How to buy life insurance for people who are ill

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Just because you have poor health doesn’t mean that you can’t get the life insurance you need. I usually get an e-mail at least once a week asking if there is such a thing as life insurance for ill people. 

While there is no magic bullet or secret insurance company that sells cheap life insurance to people who are ill, they do have options. 

Before we get too far, it’s important to be clear about the nature of the issue that makes it tough to buy coverage. 

Is your condition only temporary? If so, you’ll ultimately be able to get life insurance and save a huge chunk of change in the process.

Even if you have cancer, you can usually get life insurance one to three years after you complete your treatment, unless it’s bone cancer (five years) or leukemia (10 years). 

Even if your condition is not temporary, though, you have options. 

If you have an existing policy, your provider may expand the coverage without further underwriting. This process occurs more often on a whole life policy than a term one. 

However, some term policies allow you to convert them into whole life without underwriting. Find out if your policy has such a feature. 

Understand that different insurance companies view maladies differently. Just because one insurance company turns you down or rates you doesn’t mean that every other one will. 

That said, be careful about applying too often. Every time you get turned down, it means other insurance companies will be less likely to write your policy. 

Before you fill out an application, you should get some indication that the company will accept you. Speak with the underwriters before submitting an application.

Even if an insurance agent tells you that their company will write the policy, check with the underwriters first. You may have to push the broker, but they’ll get your call through if you try hard enough.

How to find companies that insure ill people

First, please realize that if you have a health condition and need new coverage, it doesn’t matter if you are applying for term life or whole life. Don’t let a broker push you one way or the other. 

Conduct a Google search for “cancer survivor life insurance”, but replace “cancer” with your condition. 

If nothing comes up, call the companies that come up during your “cancer” search. Those are firms that are willing to write life insurance on people who are in less than perfect health.

Call the insurance commissioner in your state. Ask if they have a list of companies that you can contact. Depending on the state in which you live, the insurance commissioner might just have such a list handy. 

Consider “guaranteed issue” if you have no choice. This is insurance that, as the name implies, the company will issue regardless of your health situation. Don’t get your hopes up too high, though. 

These polices typically provide only low limits. Additionally, if you pass away within two years of purchasing that policy, all your family will receive will be a return of the premium. 

If your situation is that serious, you might just be giving them an interest-free loan. 

Be wary of accidental death and mortgage unemployment insurance. These policies usually won’t cover you if you’re sick and pass away. 

Finally, join an organization that offers group term. Many of these policies have the same restrictions as guarantee issue, but some don’t. 

If you are well enough, get a job for a company that offers group term life insurance. These policies usually don’t have the same limitations as guaranteed issue.

If you are recovering from a serious malady that would otherwise make you un-insurable, you have many options. 

One last tip: If, at the end of the day, you can’t get life insurance, there are other options. This is terrible to say, but your family can still prepare for the death of a spouse without life insurance if you can’t get it any other way.

This article originally appeared on and was syndicated by

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