Can You Get Life Insurance for Pre-Existing Conditions?

A pre-existing condition increases your level of risk so an insurer may refuse to cover your condition or offer full coverage at a higher cost. Read more.

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by Leigh-San Mo

Last update 15 Apr 2021


If you've got a diagnosed medical condition, you might think that life insurance is off the table.

Fortunately, today's life insurance options are varied and designed to suit a variety of people, including those with pre-existing medical conditions.

Key Points

Pre-existing conditions are defined differently by each insurer, but generally refer to an illness or injury that you have been treated for in the past.
A pre-existing condition can increase your level of risk in the eyes of an insurer, which means they could refuse to cover you for that condition, offer full coverage at a higher cost, or decide that enough time has passed and cover you at the standard rate. It pays to shop around and compare offers.
It is crucial that you are upfront about your medical history with your insurer. If a claim is made on the policy and the insurer discovers that you withheld information about a pre-existing condition, the policy can be retroactively cancelled with no benefit paid out.

What is a Pre-Existing Condition?

Each life insurance company may define 'pre-existing condition' a little bit differently.

In general, if you are being treated for or have ever been treated for an illness or injury, it could be considered a pre-existing condition.

For example, pre-existing conditions often include diabetes, asthma, kidney disease, cancer, or high blood pressure.

Defining a pre-existing condition is up to each insurer.

Some insurer's will exclude cover for the condition altogether, even if you have not been treated for it in 30 years.

Others will cover a pre-existing condition as long as a certain amount of time has passed since your last treatment.

In some cases, if you can provide evidence that your condition has been resolved, an insurer may not consider it a pre-existing condition at all.

As you can see, there are many different ways that an insurer can approach a pre-existing condition, so it's a good idea to shop around for the most comprehensive level of coverage you can find.

Can I Still Get Life Insurance With a Pre-Existing Condition?

Yes, you can still get life insurance with a pre-existing condition!

In Australia, there are many different life insurers to choose from, which is good for customers.

Insurers offer more options than they did in the past, including coverage for medical conditions.

In fact, pre-existing conditions are only one factor that insurers look at when determining your level of risk.

They'll also consider factors like:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Smoking Status
  • Lifestyle

Having a pre-existing condition may affect your life insurance options, but it doesn't make you uninsurable.

If there is anyone who depends on your income, life insurance can be a valuable purchase, whether or not you have a pre-existing condition.

Do I Have to Tell My Insurer I Have a Pre-Existing Medical Condition?

It's not a good idea to withhold medical information from your insurer.

Part of the process of getting insured is answering questions about your medical history; if you are dishonest, your insurer is likely to discover the truth if a claim is made on the policy.

If it turns out you did not tell the whole story, it could invalidate your policy, which means no payout for your beneficiaries.

For the full peace of mind that life insurance can provide, you should answer all questions honestly, which includes disclosing any pre-existing conditions.

No matter your medical background, you will likely be asked to provide information on your family medical history, your lifestyle (such as smoking or drinking habits), and your own medical history.

You may also be asked to undergo a medical exam as part of the risk assessment process.


I Have a Pre-Existing Condition. What are My Life Insurance Options?

First, you should ask yourself the same question as someone without a pre-existing condition: what type of life insurance am I looking for?

Do you want term life insurance, so your beneficiaries receive a lump sum payment if you die? Or would you prefer income protection insurance to secure your income against an unexpected injury or illness?

Types of life insurance

Types of life insurance

When you know what kind of life cover you want, you can start comparing offers.

When you have a pre-existing condition, you may need to put in a bit more time to research insurers.

You're covered!

The insurer may decide that your condition does not qualify as pre-existing, or they may offer you cover anyway.

This is the ideal outcome as it means you'll get the full benefit you want without exclusions due to your condition.

You're covered---but it'll cost you

The insurer may offer you the level of cover you want, but it may come at a higher price.

Life insurance premiums are based on the risk associated with covering you, so the insurer may raise the cost of your cover.

You're covered---but your condition isn't

For a TPD, income protection, or trauma policy, the insurer may deem your condition too risky, and decide to exclude it from the policy.

This means that if you pass away or become terminally ill as a result of the pre-existing condition, your benefit will not be paid out.

You're covered---barely

Some insurers offer guaranteed coverage, with almost no questions asked.

This may seem too good to be true, and it probably is.

These policies often come with small benefit limits and a very long list of exclusions.

Tell me more

Depending on how much information you provided, the insurer may want further details about your condition before making a decision.

If you aren't happy with the level of cover one insurer offers you, don't hesitate to contact another insurer.

It may take a little bit more time, but overall can be worth it if another insurer offers you a better deal.

How Can I Get a Better Deal on Life Insurance?

Just because you have a pre-existing condition doesn't mean you have to take the first policy offer that comes your way.

Here are a few things you can do to improve your chances of getting good value life insurance:

Be prepared

Gather the paperwork associated with your medical history, including your family's medical history.

This might include a doctor's note explaining your condition, a list of prescriptions you're taking, or a summary of previous treatments, including dates when possible.

Take the medical exam

If you opt not to take a medical exam as part of the risk assessment, your insurer is likely to charge a higher premium.

Be honest

The more your insurer knows, the more they have to work with.

Lie about your medical history, and you could end up with a policy that doesn't pay out, which could lead to more heartbreak for your loved ones.

Talk to an expert

You don't have to be an expert to get a great life insurance policy, but it does help to talk to one.

Getting professional advice on your personal situation can be a great help when making a decision.

Shop around

With a pre-existing condition it's especially important to compare coverage along with prices.

It's no good getting a cheap policy that doesn't offer the cover you're looking for.


This guide is of an informative nature only and not representative of Compare Club products. It should not be taken as medical or financial advice. Check with a financial professional before making any decisions.