When you apply for a life insurance policy, the insurance company collects personal information about you to determine your potential life expectancy. If any of their findings indicate that you could potentially pass away prematurely, it may impact your ability to get coverage.
Applying for life insurance and getting denied isn't uncommon. Some insurance companies have strict underwriting guidelines that can make getting coverage challenging if you don't meet the eligibility criteria.
Let's look at some of the biggest reasons for being denied life insurance.
You have pre-existing health conditions
The most common reason individuals get denied life insurance is that they suffer from pre-existing health conditions or have a family history of certain illnesses. These can include cancer, heart disease, mental health disorders, arthritis, and diabetes. In addition, it's possible to get denied life insurance if you're overweight or a smoker.
You lied on your application
It's tempting to think that submitting mostly accurate information on your life insurance application is sufficient. But avoid omitting any information. Intentionally lying in any way on your life insurance application is considered insurance fraud, and it has serious consequences. For example, if you underwent chemotherapy for cancer and failed to disclose that on your application, the insurance company may find out and is unlikely to insure you.
You're over a certain age
Although you can purchase a policy as an older adult, you may be rejected for life insurance due to your age. Most life insurance companies won't underwrite policies for seniors over age 85, although some do. In most cases, getting approved for life insurance is easiest while you're young and in good health.
You have a risky job or hobby
If you apply for life insurance through a traditional company, you may be asked to disclose your profession or hobbies. Individuals who make their living as a roofer or pilot, or those who spend their days off SCUBA diving or skydiving may have a more challenging time getting approved for life insurance due to the risk of these activities.
You have a criminal record
Getting approved for life insurance as a convicted felon can be very challenging. But it's not impossible. Insurance companies often view criminals as riskier to insure, and some carriers refuse to underwrite policies for applicants with a current or past felony on their record. A lesser charge, like a misdemeanor, won't usually impact your ability to get coverage.
You have a complicated financial situation
Unlike a home or auto insurance policy, your credit score won't directly impact your ability to get life insurance, nor will it affect your premium. However, if your overall financial situation is less than ideal, you could be denied life insurance. For example, if you've been unemployed for many years, have a large amount of debt, or have declared bankruptcy, you could be denied a policy.
Even if you had a life insurance application denied in the past, it doesn't automatically disqualify you from purchasing coverage in the future. However, it may take some additional work on your behalf to present yourself as a better applicant.
For example, if you were denied life insurance due to a health issue like obesity or diabetes, you can work with your physician to manage those conditions. If your financial situation disqualifies you from getting coverage, try improving your credit score and paying off some of your debt before applying again.
In addition, if you've previously been denied, it's important to shop around and find a life insurance provider with more flexible underwriting standards, which could make it easier for you to get approved.
With Ethos, for example, an in-person medical exam isn't required. We'll ask you a few basic health questions about your personal and family medical history, as well as your current prescription information. Based on your responses, we'll match you with one of our policies. Term life insurance is available for applicants aged 20-65, and whole life insurance is available up to age 85.
If you have questions about buying online life insurance, check out our life insurance 101 resource. It'll explain how life insurance works, what it covers, what types of coverages are available, and how much it costs. Not sure how much coverage to get? You can use the coverage calculator to get started. Plus, you can always speak to a live agent if you need help.