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Can I Get Life Insurance with a Pre-Existing Health Condition?

life insurance with a pre-existing illness text on image of open bottle of pills

In the interest of your already frazzled nerves: yes, it is possible to get Life Insurance with a pre-existing health condition here in Ireland.

The fact you’ve typed a question that led you to this blog means you’re probably having a good long think about getting Life Insurance with whatever pre-existing condition you have.

I’m not going to soften the blow here: it’s harder than getting Life Insurance if you were in full health.

If you think about it, it makes sense.

Life Insurance is one big game of risk

One of the questions I get a lot around these here parts is, “how does Life Insurance work?”

It’s a fair question. If you’re going to be investing a chunk of your cash monies, you will want to know where it’s going and what you’re getting for it.

Despite how the insurers dress it up, Life Insurance isn’t that complicated. So, you buy a policy that covers you for a certain amount of time. If you pass away without breaking the conditions of your policy (i.e. you don’t die in a stampede while bull-running in Spain), your family will receive a monthly cash sum or one great instalment of money.

That’s the amount of cover you’ll have bought when you signed up. Pay your premium, don’t do anything stupid, and your cover will payout to your family in the event of your death.

The tougher question is how to calculate the amount of cover you need and how much it will cost.

Enter: The Underwriter (who may or may not sound like a bad WWE wrestler from the ‘90s).

Underwriters are the lads who do the sums on every application that comes in for insurance. They take into consideration factors such as your health, your family history, your age, and your occupation.

Your premium will get more expensive if you have dangerous hobbies or a dangerous job. Likewise, if you have serious health issues, your chances of dying are higher, so they’ll charge you more in their quest to keep making their billions.

In short: the higher the risk they think you are, the more expensive your cover is likely to be.

But there’s another kicker: some insurers will charge more than others.

Scoundrels. Blaggards. Thieves.

Call it what you will, but if you have a family (especially if you have young kids), Life Insurance is an unfortunate necessity. It’s up there with Wi-Fi and food.

Does that mean you have to roll over and accept whatever price the insurer gives you?

No, no, it does not.

What is a pre-existing condition?

The most common pre-existing conditions and chronic illnesses our clients need advice on are:



Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease)

Heart Attack

Kidney Disease (Chronic and Polycystic)

Mental Health Issues

Multiple Sclerosis

Weight Issues (under and overweight)

If you have a pre-existing condition, the underwriters (the dudes in the dungeon who decide whether they can offer cover or not) will need more information on your health to make a decision. In general, they need to know:

  1. Name of condition
  2. Date of diagnosis
  3. Current symptoms
  4. Has a cause been identified
  5. Current treatment
  6. Time off work?
  7. Details of any investigations carried out.
  8. Discharged from follow up?

If you’d like me to check whether you can get cover, please complete this short questionnaire, and I’ll be right back.

How to get Life Insurance with a pre-existing condition

Now, I’m not going to tell you that you 100 per cent will be able to get Life Insurance. Sometimes the risk is too high for the insurer, and they’ll say no or postpone your application.

It depends on the type of Life Insurance you need, the illness we’re talking about and how severe the symptoms are.

The date of diagnosis is also key. If it’s a recent diagnosis, the insurer will likely sit on the fence and take a wait and see approach. Once the insurer knows the score, for example, how you’re reacting to treatment, they’ll give you your quote.

They’ll also probably need a report from your GP, and you may have to do a medical. The medical isn’t as scary as it sounds – worst comes to worst, you’ll have to pee in a plastic cup.

The type of cover you want matters too. For example, if you have MS, you won’t be able to get Serious Illness Cover, but Life Insurance should be fine.

Realistically, any serious health condition, issue, or chronic illness will limit Serious Illness Cover or Income Protection, so they’re probably not great options for you.

Not fair, I know – but them’s the rules.

There’s one last ‘not fair’ to get through. An increase in your premium is called the loading. If the loading is excessive, the insurer may exclude the conversion option.

Conversion is an add-on you can buy that lets you get another policy when your one runs out without supplying medical information, which is dead handy.

If that happens, your best bet is to apply for the longest term you can get – at least you’ll have the cover, and it won’t be affected by any changes in your health.

Why a good broker is your secret weapon

Information is your secret weapon for getting a good deal on Life Insurance if you’ve got a pre-existing condition.

It’d be handy if they taught you all this stuff in school (instead, you get hours spent writing three-page essays about soil biomes). Much like taxes, insurance is one of those things most people are familiar with, but they don’t know much about how it works – and they could be losing a chunk of change because of it.

Now, you could go and learn every last thing about insurance, or you could work with a broker (like me) who deals with ALL of the Life Insurance providers.

And it’s in your best interest to approach a broker before you go near any insurers.

I can’t stress how important this is.

If you approach a broker after you’ve been declined, postponed or had your premium increased, then you have a problem as you’ll face this question on all subsequent applications:

‘Have you ever been declined, postponed or accepted on special terms by any insurer for life, specified illness or income protection cover?’

You’ll have to answer yes, and a yes raises a red flag.

The next underwriter will scratch their head, stare at their screen and think, “hmmm, why did the other insurer make that decision; what am I missing here?”

A previous refusal makes it more difficult for you to get cover at the standard price.

Each underwriting department will take a different view of your medical condition.

For example:

  • Insurer A may decline you for Multiple Sclerosis while B may accept you with a loading (increased premium).
  • Insurer B may decline you because of your BMI, while C may accept you with a loading.

A specialist broker will know which insurer will be most sympathetic to your pre-existing illness – which gives you the best chance of getting affordable cover with the least amount of hassle.

Specialist Life Insurance FAQ

We’ve put together some common questions on getting life insurance with an illness.

Here goes…

Can I get life insurance with an illness?

The short answer is a resounding YES!

It’s rare for all 5 insurers to decline an application.

Even if one or two insurers decline, it’s still possible to get cover.

Read more about life insurance with medical issues.

Will I need to do a load of medical tests?


9 out of 10 specialist life insurance applications are approved without the need for a life insurance medical exam.

You will need to go through the normal underwriting procedure though e.g:

  • application form
  • health questionnaires
  • medical report from your GP (depending on severity of your condition)

How long will it take?

The biggest delay is waiting for your GP to send back the report.

If your GP is efficient, you could have a decision within a week.

How much is life insurance with a medical condition?

It will cost more than someone who doesn’t have any health conditions.

Pretty obvious I know but it’s impossible to be more accurate.

All health conditions carry different loadings.

Your condition might be mild, moderate or severe. The more severe, the higher your final premium will be.

You can get indicative life insurance quotes using our quote machine.

Over to you…

If you have a pre-existing condition and are worried it may affect your cover, please complete this short questionnaire, and I’ll tell you exactly how it will affect your application. All our discussions will be in strict confidence.

I’m on 05793 20836 if you’d prefer a quick chat first.

Nick McGowan | making life insurance easier



Life Insurance
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