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High risk life insurance

Kasey Cassells
Written by Kasey Cassells, Senior content editor

Edited by Marianne Curphey, Finance Writer, 27 November 2020

Read our guide to high risk life insurance and you'll learn how to find affordable life cover if your insurer considers you to be a high risk policyholder.
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High risk life insurance - Stethoscope
High risk life insurance - Stethoscope

You might pose a higher risk to insurers because of your age, health, lifestyle, occupation and hobbies. The amount you will be charged for life insurance premiums will depend on your risk, so it's important to assess this when applying.

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When you compare or apply for life insurance you will be asked to include personal details that help insurers determine how much of a risk it will be to insure you. Essentially, the more likely you are to die during the term of the life insurance policy, the more of a risk you are to insure.

This is known as high risk life insurance. If you fall into the category of life insurance high risk it may mean that you will have to pay a high monthly premium for life cover. It may also mean that some mainstream life insurers turn down your application, and you would be better off contacting a high risk life insurance provider with specialist knowledge.

So is it possible to still get life insurance if you are considered to be ‘high risk’? There are several specialist insurers out there with policies designed to meet many individual circumstances and scenarios.

Do I need high risk life insurance?

There are several factors that can impact how much of a risk you are, and also determine how much your monthly life insurance premiums will be. The higher the risk factors, the more it will cost to take out life insurance.

Life insurance high risk policies are not impossible to get – they might just cost a bit more. However, it is still better to get high risk life insurance cover than not have any life insurance policy at all. That is because if you were to pass away, your family or loved ones could benefit from a cash payout which could help them at a difficult financial and emotional time.

Even though high risk life insurance policies can be more expensive, if you shop around you may be able to find the best high risk life insurance cover for your needs.

High risk life insurance - Stethoscope
High risk life insurance - Stethoscope

What affects high risk life insurance policies?

• Age: Your age is very important in determining risk. Statistically, the older you are, the more likely you are to make a claim during a life insurance term. Younger people are more likely to get a cheaper deal. However, many insurers cater to people over 60. Read our guide to life insurance for over 60s to learn more and see if you can get a better deal.

• Alcohol consumption: How much you drink each week and how often could significantly raise your risk and increase the cost of premiums you will have to pay. Drinking two to four units once or twice a week with dinner will probably be considered less of a risk compared with someone who drinks over eight units per day, so it shouldn’t be difficult to work out whether you are a high risk with regards to alcohol intake.

• Smoker: This is a fairly straightforward area of your health and lifestyle risks. Someone who smokes will be a higher risk than someone who does not. How long you have been a smoker for could also be a factor, so quit as soon as you can. E-cigarette smokers are unlikely to have better luck with life insurance applications, as much of the data on the risks relating to e-cigarettes is still inconclusive.

• Occupation: Your occupation could come into consideration to weigh up how much of a risk you are to insure. If you have a regular desk job you should not have anything to worry about, but if your job is considered to be higher risk, like working in the armed forces, for the police or anything where there is some danger to your life, you might have to pay higher premiums.

• Hobbies: Similar to risks at work, some of your hobbies and pastimes could have an element of danger to them. For example, if you like skiing or skydiving regularly, these are hobbies that are a higher risk and people who do them are generally harder to insure. Depending on the insurer, this might include rock climbing and other sports that are considered high risk for insurance purposes. Be aware that your hobbies could also increase the cost of your life insurance premiums.

• Postcode: As mentioned earlier, statistical data is important to most insurers and some aspects of your application that you might think were completely insignificant might be relevant to the insurer. Your postcode is one of the most surprising aspects that could determine how much of a risk you are to insure. The insurer might look at illnesses and deaths for each postcode. Your postcode could have a higher risk than other postcodes, so this might affect the cost of your premiums.

• Health and medical history: Smoking and drinking can impact your health, but your general well-being and medical history will be a major factor in deciding how much risk there is for life insurance providers. Your family’s medical history will also be a factor. If you have been seriously ill in the past then it might be harder to find cheap life insurance. You might be asked to have a medical so that the insurer can get a better idea of how healthy you are. You will need to declare any pre-existing medical conditions because if you fail to do so and you need to make a claim, that claim might be turned down by the insurer.

Do I need to have a medical to get life insurance?

Your health and medical history is very important to insurers, so if you have indicated on your application that you have been ill in the past, or have a family history of illness, then you might be asked to take a medical.

Many insurers could ask for one regardless, but they are more likely to request one if you are a regular smoker or drinker.

Read our guide to getting life insurance without a medical.

Although it might be tempting to tell a few half-truths on your life insurance application, almost all insurers will want permission to speak to your GP to confirm your health history. And then if you are asked to have a medical, your insurance could become invalidated.

Worse still, if you do die and your family is waiting for their payout, the insurer might find your death to be caused by a factor you were not completely honest about and thus invalidate the claim entirely. Be honest, but try to do your best to reduce your risk factors as early as possible.

Reducing your risk to get cheap life insurance

Quitting smoking and drinking less is one of the relatively simpler ways to reduce your risk factors and increase your chances of getting cheaper life insurance.

Having a more active and healthy lifestyle is also likely to improve your chances. That means eating healthier and exercising frequently. There is very little you can do about your age or some other risk factors, so it’s important you make an effort with the areas you can control.

You can also find cheap life insurance by comparing the market. There are dozens of life insurance options available out there and by shopping around you can find a policy that is right for you and at a value that meets your wallet.

How much more does high risk life insurance cost per year?

The price of a high risk life insurance policy depends on your personal circumstances and medical history.

However, as a general rule, the monthly premiums you will have to pay for a high risk life insurance policy will be higher than a mainstream life insurance policy. The younger you are when you take out life insurance, the lower the premium is likely to be, so if you are thinking about taking out a policy, and you think you might be high risk in terms of life insurance, it is better to do this sooner rather than later.

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*The life insurance comparison service is provided by ActiveQuote Ltd who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (501109). Registered Office; Global Reach, Dunleavy Drive, Cardiff, CF11 0SN. By using this system you are also agreeing to our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy Monthly price based on non-smoking 25-year-old with £100,000 cover for ten years, postcode CF11 0SN. Price accurate as of 26/10/16.

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