Declined For Life Insurance? Don’t Worry. You Can Still Obtain Life Insurance. Here’s How.

Updated: April 12, 2024 at 9:40 am

Life Insurance form declinedBeing declined for life insurance feels like a right hook to the face. You just completed a life insurance application, something on your “to-do” list for a while. You feel good about it. Then, a week or two goes by, and you don’t hear anything.

A couple of days later, you receive a letter from the carrier. You open in earnest, only to read that you have been declined for life insurance! You are upset and don’t know what to do next. Declined for life insurance? How can that be?

Don’t worry, we say. Chances are you can still obtain life insurance coverage.


We outline the steps next. Most of the time, the decline boils down to one thing that happened, and an approval boils to one thing you need to do.

In this article, we will discuss what to do if you are declined for life insurance. Feel free to jump around to a section.

Let’s discuss the one reason you were declined for life insurance. We will then go through the steps that you need to do in order to obtain a successful life insurance approval.

I want to reiterate that even if you were declined life insurance, we can find you a policy. We have helped hundreds of people obtain a policy after they were declined for life insurance.

The One Reason You Were Declined For Life Insurance

When you get right to it, the one reason you were declined for life insurance is that you applied with the wrong carrier.

It’s that simple.

You see, there are thousands of life insurance carriers in the United States.

A carrier will insure you despite the reason for your decline.

So, that’s what you need to do: find a carrier that will insure your situation and offer you life insurance.

That’s what we discuss next. How to find a carrier that will insure you.

How To Find A Carrier That Will Insure You

It’s easy to find a carrier that will insure you. However, there are steps you need to take to find that carrier. You don’t want to mess up because you’ll end up back with a declined life insurance application again.

These steps aren’t necessary in any order, but you’ll need to do some homework. Here are the steps.

(1) Know the reason why

(2) Work with an independent agent

(3) Let time pass (if applicable)

(4) Know your options

We discuss these steps in more detail next.

Step 1: Know The Reason Why

We know it can be a shock if declined for life insurance. Yes, a declined happened, but, in our experience, declines happen because of one of the following reasons. Note: we discuss some of the specific reasons carriers decline later in the article.


You did not disclose a significant health condition or lifestyle on your application. As we said in a previous post, even though the insurers can’t see your medical or lifestyle history, they have ways of determining health conditions or high-risk lifestyle through various reporting on the MIB and in other databases.

Just be honest on the application. There is no need to lie or hide information. In our experience, underwriters like to see the whole, honest picture of a person. It provides them the best way to make a complete and honest offer.

Unknown Information

This can happen. Let’s say you are one of those people who do not go to the doctor. Or, you just haven’t been in a while. You apply for life insurance with full medical underwriting. The lab results come back with abnormal, high blood sugar. Or, your urine test indicates the presence of blood.

These situations can happen. The insurer might decline you in order to obtain more information. Generally speaking, if you go to the doctor regularly, there really shouldn’t be any surprises unless an ailment occurred between doctor visits.

Wrong Carrier

We all like to “DIY.” When it comes to life insurance, however, your life isn’t a bathroom makeover. Unless you know you are 100% healthy, and certain of that, you can’t just buy any policy.

These situations happen. You blindly apply thinking you’ll be approved. In this case, maybe you are forthright with your health condition or situation, and the carrier simply declines you because they have different underwriting requirements.

You see, all carriers have different underwriting requirements. Some carriers are extremely stringent and will decline you for any significant ailment or lifestyle condition. Contrast this to another carrier, which may accept the ailment or lifestyle condition with little or no rating.

Don’t forget: upon request, the carrier can supply you with the reason for the decline. This is a good place to start if declined.

Second: Work With An Independent Agent

Ok. Call this a shameless plug. However, we know that by working with an independent agent, your chances of decline are much lower. Why? Independent agents, like My Family Life Insurance, work with many carriers and can match your specific situation to the right life insurance solution.

For example, one carrier may decline your life insurance application because of multiple sclerosis. However, another may accept your life insurance application because your multiple sclerosis is controlled well with medication.

Independent agents know which carriers will work and which will not. The really good agents will act as your champion, fight for you, and lobby on your behalf by working with the underwriters.

Additionally, a cover letter from the agent describing your information in more detail is extremely helpful. For instance, let’s say you have type 1 diabetes. You may not know that life insurance for someone with type 1 diabetes can be rated or declined. However, you are in great shape with no ancillary effects from diabetes. A well-structured and written cover letter describing your situation in more detail can be the deciding factor between a decline and approval.

If declined for life insurance, don’t re-apply somewhere else quickly.  Instead, contact an independent agent who works with many carriers. Pass along the pertinent information so the agent may research and present the best options.

Three: Time Heals All Wounds

Sometimes, just letting the sheer passage of timelapse can help. For example, let’s say you had cancer 2 years ago and are cancer-free now. You go to the oncologist regularly. Everything is in the clear. You apply and get declined for life insurance.

Most carriers have a 5-year wait upon diagnosis and recovery upon cancer. If you applied before the 5 years, you probably would be declined for life insurance. Or, offered a table rating at best.

DUI, felonies, or drug use is in a similar category. If you have recovered, most carriers need to see an extended period without use before you apply for life insurance. For example, some carriers have a 5-year waiting period between the end of drug abuse and the life insurance application. You will need to demonstrate sobriety between this time.

Depending on your situation, waiting could make sense.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t go without any life insurance. Next, we talk about your options.

Four: Know Your Options If Declined For Life Insurance

As we mentioned before, every carrier has different underwriting requirements. Some are only looking for the healthy applicants and price themselves accordingly. Others want to specialize in applicant-insureds who have diabetes or some other moderate to significant health conditions.

You, therefore, have many options depending on your situation. 

Also, working with an independent agent who fights and acts on your behalf sometimes is the key difference. Independent agents can determine what types of policies are in your best interest. For example, a simplified issue policy, a fully underwritten policy, or something else, such as group coverage (for family businesses or a husband and wife business).

If a current ailment is precluding you from an appropriate amount of affordable life insurance, there is a guaranteed issue life insurance option. With guaranteed issue life insurance, you simply fill out an application, send in a check for the first month’s premium, and you have life insurance!

They are good options. For example, let’s say you had cancer which is in remission. You need life insurance, but you haven’t met the waiting period for a traditional life insurance policy. A guaranteed issue option can potentially meet your needs until you are eligible.

In addition, there are other alternatives that we can discuss with you.

We discuss guaranteed issue life insurance in more detail later.

Top 4 Reasons You Were Declined For Life Insurance

While carriers decline life insurance applications for various reasons, many common reasons exist. Here, we discuss 4 reasons all carriers will decline your life insurance application.

Maybe that extra speeding ticket was no big deal to you, right? Well, nothing makes life insurance underwriting departments more unsettled than the following situations. Avoid these, as best you can and within your control, and the underwriting department will say “yes” to your life insurance application.

(1) Excessive Reckless Driving – carriers can decline you for exessive speeding tickets or accidents. Recency matters. For example, if you just had a DWI, you aren’t getting life insurance. Additionally, you can be the healthiest person on earth and expecting a “preferred best” health classification. However, if you have 3 or more speeding tickets in the last 2 or 3 years, the carrier will likely charge you a higher premium.

(2) Lifestyle / Occupation – Do you enjoy base jumping, hang gliding, or parachuting out of airplanes? These are thrilling and exciting. While you derive enjoyment from these activities, life insurance carriers don’t see it that way. Hazardous activities and hobbies will likely lead to a decline. Or, an exclusion to the policy.

Additionally, if your occupation is on the Forbes 10 deadliest jobs list, chances are carriers won’t be insuring you any time soon.

Nevertheless, we at My Family Life Insurance have been able to secure life insurance for many people who work in dangerous professions. Contact us to learn more.

(3) Excessive Alchohol or Illegal Drug Use – Having an alcoholic drink here or there isn’t going to stop you from obtaining life insurance. Alcoholism will. If a carrier suspects excessive alcohol use, they will test your liver function. A positive alcohol marker will lead to a decline. Additionally, illegal drug use will also lead to a decline.

If you smoke marijuana, that won’t necessarily lead to a life insurance decline. However, if you smoke or use marijuana excessively, it will.

(4) Health – Obviously, your health matters. We discuss this in more detail next.

Health Conditions Matter To Life Insurance Carriers

Your health is a key factor in whether a life insurance carrier accepts your application or declines you. We’ve compiled a list of the more common health insurance declines:

(1) Obesity – while a little overweight isn’t, generally, a big deal, carriers will decline applicants who are grossly overweight. Many studies have shown links to health problems related to obesity.

(2) A combination of high cholesterol, lipids, and triglycerides – many people have high cholesterol, while stable and under medication, is really not a big deal with life insurance carriers. This becomes a big problem when your lipids and triglycerides are high as well. This combination suggests a potential risk for stroke or heart disease.

(3) Elevated liver function – your liver plays an important role in your body. When your liver isn’t functioning properly, that could be a sign of other, undiagnosed ailments. Treated and under doctor’s care, a person with abnormal liver function can obtain life insurance. A recent diagnosis or untreated conditions usually results in a decline.

(4) Blood or protein in the urine – without a proper diagnosis or treatment, life insurance carriers will simply decline you if they see any blood or protein in the urine.

(5) Any recent diagnosis of a moderate to a major health condition – this includes cancer, stroke, heart disease, etc. It’s not that people who have had these ailments can’t obtain life insurance. The problem is a recent diagnosis. Carriers want to see stability and treatment. If you had cancer, they want to know how long in remission and reports from your doctor.

Of course, there are some conditions that are uninsurable. Huntington’s disease, for example, is an uninsurable condition through traditional underwriting.

Options For Life Insurance If You Are Uninsurable

If you are simply deemed uninsurable, either for health or lifestyle reasons, we have options. You see, you can obtain life insurance.

Are these “ideal” situations? Probably not, but, as I always say, some coverage is better than none.

Here are the options:

  • (Almost) Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance Up To $100,000
  • Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance

(Almost) Guaranteed Life Insurance Up To $100,000

It is possible to obtain almost guaranteed life insurance up to $100,000. I call it almost guaranteed because you only need to answer one (two-part) question.

The question is: do you work full-time and perform the normal activities of like age. Or, some states require your answering a different second part: …and perform the normal duties at your employment.

Obviously, this insurance can help many people. People with Huntington’s disease can obtain life insurance. Or, people with HIV can obtain life insurance, provided they work full time.

You have a choice between a term life insurance policy or a universal life insurance policy. Options are subject to state approval.

Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance

Guaranteed issue life insurance is always an option. No health questions exist. There’s no underwriting. You just fill out the application, send in the premium, and you have life insurance.

While this sounds good, there are some drawbacks.

First, carriers limit the death benefit on guaranteed issue life insurance. Usually, you can purchase no more than $25,000. Because it is a low amount, most people who purchase it, use it as a form of burial insurance.

Second, because there are no health questions, the carrier must mitigate its risk somehow. They do this by implementing a “waiting period” on the death benefit. Usually, if death occurs by illness/natural cause in the first 2 years of the policy’s start date, your beneficiary receives the premiums you paid + interest.

After 2 years, the death benefit is 100% paid. Accidental death at any point is paid 100%, even in the first two years.

You can check out premiums here. These are some of the carriers we work with. Just enter your information and select “poor health” for the health class. The available carriers with corresponding premiums populate.

Do these premiums seem expensive? They can be.

The good news is that we work with a carrier that offers guaranteed issue life insurance at more affordable premiums. The one drawback is that the carrier is not available in every state. Contact us for more information.

Now You Know You Can Obtain Life Insurance!

Declined for life insurance? No problem. Now, we hope you realize the many options you have. Working with a knowledgeable, independent agent can make all the difference.

If you were declined for life insurance, rated, or just don’t know what to do next, contact us or fill the form below. We would like to have a conversation with you. That’s right, a simple conversation. Unlike other agencies, we aren’t trying to sell you. We want to know more about you and see if we can help. If not, you’ve learned a little more, and we will then part as friends. Seriously! We hold your best interests at heart, and we do that by providing the right solution for you. Not for someone else. If we can’t help you, we will tell you so, and help you or point you in the direction of someone who can.

Learn More

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I am a CFP® Professional and have an MBA. I founded My Family Life Insurance to provide honest, trustworthy advice and economical insurance solutions to individuals, families, and business owners. Contact me if you have any questions. There is no risk! If I can't help you, you've learned a little more, and we'll part as friends. Seriously! Can your current agent say this? View my linked-in profile here:


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