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High-Risk Life Insurance. Everything you need to know!

life insurance high risk

When one hears the term “High Risk Life Insurance”, an individual would be forgiven if they assumed that it’s a term that is only applied to applicants who have been diagnosed with some “type” of serious pre-existing medical condition.

But the truth is…

There are a lot of factors that could cause one to be “defined” as a high-risk life insurance applicant that have little or nothing to do with one’s current health status.  

This is why we want to take a moment and discuss what a life insurance company means when they determine that someone represents a “high-risk”.

And how that “classification” can and often will affect one’s chances at being able to qualify for a traditional life insurance policy.

Questions that will be addressed within this article will include:

  • What does the term “High Risk” mean?
  • What can cause someone to be considered “High Risk”?
  • If you’re considered “High Risk” by one insurance company, does that mean you’ll be regarded as “High Risk” by all life insurance companies?
  • How can one still qualify for life insurance after they have been defined as a “High Risk” applicant?

What is High Risk Life Insurance?

It’s safe to say that the term “high risk” really isn’t something that most of the top 10 life insurance companies actually have a definition for.

Instead, it’s more of a health class rating that life insurance agents use to explain why an individual isn’t going to be able to qualify for a Preferred (or sometimes Standard) rate.

For example…

You may have already heard a life insurance agent tell you that…

Because of your:

the insurance company has determined that you represent a “high risk.”

And while you may still be able to qualify for coverage, you’re not going to be able to qualify for a Preferred or Standard rate (see: Life Insurance Health Ratings).  

What can cause someone to be considered “High Risk”?

Since simply not being able to qualify for a Preferred or Standard rate is all one needs to “technically” fall into the category of “high risk” or “higher risk”, what you’re going to find is that there are 100s of reasons why someone might be considered a “higher-risk applicant”.

It could because…they have been previously diagnosed with a pre-existing medical condition like:

Or sometimes it may be because of some type of “life-style” choice they have chosen for themselves such as:

  • Using marijuana,
  • Traveling to exotic and potentially dangerous locations,
  • Participating in dangerous hobbies or working in a dangerous environment.

Then there are also those…

Who may have a history of drug or alcohol abuse which has led to a myriad of other issues including previous:

  • Felonies or misdemeanors,
  • DUI’s,
  • Hospitalization stays,
  • Financial problems including possible bankruptcies,
  • Contraction of infectious diseases including Hepatitis, or HIV,
  • Etc

Which, as one can imagine…

Will certainly complicate one’s ability to qualify for a traditional life insurance policy.

So much so, that it could cause some less experienced life insurance agents to AUTOMATICALLY assume that one won’t be able

In fact…

Because different insurance companies will use different underwriting guidelines when determining who they will and won’t insure, what one life insurance company might consider cause for automatically DECLINING someone, may not even factor into the decision process of another company!

This brings us to the question that most folks are probably wondering about, which is…

How can one still qualify for life insurance if they have been defined as “High Risk”?

Now the first thing that we need to make clear is that there will be some folks who simply won’t be able to qualify for a traditional life insurance policy.

They won’t be able to qualify for coverage either because they’ve been diagnosed with some type of disease which will currently prevent them from being able to qualify for coverage or there is some kind of “lifestyle” risk factor that most (if not all) life insurance companies simply aren’t going to be willing to “overlook”.

The good news is…

That here at IBUSA, we’ve committed ourselves to partner up with as many life insurance companies as possible so that when we do encounter a more “challenging” case, we won’t have to rely on just one or two different options.

For example…

Some life insurance companies won’t be willing to insure some folks who:

  • Have been diagnosed with certain medical conditions such as type 1 diabetes, PTSD, or Bipolar Disorder.
  • Have declared bankruptcy within the past two years,
  • Use marijuana for medical purposes or recreationally,
  • Travel to certain parts of the world, including certain areas in Mexico, Thailand, or the Philippines.
  • Participate in certain hobbies, including: skydiving, scuba diving, bungee jumping, etc…
  • Have any felonies on their record at all (regardless of how long ago the occurred),
  • Have previously attempted suicide,
  • Currently receiving some type of disability benefits due to a serious illness or injury,
  • Currently taking certain prescription medications,
  • Etc…

While other insurance companies may be willing to be a bit more “lenient” on such issues or may not consider them an issue at all!  


Determining who may or may not be able to qualify for insurance TODAY will be the first thing that we’ll want to determine. From there, we’re then going to want to turn our attention to those who even though they may not be able to qualify for coverage “today” may be able to qualify for coverage in the near future.

This would include individual who…

  • May be in remission from cancer,
  • Achieved sobriety but don’t have much time under their belt,
  • Were convicted of a felony a year or two and still is on parole,
  • Etc…

For these…

Types of individuals, it may make sense to purchase an Accidental Death Policy (which will provide protection in the event that one dies from an accident) as a way of providing some protection until which time they will be able to qualify for a True Life Insurance Policy vs an Accidental Death Policy (which is not considered life insurance).


There will be those that won’t be able to qualify for coverage ever. In cases like these, we’ll usually recommend that someone consider purchasing an accidental death policy as well as a guaranteed issue life insurance policy or Final Expense Insurance Policy simply because a Final Expense Insurance Policy will ultimately provide a true death benefit (once the graded death benefit period has expired).  

We should note, however…

That both of these “types” of policies won’t provide anywhere near the same coverage as a traditional life insurance policy would which is why these types of products should almost always be considered a last option and should always be examined carefully so that you don’t find yourself buying something that you’re not 100% satisfied with!


We here at IBUSA don’t believe that it is our job to “sell” anyone a life insurance policy. Instead, our role here should simply be to help you find the best possible life insurance policy that you can qualify by answering any questions that you may have and helping you determine “which” life insurance company is going to provide you with the best opportunity for success!

So, if you’re ready to see what options may be available to you, just give us a call!

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