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Life Sense

Life Insurance and Health Conditions: A Deal Breaker?

Whether you’re a young adult, stay-at-home parent or a retiree, you likely have a need for life insurance.

But wading through multiple policy options, benefit amounts, premiums and riders can be overwhelming. Does whole life or term life make more sense at this point in my life? Do I need $50,000 in coverage, $500,000 or even more? (Hint: visiting ERIE’s life insurance calculator may help.)

Combine that with concerns about health conditions you may have and it’s enough to deter a lot of folks from even exploring their options.

A 2021 studyfrom Life Happens found that 7 in 10 Americans say they “personally need life coverage”, yet only 52% of American adults actually have some type of life insurance coverage. One of the reasons often cited for not having it is that people wrongly assume they won’t qualify. (Check out ERIE’s list of five more reasons why people hold off buying life insurance.)

Here's the Truth About Life Insurance and Health Conditions

In reality, many common and manageable conditions won’t disqualify you from being approved for a policy. It varies by insurer and may affect the cost of coverage, but many companies will grant coverage to people with:

  • Health conditions a medical professional is helping them successfully manage: These conditions could include high cholesterol, hypertension, asthma, thyroid conditions, heart murmurs, diabetes, being overweight and more.
  • More serious conditions in their past: This can include heart attack or heart surgery, cancer, stroke and other diseases. Though insurers’ pre-coverage medical exams and the individuals they choose to insure may differ, most will consider the type and severity of the illness, the time that’s elapsed since the diagnosis and the stability of their health and treatment regimen, before making a decision.

Three Things to Keep in Mind

If you’re interested in purchasing life insurance, you should consider the following:

  1. Never assume a health condition automatically disqualifies you from obtaining life insurance. Sure, maybe your health is less than perfect but you may be eligible for coverage, so always check with a licensed insurance agent to be sure.
  2. Always be honest about your medical history. Failing to mention a major surgery, serious diagnosis or knowingly misrepresenting your health history could compromise a future claim.
  3. The best time to get covered is when you’re young and healthy. The last, and quite possibly most important recommendation: don’t wait, the earlier you can apply the better — especially if you have a health condition. Down the road, if your medical status takes a turn, it could become significantly harder to obtain coverage.

Plus if you’re under 40, you likely qualify for (and should strongly consider) adding a Guaranteed Insurability Option (GIO) rider2 to your life policy. The GIO rider allows you to increase your life insurance coverage as you age and remain locked in at the healthier rate class secured by your younger (and wise beyond your years) self.

Your Agent is Here to Help

Life insurance and health conditions might sound intimidating or confusing — but they don’t have to be. Your best course of action is to talk with a professional like your local ERIE agent. They are knowledgeable and can give you guidance on which life insurance plans make sense for you and your family — and won’t break the bank. 

Hollie Britten and Amanda Austin contributed to this story.

1Life Happens® & LIMRA. (2021). Insurance Barometer Study. Wood, S., Leyes, M. & Scanlon, J.

2Guaranteed Insurability Option rider is subject to underwriting approval. Not available on all plans. Issue ages 0-40. Talk to your agent for rider specifics option dates, availability, terms and conditions. Additional cost applies. The original purchase of GIO rider is subject to underwriting.

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ERIE® insurance products and services are provided by one or more of the following insurers: Erie Insurance Exchange, Erie Insurance Company, Erie Insurance Property & Casualty Company, Flagship City Insurance Company and Erie Family Life Insurance Company (home offices: Erie, Pennsylvania) or Erie Insurance Company of New York (home office: Rochester, New York).  The companies within the Erie Insurance Group are not licensed to operate in all states. Refer to the company licensure and states of operation information.


The insurance products and rates, if applicable, described in this blog are in effect as of October 2021 and may be changed at any time. 


Insurance products are subject to terms, conditions and exclusions not described in this blog. The policy contains the specific details of the coverages, terms, conditions and exclusions. 


The insurance products and services described in this blog are not offered in all states.  ERIE life insurance and annuity products are not available in New York.  ERIE Medicare supplement products are not available in the District of Columbia, New York and Wisconsin.  ERIE long term care products are not available in the District of Columbia and New York. 


Eligibility will be determined at the time of application based upon applicable underwriting guidelines and rules in effect at that time.


Your ERIE agent can offer you practical guidance and answer questions you may have before you buy.