Being on the receiving end of a negative health diagnosis is never easy. Understandably, it often raises a lot of emotional, logistical and financial questions. One question you may find yourself asking is: How can I continue to take care of my family? Is it too late to purchase a life insurance policy? Can I get life insurance on someone who is dying?

While there may be ways to add to existing life insurance policies, unfortunately, if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a terminal condition like heart disease or cancer, it is unlikely that you will be able to purchase a new life insurance policy.

Ultimately, the question of whether or not it is possible to get coverage boils down to a concept known as insurability. Below, we define insurability so that you can have a better understanding of why it’s so important when it comes to life insurance.

WHAT IS INSURABILITY IN LIFE INSURANCE?

Insurability, as it pertains to life insurance, refers to whether or not you are healthy enough to qualify for coverage with a particular life insurance company. Each company sets its own guidelines on who it considers to be insurable, but generally speaking, diagnosis of a terminal (or serious) illness is likely to disqualify you from coverage.

Your health and your age are two of the most important factors that life insurance companies consider when evaluating your application. Even if you are deemed to be insurable, as you get older or if you develop certain health issues the premiums you pay may be higher than for someone who is younger and healthier.

PROOF OF INSURABILITY

In order to determine whether or not you are insurable, the insurance company will require proof or evidence of insurability. Exactly how your health is evaluated will depend on the policies of each insurance company. Sometimes, all that is required is an application that includes your answers to key questions about your height, weight, and personal and family medical history. If you’ve been diagnosed with a terminal illness, your medical records will reveal this information.

In other cases, you’ll need to complete a health examination. This will typically include a screening of your vitals (such as your blood pressure and pulse, which can inform your risk of heart disease) as well as a blood and/or urine sample.

WHEN SHOULD SOMEONE GET LIFE INSURANCE?

There is no specific age when someone should get life insurance. Whether or not you need insurance, and what level of coverage you need, will depend on your unique financial situation, and typically changes depending on the stage of life you’re in.

That being said, it is difficult, if not impossible, to qualify for life insurance if you’re in poor health or have been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Heart disease, cancer, diabetes and many other diseases or conditions that typically arise later in life can make someone uninsurable. This is why it’s a good idea to get life insurance as soon as possible. It’s also why many parents will purchase life insurance for their children — in order to “lock in” their insurability when they are young and healthy.

ONE POSSIBLE WAY TO GET COVERAGE REGARDLESS OF YOUR HEALTH

If you’re eligible for inclusion in a group life insurance policy — for example, through your employer — there’s a good chance you can qualify for coverage without a health screening. You’re covered simply by being a part of the group. While not ideal, if you find you have no other means of qualifying for coverage, gaining coverage through your employer may be an option to consider.

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