5 reasons you could be refused life insurance
Sarah Rigney
Staff Writer

Here we take a look at the main reasons why you could be denied life insurance cover and what you can do about it.

Life insurance is great to have in place as it provides peace of mind, however taking out a policy is not as easy as obtaining other forms of insurance.

To receive cover, your application needs to be reviewed by the insurer, and in some cases, your request for life cover could be turned down upon assessing your circumstances.

Different factors and levels of risk can cause an application to be declined. Here we explore the main reasons someone may be refused life insurance cover.

It’s important to note that for some of the below reasons, you may not actually be refused cover, but instead your premium may have a loading applied, or there may be special terms added to your policy.

A loading

A loading is an additional cost that may be added to a policy if you’re deemed more ‘risky’ to cover by an insurer. This is commonly seen in life insurance.

When it comes to life insurance, a loading fee may be added to your policy ​​if the insurer thinks you’re more likely to make a claim. 

Some of the reasons for this are having an existing health condition, smoking, or working in a hazardous job.

Special or revised terms

This applies when an insurer is still willing to offer cover, but at a revised higher premium or an exclusion to a particular condition. 

This is applied when a medical condition or specific occupation is disclosed by the applicant.

Different insurers will have different rules on who they will insure, so we’d advise you to shop around or use a broker, who will be able to assist you in finding the best cover for your needs. 

So, without further ado, let’s jump into reasons you could be refused life insurance cover.

1. You have a pre-existing medical condition

There are a variety of medical reasons that can result in you struggling to obtain cover.

Some of the main reasons include:

  • Being overweight, obese, or having a high BMI
  • Having been diagnosed with cancer recently, or in the past
  • Ongoing treatment which includes chemotherapy and radiotherapy
  • A history of heart attacks
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol, lipids or triglycerides
  • Hepatitis
  • HIV and AIDS
  • A combination of risk factors, such as obesity combined with smoking
  • A terminal illness diagnosis
  • Outstanding investigations, results, or surgeries

Your application may not be instantly rejected if you have one of the above medical conditions, but on the whole, you may find it harder to get insurance. 

On the other hand, if you develop one of these conditions after you’ve successfully taken out a policy your cover should still be valid.  

2. You have a hazardous occupation

Insurers deem certain occupations as being more dangerous, thus making you riskier to insure.

For example, you may find it difficult to obtain life insurance if you work in the following industries or fields:

  • The armed forces
  • Construction
  • Aviation
  • Working at sea
  • Emergency services
  • Using explosives
  • Being exposed to chemicals or other dangerous substances
  • Professional sportsperson

3. You have high-risk hobbies or pastimes

If your hobbies are a bit out of the ordinary, you could find yourself in a difficult spot trying to secure life insurance. 

In general, insurers tend to be wary of insuring those who regularly enjoy:

  • Skydiving
  • Rock climbing
  • Bungee jumping
  • Partaking in motorsports
  • Scuba diving
  • Boxing
  • Piloting private planes

Insurers will vary in which hobbies they see as being dangerous, so it’s best to shop around to view your options and see if there’s an insurer willing to cover you if you pay a higher premium.

4. Your lifestyle

When applying for life cover, you’ll be asked about certain aspects of your lifestyle:

  • Alcohol intake: While having a few drinks a week shouldn’t result in a policy being denied, insurers will consider how many units of alcohol you have a week to understand your drinking habits. If an insurer thinks your alcohol intake is too high, you may be refused cover. 
  • Drug abuse: It’s unusual to receive life insurance If you actively use drugs. If you inform the insurer that you take regular recreational drugs, they will look at your application with more wariness and may refuse you cover.

5. You’ve had a policy cancelled before

If you’ve had a policy cancelled by a life insurance provider in the past, you may experience trouble securing a policy in the future.

A life insurance policy can be cancelled for several reasons, including:

  • Non-disclosure: If the information you provide when taking out your policy is inaccurate or false, your insurer can later cancel your policy.
  • Making fraudulent claims: If a claim contains information that is false or misleading, the life insurer can refuse to pay out and can terminate the policy.
  • Making multiple claims: If you make too many claims, insurers may think you’re too risky to insure and cancel your policy.
  • Missed payments: If you have agreed to pay for your policy in instalments and you miss payments, the insurer reserves the right to cancel your policy.

Postponed life insurance 

This is somewhat different to being outright refused life insurance cover. An insurer may postpone your life insurance application if your current medical circumstances may refrain you from obtaining cover. 

However, the insurer will review a new application from you after a certain period has passed, e.g. 6 months, to determine whether your medical circumstances are the same, or have improved. 

Insurers may postpone your application if:

  • You’re awaiting medical test results 
  • You’re awaiting a surgery
  • You’re awaiting a medical appointment/check, e,g. a heart check

What can you do if you’re denied cover?

If you’re refused cover, don’t worry. You should ask the insurer the reason behind the refusal and see if they have any advice on how you would be able to receive cover.

In some cases you could:

  • Get a loading put on your premium
  • Ask for revised policy terms
  • Seek a postponement 

If possible, you can also try to tackle any health issues and reapply for cover. For example, you could try to lose weight or lower your cholesterol. 

We’d recommend speaking to a doctor or healthcare professional for advice on this.  

If you've been refused mortgage protection insurance, we've also outlined what options you have in this guide.

Being honest and transparent

While it may be tempting to withhold information on your life insurance application so that you receive cover, this could come back to bite your loved ones in the future. 

If you pass away due to an aspect you failed to disclose, the insurer likely won’t pay out your claim. 

And if it’s discovered by the insurer that you lied on your application, your policy could be cancelled, as mentioned in point number five. 

Helpful life insurance articles

If you found this article informative, why not check out the following?

Stay up to date with our latest articles by keeping an eye on our blog and guide pages.

Find the right cover on bonkers.ie

Are you on the search to find the best cover for your needs? If so, bonkers.ie has you covered. 

Using our free life insurance comparison tool, you can easily review the best policies on the market from Ireland’s leading insurers

Once you submit an inquiry, a member of our experienced insurance team will arrange a call with you and guide you through the process.

You can learn all about applying for cover in our Quickstart Guide.

You can also compare a range of other insurance services, energy tariffs, broadband deals, and banking options on bonkers.ie.

Get in touch

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