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What Will Disqualify You From Life Insurance?

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Life insurance serves as a crucial safety net for your loved ones in the event of your death. But not everyone is eligible for coverage. What excludes you from getting life insurance? Unfortunately, a number of conditions and circumstances. In this article, we will explore what will disqualify you from life insurance, including particular health conditions, risky occupations and hobbies, and social and criminal history. Our lists are not exhaustive but they do cover common criteria that insurance providers consider. Remember, each insurance company has its own set of underwriting guidelines, so it’s essential to reach out directly for personalized advice.

A couple analyzes their bills.

What Medical Conditions Disqualify You From Life Insurance?

Having a medical condition doesn’t automatically disqualify you from obtaining life insurance, but it can affect your premiums or limit your coverage options. Pre-existing conditions – meaning any health issue or condition that existed before applying for coverage – are often considered high-risk by insurance companies and can lead to disqualification. Chronic conditions that require long-term medication or treatment can also impact eligibility. 

Some medical conditions that fall under scrutiny by life insurance companies include (but are not limited to):

  1. Cancer 
  2. Heart disease
  3. Diabetes
  4. High blood pressure (hypertension)
  5. Chronic kidney disease
  6. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  7. Liver disease (e.g., cirrhosis)
  8. Stroke
  10. Organ transplant recipients

Insurance providers evaluate these conditions through a process called medical underwriting, which considers various factors such as the severity of the condition and the individual’s family medical history. Of course, we can’t predict when we will become ill or need surgery, so secure a life insurance policy while you are healthy, if possible. 

Here are a couple of other questions we’re often asked in regard to medical conditions and life insurance – 

Can life insurance drop you after diagnosis? 
Life insurance policies typically cannot be canceled or terminated due to a medical diagnosis. However, a medical diagnosis may result in higher premiums or limited coverage options.

Does sleep apnea disqualify you from life insurance?
Having sleep apnea does not necessarily disqualify you from obtaining life insurance coverage. Coverage and cost may depend on the severity of the sleep apnea and your treatment and management of the condition.

What High-Risk Occupations May Impact Life Insurance Coverage?

If you work in a high-risk occupation, you may face challenges when obtaining life insurance coverage, and your premiums may be higher to compensate for the elevated risk. However, the availability and terms of coverage can vary between insurance providers, so it’s important to explore different options and work with an insurance professional familiar with high-risk occupations.

Insurance providers view these occupations as higher risk due to factors such as exposure to dangerous conditions, physical demands, or an increased likelihood of accidents:

  1. Pilots; aviators
  2. Commercial drivers (e.g., truck drivers, delivery drivers)
  3. Construction workers
  4. Firefighters
  5. Police officers; law enforcement personnel
  6. Mining; offshore oil rig workers
  7. Roofers; heavy machinery operators
  8. Loggers; lumberjacks
  9. Fishermen
  10. Military personnel (especially combat roles)
storm damage

What Is Considered A Risky Hobby For Life Insurance?

Participating in certain hobbies may result in higher life insurance premiums or limited coverage options depending on the insurance provider and individual situation, such as:

  1. Skydiving; BASE jumping
  2. SCUBA diving
  3. Rock climbing; mountaineering
  4. Motorcycling; street racing
  5. Hang gliding
  6. Bungee jumping
  7. Bull riding; rodeo participation
  8. Off-road driving; racing
  9. Aviation (e.g. private pilot licensure)
  10. Firearms; hunting

Do Insurance Companies Consider Social & Criminal History?

Having a documented history of substance abuse or a criminal record does not necessarily disqualify someone from getting life insurance coverage. Those with a criminal record may face higher premiums depending on the severity of their offense, the nature of the crime, and how recent the offense was. Similarly, getting coverage for those with a history of substance abuse may depend on various factors such as the type of substance, how long ago addiction treatment was completed, and the severity and duration of substance abuse.

While specific qualifications can vary among insurance providers, here are some factors that might potentially disqualify someone from getting life insurance coverage:

Serious criminal convictions
Some insurance providers may decline coverage if the applicant has a history of serious crimes such as murder, sexual assault, or drug trafficking.

Recent convictions
Recent convictions or ongoing legal issues might make it difficult to obtain life insurance coverage until a certain period has passed since the offense or until the legal matters are resolved.

Active substance abuse
If an applicant has a current or recent history of substance abuse, especially with hard drugs, it could pose a challenge to qualifying for life insurance.

History of suicide attempts
A previous suicide attempt or a history of mental health issues related to suicidal ideation might make it challenging to obtain life insurance coverage, especially without a considerable waiting period.

Deceptive or fraudulent activities
Engaging in fraudulent activities, such as providing false information on the application or misrepresenting one’s medical history, can result in denial of coverage during the underwriting process.

Note that the criteria for eligibility may vary from one insurance provider to the next, and some specialized insurers may have policies tailored for individuals with certain criminal or social histories.

A calculator, a pair of glasses, and a pen sit atop a paper reading "Life Insurance Policy."

On What Grounds Can A Life Insurance Claim Be Denied?

Following death, a life insurance claim can be denied on various grounds, including those that may prove problematic in life: risky occupations and hobbies, and social and criminal history. Other potential reasons for denial include: 

  • Mistakes or errors in your application
  • Failure to pay premiums
  • Providing incorrect medical history information
  • Mistakes when naming a beneficiary

It’s important for policyholders to carefully review the terms and conditions of their life insurance coverage to understand the specific conditions that may lead to a denied claim.

Now that you have a sense of what conditions may make you uninsurable for life insurance, or what might disqualify your loved ones from getting a life insurance payout, it’s time to plan for your future. Our insurance specialists stand ready to consider your specific situation – give us a call! We’re here to help.