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Learn More About High Risk Plans

You hear "high risk" in a life insurance context, and you think the people sentenced to such an ominous-sounding category must surely be teetering on the brink of death. In reality, if you like to race cars in your spare time, if you take medication for hypertension, or if you have bipolar II disorder that is managed with medication and therapy, you would probably get lumped into the this group for coverage purposes. Needless to say, the name of the category is a bit more sensational than the conditions that would qualify an applicant as high-risk. If you've found yourself relegated to this group and want to know your options, this page can give you some direction.

Who Exactly Is a High-Risk Applicant?

Risk is anathema to life insurance providers, and in the event they wish to assume it, you can bet that they will make you pay dearly for their magnanimity in doing so. Resultantly, their definition of "high-risk" is rather broad. Applicants with certain kinds of medical conditions--even if managed through medication, therapy, or otherwise-will find themselves in this class, as will applicants who have dangerous professions or pastimes. Here are a few examples of attributes and conditions that will likely get you labeled as such:

  • High cholesterol or being treated for elevated cholesterol
  • Hypertension or being treated for hypertension
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Bypass surgery
  • Certain mental illnesses, particularly bipolar disorder
  • Above-average alcohol consumption

Getting High-Risk Coverage

Even if you fall into this category, it's unlikely that you're completely uninsurable. Insurers are beginning to change the way they look at certain conditions as medicine advances and even people with formerly deadly illnesses live longer and longer. Here are some suggestions on what you can do if you fall into this group:

  • If you have an existing policy, look for a "guaranteed insurability rider." Many people already have a policy through their employer that might contain this rider that allows you to purchase additional protection at your current premium.
  • Investigate group insurance. Group insurance usually does not require a medical exam because the pool of policyholders is so large that the mortality risk evens out. Employer-sponsored policies are the most common form of group coverage, but it may also be available from clubs or other organizations to which you belong.
  • Keep shopping. All insurers evaluate mortality risk with different formulas, so don't give up hope simply because a few carriers denied you or asked for exorbitant premiums.
  • Find an insurer that specializes in high-risk policies. You'd be surprised at how many companies have specialty policies for a variety of consumers. For example, there are carriers who specialize in nothing but coverage for people with HIV. If you have trouble finding these carriers, talk to organizations like Impaired Risk Specialists or Underwriting Specialists. Both of these companies serve as intermediaries that connect consumers with carriers that can help them.