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How to get life insurance when you have a pre-existing condition

By Maryalene LaPonsie on March 26th, 2013

You may not spend much time thinking about life insurance. That is, until your doctor delivers the startling news you have cancer or diabetes or some other debilitating illness.

Unfortunately, at that point, your options for affordable life insurance shrink greatly. While it may be more difficult to buy life insurance coverage if you have a pre-existing condition, it is not impossible. Here are four strategies for those seeking high risk whole life or term life coverage.

1. Look for guaranteed issue life insurance

These are the plans you often see advertised to seniors, touting no medical exams and assuring potential customers they cannot be turned down for coverage. Guaranteed issue life insurance may not use any underwriting which means the application process is quick and simple. In addition, as the ads claim, virtually every applicant is guaranteed coverage. However, these policies can be quite expensive and death benefits may be limited to relatively small amounts.

2. Check for group life insurance through work

For more affordable life insurance, check for the availability of benefits during your employer's next open enrollment period. Group insurance plans offered in the workplace may also be guaranteed issue. Even those that aren't may have a simplified application process or waive medical exams, making it easier to gain coverage. In addition, should you become unable to work, these plans may have portability features that allow you to continue your coverage at the group life insurance rates after your employment ends.

3. Consider graded life insurance

Sometimes referred to as high risk life insurance, graded policies are plans that may include restrictions on benefit payments for the first two to three years the policy is in effect. For those with chronic illnesses, graded policies may stipulate that should death occur because of the illness, the death benefit will be reduced or forfeited. However, deaths that occur for other reasons, such as an accident, would result in full payment of the death benefit. Graded life insurance is not ideal since it provides limited coverage, but it can be preferable to no coverage.

4. Work with a high risk specialist

Some life insurance brokers work specifically with those with pre-existing conditions. These insurance professionals specialize in locating and working with life insurance companies willing to provide policies to those considered a high risk. For example, some companies may automatically deny patients with a history of cancer while others take into consideration the type of cancer, its staging and time in remission. High risk specialists can help you locate the companies most likely to work with you and your condition. In addition, demonstrating you have taken the steps necessary to control a chronic illness can go a long way toward securing life insurance coverage.

It can be more difficult to find affordable life insurance quotes when you have a pre-existing condition, but there are options available if you know where to look.

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