This is a guest post from the award-winning UK life insurance broker; Reassured Ltd.
You may have heard from all angles that life insurance is a good idea; more and more women in the US are learning the importance of having this type of financial protection in place. Particularly for those who have young children, a mortgage and/or other significant debts.
But we all know that our health has a huge influence on our ability to secure life insurance cover, and the healthier we are the cheaper our premiums should be.
So, what about those with poor health, who have a pre-existing medical condition, serious mental health issues or a severe disability?
In the eyes of an insurer, if you have suffered with any of the above, you may be classed as an impaired risk (or high risk) applicant. This means achieving ‘standard’ terms on your policy will be more difficult and, yes, the cost of your premiums will be higher than those of someone who has a more favourable health history.
Being impaired though doesn’t mean you’re uninsurable, and even if you have been declined in the past there are other options. Each life insurance provider will have a different underwriting process, and one insurer may view a condition to be less of a risk compared to another insurer.
Not only that, the modern life insurance market is much more accommodating than it used to be, with more providers offering no-medical required life insurance.
Read on to learn more…
Life insurance for women with a poor medical history
If you were to pass away due to a serious illness, how would your children or partner be able to cope financially, or even practically? As much as we hope to live long and healthy lives, these unfortunate events can happen unexpectedly.
Maybe you are currently suffering with ill health, and there is some urgency to put some financial protection in place for the family in the case of your death.
The main causes of death for women in the US include heart disease, lower respiratory disease, cancer, or stroke. These among other serious illnesses that affect your life expectancy and/or your ability to work are the hardest to insure. But not always impossible.
During the medical exam, an insurer will want to ask a number of questions specifically to do with your pre-existing medical condition, for example if you are taking any medication or receiving the necessary treatment. A well-managed illness will be looked upon more favourably.
If you are recovering well from the illness or have made a full recovery, the likelihood that you’ll be accepted with standard rates will increase.
To wait until you have recovered from a serious illness, may be too much of a risk to take. You and your family will not be covered during this time.
It would be more sensible to take out life insurance as soon as you can, and then when you have recovered you will be able to request a new medical exam from the insurer and they can reassess your new situation.
Poor health can also derive from drug and/or alcohol addiction, a smoking habit or obesity.
Life insurance for women with drug and/or alcohol addiction
Most of us enjoy a drink or two to wind down after a hard-working week or when socialising with friends. However, if you drink alcohol excessively, binge drink or rely on alcohol on a daily basis, you could face some short and/or long-term health risks as the result of this.
Alcohol abuse in the US led to approximately 88,000 deaths annually between 2006 and 2010, of which each year 26,000 were women. The scary thing is, studies suggest that alcoholism among women is getting worse.
Have you struggled with alcohol addiction, either recently or in the past? If so, it is best to be honest about this to your life insurance provider. They are likely to ask questions related to your current alcohol consumption, and based on your answers, may require you to carry out additional medical testing.
If you have managed to overcome a severe drinking problem, then you may choose to wait a few years before applying for life insurance to improve your chances of being accepted. However, as mentioned previously, delaying taking out life insurance puts your family at temporary risk, and you could be hit with higher rates in the future due to your age.
It is much the same with drug addiction. If you are currently struggling with a drug problem, then it will be harder for you to find a life insurance provider that will approve your application. However, you are more likely to secure life cover if you have taken steps to fully overcome the addiction, such as attending rehab.
Declaring your addiction to your life insurance provider initially, and then focus on getting clean, would mean you will still be securing life insurance whilst young.
Life insurance for overweight or obese women
Are you concerned that your weight could affect your application? Having a BMI between 25 and 29.9 may class you as overweight (that is 26.5 percent of women in the US).
Being just overweight does not mean you will be declined life insurance, as long as you are in good health generally. If you decide to take on a more active lifestyle to lose a few pounds, then this could save you money on your life insurance, however as mentioned previously, this does leave you uncovered for longer.
If you have a BMI over 30 then you would be considered as medically obese (one of the 40.4 percent of women in the US), and would put you into the impaired life category by an insurer.
As we are all aware, being obese has many health repercussions. You are more likely to suffer with or develop illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes or high blood pressure.
Therefore, an insurer would need to take into account if your health and/or life expectancy will be affected by your weight.
If you have a BMI of over 45, you’ll most likely be declined with a term or whole life policy. However, an insurer would also factor in your age alongside your BMI reading.
Life insurance for women who smoke
Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the US, and so statistically a very dangerous habit. Due to the direct link between smoking and many serious health complications, smokers will not be able to achieve premiums as low as non-smokers.
Having the odd cigarette will not be an issue, however if you are smoking 10 or 20 a day then you will be considered a smoker.
Ex-smokers may have to wait up to five years before they are classed as a non-smoker, so it is essential to check the insurers individual specifications before declaring yourself a non-smoker.
Is vaping classed as smoking? If you use any products that contain nicotine such as patches, mints or vaping, you will still be classed as a smoker in the eyes of the insurer.
Ditching the habit is hard, but putting off your life insurance coverage until you have quit may take months, or years and during this time you and your family would be at risk.
Life insurance for women with mental health
We are all familiar with the term mental health, and nowadays we are much more open about discussing the topic.
Each year, 1 in 5 women in the US suffer with a mental health condition such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These conditions come hand in hand with other conditions such as anxiety, borderline personality disorder and paranoia. Some women suffer mental health issues as a result of a chronic health problem.
An insurer may become concerned if you’ve suffered negative side effects as a result of a mental health condition, such as self-harm, suicide attempts or hospitalisation.
There are different types of mental illness, some more severe than others and all being dealt with differently.
Therefore, an insurer will take into consideration;
- The type of mental illness
- Severity of condition
- Effect on behaviour
- Management of mental illness (medication)
Whilst most mental illnesses will have an impact on your daily life, many will not affect your life expectancy.
As a result, suffering from one of these won’t increase the cost of your premiums or affect your ability to secure cover.
Even mental illnesses which could have a negative effect on your life expectancy, as a result of self-harming and suicide attempts, may not affect your premiums or your ability to get cover if you’re managing the illness accordingly.
Luckily, attitudes to mental health have changed for the better, and we are more likely to seek help when the symptoms are recognised. If more women are able to receive treatment and get their condition under control, the more women who will be able to secure affordable life insurance.
Life insurance for disabled women
In the US, there are approximately 27 million women who have disabilities, with 50% of women over 65 living with a disability. That accounts to many women who may have homes, children and other financial commitments, who may benefit from having a life insurance policy just like anyone else.
Many insurers would reject or place as impaired risk any application for whole of life or term life insurance policy from an individual with a registered disability. However, there are a broad range of disabilities each that come with their own difficulties, it would be unfair to place any into one category.
Some disabilities are very severe which affect your life expectancy; others, more minor which don’t affect your ability to work or live an active life.
Some mental health conditions and learning difficulties are also considered as disabilities, and may not necessarily be directly related to your physical health.
Insurers would consider each application on a case by case basis. Mainly, the severity of your disability will have an influence on the type and cost of life insurance you’re able to secure.
As a woman who is disabled it is possible to secure life insurance, even if you have been declined cover in the past. Like anyone else, it is important to shop around for different quotes from a variety of insurers to ensure you achieve the best possible price.
Life insurance with no medical for women
And if all options have been exhausted? There is still hope left.
Some providers, such as True Blue Life Insurance, claim to offer affordable life insurance without needing a medical exam to be carried out. You could still secure a sufficient coverage amount, even up to $1,000,000 if this is realistic for you.
Policies that you could achieve include simplified issue or guaranteed issue life insurance. Both types do not require a medical exam to be carried out, however with simplified life insurance there is a possibility you could be declined. With guaranteed issue, you are guaranteed acceptance for the policy no matter your health; although this is the most expensive type of life insurance.
There are specialist life insurance providers who are more likely to approve applications from impaired or high-risk applicants. You can find these by either searching online yourself or you could use a life insurance broker who can scan the market and reach out to the right insurers on your behalf. This way, you are more likely to find a quote most suited to your budget.
If you have a financial advisor, they may also be able to talk you through your options or make recommendations for reputable insurance providers.
It is important to disclose all of your health information when required by the insurer, even if you think you may be declined. There is the risk that you could be paying into a policy that will not actually be valid when it comes to your death, leaving your family without a pay-out.
Life insurance may seem unobtainable for women who have poor health or a disability. However, we hope this article has given you the confidence to take another look at your options, as it is possible to secure suitable cover at an affordable price.