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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.


It is possible to purchase insurance on credit card, automobile and other debt, with a few or no health questions. Known as "credit insurance," the insurer pays a benefit in case you become disabled, ("credit disability insurance"), lose your job, ("credit unemployment insurance"), or die ("credit life insurance").

Credit insurance can be very useful for people who have a health condition which could be terminal. For instance, credit life insurance can be used creatively to increase the size of your estate by paying off debt your estate would otherwise have to pay.

All credit insurance has the following features in common:

  • There no medical exams and few or no health questions -- even for credit life and credit disability insurance.
  • There is generally a waiting period before the benefits become effective.
  • There may be a period of time (such as 6 or 12 months) during which no benefit or a reduced benefit is paid due to a loss caused by a pre-existinghealth condition.
  • Premiums are generally expressed as a percentage of the outstanding balance. Because of this, the premium cost generally changes each month.

Today, credit insurance coverages generally come bundled together -- if you want one, you have to take them all.

Credit insurance is not the same as "Credit Protection" which is a term often used for Identity Theft coverage. Most Identity Theft contracts are not really a form of insurance. Instead they generally only provide a copy of your credit report and notification when someone accesses your file. They're usually not worth the fee. You can usually do this easily on your own - plus put a freeze on your credit. (To learn more, see: Identity Theft: How And Why To Protect Your Credit From Identity Theft)

Credit insurance should be used in addition to any other life and other insurance you have or for which you can qualify -- not instead of it. For information about how to purchase life insurance with a health history, click here.

For additional information, see:

Other "Bundled Protections" For Credit Cards

Larger credit card companies often offer bundled protection plans that cover payments, and sometimes interest and fees as well, during a period of time after a specific event. Some of the events for which benefits are provided are:

  • Involuntarily losing your job. Quitting is not a covered event.
  • If you become hospitalized.
  • If you leave work on a short-term leave or a longer leave such as under the Family And Medical Leave Act.
  • If you become permanently disabled (credit disability insurance) or die (credit life insurance.)

Benefits vary for different events. For example:

  • If you become hospitalized, your account may be put on hold and you may not have to make any payments at all for up to two or three months.
  • If you lose your job involuntarily, you may not have to make any payments for 12-18 months.

Like all credit insurance, bundled protections do not ask health questions. Still, there may be important requirements before you have coverage. For instance, there may be a requirement that you work a certain minimum number of hours prior to the date of your claim.

How To Get Credit Life Insurance, Disability Insurance And Other Bundled Protections

For consumer goods (including cars)

You sign up for when you purchase the item. Ask the salesperson for the appliance, car, furniture, etc. Since no health questions are asked, there is no reason to disclose your health history.

For credit cards

  • Credit insurance is generally available when you apply for a new card.
  • Many credit card companies allow you to add these protections at any time by calling the phone number listed on your monthly statement or on the company's web site. Others only allow these protections when you open a new account, or if you are invited by the company to enroll in the protections.
  • If you don't have credit life insurance, it's worth calling to ask if it's available. Use the phone number listed on your bill. Have your account number handy when you call -- as well as your Social Security number in case you're asked. It's okay to give your Social Security number in this instance because you're starting the call, and you're calling a number you know belongs to the insurance carrier or an affiliate.
  • Don't be surprised if you call the credit card company and ask if you can add credit life insurance and are told that the company doesn't offer it. On the other hand, if you ask about "bundled protections" or "credit insurance" you'll usually find one of the protections included in the bundle is credit life insurance. Instead of stating plainly that the bundle includes credit life insurance, the text may say something like "in the event of death, up to $25,000 is cancelled."

As always, read the fine print. If the full package includes items you do not want or need, ask if there is a less expensive package that includes less coverage.

Creative Suggestions For Maximizing Use Of Credit Insurance

The Wall Street Journal reported on a man who went into the hospital with a terminal illness. He wrote his wife a check on his credit card for $10,000. The credit card had credit life insurance (see above) on it. His wife used the money as a down payment for an expensive car which she purchased in her husband's name. Through the car dealer, she purchased automotive credit life insurance on the loan for the balance of the purchase price.

When the husband died, the life insurance on his credit card paid off the $10,000 debt, and the life insurance on the car loan paid off the debt on the car. After his death, his wife owned the car free and clear.

If you have new uses of credit, please share them with us by posting them on our Finance Message Board or by writing to Survivorship A to Z.