Life insurance policies pay out a lump sum if you die while you’re insured. This means that when insurers consider your application, they’ll be weighing up how likely it is that you will die in that time (i.e. how likely it is that they’ll have to pay out).

Having or having had an existing medical condition like hepatitis B or C will cause insurers to consider this more carefully during the ‘underwriting’ process that all applications go through. For people without a health condition, the decision about whether or not to insure you can usually be reached automatically. For someone with a previous diagnosis in their medical history, the application is more likely to be handed over to a (human) underwriter for closer review.

Depending on the nature of your hepatitis B or C, including how well you’ve recovered or how well your condition is managed, you might find it more difficult or more expensive to get insured. This is because insurers may consider you higher risk to insure (so they’ll charge more to carry that risk) or too high risk (so they won’t be willing to insure you at all).

Can I buy life insurance if I’ve had hepatitis B or C?

You should be able to buy life insurance if you’ve previously been diagnosed with hepatitis B or C, but it depends on the information you provide about your condition, its severity, and how well it's managed. Anyone who applies for life insurance has to answer questions about their health and lifestyle, which includes questions about their:

  • Personal health history
  • Family health history
  • Height and weight (BMI)
  • Smoking status

All of this will be taken into account during the underwriting process, as the insurer evaluates how much of a risk you are to insure and how much you should pay to be covered. If you’ve recovered well from hepatitis B or C infection, or your condition is well managed, it’s likely you’ll be able to take out life insurance. If you disclose other lifestyle factors that could relate to your diagnosis (e.g. recreational drug use), it might be more difficult or more expensive to get covered.

Getting help from an adviser can really help if you’ve ever been diagnosed with hepatitis B or C, as they’ll quickly be able to filter out the insurers most likely to accept your application, who offer the best terms for you and your circumstances.

What will insurers ask about my hepatitis B or C diagnosis?

If you’ve had hepatitis B or C, it’s likely you’ll be required to provide the following info during the underwriting process:

  • Whether you’ve been diagnosed with chronic hepatitis
  • Whether you’ve been diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver or chronic pancreatitis
  • Whether you’ve received or are currently receiving treatment for hepatitis B or C
  • When your treatment was completed (if applicable)
  • Whether you’re still under review for your condition

How will hepatitis B or C affect my life insurance application?

Typically, there are a few possible outcomes when you apply for life insurance but disclose that you’ve previously been diagnosed with hepatitis B or C. These include:

  1. Your application being accepted as normal, with standard pricing rates – i.e. the same as they’d be for someone who has never been diagnosed with hepatitis B or C (this could happen if you’ve made a complete recovery and don’t require any treatment)
  2. Your application being accepted but with a ‘loading’ on the price  – i.e. your rates will be higher than they would be for someone who has never been diagnosed with hepatitis B or C (this could happen if your condition requires treatment but is well controlled)
  3. Your application being postponed – (this happens if the insurer thinks your health poses too much of a risk right now, but has the potential to improve in the future)
  4. Your application being declined – (this could happen if your condition is very severe or you disclose other lifestyle factors that insurers deem high risk)

Why it’s important to disclose that you’ve had hepatitis B or C

When applying for life insurance, it’s extremely important to answer all the health questions honestly. If you don’t disclose that you’ve previously been diagnosed with hepatitis B or C, you risk invalidating your policy and it not paying out in the future (this is the most common reason for claims not being paid out by insurers).

  • A previous hepatitis B or C diagnosis shouldn't stop you applying for life insurance
  • If you’ve ever been diagnosed with hepatitis B or C, you must disclose it during the life insurance application process, otherwise you risk invalidating your policy in the future
  • If you disclose a hepatitis B or C diagnosis when applying for life insurance, extra medical information will be required from you during the underwriting process
  • Depending on how well you’ve recovered from hepatitis B or C, or how well managed your condition is, insurers may accept your application as normal; accept it but charge a higher premium; postpone or decline your application

This piece has been written by Anorak’s life insurance experts as guidance. Anorak also delivers regulated advice online and over the phone.