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If you’re over 65 and have health problems, you may think your chances of buying life insurance are slim to none.

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The good news is that life insurance for seniors with health issues does exist, and you might even have options.

The policy is called final expense life insurance. Even if you are sick, have pre-existing conditions, and even if you are terminally ill, you can get covered.

Here’s everything you must know.

What are Pre-Existing Conditions?

There are many pre-existing conditions seniors could have that would prevent them from securing an underwritten life insurance policy, but the most common are:

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Most insurance companies won’t insure you if you have any major illnesses. If they do, they are at much higher premiums, but final expense insurance could be an answer.

Why Insurance Companies Care about your Illnesses

You might wonder why insurance companies would care so much about your illness. Why would illnesses matter if you’re honest about them and get premiums for your age?

It comes down to how bad the issue is and how likely it is to cause premature death. Even though we’re talking about life insurance for seniors with health issues, some issues are more deadly than others.

man using inhaler

They’ll start with what the condition is and how bad it is. For example, if you have arthritis, it’s less likely that it will cause you to die prematurely than cancer or heart disease.

But insurers also look at your current health condition and how well the treatment has gone. If you can prove you’ve overcome the issue and are in good health now, you might qualify for traditionally underwritten life insurance. If you aren’t, you may have to stick to the guaranteed issue policies.

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They look at how long it’s been since your diagnosis. The insurance company may have many more questions if it’s a relatively new diagnosis. If you’ve had it for a long time, your chances of dying prematurely are much more significant.

What is Final Expense Life Insurance?

Final expense life insurance is coverage for your final expenses. It can cover things like your funeral, cremation, casket, and final medical bills.

It’s not a policy to leave behind a financial legacy for your loved ones, but it protects them financially when making arrangements.

Most life insurance companies offer policies from $10,000 – $25,000, just enough to cover your final arrangements.

Types of Final Expense Insurance

If you’re looking for life insurance for the sick and elderly, there are two options: guaranteed issue and simplified issue final expense insurance.

Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance

Guaranteed issue life insurance offers guaranteed coverage no matter what illnesses you have. The insurance companies won’t even ask. They cover anyone within the age range they require and who can afford the premiums.

Guaranteed issue policies have a 2-year waiting period. During that time, your beneficiaries only receive graded benefits if you die. This means they only receive the premiums you paid up to that point, plus a premium of 10% – 20%.

They get the full death benefit if you live past two years from buying the policy.

Simplified Issue Life Insurance

Simplified issue life insurance offers coverage to those who qualify. You don’t have to undergo a medical exam, but you must answer a few simple questions about your health. You may get covered if you don’t have any of the conditions they ask about.

Every life insurance company asks different questions, but here is a sample of what you could expect:

  • Are you currently receiving assistance with regular daily care (dressing, bathing, eating), etc.?
  • Are you currently a patient in the hospital or any healthcare facility?
  • Have you been told to have diagnostic tests or care within the last 12 months?
  • Have you been told to have diagnostic tests or treatment for cancer in the previous 24 months?
  • Have you been diagnosed with HIV?
  • Have you been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or Dementia?

If you answer ‘no’ to all of the questions (and honestly), you might get a simplified issue policy. These policies might have a waiting period, but not all do. You also might be able to buy more coverage and pay lower premiums than guaranteed issue coverage.

Insurance companies may also check certain databases and records to ensure you are a good risk, but you won’t have to undergo a medical exam.

Watch Out for the Waiting Period

One problem seniors looking for life insurance for the sick and elderly need to consider is the waiting period.

Think about your diagnosis and prognosis. If you aren’t expected to live more than 2 years, paying the premiums for a policy with graded benefits may not make sense.

Your loved ones will only get the premiums you paid plus 10% – 20%. While you probably won’t earn 10% – 20% on any savings or investments, there are ways to put money aside for your final arrangements without paying an insurance company.

But, if you expect to live more than 2 years (of course, no one knows for sure), then a final expense insurance policy may be a good fit.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for life insurance for seniors with health issues, you’ll likely need final expense insurance. Whether you qualify for a simplified or guaranteed issue depends on your illness and your current state of health.

Simplified issue policies have lower premiums and may not have a waiting period. Guaranteed issue policies have much higher premiums, lower face amounts, and always have a 2-year waiting period.

See what options you have to save the most money on your policy while protecting your loved ones. Life insurance can provide your loved ones with the financial peace they need while they mourn your death but don’t put yourself in financial trouble trying to find a policy that covers sick seniors.


Meet Aaron H., a senior life insurance agent from California with 15+ years of experience. With a major in finance, excellent analytical and communication skills, and a passion for helping clients find personalized solutions, Aaron is a trusted advisor in the industry. He stays up-to-date on the latest trends and developments by attending webinars and workshops, reading industry blogs, and writing informative blog posts on this website. Aaron also has a keen understanding of SEO and online marketing, which he uses to help his clients reach a wider audience and get the coverage they need. He cherishes spending quality time with his wife, two children, and elder parents.