Nowadays, it seems that every time you turn on the TV or radio, you are bombarded with commercials promoting the ease and affordability of obtaining a traditional term life insurance policy, with or without a medical exam.
While these commercials are not necessarily false, they do tend to overlook one inconvenient truth about a significant portion of the American population today. Many Americans looking to purchase life insurance policies are not in their early 30s to mid-40s, and even those who are may not be in perfect health.
In fact, a significant number of potential life insurance clients are older and carrying extra weight or taking multiple prescription medications, topics that these commercials tend to ignore. This reality complicates the process of obtaining life insurance and renders these types of commercials irrelevant for many individuals and their families.
Therefore, we would like to take a moment to discuss the top 21 reasons why an individual may be denied a life insurance policy or be required to pay more than they had hoped for. We will also highlight some of the steps that can be taken to improve the chances of being approved for a policy in the future.
Top 21 Reasons Why Someone Might Be Denied Life Insurance Coverage
(In No Particular Order)
1. High Cholesterol Levels or Hyperlipidemia.
With nearly 94 million people in the US with cholesterol levels exceeding 200 milligrams/deciliter (mg/dL) which approximates nearly 40% of all-American adults, it’s no wonder why elevated cholesterol levels often plays a role in why someone might have their life insurance application denied.
This statistic may be shocking; these stats only represent those who “know” they have high cholesterol. Because let’s face it, there are a lot of people out there that don’t routinely see their primary care physician which means that the first time they discover that they have high cholesterol may very well be when the apply for a life insurance policy!
The good news is…
That many life insurance companies can be quite liberal when it comes to one’s cholesterol levels and actually look quite favorably on those who are actively using medications to control these levels as well. Which is why, if you have been denied life insurance due to high cholesterol, it may be possible to qualify for coverage through another insurer or by taking steps to improve your cholesterol levels.
Now If you have been denied by several life insurance companies due to high cholesterol, it may be helpful to work with your doctor to address any underlying health issues and take steps to improve your cholesterol levels before trying to apply for coverage again. This may include lifestyle changes such as exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, and quitting smoking, as well as taking medications as prescribed.
Improving your cholesterol levels may not only make you eligible for life insurance coverage, but it can also improve your overall health and reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Tip: High fiber foods, fish and nuts can quickly lower your cholesterol levels. Source.
2. High Blood Pressure or Hypertension.
High blood pressure or hypertension is another condition that is very common to see affecting nearly 1 of 3 Americans today.
And while a lot of folks will be declined life insurance based on their blood pressure levels, it’s important to understand that the best life insurance companies are going to be pretty lenient when it comes to what levels it considers unacceptable.
So, if you have been denied life insurance due to high blood pressure, it may be possible to qualify for coverage through another insurer or by taking steps to lower your blood pressure.
To be able to qualify for a Preferred rating, all you need to be able to do is demonstrate that your blood pressure ratio is equal to or below 135/80 (for those 0-60). And those above 60 years of age, those values can be as high as 140/85.
Plus, most life insurance companies will accept these values even if you are using some type of medication to achieve them, so it’s not like you have to be perfect, you just need to be proactive!
For Standard rates, individuals only need to be below 145/85 if under age 60 and 155/85 if over the age of 65. Which is pretty lenient when you think about it because according to the American Heart Association, these level would “technically” be considered somewhere between Stage 1 and Stage 2 Hypertension.
Which is why…
Like those suffering from high cholesterol, most folks that we encounter who have blood pressure levels this high or above usually didn’t know about it and only learned about their hypertension as a result of their life insurance application medical exam.
That in cases like these, individuals will usually be able to bring down their blood pressure levels relatively quickly with the help of their doctor thus allowing them to qualify for coverage after just a few weeks/months of care.
Tip: 17 ways to lower your blood pressure.
3. Glucose or Blood Sugar Levels.
Helping folks get life insurance with diabetes that have elevated blood sugar levels can be a bit “trickier”.
This is because you’re generally going to run into three different “types” of folks with elevated blood sugar.
The first group…
We’ll commonly encounter will be those who simply didn’t know that they suffered from elevated blood sugar levels and have never been told that they are either “pre-diabetic” or are now considered “fully” diabetic.
In cases like these…
What you’re likely going to find is that depending upon just how high one’s blood sugar levels are (typically determined by your A1C), some life insurance companies may still consider an individual eligible for a traditional life insurance policy.
Assuming of course that they aren’t suffering from any “physical” symptoms of their disease such as:
- Nerve pain,
- Blurred vision,
- Cardiovascular complications, or
- Kidney damage.
This is where knowing which life insurance companies are more lenient towards diabetic applicants becomes very important.
The second group…
Is folks who know they have elevated blood glucose levels and have recently been declined life insurance.
The third group…
Of folks that we’ll encounter are those who have had diabetes for a long time and are considered type 1 diabetics.
These folks may have been denied simply because they have been previous diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
If this is the case…
We here at IBUSA may have a few life insurance companies that will still be willing to provide coverage to them depending on when they were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. As well as a wide range of additional variables that will come into play.
4. Elevated Liver Enzymes.
There are a variety of different reasons why an individual may exhibit elevated levels of liver enzymes in the blood at any given time. In fact, it’s not all that uncommon for someone to experience slightly elevated levels now and again.
The only problem is that having elevated liver enzymes in one’s bloodstream may also be an indication that someone suffers from some kind of serious pre-existing medical condition which has yet to be “officially” diagnosed.
This is why…
In cases like these when an individual is certain that they don’t suffer from any “serious” pre-existing medical conditions, we’ll often recommend that they try applying for a life insurance policy with a different life insurance company so that they can “re-take” their medical exam (and presumably register little to no liver enzymes in their blood).
Visit their primary care physician and inform them what has occurred during your life insurance application process so that they can rule out any “other” issues you may be experiencing.
Here at IBUSA…
We have frequently had clients who find themselves declined for life insurance by one insurance company only to be approved at a Preferred rate two weeks later all because of a”false positive” elevated blood enzyme test that occurred during their exam.
5. Testing Positive for a Variety of Different Disorders.
Blood samples collected during a life insurance application (assuming that you didn’t apply for a no medical exam life insurance policy) will be used to screen for several different medical conditions. Many of which will trigger an initial decline if they are being leaned about for the first time during your life insurance application or they aren’t currently being treated by a medical professional.
Conditions such as:
In cases like these what you’re usually going to find is that most life insurance companies are going to want to avoid anyone that has just recently been diagnosed with a “potentially” serious medical condition.
They will, however, be willing reconsider one’s eligibility once the individual has been thoroughly checked out by a physician and/or a treatment plan has been determined.
6. Positive Alcohol Marker.
A “positive alcohol marker” is a term that is used to describe a CDT test or carbohydrate-deficient transferrin test. When positive, this is usually indicative of someone who is either a binge drinker or someone who is a daily heavy drinker (ie: more than 4 drinks a day for a considerable amount of time).
We should note that not all folks who test positive during a life insurance application will have a drinking problem because sometimes people make really bad decisions about “when” to take their life insurance application medical exam (ie: the day after their best friend’s wedding!).
That said however, if you DO have a drinking problem, you can bet that this test will be able to detect it!
In cases like these…
While it may be unfortunate that you probably won’t be able to qualify for a traditional term or whole life insurance policy. On a positive note though, if receiving a totally “non-biased” medical indication that you may have a drinking problem helps you find the treatment that you need perhaps being denied coverage isn’t such a bad thing after all!
7. Proteinuria or Elevated Protein Levels in one’s Urine.
Now there are a variety of different reasons why an individual may end up having too much protein in their urine. Many of which wouldn’t necessarily cause a life insurance company to worry too much if given a chance to investigate further.
The problem is…
From a life insurance companies perspective, trying to nail down exactly why “on the day or your exam” your urine contained elevated levels or protein simply exceeds their underwriting capabilities.
As a result…
Most life insurance companies will choose to Deny or at a minimum POSTPONE an individual’s life insurance application until they are able take a new urine exam at your own expense, preferably performed by your primary care physician.
In some cases, when an individual believes that they don’t suffer form any pre-existing medical condition which could be causing them to from chronic proteinuria will simply choose to apply for coverage with a different life insurance company so that they can avoid having to pay for a new exam on their own.
8. Elevated Protein Levels in one’s blood.
Like proteinuria, having excess levels of protein in one’s blood is not necessarily indicative of having some type of disease or medical condition.
This is because, at certain times, it’s quite natural to have elevated levels of protein in one’s blood, particularly is you are currently fighting off an infection or suffering from some type of inflammation.
The problem is…
Elevated protein levels in one’s blood can also be a symptom of some other more significant medical conditions such as:
- Multiple myeloma,
- Monoclonal gammopathy,
Which is why like in the case of those who have tested positive for proteinuria, most (if not all) of the best life insurance companies will simply DENY or at a minimum POSTPONE your life insurance application until you are able take a new urine exam at your own expense, preferably performed by your primary care physician.
In some cases, when an individual believes that they don’t suffer from any pre-existing medical condition which could be causing them to from chronic increased levels of protein in one’s blood will choose to simply apply for coverage with a different life insurance company so that they can avoid having to pay for a new exam on their own.
Obesity is another frequent reason why an individual may be declined for a traditional life insurance policy. However, it’s important to understand that most life insurance companies aren’t going to use the CDC or Center for Disease Control and Prevention definition of what constitutes “obesity” when determining who they will and won’t insure.
If they did…
Chances are a lot more people would end up getting denied coverage because the CDC’s definition is much “stricter” than the one most life insurance companies choose to use.
For example, using the CDC’s definition, a 5’9″ individual weighing in at 170 pounds would be considered overweight, and at 203 pounds, they would be considered obese.
Most life insurance companies would consider a 5’9″ individual weighing 170 eligible for a Preferred Plus rate, and at 203 pounds, that same individual would be regarded as eligible for a Preferred rate!
A far cry from being considered “obese” if you ask us.
Which means that…
If you have been denied coverage due to being “obese” chances are you either have a serious weight problem in which case you may also be suffering from a variety of other health issues which could affect the outcome of one’s life insurance application.
Your “build” doesn’t fit within the typical model which most life insurance companies like to use (think Ed O’Neil form Modern Family).
In cases like these, it’s true that you may not be able to qualify for a traditional term or whole life insurance policy at your current weight. However, it’s also possible that an insurance company may make an exception for you if we can demonstrate that while you may not fit into the “cookie cutter” mold, they like to use, you’re actually quite healthy.
Now up until this point…
We spent most of our time focusing on “physical” traits that may have caused you to be denied a traditional life insurance policy.
From here on out, however, we’re going to shift gears a bit and turn our attention to other “lifestyle” choices that could potentially cause an insurance company to decline you coverage.
10. Motor Vehicle Report.
There are several reasons why your driving record could cause you to be denied life insurance coverage. These may include:
- Multiple traffic violations: Insurance companies may view a history of multiple traffic violations, such as speeding tickets or reckless driving, as a sign of increased risk.
- DUIs: Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs is considered a serious offense and may disqualify you from receiving life insurance coverage.
- Multiple car accidents: A history of multiple car accidents, particularly if they were caused by your own reckless or negligent behavior, may increase the risk of death or disability and make you ineligible for life insurance coverage.
- License suspension or revocation: If your driver’s license has been suspended or revoked due to a driving-related offense, you may be denied life insurance coverage.
It’s important to keep in mind that each insurance company has its own underwriting guidelines and may assess risk differently, so it’s a good idea to shop around and compare quotes from multiple companies to find the best coverage at the most affordable price. If you have been denied life insurance due to your driving record, it may be helpful to take steps to improve your driving behavior and reduce the risk of future accidents or violations.
11. Marijuana usage.
These are the types of denials that we here at IBUSA love! We love them because most of the time if an individual has been denied coverage due to marijuana usage absent any other pre-existing medical condition or “lifestyle” choice, chances are we ought to be able to find coverage for them.
Some life insurance companies will even be willing to approve an individual who only occasional uses Marijuana at a Preferred rate. The key is to first apply with known “Marijuana friendly” company and then be completely honest about your use so that we won’t encounter any “surprises” during the application process.
Where we might…
Run into a bit of trouble is when an individual has a prescription for their Marijuana because in cases like these we’ll not only have to account for your Marijuana usage during the application, we’ll also need to account for the pre-existing medical condition which warranted you be prescribed Marijuana in the first place.
This is becasuse, some life insurance companies may choose to view marijuana use as a sign of increased risk, as it can impair cognitive function and increase the risk of accidents or injuries. Some insurance companies may also consider marijuana use to be a form of drug abuse, which may disqualify you from receiving coverage all together.
That is whya it’s important to keep in mind that each insurance company will have its own underwriting guidelines and may assess risk differently. We’ll just need to know all the facts about your usage prior to applying for coverage.
12. Drug or Alcohol Abuse.
Now earlier, we did speak a little bit about testing positive for an “alcohol marker” which is one way that a life insurance company may determine an individual has a drug or alcohol problem or has suffered from addiction in the past.
An insurance company may come to this conclusion is if:
- An individual states that he or she has a history of drug or alcohol abuse during their application process.
- Medical records indicate that an individual has either had a drug or alcohol use problem or that their physician has made notes suggesting that he or she believes their patient may be suffering from an drug addiction problem.
- Prescriptions medications such as Antabuse (which is used to help those trying to quit alcohol) are listed as previously prescribed medications on one’s prescription database record.
- “Suspect” prescription medication history. Example of such may be multiple prescriptions for addictive medications by numerous doctors.
- Multiple DUI’s.
- A criminal record for possession of narcotics or other drug related charges.
In cases like these…
What you’ll commonly find is that most life insurance companies will want to see a minimum of 12 months of sobriety before they will even begin to consider someone eligible for coverage. Beyond that, different life insurance companies will have their own rules and regulations with regards to who they will and won’t insure.
This is why…
If you have been declined life insurance coverage in the past due to a previous drug or alcohol dependency issue which you have gained control over, it’s “possible” that you may be able to qualify for a traditional life insurance policy provided that you have at least one year of sobriety.
13. Felony or misdemeanor convictions.
It is possible to be denied life insurance coverage due to a felony conviction. Insurance companies may view a felony as a sign of increased risk, as it may indicate a pattern of criminal behavior or a lack of judgment. That said however, most insurance companies are going to view certain types of felonies as more serious than others and may be more likely to deny life insurance coverage as a result. These may include felonies related to violence, drug abuse, or fraud.
Like having a previous history of substance abuse, having been convicted of a previous felony or misdemeanor can often prevent someone from be able to qualify for a traditional life insurance policy. Especially if the conviction occurred recently or if you’re still on parole.
The good news is that…
If you have been denied life insurance due to a felony conviction, you may be able to qualify for coverage through another insurer or by demonstrating that you have made positive changes in your life since the conviction, such as completing rehabilitation or education programs and maintaining a clean record.
14. Dangerous hobbies or recreational activities.
Here’s one where if you don’t actively participate in any kind of dangerous hobby or recreational activity, you can understand why a life insurance company might be a “bit” hesitant about wanting to insure someone who does.
In contrast, if you do enjoy the occasional adrenaline rush, you’re likely to have a whole series of statistics trying to justify why what you do isn’t all that dangerous.
Stats such as…
- Did you know that there are an estimated 3 million skydiving jumps in 2010 and only 21 fatalities resulted from all those jumps?
That’s a 0.0007% chance of dying vs. a 0.0167% chance of dying in a car accident based on driving 10,000 miles per year!
That all sounds great and is probably true; it’s not going to change how a life insurance company views you as a potential risk. Particularly if you have incorporated your passion into some type of career choice (being a skydiving instructor).
The good news…
Is like many other “pre-existing medical conditions,” which may prevent someone from being able to qualify for coverage; different life insurance companies are going to have various regulations when it comes to different “risky” activities one participates in.
So, if you currently participate in any one of the following activities or plan on participating in any of the following activities, you’ll want to give us a call so that we might be able to point you in the right direction when it comes time to applying for life insurance again.
Activities that may life insurance companies nervous include:
- Skydiving or BASE jumping,
- Hang gliding or parasailing,
- Scuba diving,
- Race car driving (professional or recreationally),
- Horseback riding or rodeo participation,
You may also want to seriously consider purchasing an Accidental Death Policy which would likely provide coverage to you in the event that you did die from an accident while pursuing your passion.
15. Hazardous occupation.
Just like those who choose to participate in hazardous activities for sport or fun, insurance companies may also worry about those who wish to work in an unsafe or dangerous work environment.
Here again, we’ll often have folks try and tell us that their job isn’t all that dangerous or that while they do work in a hazardous line of work, they themselves aren’t actually exposed to many of the dangers that are present at the end of the day, it’s often not going to matter all that much because some insurance companies are really strict about certain “lines of work”.
And while some exceptions may be made, you would be surprised to learn just how many folks will be denied coverage once they mention that they work in the:
- Logging industry,
- Offshore oil industry,
- Commercial fishing industry,
This is why…
It’s important to first get a VERY accurate description of exactly what you do within your industry. For example, you may work in the logging industry (which can be quite dangerous), but your role in that industry is as a manager at the bottom of a mountain, far from where many of the injuries occur in harvesting the lumber.
You may be a manager at a cannery that process the catch fisherman bring to you. Which may have its own inherent risks, but in the eyes of the life insurance company isn’t considered something that would prevent you from being able to qualify for a traditional term or whole life insurance policy.
Other odd occupations…
That could prevent you from being able to qualify for a traditional life insurance policy with certain life insurance companies may include:
- A missionary traveling to certain parts of the world,
- A businessman or woman who has to travel to certain parts of the world for business,
- A bartender or server that works in a bar or restaurant that primarily earns its revenue through alcohol sales (yes, some life insurance companies will discriminate against this).
- A certified hazardous waste truck driver that transports hazardous waste.
And since we’ve already touched on the topic of travel, let’s now take a moment and discuss this topic a bit further.
16. Travel Destinations.
A common question found of most traditional life insurance policies will be one that focuses on whether or not you have a set plans to travel outside of the United States.
Which can potentially…
Make someone nervous particularly if they plan on taking a cruise to the Caribbean this year, what this question is actually designed to determine is if you have any set plans to travel to some kind of “dangerous” location.
It may make sense that a life insurance company might not want to insure someone who is planning on going to Iran, Iraq, Syria or North Korea, but what about those who may want to go visit family in Saudi Arabia or Columbia?
Or what about those…
Who plan on going to Thailand or certain parts of Mexico?
This is where things can start to become pretty complicated, particularly if you decided to apply for coverage with the wrong life insurance company. For this reason, we here at IBUSA generally like to get an answer for a life insurance underwriter about your travel plans before applying for coverage. This way, we can avoid any unwanted denials before they happen.
If you have been denied coverage due to your travel plans, feel free to give us call because we can probably let you know if we can help without actually having to go through a whole other application.
17. Active Military Orders.
What we here at IBUSA have found is that while having “active military orders” may not prevent someone from being able to qualify for a traditional life insurance policy, having active military orders or deployment orders to an active “hot-spot” may.
This is why…
When in doubt, we’ll typically recommend any active service member contact one particular life insurance company directly who seem to specialize on servicemen and women in this situation.
And while we would love to be the ones helping out our servicemen and woman directly, this one particular insurance company doesn’t allow independent insurance agents to sell their products.
If you find that you have been denied a policy due to your “active orders,” feel free to give us a call directly, and we would be more than happy to provide any assistance that we can whether that be helping you directly or putting you in touch with those that can.
18. Financial Justification.
Sometimes, folks may NOT have their entire life insurance application declined; instead, they may be told that they can’t qualify for the amount they desire due to a lack of financial justification.
This is because the purpose of a life insurance policy is to make someone financially “whole” if a loved one dies prematurely, which means that when applying for coverage, one will need to justify the amount one is applying for.
If you 21 years old, earning 35,000 dollars a year, you may be able to qualify for a million-dollar life insurance policy because it’s conceivable that if you were to die tomorrow, your loved ones would lose out on close to a million dollars in earning potential.
After all, you are so young, however, with a salary of $35,000 a year, you would not be able to qualify for a 20 million dollar life insurance policy.
If you are 65 years of age, earning 100,000 dollars a year, you too would not be able to qualify for a 20 million dollar life insurance policy simply because it’s unlikely that if you died tomorrow your family would miss out on 30 years of future earnings.
As you can see…
Depending on your age and your current earnings, sometimes it can be difficult for folks to qualify for the amount of coverage that they are seeking, particularly if they are retired or “between” jobs. In cases like these, it may be impossible to qualify for the amount that you’re requesting.
There are some cases where an individual may be able to demonstrate that their current net worth (assets) justifies a certain amount of coverage, in which case some insurance companies may make an exception for certain individuals.
This is why, if you find yourself in such a situation, we generally encourage you to give us a call directly.
19. Currently Receiving Disability Benefits.
Another group of folks who may find it difficult to qualify for a traditional term or whole life insurance policy or may find it difficult to qualify for the amount of life insurance coverage that they are looking for will be those who are currently receiving some type of disability benefit (ie: Social Security Disability Benefits).
The reason why…
Receiving SSI Disability will generally make it more challenging to qualify for a traditional life insurance policy is because you have been able to demonstrate that you are either too sick or too injured to be able to work.
Which for obvious reasons, will make a life insurance company pretty nervous. So nervous in fact that some life insurance companies will simply deny anyone who is currently receiving SSI Disability immediately without even asking why you’ve qualified for these benefits.
Here at IBUSA, we work with some life insurance companies that will be willing to cover some folks who are currently receiving SSI benefits provided that their illness or injury isn’t too severe and that they don’t have any other pre-existing medical conditions which could prevent them form being able to qualify for coverage.
20. Previous Denials.
One question that is commonly asked during a life insurance application is whether or not you have applied for another life insurance policy within the past 12 months. Insurance companies ask this question so that they can get an idea of just how much life insurance coverage you are looking to purchase (for example, have you applied for 1 million in coverage with 10 different companies?
(See #16 Financial Justification) as well as see if you have been denied coverage before for something that may affect your chances at qualifying for coverage now.
If you were declined for coverage ten years ago because you were diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer, but have remained cancer-free for the last ten years, chances are you may be able to qualify for coverage today.
If you were denied coverage 10 weeks ago because you tested positive for cocaine, then there is very little chance that you’re going to be able to qualify for coverage anytime soon particularly if you didn’t divulge your usage one either application.
There is a service that most life insurance companies subscribe to called the Medical Information Bureau or MIB that keeps track of all life insurance applications submitted by different life insurance companies so that different life insurance companies can share information on individual applicants.
This is how…
Life insurance companies can protect themselves from insuring an individual who is potentially trying to circumvent the application process by not being completely honest during a life insurance application.
This brings us to the last topic that we wanted to discuss, which is…
Now, if you’ve gotten this far in our article you should have realized that there are a lot of reasons why you can be denied a life insurance policy by one company only to be considered eligible by another. This is why it’s super important to be completely honest with your life insurance agent so that he or she can help you determine “which” life insurance company is likely to provide you with the best opportunity for success.
As we’ve already stated, most life insurance companies are going to have their own rules and regulations when it comes time to determine who the will and won’t insure so just become one company says no, doesn’t mean that they all will.
That said however…
There is one general rule that most life insurance companies will subscribe to, which is that none of them like to be LIED to. This means that if, for example, a life insurance company is willing to insure someone who has let’s say…
- Been convicted of a felony,
- Had a DUI within the past 12 months,
- Travels across the border frequently for work,
- Occasionally uses marijuana for recreational purposes,
- Applied with three other life insurance companies with the past 12 months,
- Ect, ect…
But does not disclose any one of these facts when asked on their life insurance application there is a good chance that while they would have been able to qualify had they been open and honest from the beginning may now find themselves denied coverage or at the very least having to pay more for their coverage than they may have had to otherwise!
This, along with a million other reasons, is why it’s so important to be completely honest when applying for a traditional term or whole life insurance policy.
And there you have it…
Our top 21 reasons why an individual might be denied a traditional term or whole life insurance policy. Now we should point out that this list only includes 21 reasons, and there are literally 100’s of different medical reasons (see Pre-existing medical conditions) why an individual might be denied coverage.
This is why…
If you have recently discovered that being able to qualify for a traditional life insurance policy isn’t as easy as many of the TV and radio commercials you hear make it seem to be, you really ought to give us a call here at IBUSA because not only do we specialize in helping folks find the right life insurance policy for them, we also focus on helping those more “challenging” cases find coverage.
So, what are you waiting for, give us a call today and see what we can do for you!