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Guide To Life Insurance With Medical Conditions

Reviewed By: Rob Pinner

Rob Pinner Rob Pinner is the founder and CEO of Pinner Financial Services servicing all 50 states. Rob started his insurance career in 2002.

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Checked By: Holly Mitchell

Holly Mitchell’s background in life insurance insurance goes back to 1985 when she worked for her father who was a New York Life agent. Holly has a marketing degree from Auburn University and has had a life insurance license since 2008. In addition to advising life insurance for customers all around the country, Holly is our website fact checker.

Can You Get Life Insurance With Medical Conditions?

get life insurance with health problems

If your health is impaired, you will probably have to pay a higher premium for life insurance with medical conditions.  Generally speaking, impaired risk is when your insurability is below the standard of risk on which the life insurance coverage you want is based. Usually, your insurability is low because of a health problem, but impaired risk can also be a result of non-health related risks like skydiving or a job in a coal mine.

Here, we will be addressing the many health issues that confront people as they navigate the life insurance marketplace in search of security for their family’s financial future and the peace of mind that the life they are building for their family will always be there.

When a life insurance company underwrites or evaluates you they are contemplating the risk of having to pay a claim on your policy in the event of your death. Anything that might contribute to an increased chance that you will die earlier than would normally be expected increases the life insurance company’s risk.

Your risk is “impaired.” Often this means higher premiums. But not always, or at least not so much higher that a quality policy is unattainable. You may be surprised and we can help you find the right policy.

When a life insurance company has finished underwriting your risk, they place you into a risk category. These categories differ slightly from company to company, but generally range from the very best risk at “preferred plus” to “standard.”

Preferred Plus / Preferred Elite – You are in superior health, normal height/weight profile, with no chronic illnesses.

Preferred – Excellent health.  Your height or weight may be a little over the most preferred range. Receiving treatment for high blood pressure or high cholesterol is usually acceptable.

Preferred Smoker – The same guidelines as preferred, but with the use of tobacco products in the past twelve months.  

Standard Plus – You are in above average health, but your height or weight may be a little higher than normal.

Standard – You are in average health with a normal life expectancy.  Your height or weight may be on the high side and you may receive treatment for several minor conditions.

Standard Smoker – The same guidelines as standard, but with the use of tobacco products in the past twelve months.

If your risk, usually due to health concerns, is such that you cannot qualify for a standard or better rating, you may receive a “table rating.” These tables are usually labeled A-J or 1-10.  Each additional table increase is usually a 25% increase over the standard risk class rates:

Table A          standard rate + 25%

Table B          standard rate + 50%

Table C          standard rate + 75%

Table D          standard rate + 100%

Table E          standard rate + 125%

Table F          standard rate + 150%

Table G          standard rate + 175%

Table H          standard rate + 200%

Table I            standard rate + 225%

Table J           standard rate + 250%

With all impaired risk, documenting your diagnosis and treatment is extremely important. The more information about your medical condition and treatment available the better. Insurance companies want to be sure that you are doing everything possible to treat your condition in order to place you in a more favorable risk class.

When dealing with impaired risk, higher premiums are often unavoidable. But not always. Choosing the right agent to help you find the insurance company that will place you in the most favorable rating class is very important. You need someone who will work hard to understand your unique life insurance risk, then apply a keen knowledge of the life insurance marketplace to determine the life insurance company that will offer the lowest premiums for the life insurance you need.

This is the case for all types of life insurance.  It doesn’t matter if you are purchasing 10, 15, 20, 25 or 30 year term life insurance, universal life insurance, indexed universal life insurance or whole life insurance.  You will face the same underwriting for all of these.  Some carriers will be more lenient on you if you have health issues.   Lincoln National will shave your rating from a table C down to a standard rate if you are under age 70 and applying for $1,000,000 or less of universal life insurance.

The amount of money you could save over the course of a policy, or your life, could easily be in the tens of thousands of dollars. The Dave Ramsey Life Insurance Team would be happy to see these kinds of savings.


Some of the risk that we see a lot of are listed below and we will briefly discuss them here.

  1. Anxiety
  2. Arthritis
  3. Asthma
  4. Non-Cancerous Breast Conditions
  5. COPD
  6. Coronary Artery Disease
  7. Diabetes
  8. Mitral Valve Prolapse
  9. Prostate Cancer
  10. Sleep Apnea
  11. Stroke


Everyone experiences anxiety, it motivates us and keeps us clear of harm’s way. Some may even seek anxiety and excitement by participating in high-risk activities like skydiving or mountain biking.  We will save the discussion about the life insurance concerns regarding these activities for another time.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) explains how for some, anxiety is a serious health problem. They “experience anxiety that is persistent, seemingly uncontrollable, and overwhelming. If it’s an excessive, irrational dread of everyday situations, it can be disabling. When anxiety interferes with daily activities, you may have an anxiety disorder.”

Anxiety is a general term for a variety of mental disorders. The ADAA says the “term “anxiety disorder” includes generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder and panic attacks, agoraphobia, social anxiety disorder, selective mutism, separation anxiety and specific phobias. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are closely related to anxiety disorders, which some may experience at the same time, along with depression.”

Whatever anxiety disorder you may have, finding the right insurance provider is key. Your agent should be asking detailed questions about you and your history with anxiety. Among the questions you can expect are: 

  • When were you first diagnosed?
  • What medications are you taking to deal with your anxiety?
  • How often do you visit a healthcare professional to deal with your anxiety?
  • Are you seeing a psychiatrist?
  • Have you ever been hospitalized due to your anxiety?
  • Have you ever been treated with electroshock therapy?
  • Have you attempted suicide or had thoughts of suicide?

Anxiety sufferers who require a minimal amount of medication, no counseling, no time off work and no psychiatric counseling, will qualify for standard rates. There are many who suffer mild, well-managed anxiety disorder who are placed in a preferred category. At Ogletree Financial Services we perform our own expert assessment of your unique risk and rely on years of experience and a resource of over 40 reputable life insurance companies to place you with the company that will underwrite you most favorably.  You can learn more about finding life insurance if you have anxiety here.


We have all heard of arthritis and know that it’s sufferers have difficulty moving and experience joint pain, but what is arthritis?

The website says that by “definition, arthritis means “joint inflammation,” and it’s used to describe more than 100 different diseases and conditions that affect joints, the tissues that surround joints, and other connective tissue.”

The type and severity of the arthritis you have will determine how the condition will affect your life insurance premiums. Two of the most common forms of arthritis are rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA).

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system attacks normal joint tissues, causing inflammation of the joint lining. RA can even affect other parts of the body, such as the eyes, lungs, blood, and heart. One of the more serious forms of arthritis, clients with RA often receive a table rating from life insurance companies and pay higher premiums. A skilled agent often places clients with RA with reputable companies in a standard risk category.

Osteoarthritis is “wear and tear” arthritis. Over time, cartilage in the joints breaks down and pain, swelling, and stiffness ensue. Many people just see OA as a natural consequence of getting old, and life insurance companies certainly do not regard OA as nearly the health risk as RA. We place many clients with OA and no other health complications in preferred risk categories.

From the point of view of the life insurance company, rheumatoid arthritis is a more serious insurance risk for two main reasons. First, RA is an obviously more dangerous disease than OA. Second, the drug treatment for RA can be nearly as hard on the patient as the disease itself. The drug treatment for mild OA may be an over-the-counter inflammatory.

Whether you have rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, do not be discouraged from getting the life insurance that you and your family need. Ogletree Financial Services can deliver the financial security and peace of mind you desire at the most affordable rates available.


Asthma can be a mere nuisance for some, and a major health dilemma for others, with sometimes life-threatening consequences. Whatever the severity of your asthma, getting the life insurance you need to ensure the future financial security of your family will probably not be a problem.

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, asthma is a chronic (long-term) lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways. Asthma causes recurring periods of wheezing (a whistling sound when you breathe), chest tightness, shortness of breath, and coughing.”

The frequency and severity of your asthma attacks and the level of control you have over your condition are what decide how the insurance companies will view your condition. The agent you work with will need to know some detail about your history with Asthma and how it is treated.

  • When were you diagnosed?
  • What type of asthma do you have?
  • Do you know what leads to your asthmatic attacks?
  • What is the frequency of your attacks?
  • What is the history of the frequency of attacks since you were diagnosed?
  • Have you ever been hospitalized due to an asthma attack? 
    • If yes … when were you hospitalized, for how long, and what were the circumstances?
  • What medications are you taking? for how long? in what quantity? how frequently?
  • Do you now or have you ever smoked cigarettes?
    •   If yes … what are the details of your habit?

While asthma can be a very serious condition, it will not stand in the way of you getting the life insurance policy you want, and Ogletree Financial Services can match your unique health risk with the right life insurance company. We get many clients with asthma a standard risk rating and even preferred ratings are possible. You can get started right now. Use the term quoter at the top of this page, call us at 1-800-712-8519, or send us a message from our contact page.

Non-Cancerous Breast Conditions

Any breast abnormality is cause for concern. Cancer is the first thing that comes to mind, and a hope that the biopsy will return a diagnosis of benign. Cancer is a life insurance concern unto itself that will be addressed separately. Non-cancerous breast abnormalities are considered a risk by life insurance companies, but not at the same level of risk a cancer diagnosis would impose.

The American Cancer Society states that “Non-cancerous breast conditions are breast changes that are not cancer. They are very common and most women have them. In fact, most breast changes that are sampled (biopsied) and tested turn out to be benign. Benign is another word for non-cancerous.

Unlike breast cancers, benign breast conditions are not life-threatening. But sometimes they can cause symptoms that bother you. And certain benign conditions are linked with a higher risk of developing breast cancer in the future.”

Non-cancerous breast conditions are not to be taken lightly, but the health consequences and risk to life compared to cancer are much less. Life insurance companies realize this and rate their clients with non-cancerous breast conditions accordingly. If you have a benign breast disorder with atypia [atypia is a medical term for cell abnormality that may or may not indicate precancerous growth and future malignancy] you may be rated a “standard” risk. If atypia is not present a “preferred” risk rating is possible.

Find the right life insurance company for your life with Ogletree Financial Services. We place clients with impaired risk every day, at the best rates available. Don’t let health problems keep you from having the peace of mind your family’s financial security can provide.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

COPD affects 24 million people in the United States, half of whom have symptoms of the disease and are not aware of their condition. The symptoms of COPD include increased breathlessness, frequent coughing, wheezing and tightness in the chest. The COPD foundation defines COPD as “an umbrella term used to describe progressive lung diseases including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, refractory (non-reversible) asthma, and some forms of bronchiectasis.”

Although genetics can cause COPD, most cases are caused by inhaling pollutants. This can occur due to adverse environmental conditions of fumes, chemicals or dust a person may experience, often on the job. But COPD is primarily a smoker’s disease.

The COPD Foundation website is clear about COPD and smoking: “COPD most often occurs in people 40 years of age and older who have a history of smoking. These may be individuals who are current or former smokers. While not everybody who smokes gets COPD, most of the individuals who have COPD (about 90% of them) have smoked.”

If you are experiencing these symptoms and resemble the brief profile just outlined, then it is important to talk to your doctor. When assessing the risk of a client with COPD, life insurance companies will be interested in your doctor’s assessment of the severity of your COPD and the results of any lung function tests you take. Some additional questions you can expect from your agent are:

  • When were you diagnosed?
  • Is there any type of lung disease associated with your COPD?
  • Have you ever been hospitalized from COPD?
  • Are you taking any medications?
  • Has a chest x-ray been done?
  • Has an Electrocardiogram (ECG) been completed?
  • Are there any other medical conditions present?

Serious health complications like COPD do create difficulties for those wanting to obtain quality, affordable life insurance. At Ogletree Financial Services we get affordable policies for clients with impaired risk every day. While the more severe cases of COPD are table rated by some life insurance companies, many of the milder cases can receive a standard risk rating. Get started with the instant term quoter at the top of this page, leave a message through our contact page, or call us at 1-800-712-8519.

Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)

Coronary artery disease, also called coronary heart disease, or just heart disease, is the number one killer in America. It affects more than 13 million people. According to WebMD, heart disease “is a result of plaque buildup in your coronary arteries — a condition called atherosclerosis — that leads to blockages. The arteries, which start out smooth and elastic, become narrow and rigid, restricting blood flow to the heart. The heart becomes starved of oxygen and the vital nutrients it needs to pump properly.”

When assessing a client with coronary artery disease, life insurance companies will base your risk rating on a number of factors. One is called the ejection fraction and this measures how effectively your heart is working and whether or not it is healthy. Other cardiac tests such as stress tests and an EKG will be considered.

Also, your age, your cholesterol, your history of heart attacks, the number of blood vessels affected, the degree of damage already present in your heart, emergency room reports if you have already had a heart attack, and what kind of treatment you have had, along with other factors will be examined.

With all impaired risk, and especially more serious conditions like CAD, documentation of your diagnosis and treatment is most important. The more information about your medical condition available, the easier it is to place you with the insurance carrier that will offer you the best premiums and to let the insurer know that you are properly treating your condition.

There are life insurance companies that offer more favorable ratings to clients with serious impaired risks. Milder heart conditions often qualify for a standard risk rating. At Ogletree Financial Services we know how to present your unique risk profile to the right insurer to get you the life insurance you need at the most affordable rates. You have decided that protecting your family’s financial security is a priority, do not let your heart problems stand in the way of this goal.



Diabetes is a serious problem in the United States, affecting tens of millions of Americans and more and more children every day. But what exactly is diabetes?

A WebMD overview states that diabetes “is a number of diseases that involve problems with the hormone insulin. Normally, the pancreas (an organ behind the stomach) releases insulin to help your body store and use the sugar and fat from the food you eat. Diabetes develops when one of the following occurs:

  • When the pancreas does not produce any insulin
  • When the pancreas produces very little insulin
  • When the body does not respond appropriately to insulin, a condition called “insulin resistance

The millions of cells in your body need food in a very simple form, a simple sugar called glucose. When you eat or drink, some of your food is broken down into glucose. The glucose is transported to your cells through your bloodstream. Insulin regulates the amount of glucose in your blood. Problems in this process result in high levels of sugar in the bloodstream, commonly known as high blood sugar.

The key to getting reasonable life insurance with diabetes is control. Diabetes is a lifelong disease that requires sufferers to monitor and medicate their condition on a daily basis. If you regularly visit your doctor, lead a healthy lifestyle, take your prescribed medication, and keep a healthy body weight, then a standard risk rating is very possible.

At Ogletree Financial Services we compare over forty reputable life insurance companies, their underwriting practices, and how they will respond to your unique risk profile. We know which insurers offer the best risk assessment for diabetics and which one of those will offer you and your risk the lowest premiums for the life insurance coverage you require.


Mitral Valve Prolapse (MVP)

Any problem with the heart is serious. Among the less serious is mitral valve prolapse (MVP). The mitral valve is a valve that lets blood flow from one chamber of the heart, the left atrium, to another called the left ventricle. In mitral valve prolapse, part of the mitral valve slips backward loosely into the chamber called the left atrium … due to the abnormal size of, or damage to, the mitral valve tissues.

Almost 8 million people in the U.S. have MVP and while it can run in families, for most the cause is unknown. Most who have this disease will experience no symptoms or health problems; but, chest pain is the most frequent symptom associated with MVP. While this pain can be both annoying and disconcerting, it is thankfully not an indicator of increased risk of heart attack, death or other heart problems.

Diagnosis of mitral valve prolapse requires an echocardiogram, an ultrasound of the heart. The doctor can watch the valve operate on video and assess its function, also looking for mitral regurgitation, described on WebMD as “a condition in which some blood flows backward through the mitral valve with each heartbeat. Over years, moderate or severe mitral regurgitation can cause weakness of the heart muscle, known as congestive heart failure.”

From an underwriter’s point of view, there are three important factors when considering mitral valve prolapse:

  • Is there mitral regurgitation and if there is, to what extent?
  • What is the thickness of the mitral valve?
  • What is the size of the left atrium?

At Ogletree Financial Services we get many clients with MVP standard and even preferred risk category ratings. Only the most severe cases will receive a substandard offer. We work with many of the most trusted insurers in the business and we know which companies underwrite various impaired risks, including mitral valve prolapse, most favorably. Further, we know how to present your complete risk assessment, not just your health concerns, so an insurance company will assign you to the most favorable risk category possible.


Prostate Cancer

Approximately one in ten men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. Still, prostate cancer is very treatable, and with Ogletree Financial Services it will not prevent you from securing the life insurance you need to protect the financial security of your loved ones.

Everyone has heard of prostate cancer and knows that it is a dangerous diagnosis, but what is prostate cancer, besides the number two most common cancer among men in the United States? What is a prostate, what does it do and where is it, for that matter? And of course, what does it mean for my life insurance rates?

WebMD describes the prostate as “a walnut-sized gland located between the bladder and the penis. The prostate is just in front of the rectum. The urethra runs through the center of the prostate, from the bladder to the penis, letting urine flow out of the body. The prostate secretes a fluid that nourishes and protects sperm.”

Despite the fact that prostate cancer is so prevalent, only one in 35 die from the disease. There are several treatment options available to fight prostate cancer including surgery, radiation, hormone therapy, cryotherapy, chemotherapy and even “watchful waiting” or delaying treatment.

Life insurance companies will assess the severity of any cancer, including prostate, by its stage and grade. Cancer stages describe the size of a tumor and how far it has spread from where it originated.  Different cancers have different staging systems. This is an example of how a cancer staging system works: 

stage 0           indicates that the cancer is where it started and hasn’t spread

stage I            the cancer is small and hasn’t spread anywhere else

stage II           the cancer has grown, but hasn’t spread

stage III          the cancer is larger and may have spread to the surrounding tissues

                        and/or the lymph nodes

stage IV         the cancer has spread from where it started to at least one other body

                        organ; also known as “secondary” or “metastatic” cancer

The cancer grade describes the appearance of the cancerous cells. Generally, a lower grade indicates a slower-growing cancer and a higher grade indicates a faster-growing one. The grading system that’s often used is as follows:

grade I            cancer cells that resemble normal cells and aren’t growing rapidly

grade II          cancer cells that don’t look like normal cells and are growing faster than

                        normal cells

grade III         cancer cells that look abnormal and may grow or spread more


Prostate and other cancers are complex medical problems. Getting affordable life insurance coverage with these conditions requires knowledge and experience. You will need to make sure that you are shopping rates with the best companies.


Sleep Apnea

Many people with sleep apnea are surprised to find that life insurance companies take this condition very seriously. But the facts about sleep apnea leave no doubt that it is indeed a dangerous disease.

Finding quality, affordable life insurance with impaired risk like sleep apnea can be difficult. Many life insurance companies are wary of clients with sleep apnea, but if you work with an experienced agent who can place you with the right insurer, reasonable rates are available. There are even some sleep apnea-friendly insurers that will offer sleep apnea sufferers a preferred rate class.

The Mayo Clinic website states that “sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. You may have sleep apnea if you snore loudly, and you feel tired even after a full night’s sleep.” Not everyone who snores has sleep apnea, but it is one of its most common symptoms.

It is the more serious complications that may arise from sleep apnea that concern life insurance companies. Sleep apnea can contribute to high blood pressure and heart disease. The Mayo Clinic points out that “sudden drops in blood oxygen levels that occur during sleep apnea increase blood pressure and strain the cardiovascular system.” Sleep Apnea sufferers are also more likely have liver problems or to develop insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

In order to assess your sleep apnea condition, your life insurance agent should be asking you many questions, including:

  • When were you diagnosed?
  • Have you had a sleep study?
  • What type of treatment are you receiving?
  • What type of sleep apnea do you have? (obstructive, central, or complex/mixed)
  • Are there any complicating medical conditions such as obesity, stroke, depression, heart issues, type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes and hypertension?
  • Has your sleep apnea condition improved, remained the same, or degraded?
  • Do you consume alcohol on a regular basis?
  • Are you following your treatment?

That last one is important for any impaired risk. Are you following your treatment? If you are making the effort to invest in your life you are a much more attractive risk to life insurance companies. Call Ogletree Financial Services at 800-712-8519 and we will find the right life insurance company for you.



Stroke is an extremely serious medical condition that life insurance companies consider very closely when underwriting a client. The National Stroke Association calls a stroke a “brain attack” that can happen to anyone at any time.

A stroke occurs when blood flow to an area of the brain is cut off. When this happens, brain cells are deprived of oxygen and begin to die. When brain cells die during a stroke, abilities controlled by that area of the brain such as memory and muscle control are lost.

There are three types of stroke. Ischemic stroke occurs when there is a blockage of the blood vessel supplying blood to the brain. Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when small blood vessels in the brain become weak and burst. A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is sometimes thought of as a warning stroke. Less serious, but considered a strong indicator that a major stroke is on the way.

Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death and the leading cause of adult disability in the U.S. Damage from a small stroke is often minor and temporary. Larger strokes can cause permanent paralysis and the loss of the ability to speak. Life insurance companies will want to know as much as possible about your stroke history when considering your application. Your agent will have many questions.

  • What is the date of your stroke?
  • What follow-up tests were done?
  • What medications are you taking?
  • What symptoms did you experience when you had your stroke?
  • What if any, effects of your stroke continue?
  • Are there any additional health issues?

Most insurance companies will require 6-12 months to pass after your stroke before offering you a policy. As time passes, and no more strokes or complications occur, a client’s risk rating will improve. Some will initially receive a table rating but many of those will eventually be placed in a standard rating class.

If you need some help navigating the life insurance buying experience, then reach out to us and we’d love to guide you through the application and quoting process.

Don’t let health issues stand in the way of your family’s financial security.

Stroke, sleep apnea, asthma and the many other health issues that contribute to an impaired health risk complicate the process of obtaining life insurance. Ogletree Financial Services’ experience in the life insurance marketplace and expertise with impaired risk clients means we can get you the lowest premiums available for the life insurance you and your family need.