11 Reasons You Were Declined for Life Insurance

11 reasons you were declined for life insuranceLet’s be honest – no one likes getting denied. Whether it’s in your personal life or for something more professional like life insurance, it’s never fun.

Many people deem that their health isn’t in good shape, so they put off applying for life insurance in fear of getting very high rates, or flat out declined. However, the underwriting guidelines may not be as bad as you think!

If you have gotten declined, don’t worry – there are still options.

In this article, we’ll discuss 11 reasons you may have been declined by a life insurance company, possible things to do to decrease the risk of that happening, and alternatives to traditional policies.

Quick Article Guide:

  1. Obesity
  2. High Cholesterol
  3. Diabetes
  4. Chronic Illness
  5. Age
  6. Blood/Protein in the Urine
  7. Alcoholism
  8. Hazardous Occupation
  9. History of Cancer
  10. Financial Reasons
  11. Previous Denials
  12. Alternatives to Traditional Policies


Unfortunately in America, this has been a pretty big issue for a while. As of 2021, the American obesity rate is 42.4%, and continues to rise.

Not all life insurance companies look at obesity the same, however. These carriers have underwriting guidelines, and within those guidelines contain something known as a “build chart” (your “build” is your height to weight ratio). Each life insurance company has different requirements in regards to their build chart, so it’s important to speak with your agent to decide which company would be the best fit for you.

High Cholesterol

high cholesterolHigh cholesterol, lipids, and triglycerides may be a reason for the denial of your application.

Total cholesterol is based off of the ratio of high-density cholesterol (HDL) and low-density cholesterol (LDL). HDL is known as the “good” cholesterol, as where LDL is known as the “bad”. If you have a ratio of high LDL and low HDL, it puts you at a higher risk for heart disease and a stroke.


Similar to high cholesterol, high blood glucose/sugar levels are another reason you may be denied for life insurance. High levels are typically a precursor for Diabetes, which is a much bigger risk for carriers to insure. Again, some companies are more lenient with diabetes than others, so don’t lose hope!

If you’d like to learn more about purchasing life insurance with diabetes, check out this article.

Chronic Illness

If you are currently suffering from a chronic illness and apply for coverage, many companies may deny your application. This is a large risk for carriers, and unfortunately, most don’t want to take that chance.

If your illness is currently being treated and you can prove that to the carrier through your attending physician’s statement (APS), it may increase your chances of acceptance.

Some examples of chronic illness include:

  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Asthma
  • Alzheimer’s disease

We stress again that each carrier is different, so be sure to explain your current medical status to your independent agent, and they will do their best to place you with the right company.


This probably won’t come as a shock to you, but the older you become, the harder it is for you to obtain coverage (not to mention the premiums get quite a bit more expensive). With age typically comes health issues, which puts you more at risk to a life insurance company.

After you reach a certain age, some products will no longer be available to you. This is why it’s so important to apply for coverage while you’re young and healthy. Not only will you have more options, but you’ll most likely get much lower premiums as well.

Blood or Protein in Your Urine

When you apply for life insurance, unless you specifically opt for a no-exam policy, you will have to undergo a medical exam as a part of the process. During this process, the medical examiner will ask for a urine sample.

If blood or protein is found in your test results, this could pose a problem. Reason being, if either of those showing up in your urine, it’s either caused by extreme physical activity or kidney disease.

If your results do come back with either, it’s important to follow up with your doctor to see if it was an abnormality. If it was, life insurance carriers will typically overlook it as long as you provide the follow-up results to them.


Now don’t worry, a few drinks here and there probably isn’t going to affect your underwriting outcome. If you have high liver functions, however, carriers will run a positive alcohol marker to see if the your drinking levels is much higher than the typical levels. If they are, you run a much higher risk of denial.

Hazardous Occupation

hazardous occupationAs you may know, some jobs carry a higher risk than others. If you work in one of these professions, it poses a bigger risk for the life insurance company you apply with. Some jobs that are considered hazardous include:

  • Airline pilots and flight engineers
  • Logging workers
  • Fishers and related fishing workers
  • Roofers
  • Refuse and recyclable material collectors
  • Structural iron and steel workers
  • Truck drivers
  • Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers
  • Construction laborers
  • Electrical power-line installers and repairers
  • Police and sheriff’s patrol officers

If you work in one of these professions, it may be harder for you to get approved.

History of Cancer

Family history is another aspect that your underwriter will take into consideration when you apply for coverage. If your family has a history of cancer, it may reflect poorly on your results. In addition, if you yourself have a history of cancer, it will probably raise a red flag to carriers.

If it was a less serious form of cancer (like skin cancer), you can still typically get approved by most companies. If it was a more serious form (like breast cancer), the company will look at what type of cancer you had, how far it progressed, and how long you’ve been in remission for.

Financial Reasons

financial reasonsWhen you apply for coverage, your current income and total net worth will dictate how much coverage you can apply for. Unfortunately, some insurance agencies take it even a step further and place additional internal restrictions on applicants as a cost-saving mechanism, completely unrelated to the carrier itself.

As an example, some agencies won’t write a life insurance policy for someone whose household income is below $20,000 (this level varies between companies). Insuring people below a certain income level can result in issuing a large number of small policies, therefore producing lower premium flows.

Previous Denials

Last, but not least, if you have previously been denied by a life insurance company, it increases your risk of getting denied again.

Life insurance carriers subscribe to something called the Medical Information Bureau (MIB), which issues a report to companies about your previous life insurance applications and approvals/denials. The purpose of the MIB is to protect insurance companies from people who are potentially lying about their current health status or conditions.

Just because you were previously denied, however, does not automatically mean you’ll be denied again.

Alternatives to Traditional Policies

If you are declined for a traditional life insurance policy, the first option is to opt for no exam life insurance instead. These policies allow you to apply for life insurance without having to undergo a medical exam, which may be beneficial for some. Previously, these policies were much more expensive than traditional policies, but with their increasing popularity, no exam policy premiums have become much more competitive in the last few years.

Do keep in mind that the underwriter will still look at your medical records, so if you have a history of medical issues, this may not be the best route.

An alternative to a no exam policy is Guaranteed Issue (GI) life insurance. If you are permanently disabled, have serious health issues, have a mental disorder that you are collecting Social Security or SSDI for, or are a high-risk candidate, this may be your best option.

These policies are available to anyone between the ages of 50 and 85, they don’t require a medical exam, ask very few (or sometimes even zero) health questions, and can be issued very quickly. With GI policies, you can receive anywhere between $5,000 to $25,000 of coverage.

One thing that is important to note is that GI policies have a 2-year waiting period. This means that if you pass away within the first two years, you will only receive back the premium amount that was paid. After the waiting period ends, your beneficiary can receive the full death benefit amount (as long as the death was due to a medical condition).

Questions? We Can Help!

we can helpWhatever your reason was for being previously declined, we’ll do our best to help you find good coverage!

At JRC Insurance Group, we have helped thousands of families and businesses with their life insurance needs, and we can help you too! Our agency is licensed in all 50 states and we’re independently owned and operated.

As a non-partial, no-fee brokerage, our goal is match our clients with the best life insurance options available by shopping and comparing rates from more than 45 highly-rated insurers. By having access to dozens of companies and their guidelines, we’re able to save our client’s time and money.

Most importantly, our services as completely free, and there is no cost to apply for coverage. Give us a call toll-free today at 855-247-9555, or you can request a free quote online to compare rates and options from dozens of insurance companies in less than a minute.

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Ashley Chorpenning

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