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Information about all aspects of finances affected by a serious health condition. Includes income sources such as work, investments, and private and government disability programs, and expenses such as medical bills, and how to deal with financial problems.
Information about all aspects of health care from choosing a doctor and treatment, staying safe in a hospital, to end of life care. Includes how to obtain, choose and maximize health insurance policies.
Answers to your practical questions such as how to travel safely despite your health condition, how to avoid getting infected by a pet, and what to say or not say to an insurance company.

Life insurance


While purchasing life insurance after a diagnosis can be difficult, it is not impossible.

Alternatives, which are discussed in the other sections of this article, include:

  • Searching with a life insurance broker or on your own for life insurance that may be available in your state or a nearby state or a state to which you easily travel. 
    • Depending on your health history, you may qualify for standard issue life insurance - possibly with a higher than average ("Rated") premium. 
    • If you do not qualify for a standard issue policy, you may be able to obtain a simplified issue policy (only a few questions are asked) or guaranteed issue policy (where no questions are asked.)
  • Obtaining life insurance through work, either during an open enrollment period at your current job or going to work for another employer who offers life insurance. (For more information about changing jobs after a diagnosis, see Changing Jobs)
  • Through a partner or spouse.
  • By joining an organization that offers life insurance to members such as a fraternal organization or an organization for members of the same profession.
  • Credit life, both in the form of credit insurance and mortgage life insurance.

If You Are Recently Diagnosed, In Treatment, Recently Post Treatment or HIV Positive

  • It is preferable not to submit a life insurance application and have it rejected. The information will be on the insurance company's records, and will likely be reported to the Medical Information Bureau. Either work with a broker you trust or don't provide identifying information unless and until you actually decide to apply.
  • Brokers are trained to get as much information from you as possible. If you are asked for information you are not comfortable providing, consider answering by indicating: "I'm getting information for a friend," or "I'd rather not give that type of information at this time."
  • One way to encompass the situation without revealing your health condition or identity is to let the person know that you are interested in purchasing life insurance with no medical exam. Alternatively, you can ask if the broker has any Guaranteed Issue or Simplified Issue policies.
  • If the broker says that he or she does have such products, ask for an application for each different company. You can then see whether the application asks if you have been diagnosed, and otherwise whether you can honestly answer the questions in a positive manner. Be careful of broad questions such as: "Have you seen a doctor in the last 5 years for any condition not mentioned above?"
  • NOTE: Be careful of life insurance brokers who are more interested in their commission than taking care of you. A commission can be as high as an amount equal to 100% of the first year's premium for a life insurance policy.

If You Are A Longer Term Survivor (and not HIV Positive)

  • Thanks to medical advances, there are now several life insurance companies that will write life insurance policies for people who have a history of a health condition which is not active. The policies may be more expensive than for a person of your sex and age with no health history.
  • Without divulging your correct name, or divulging your name but asking the broker not to divulge it to the insurance company without your permission, you can tell a broker about your health history and ask:
    • What kind of life insurance coverage he or she has available for you.
    • The maximum death benefit.
    • The cost.
    • Whether there are any particular underwriting criteria the insurance company uses. ("Underwriting" is what the insurance company does when it looks at an applicant's particulars and determines whether it will issue a life insurance policy and, if so, for what cost.)
  • If no policies are available because of your health history, or if they are too expensive, ask if there are life insurance policies available with no medical exam. Alternatively, you can ask if the broker has any Guaranteed Issue or Simplified Issue policies.
  • If such policies are available, ask for an application for each different one. You can then see whether the application asks questions you can honestly answer in a positive manner. Be careful of broad questions such as: "have you seen a doctor in the last 5 years for any condition not mentioned above?"
  • Be careful of life insurance brokers who are more interested in their commission than taking care of you. A commission can be as high as an amount equal to 100% of the first year's premium for a life insurance policy.
  • It is preferable not to submit a life insurance application and have it rejected. The information will be on the insurance company's records, and will likely be reported to the Medical Information Bureau. Either work with a broker you trust or don't provide identifying information unless and until you actually decide to apply.

Where To Apply For Life Insurance

Life insurance can be purchased in any state in which you sign the application. It is a myth to think that life insurance can only be purchased in the state in which you live. As a general matter, you only have to be in a state at the time you sign the application. The life insurance company cannot solicit a purchase, or do business, in a state in which it is not registered. That doesn’t make it illegal for people to cross a state border to purchase a life insurance policy on your own volition.

While this may be legal, a life insurance company may have a company standard to the effect that it will not sell policies to people who do not live or work in the state in which the policy is issued. If you tell the truth on the application, the worst that would happen is the company would refuse to issue the policy or it would refuse to pay the death benefit but will at least refund all premiums paid – usually with interest.

Foir more information, see:


  • Before purchasing life insurance, check the insurance company rating to be sure it will be here to pay future claims. For instance, check the the company at the independent rating agency: offsite link
  • For additional information about what to look for when purchasing term life insurance, click here.
  • If you have a question about whether you should purchase life insurance, learn about the benefits of having life insurance which include often overlooked benefits while you ae alive. See New Uses of Assets -- Life Insurance.

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How To Search For An Individual Life Insurance Policy

There are several ways to look for a life insurance policy:

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More Information

Choosing An Insurance Broker

Obtaining Life Insurance Through Belonging To An Organization

Explore other group life insurance options, such as coverage through a bank, credit union, professional or alumni association, or other type of organization, such as a religious organization.

  • With respect to credit unions, if you are not a member of a one, following are alternatives for finding a credit union. Be sure to check eligibility requirements.
    • Check with your employer, family members or organizations of which you're a member to learn about local credit unions and to find out if you are eligible to join one.
    • Several web sites list credit unions by ZIP code. For instance:

Other than banks or credit unions, the more difficult it is to join the organization,  the more likely it will offer life insurance to members. For instance, a requirement that you have a degree that takes seven years to get is more likely to offer life insurance with no or few questions asked compared to an association of people who play poker.

The medical information required to purchase these types of policies varies from group to group and insurance company to insurance company. Because of this, it may be worthwhile to obtain an application for review. If you would not be eligible for coverage because of your diagnosis, simply don’t return the application.

If the company, or an agent, follows up with you, we recommend that you do not indicate that you wouldn’t be eligible for the coverage, but rather that you have decided not to apply at this time.

If you work independently, you may qualify for membership in the Freelancers Union which offers members life insurance up to $100,000 with no medical questions. You must work in a listed industry and either work a minimal amount of time or have minimal earnings to be eligible for membership in the Freelancers Union. To learn more, see offsite link. (If you work or live in New York state, the union can also be a source of health insurance).

Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance

Guaranteed Issue life insurance is insurance which is issued with no medical questions and no medical exam.

You may be able to find guaranteed life insurance by:

  • Calling a life insurance brokers. See: Choosing A Broker.
  • Searching the internet by typing words like "Guaranteed issue life insurance" into your favorite search engine - or several search engines.
  • Keeping your eyes open (and asking friends and family members to do the same) for any radio, TV, or print ads for guaranteed issue insurance. You've probably seen them before. They say things like: "You cannot be turned down for any reason!" For example, the following companies have been known to advertise guaranteed issue life insurance::
    • Colonial Penn Life Insurance: offsite link
    • Physicians Life Insurance Company advertised guaranteed issue life insurance up to $10,000 per policy for people age 45 and over. Tel.: 800.957.2112.
    • New York Life Insurance Company advertised a guranteed issue life insurance policy for people who are members of AARP (anyone can join AARP for a low annual fee).  To learn more, see: offsite link or call 800.478.1303.

Guaranteed Issue policies are generally for small amounts. They may be more costly than a traditional insurance product. Still, a Guaranteed Issue policy may be worth while. For instance, such a policy can cover final expenses. If you purchase several of these policies, the death benefit can add up.

Be aware that most guaranteed issue policies which are available are "graded." This means that the amount of the death benefit increases the longer you live. In general, this means that the actual death benefit doesn't match the stated death benefit until the end of the second or third year after the policy is issued. At the worst, if you die before the death benefit starts, your estate will at least receive a return of all the premiums you paid plus interest. The amount of interest is usually greater than what you would earn on regular savings accounts.

Guaranteed issue policies are worth purchasing if:

  • You can't get any other life insurance.
  • You need life insurance to pay for funeral expenses
  • You want to be able to sell the policy.  (A sale of a life insurance policy is known as a "Viatical Settlement" or "Senior Settlement").
  • The premiums won't be a burden.

Otherwise, you might be better off with other types of investments.

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Simplified Issue Life Insurance

Simplified issue life insurance is a life insurance policy that is similar to a guaranteed issue policy in that there is no medical exam. However, the application for a simplified issue life insurance policy asks a few medical questions.

The number of questions is no where near the same number of questions found on an application for a standard individual life insurance policy. The questions may be as basic as: "Have you been hospitalized during the last six months?"

You may find simplified insurance policies in amounts up to $50,000 or perhaps even $100,000. For example, Globe Life offers policies up to $50,000. offsite link

You can also consider asking a broker in your area if he or she has any simplified issue life insurance policies available. As noted above, give as little personal information as possible until you are ready to move forward.

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Obtaining Life Insurance Through An Employer

If you are able to work, employers are a great source of life insurance with no questions asked. Generally group policies issued through an employer are issued without medical evidence of insurability. There are no questions and no physical exam.

Current Employer

Even if your employer offers insurance and you previously turned it down, look for an "open enrollment period". Open enrollment is a period during which any employee can re-examine his or her benefit decisions (including about life insurance). During an open enrollment period, you can generally either decide to obtain coverage that you previously declined or perhaps increase coverage you already have.

Open enrollment periods are set by the insurance company or employer and can occur as frequently as every year.

Don't hesitate to ask your employer if there is an open enrollment period coming up.

Note: If your employer is unaware of your illness, you may wish to ask about open enrollment anonymously or through your advisor.

A New Employer

The larger the employer, including many government agencies, the more likely life insurance will be offered as a benefit to employees - and the less likely there will be restrictions for pre-existing conditions.

Large employers require people who perform just about every type of job -- including those we usually think of as typically being performed independently rather than as employees (such as gardeners) or for small employers that don't have health insurance (such as bartending.)

As you will read in our discussion about the Americans With Disabilities Act, you do not have to disclose your health condition when looking for a new job. Also, if you have health insurance now through work, and don't have a lapse of more than 63 days until your new coverage starts, thanks to HIPAA, you will be able to credit the amount of time you had your old coverage against any pre-existing condition waiting period a new employer imposes.

For tips on how to handle obtaining information about a new employer's benefits without divulging your health status, see: Seeking A New Job.

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Obtaining Life Insurance Through Your Partner Or Spouse

If you have a spouse or partner who is working, or belongs to a group or organization that offers life insurance benefits, check to see if you can obtain life insurance through the spouse or partner's plan. You may have to wait for an "open enrollment period" when you can obtain insurance with no health questions asked to avoid having to provide evidence of medical insurability.

It is theoretically possible to marry just to obtain insurance such as life insurance. It's a big step to take, but it may be worth it - particularly if you also don't have health insurance and this is the only way you can get it.

To Learn More

More Information

Obtaining Health Insurance

Mortgage Life Insurance

If you are currently considering purchasing property or a home, you may wish to explore the possibility of obtaining life insurance on the mortgage. Although this kind of insurance varies from company to company and state to state, you may be able to find a policy with less questions about your health condition than for a traditional life insurance policy.

Mortgage life insurance is a type of credit life insurance: the death benefit varies according to the amount of the debt outstanding. If the insured dies while the policy is in effect, the debt is paid off. There is no extra cash for a beneficiary.

Note: If you find that you don’t qualify for mortgage life insurance after reviewing the application, it is preferable to indicate that you have decided not to apply, rather than state that you don’t qualify.