5 Things You Need to Know About High-Risk Life Insurance


All too often we have clients who come to us after being declined for life insurance because they are considered “high risk.” This might be because of a difficult-to-insure medical condition, hazardous hobby, or dangerous occupation; whatever the reason, a high-risk determination does not mean you have to go without life insurance coverage.

At JRC Insurance Group, we want our clients to know that low-cost, high-risk life insurance is possible.

Before you give up on your chance to provide security and protection for your family, here are five things you need to know about high-risk life insurance.

Quick Article Guide:

  1. Not Every Medical Condition or Lifestyle Choice is “High Risk”
  2. More Options = Better Chance of Finding a Decent Rate
  3. The Type of Policy You Purchase Will Affect Your Approval
  4. Low Cost Approvals
  5. Applying for High-Risk Life Insurance is a Simple Process

1. Not Every Medical Condition or Lifestyle Choice is Considered “High Risk”

Clients often ask us if they should try to lose weight before applying for insurance, or if taking blood pressure or cholesterol medications affects their premium rates. The truth is, some issues really do not have an effect on your rates at all. Every life insurance company has a different way of evaluating conditions and lifestyles, but for the most part, these are how insurance companies weigh the below situations:

Issues that are Typically Overlooked:

(These issues will not keep you from getting preferred or preferred best rates.)

  • Airplane pilots for major airlines
  • Basal cell skin cancer
  • Cholesterol medications
  • Controlled Anxiety or Depression
  • DUI, from 5 or more years prior
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Marijuana use with prescription
  • Mild Asthma or allergies
  • Occasional cigar smokers
  • Pregnancy
  • Thyroid issues
  • Up to 20 pounds overweight
  • Up to 3 traffic tickets in 3 years

Issues that (Mildly) Affect Your Rates:

(We can usually get our clients approved at standard or standard plus rates even with these conditions.)

  • Diabetes
  • DUI more than 12 months ago
  • Elevated liver enzymes
  • History of cancer
  • History of heart disease
  • Melanoma
  • Mild stroke or TIA
  • Multiple speeding tickets and or accidents
  • Sleep Apnea

Issues Considered to be “Higher Risk”:

(These cases are approved at substandard rates resulting in an above average premium.)

  • Doctor-recommended drug or alcohol treatment
  • DUI within 12 months
  • Heart bypass, stents, or Angioplasty
  • Hepatitis C with low viral count
  • Invasive cancers
  • Kidney disease
  • Opiate-based pain medications
  • Uncontrolled Diabetes
  • Untreated Sleep Apnea

Sample Pricing for High Risk Life Insurance

The above three types of risks affect life insurance rates in different ways. Some health and lifestyle issues don’t affect your premium at all, some affect it mildly, and others will result in a substandard rate. Here is an example of what you can expect to pay for each rate class:

$100,000 20-Year Term Policy—50-Year-Old Male

  • Preferred Plus (Low Risk) – $20.74 / month
  • Standard (Average Risk) – $34.74 / month
  • Standard Table 4 (High Risk) – $61.25 / month

$250,000 20-Year Term Policy—50-Year-Old Male

  • Preferred Plus (Low Risk) – $40.44 / month
  • Standard (Average Risk) – $73.61 / month
  • Standard Table 4 (High Risk) – $121.75 / month

*Rates are accurate as of 03/01/2019 and are provided for illustrative purposes only.

2. The More Options You Have, the Better Chance You Have of Finding a Decent Rate

This might seem obvious, but one of the keys to finding affordable high-risk life insurance is working with multiple carriers. Because some insurance companies are more lenient with certain medical conditions than others, having a large pool of quotes and policies means you have a better chance of finding the lowest cost for insuring your high-risk situation.

Not all carriers are as forgiving as others when it comes to high risk conditions, hobbies, or avocations, but we found we continue to use the following handful of companies for fully underwritten policies often: Prudential, American General, Banner Life, Transamerica, and Nationwide.

If the health concern is so severe that you can’t qualify for a fully underwritten policy, we use some of the following companies, which don’t require an exam and typically have fewer “knockout” questions (or no questions) on their applications:  Fidelity Life, Sagicor, Assurity, Mutual of Omaha, Gerber, and Vantis.

By having access to so many insurance companies, we have successfully helped insure our clients with competitively priced life insurance even when they have previously been declined because of a diagnosis of:

  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Enlarged Heart
  • Marijuana Prescriptions
  • Obesity
  • Polycythemia Vera
  • Recent DUI
  • Hazardous jobs, or
  • Frequent travel to dangerous locations

Some of our clients include pilots, rock climbers, missionaries traveling to Uganda, high-rise iron erectors, and even an oil rigger working on an oil-drilling platform in the middle of the Indian Ocean!

3. The Type of Policy You Purchase Will Affect Your Approval

Generally speaking, the guidelines are easier to qualify for permanent coverage such as universal life or whole life insurance than with a term life insurance policy. Some carriers offer credits and “table shave programs” for their permanent policies that allow people who actually should qualify for substandard rates to be approved at Standard rates.

We encourage many of our high-risk clients to begin their life insurance search by looking at employer-sponsored life insurance programs. Many group life plans offer “simplified” underwriting and will be easier to qualify for. Most ask very few disqualifying health questions—some ask just one (do you smoke?), and some ask none at all.

One downside to this option is that few company plans are portable, meaning you can’t take them with you if you leave or are terminated from your job. A lot of these plans offer only a $50K death benefit or 1-2X annual income, which oftentimes isn’t enough, so be sure to call us to discuss your options.

4. At JRC, We Are Able to Get Low Cost Approvals

We’ve been doing this for a while now (a combined 50+ years of experience), and have learned the tricks of the trade. Here are a few of the strategies we use to get our clients the lowest cost high-risk life insurance policies.

  • Consult the Underwriting Guidelines: Many companies publish their guidelines for how they’ll accept and evaluate a case. Whether it’s blood pressure, family history, or height and weight, we can quickly check exactly what rating class you’ll fit into with each company, compare them, and determine which company will give you the best rate.
  • Write an Accompanying Letter with the Application: Few agents do this, but a letter from the agent describing who the applicant is, why they need the coverage, and explaining any tough risks, gives the underwriter valuable information they need to approve the case. You can also point out healthy lifestyle choices in this letter such as eating and exercise habits, which go a long way toward a positive approval.
  • Request a Quick Quote from the Carriers: In a particularly tough case, we may also utilize the quick quote procedure, where we request tentative offers from 20+ carriers prior to applying. The carrier that responds with the most favorable tentative offer will typically approve the application at the best rating as well, so this is a valuable strategy.
  • Experience: Experience is our strongest asset. Whether you come to us with diabetes or high cholesterol (conditions we’ve seen a thousand times), we’re going to know how much it will likely cost you and find the best carrier for you.

5. Applying for High-Risk Life Insurance is a Simple Process

When you’re applying for high-risk life insurance, it really just takes three simple steps to get you to approval.

  1. Call us at (855) 247-9555 or request a quote online. We’ll spend a few minutes learning about your specific risks and recommend the best company for your particular risk.
  2. Apply for Coverage. This takes just a few minutes and can be done without obligation or giving out any payment information. Applications can be taken over the phone and can typically be signed electronically.
  3. Review Offer. Once approved, you can decide to accept the offer the carrier makes or not. If we get the rating we were hoping for, that’s the best-case scenario, and we’ll recommend taking the policy. In some cases, though, when we feel another carrier can beat the offer on the table, we may recommend applying with another insurance company.

Before you give up on life insurance or accept an overpriced policy, give JRC Insurance Group the chance to help you shop the market! By comparing all of the nation’s top companies at once, we will always find you the best deal in the industry. No matter what your health issues or lifestyle choices are, we have the best company for you.

If you have any questions or want to start shopping for low cost, high risk life insurance, call us at 855-247-9555, and we’ll be happy to help.

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Chris is a co-founder of JRC Insurance Group. Prior to founding JRC, he owned his own agency, and he has been a licensed life insurance agent since 2014. Chris is a die-hard San Diego Padres fan, and in his spare time he enjoys reading, ping pong, poker, and spending time with his wife and three daughters.
12 comments… add one
  • lisa lynn venske November 24, 2015, 7:39 am

    I would like a quote

    • Randy McClintick November 25, 2015, 7:45 am

      Lisa, call us toll-free at (855) 247-9555 and we’ll gladly provide accurate quotes verbally and by email after determining your needs and budget.

      • Gary jarrett March 18, 2019, 6:17 am

        Looking to see about getting life insurance on wife she has ms and we want to see if she could qualify thank you Gary jarrett

        • Randy McClintick March 21, 2019, 1:06 pm

          Mr. Jarrett,

          Thank you for your question and visiting our JRC Life Insurance site.

          It depends upon the type and degree of your wife’s MS. Call us at (855) 247-9555 and a licensed agent for your state experienced in this type of underwriting will help you.

          Best Regards,

          JRC Life Insurance Group
          (855) 247-9555

  • debi segedi January 29, 2017, 4:54 am

    I prefer corresponding by e-mail. I am 61 yrs, old and I have ALS. Can you help me with life insurance coverage or am I uninsurable?

    • Randy McClintick February 15, 2017, 9:58 am


      If you still need life insurance, call JRC at (855) 247-9555. The options available vary by State you reside. You will need a “no questions asked” type of policy. These will have a 2 year waiting period to be covered by death due to a health consideration. Accidental death begins immediately. We can provide your options and answer questions within a few minutes. Take care.

  • William Patterson November 14, 2017, 5:42 pm

    Looking for a policy, 65 yrs old, hep c cured with harvoni, some liver damage, otherwise good health. Non smoker

    • Randy McClintick November 21, 2017, 12:16 pm

      Mr. Patterson,

      Thank you for your request and for visiting JRC’s life insurance website.

      We may have a few options for you. They vary by amount of coverage, how long you need it, most recent medical checkups and your state of residence. Call us at (855) 247-9555 and a licensed agent for your state will help you determine what you may qualify and explain the various applications to help you choose what’s best for you to protect your family. Have a happy Thanksgiving.

  • Ml December 5, 2017, 6:37 pm

    was diagnosed w hypersensitivity phnemonis a a few years ago, at the time family doc mentioned applying for SSD…was appalled…today i am fine, it was cured by antibiotics and the problem ended up being a common virus. Shocked to Discover can’t get life insurance cause now part of my records.

    • Randy McClintick December 6, 2017, 9:47 am

      Thank you for your request and visiting JRC’s life insurance website.

      You should be able to qualify for life insurance f you’re not receiving SSDI and your medical records show you’re clear with no further follow up required and no other serious. Call us and we’ll gather information to provide a free underwriting analysis for you. We can determine which life insurance companies will be your best fit, and check with an underwriter to verify if needed.

      JRC’s phone number is (855) 247-9555. A licensed, experienced agent will provide professional assistance.

  • Matt April 3, 2019, 9:08 am

    I would like to get a quote on my mom. She is 68 but has a little dementia. Would that effect getting her life insurance?

    • Randy McClintick April 8, 2019, 11:41 am


      Thank you for your inquiry and visiting JRC Life Insurance’s website. We don’t have a carrier which will underwrite dementia, but you may want to try Globe Life and ask about one of their “guaranteed issue” policies. Your mom will need to speak to them to answer a few questions.

      Globe’s number is (800) 742-6787. Best of luck.

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