Life Insurance for Pre-Existing Conditions

Have a pre-existing condition? Find life insurance suitable for your needs by comparing with Savvy.

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, updated on July 19th, 2023       

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Life Insurance

We’ve partnered with Compare Club to bring you a range of life insurance policies to help you compare them side by side.

Almost 80% of Australians are living with some type of pre-existing condition, whether it be asthma, diabetes or a mental health condition. If you’re one of the millions of Aussies with a long-term illness, and you’re considering taking out life insurance, Savvy can help show you where to look.

Getting a quote with us allows you to do a side-by-side comparison of some of Australia’s top insurers in our panel to help you find a policy that covers your pre-existing condition. You can also compare prices, benefits and much more, so start the process with Savvy today.

Does life insurance cover pre-existing conditions?

Yes – if you have a pre-existing medical condition, and are considering taking out life insurance, many insurance companies will allow you to purchase a policy. However, your pre-existing condition may impact how much you pay for your insurance, and may exclude coverage for your ongoing medical condition.

Insurers will assess pre-existing conditions on a case-by-case basis to see whether they would increase your chances of claiming on the policy you’re applying for. Generally speaking, if the medical issue could lead to you dying prematurely, you will pay a higher price for coverage. For example, having a heart condition or high blood pressure is likely to affect your life insurance, but treatment for eczema may not increase the cost of your policy.

What do insurers consider a pre-existing condition?

A pre-existing condition may be something you’re being treated for currently or something you’ve seen a doctor about in the past. Any ailment which has an impact on your life expectancy, health or capacity to work, whether it’s currently active or resolved, qualifies as a pre-existing condition. It’s important to check with your insurance policy’s Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) before buying to make sure your pre-existing condition isn’t excluded from cover. If it is, your claim could be thrown out if you die or become critically ill due to the condition.

Here are a few examples of the most frequent types of pre-existing conditions:

  • Cancer
  • Diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2)
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Kidney or liver disease
  • Certain mental health conditions (such as anxiety or depression)
  • Musculoskeletal conditions
  • Sleep apnoea
  • Strokes

In certain instances, your life insurance company may not consider a pre-existing condition you’ve had in the past to be relevant in relation to your current insurance needs. Conditions that haven't needed treatment for a certain period, or that have been effectively treated can fall into this category.

Life insurance companies will have a list of exclusions that apply when you make a claim on your policy. This includes self-inflicted injuries, criminal activity and reckless behaviour. Many companies won’t pay if you commit suicide during the first 13 months of your policy, or if your claim is directly related to you driving dangerously or breaking the law.

What does my insurer consider when I apply for life insurance with a pre-existing condition?

There are a few main categories of life insurance risk which will be considered by your insurer during the underwriting process. These will usually include the following:

  • Your age: how old you are is an important deciding factor in whether you’re able to get coverage for your pre-existing condition. For example, it could be harder to be covered for your diabetes if you’re a senior over the age of 75 rather than if you are in your 30s.
  • Medical history: if you have any potential or known congenital defects, illnesses, diseases, injuries, mental health concerns or symptoms that haven’t yet been recognised, you should tell your insurer about them when you apply for life insurance.
  • Family medical history: cancer, depression and congenital heart problems are just a few examples of illnesses that could run in your family, which your insurer will need to know about
  • Your lifestyle: if you’re a smoker, regularly enjoy a tipple or take any prescription or non-medicinal drugs, you should tell your insurer. This will help them get a complete picture of your lifestyle and lifestyle habits.
  • Your job: insurers take several aspects into account when determining premiums, including your profession, the number of hours worked each week and the nature of the company you’re employed with. For example, a firefighter will pay a higher premium than an office worker due to the increased danger and risk of the job.
  • Where you live: the state you live in and your postcode will affect your insurance premiums. 
  • Your financial situation: whether you can afford your life insurance premiums will be important for your insurer, who’ll check to see if you’re earning enough to cover the regular deductions.
  • Risky activities: regularly partaking in risky activities such as scuba diving or skydiving will see you pay a higher premium than someone who prefers reading at night and going to the movies.

What information do I need to provide as part of the application process?

When you buy a life insurance policy and have a pre-existing medical condition, you’ll be asked to provide some information which can vary depending on where you buy and how much coverage you’re chasing. The information you’ll generally need to provide includes:

  • Whether you’ve previously made a claim due to your pre-existing condition
  • If you have seen a doctor for your condition in the last five years
  • If you’ve been prescribed medication for your condition in the past five years
  • Whether you’ve shown symptoms of your condition in the past 12 months
  • If you’re awaiting test results or medical treatment relating to your condition
  • If you’ve had to take a leave of absence from your work for any period due to your pre-existing condition

In some cases, you may want to do a life insurance pre-assessment which can help you better understand what coverage is available for your condition. These aren’t compulsory, and it's at the discretion of your provider whether you need to complete one.

These assessments are usually done through a life insurance specialist and involve asking a few questions about your pre-existing conditions, as well as your height, weight and current job. This form can usually be completed over the phone and by the consultant, saving you the hassle and helping you focus on finding the best life insurance policy to cover your pre-existing condition.

Types of life insurance

Why compare life insurance through Savvy?

Frequently asked questions about life insurance with pre-existing conditions

What happens if I develop a condition after buying my policy?

You may still be protected by your life insurance policy even if you’re diagnosed with an ongoing ailment later in life, however a change in health status may affect your premium. For example, if you’re a senior and are diagnosed with dementia, you should contact your insurance company to let them know about the diagnosis, since this might result in additional premiums or conditions attached to the policy. 

How else should I compare my life insurance policies?

When you’re comparing life insurance policies with Savvy, it’s important to weigh up the following factors to make sure you get coverage that’s right for you. This includes:

  • Inclusions and exclusions
  • Premiums
  • Coverage limits (usually between $100,000 and $2 million)
  • Benefits
  • Waiting periods
  • Stepped or level premiums
Do I need to tell my insurer if my condition changes?

You should notify your insurance company if there is any change to your health status, which includes being diagnosed with a new condition, or advancement or change in a pre-existing condition. 

How long does it take to complete a medical examination?

If you don't require any special tests like an x-ray or an electrocardiogram, your check-up should just take a quarter of an hour. Also included is the time spent asking questions verbally. If the insurance company requires an electrocardiogram, add 20 minutes to this time. However, timing will be different depending on the person and the nature of the condition.

What happens if my pre-existing condition can’t be covered?

Your life insurance company may be willing to offer you a policy with modified conditions if you are unable to get coverage under a conventional policy owing to your pre-existing condition. This means that while you may not be covered for claims relating to your current condition, you’ll receive the other normal benefits of a life insurance policy. A surcharge might be one of the conditions outlined in the policy's fine print.

Does child life insurance include coverage for pre-existing conditions?

Some companies provide guaranteed coverage for children with pre-existing diseases including certain forms of diabetes and asthma. It may be worthwhile to shop around for kids’ life insurance if your youngster has a chronic condition to be sure they’ll be covered and that you aren't paying more than necessary.

Can I get life insurance if I have a critical illness?

Coverage for critical and terminal illnesses is often included in basic life insurance plans. If you’re diagnosed with a terminal disease and given fewer than 24 months to live, you’ll get a lump sum payment.

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Savvy is partnered with Compare Club Australia Pty Ltd (AFS representative number 001279036) of Alternative Media Pty Ltd (AFS License number 486326) to provide readers with a variety of life insurance policies to compare. Savvy earns a commission from Compare Club each time a customer buys a life insurance policy via our website. We don’t arrange for products to be purchased from these brands directly, as all purchases are conducted via Compare Club.

Savvy does not compare all life insurance policies or providers currently operating in the market. Any advice presented above or on other pages is general in nature and doesn’t consider your personal or business objectives, needs or finances. It’s always important to consider whether advice is suitable for you before purchasing an insurance policy.

For any further information on the variety of insurers compared by Compare Club or how their business works, you can read their Financial Services Guide.

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