Income protection is an insurance policy designed to cover you in case you lose your income for health reasons. When you take out a policy, the insurer is taking on the risk of you not being able to work because of your health at some point in the future. This is why your health will be factored in when the insurer is deciding whether or not to insure you and how much it should cost.
Your health is not the only variable that affects the price of an income protection policy. Others include your age, lifestyle, job, and what kind of cover you’re looking to buy. In this guide we'll explore exactly how an existing medical condition might affect you when buying and claiming on an income protection policy.
Can I take out income protection if I’ve got a health condition?
You might be able to, but it depends what condition you have and how severe it is. Everyone has to provide information about their health when they apply for income protection insurance.
If you disclose a health condition during your application, it’s likely that insurers will deem you higher risk to insure – so they might make the premiums more expensive for you, or exclude your particular condition from the cover. If your health condition is particularly severe, they might decline your application altogether.
Income protection for people with asthma
You might be able to take out income protection if you have asthma, but it depends on whether your asthma is categorised as mild, moderate or severe. In mild cases, you might be able to take out cover on standard rates; in moderate cases, with a loading added to the price; and in more severe cases, with an exclusion added to your policy. In particularly severe cases, you might be declined cover altogether by some insurers.
Read our guide to income protection for people with asthma
Income protection for people a low or high BMI
Having a low or high BMI could affect you when applying for income protection, making it more expensive or more difficult to get covered. An extremely low or high BMI could lead to being declined by some insurers, whereas a low or high BMI may lead to further underwriting or a loading being added to the price.
Read our guide to income protection for people with a low or high BMI
Income protection for people who've had cancer
A previous cancer diagnosis could affect you when applying for income protection. Insurers will usually require 7-10 years of remission before covering you on standard terms. Otherwise they might add a loading to the price of your policy or add an exclusion to your policy relating to your diagnosis. If your diagnosis was very recent or very severe, it's likely they'd decline your application for cover.
Read our guide to income protection for people who've had cancer
Income protection for people with diabetes
Having diabetes is likely to affect how much it costs or how eligible you are for income protection insurance. It depends on whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes and what your latest HbA1c reading is. Find out more in our guide.
Read our guide to income protection for people with diabetes
Income protection for people with epilepsy
You might be able to take out income protection if you've been diagnosed with epilepsy, but it depends on the severity of your condition. In mild cases, you might be able to take out cover on standard rates or with a loading added to the price. In more severe cases, you might be able to take out cover with an exclusion added to your policy, or you might be declined cover by some insurers.
Read our guide to income protection for people with epilepsy
Do I have to disclose my existing health condition?
It’s very important to be completely honest about your health when applying for income protection insurance. If not, you could run into problems when trying to make a claim, or even invalidate your policy altogether.
It’s only worth paying for cover that’s genuinely right for you, and will pay out when you need it to. No-one wants to pay for insurance only to find it won’t pay out when they need to claim because they didn’t declare an existing condition. This is why honesty is always the best policy when it comes to your income protection application.
It’s only worth paying for cover that’s genuinely right for you, and will pay out when you need it to.
What income protection policy is best for me if I’ve got a health condition?
The ideal scenario would be to find an insurer who’ll cover you for any medical reason – including your existing condition. This might be possible, but how likely it is depends on the nature and severity of your condition. Bear in mind that being covered for your existing condition would also be likely to make your policy more expensive.
Alternatively, you might be able to find an insurer who’ll cover you for any medical condition – excluding your existing condition. This means you wouldn’t be able to claim if your existing condition caused you to lose your income, but you would be able to claim for any other medical reason. Going down this route would make your policy more affordable.
Ultimately, it depends how much you can afford (and are comfortable) to spend – and what you’re trying to achieve by buying cover. If you definitely want to be covered for your existing condition, you might have less insurers to choose from and you might have to pay a bit more to be covered. If you’re happy to have it excluded, you might have greater choice and more affordable cover. It’s up to you and what you think constitutes peace of mind.
Can I claim on my income protection policy for an existing condition?
It depends whether or not you’re covered for the condition by your policy. Generally speaking, income protection covers you if you can’t work for any medical reason, but if you disclosed an existing condition when you applied, the insurer may have added an exclusion to your policy. In summary:
- You will be able to claim for an existing condition if: The insurer hasn’t added an exclusion to your policy, so you’re covered for the condition. This is most likely to be the case for less severe conditions, like mild asthma.
- You won’t be able to claim for an existing condition if: The insurer added an exclusion to your policy that means you’re not covered for the condition. This is most likely to be the case if your condition is more or very severe.
How a pre-existing health condition could affect your application
Depending on the nature and severity of the health condition you disclose during the underwriting process, there are four typical outcomes when trying to buy income protection with an existing condition:
- Your condition will be covered by the policy at no extra cost
- Your condition will be covered by the policy but a ‘loading’ will be added onto your monthly premiums (i.e. the cost will be higher than it would be for someone without your condition)
- Your condition will be excluded from your policy (so you wouldn’t be able to make a claim if you lost your income because of this condition)
- Your application will be declined (this happens if the insurer thinks your condition means you'll always be too high risk to insure)
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- You might be able to buy income protection if you’ve got an existing health condition
- Having an existing condition could make it more expensive to get covered with income protection insurance
- The insurer might exclude your condition from your income protection policy, so you wouldn’t be able to claim for it (you could only claim if a different medical reason stopped you working)
- Depending what condition you have, some insurers might decline your income protection application