Complete Financial Questionnaire

How Does Your Family Medical History Affect The Cost of Life Insurance?


You think you’re healthy when you begin the life insurance application form…then you reach the family history question:

Have any of your parents, brothers or sisters ever had one or more of the following medical conditions at the ages specified:

Family member(s) age 50 OR less

(i) Breast or ovarian cancer?
(ii) Multiple Sclerosis, Motor Neurone disease or Parkinson’s disease?

Family member(s) age 60 OR less

(iii) Bowel or colon cancer?
(iv) Stroke or heart disease (for example heart attack or angina)?
(v) Cardiomyopathy?
(vi) Muscular dystrophy of any kind?
(vii) Polycystic kidney disease?
(viii) Huntington’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease?
(ix) Any type of cancer that has occurred in the same site in two or more family members?
(x) Any disorder which you know or suspect to be hereditary or for which you have received follow up or screening?

All of a sudden, you don’t feel so healthy

What happens to your life insurance premiums if there is bad health in your family?

A family history of disease or death, especially occurring at young ages, may imply that you are also at increased risk for the same or related illness.

Most diseases have some genetic component but environmental and lifestyle factors also play an important part.

A family history of any of the following in a first degree relative is considered relevant when assessing insurance applications:

  • Heart disease or heart attack
  • Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HOCM)
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Polycystic Kidney Disease
  • Breast cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Colon cancer
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Motor neurone disease
  • Polycystic kidneys
  • Polyposis of the colon
  • Huntington’s disease

The possibility of cover depends on the nature of the family history, your current age and gender, the number of first degree relatives affected by the condition, the age your family member was when diagnosed, and other associated health issues that you suffer with.

The underwriters will make one of four decisions after reviewing your medical evidence.

1. Exclude a certain condition from your policy.

Family history of breast cancer

You’re a 30 year old female, your mother and sister contracted breast cancer in their 40’s. You have applied for critical illness cover. The insurers will exclude breast cancer from your policy but will offer cover against all of the other serious illnesses.

Family history of MS

You’re a 35 year old male whose father contracted MS in his 40s. You have applied for income protection. The insurers will offer you cover at the normal price but will exclude MS as a reason for claiming on your policy.

2. Increase your premium

Family history of Polycystic Kidney Disease

Your mum had a kidney transplant at age 55. You’re 35 and need mortgage protection. You have been tested for PKD and your scans were normal. You’ll get cover but the insurer will increase your premium due to the higher risk of developing PKD.

3. Postpone your application

Usually only happens where you are awaiting a screening for a certain illness.

Using the PKD example above, if you were awaiting a scan, the insurer would postpone making a decision until the results were available

4. Decline your application

Declines are rare.

But I have seen a young male (smoker) with a high BMI declined who would normally get cover. There was a sad history of cardiovascular disease in his family as both parents and two of his brothers had suffered heart attacks before age 50.

Do the various insurers underwrite family history differently?

Yes, all insurance providers follow a different set of underwriting guidelines.

For instance, some insurers are only interested in health issues that occurred before age 50 , others look at family history right up at age 65.

This means if your mum got breast cancer at age 51, some insurers will ignore this fact, others may apply an exclusion to your policy.

Be careful which insurer you apply to

Over to you…

If there’s a history of illness in your family and you’d like to give yourself the best chance of getting cover with the least amount of hassle, please get in touch.

Complete the quick outline form below or call me on 05793 20836.

We’re the experts when it comes to arranging life insurance for clients who parents weren’t fit as fiddles.

It goes without saying that everything we discuss will be in strict confidence….but I’ll say it anyway, just to be sure like 😉

Nick McGowan | making life insurance easier

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