If you’re new to the world of life insurance, or you’re simply young and healthy, you may never think about the chance that your coverage could be denied. Unfortunately, life insurance companies can and do deny coverage for many reasons.
Why You Could Have Expensive Life Insurance
Keep these in mind as you’re shopping for life insurance; securing good coverage now could save you from a devastating string of denials in the future or at the very least high rates.
A Personal History of Cancer
Cancer survivors may deserve a gold medal for their bravery and fortitude, but life insurance companies often see the illness as a thick black mark on their records. It’s not uncommon for companies to immediately deny any applicant who has had cancer.
Some companies, however, will consider cancer survivors who have been in remission for at least twelve months. Depending on the type of cancer, as well as the stage and grade, you may face increased rates or a decline for coverage.
If your parents died young as a result of poor health, this raises a red flag for the insurance company. If one or both of your parents were ill at an early age – usually under 65, you’re at a higher risk of suffering similarly. Death from old age won’t count against you, but the early death of a parent will usually bar you from getting the preferred rates for coverage.
According to Research America, over a third of the adults in America are overweight. Obesity is officially defined as a body fat of 32% or more for women and 25% or more for men. While life insurance companies may accept applicants on the lower end of the scale, extreme obesity is typically grounds for denial.
This is due to the fact that obesity links closely to conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.
High Blood Pressure
The CDC reports that one in three American adults has high blood pressure. High blood pressure is closely linked to heart attacks, strokes, and chronic heart failure. Less than half of all people who suffer from high blood pressure have their blood pressure under control.
Nearly a third of American adults have prehypertension which can lead to high blood pressure. Get screened for prehypertension and take action to lower your blood pressure early to avoid developing this condition.
Approximately one in six Americans suffer from high cholesterol. You can check your levels with a simple blood test. This condition is often preventable with a healthy diet and regular exercise. While high cholesterol won’t typically be a decline, your rates for life insurance will likely be higher if your cholesterol levels aren’t well controlled. On the other hand, high cholesterol combined with other health conditions could result in a decline.
Applicants who were recently hospitalized are more likely to get postponed for life insurance than those who’ve stayed healthy and injury-free. If you’ve just gotten out of the hospital for a health issue like a heart attack or stroke, an insurance company may want to wait at least 6 months to see if you’ve made a full recovery before approving you.
Pre-existing Health Problems
Heart disease, diabetes, epilepsy, and other pre-existing conditions will either result in an increased rate or a decline. The end result will be based on treatment, how long you have had the condition, and how well controlled it is.
Since some conditions, like type 2 diabetes, are often preventable, it’s important to think ahead about how your health choices today can impact your future. Get screened for pre-diabetes and other health conditions regularly if you’re at risk, and talk to your doctor about ways you can stay healthy.
Tobacco and Alcohol Use
Tobacco and excessive alcohol use create big stains on your life insurance application. Alcohol has both immediate and long-term risks. In the short-term, you can suffer from alcohol poisoning, injury, and risky behaviors while you’re intoxicated. Long-term alcohol use leads to neurological, psychiatric, and cardiovascular problems as well as many liver diseases.
Smoking causes one in five deaths in America and can cause cancer and heart disease. Since these unhealthy habits are completely preventable, changing your lifestyle will result in much better life insurance rates.
Your life insurance company will want to know about any kind of drug use, both legal and illegal. Illegal drug use is an obvious reason for denial. Unfortunately, the regular use of legal medications may harm your case as well, as this is typically a sign of an underlying medical condition that requires regular treatment.
While most illegal drug use will cause a decline, many life insurance companies will approve you for marijuana use – although you will pay higher rates for coverage.
If you spend weekends rock climbing or skydiving, life insurance companies are more hesitant to cover you. If accepted, you’ll likely pay more for coverage. While you may find these activities a fun way to keep active and stay fit, your insurance provider will see the potential for serious injury.
Dangerous activities that your life insurance provider will likely frown upon including scuba diving, hot air ballooning, bungee jumping, aviation, and racing. How often you participate in these activities will be a factor in determining whether or not you pay a higher rate – for example, scuba diving just once or twice a year will typically not cause a higher rate for coverage.
This one may come as a surprise, but travel outside the country on a frequent basis to countries considered high risk may result in a decline for life insurance coverage. Exotic travel comes with potential risks including disease and injury. Life insurance companies classify countries as A, B, C, or D destinations.
Travel to A level countries carries minimal risk while visiting D countries is more dangerous. You need to report any plans for future travel on your insurance application, both for pleasure and for work.
Safe drivers have a better chance of getting good life insurance coverage. If your driving record is full of traffic violations and accidents, your insurance provider will immediately see the high potential for more accidents in the future.
If you have several moving violations within the past five years, you will likely not qualify for the best rates. A DUI will lead to higher rates as well, and more than 2 DUIs in the past 10 years will lead to a decline.
Dishonest Application Information
Your application will ask if you’ve applied for life insurance before and if you’ve ever been denied. If you have, it’s crucial that you fess up and admit it since the insurance company can see if you have recently applied for coverage and will ask about it if not mentioned in the application.
Be honest about all other points on your application as well. Don’t guess on measurable questions such as your height and weight. You’ll have to submit to a physical examination anyway.