Buying life insurance is a bit like visiting the dentist. You know you need to, but you aren't going to enjoy it. For a lot of people, that's reason enough to procrastinate. After all, you can always buy it later, right? Unfortunately, for some people that's not necessarily the case. A medical condition might arise that makes life insurance difficult or costly to purchase. However, it's still available in most cases.
Assume the Best
With most medical conditions, getting quotes from several companies should be your first step. Your condition might not be as serious, from the insurance perspective, as you think. For example, your family might have a history of early death due to heart problems and stroke, and you yourself might be recently diagnosed with high blood pressure. If you're otherwise fit, live a healthy lifestyle and control your blood pressure with appropriate medications, you might pay only slightly more than for a standard policy. Even many cancers are now considered to be negligible risks.
How it Works
Insurance companies work with very large quantities of health and mortality data. Deciding how long one person will live is chancy, but survival rates for large numbers of people with similar characteristics are easier for the insurer's actuaries to calculate. Improved medical care and pharmaceuticals have pulled the fangs of many once-dangerous illnesses, increasing life expectancies and improving outcomes. Insurance companies have responded by lowering their rates, and extending coverage to clients who previously would have been poor risks.
Some pre-existing conditions, such as certain types of cancer, are still difficult for insurers. However, some insurance brokers specialize in this niche market, becoming known as impaired-risk specialists. These brokers deal with insurers that are willing to look into your case in detail, make an assessment of the risks involved, and offer you coverage -- or not -- based on the facts at hand. The more information you can give the insurer, the better your chances of a favorable result. You can also improve your chances by improving your overall fitness or lifestyle. You'll often pay higher premiums, but insurers don't make any money by refusing coverage.
Guaranteed issue policies are often peddled in late-night advertisements or credit card inserts. They're life policies that ask no health questions, and can be issued to anyone up to that company's age limit. Unfortunately, the premiums on these policies are high and death benefits are limited. Often, your premiums will quickly outweigh the policy's death benefit. If you are unable to secure regular coverage after trying several impaired-risk brokerages, a guaranteed-issue policy might be your only option. However, investing a comparable amount of cash in mutual funds or similar vehicles might be a better option.
Fred Decker is a trained chef and certified food-safety trainer. Decker wrote for the Saint John, New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal, and has been published in Canada's Hospitality and Foodservice magazine. He's held positions selling computers, insurance and mutual funds, and was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.