your premiums, and whether you will qualify for a claim or not. Remember to contact your insurance provider to update them on these changes so that you are accurately covered and so that you do not have to experience the surprise of a rejected claim.

If there is any suspicion of medical changes, your medical records held by your medical practitioner may be requested.

At the same time, you also need to notify your insurer if you're diagnosed with a life-threatening illness after you have been approved for cover. While you will still have full coverage as per your agreement, these notifications will help to streamline the claims process.

What type of comprehensive life insurance policies are available?

Essentially, your policy will depend on the severity and nature of your condition. You can also choose between a policy without exclusions and a policy with exclusions.

A policy without exclusions is one where you will be requested to pay increasing prices to cover the increased risk as your condition worsens. Like high blood pressure, for example.

A policy with exclusions is one where your pre-medical conditions are not included in the policy but you would be covered if you passed away from any other unrelated causes.

Compare life insurance policies

Shopping around for cheap life insurance policies that offer the type of cover you need is the first step in ensuring that you can put provisions in place in accordance with your current budget. Many insurers offer affordable life insurance for as little as R200 a month.

Taking out a life insurance policy offers peace of mind. While the premiums will be an addition to your monthly budget, you will sleep better at night knowing that your family will be financially secure – no matter what may happen in the future.

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