Note: Many of the conditions mentioned here also put you at increased risk for complications from COVID-19. Make sure you take the recommended precautions such as staying home, keeping your distance, wearing a mask and washing and sanitising hands regularly.
Your current and previous health conditions can affect your life, disability and dread disease cover. Having a health condition doesn’t mean you won’t be able to take out insurance. But you do need to tell the insurer so that you get the right cover at the right premium, and there are no problems when it comes to a claim. We’ve identified some of the most common health conditions you need to tell your insurer about.
These are examples of conditions that may increase your risk profile. Remember that all your medical conditions or health related concerns must be disclosed to your insurer so they can determine if these impact your policy, Our underwriters need this information to underwrite your policy accurately so we can give you the best possible cover at the best possible premium. And disclosing your medical conditions upfront ensures you have a good claims experience later on!
Chronic conditionsA chronic condition is a disease you have been diagnosed with that lasts more than a month and requires medication, and/or regular follow ups with your healthcare practitioner, and/or an adjusted lifestyle, such as a special diet, to manage.
You must tell your insurer if you have had any condition – previously or currently. Below are some examples of common conditions you must tell your insurer about.
- Diabetes, including gestational diabetes
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Any other conditions you may have had or currently have
Serious illnessesThese are illnesses you have been diagnosed with over the years that required medical treatment and/or a stay in hospital. Remember even if you are recovered and well now, your insurer needs to know your medical history. These include:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Depression or chronic anxiety
- Bipolar disorder
- Eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia
- Any other illness you may have had or currently have
Heart disease or previous heart conditionsYour heart is a vital organ. Your insurer needs to know if your heart is working normally or if you have or have ever had problems with your heart. This includes:
- Chest pain
- Heart attack
- Arrhythmia (abnormal heartbeat)
- Congenital heart conditions such as having a hole in your heart at birth
- Hereditary heart conditions such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
- Any other heart-related condition you may have had or currently have
Breathing problemsTell your insurer if you have any problems with your respiratory system. This includes any problems with your lungs such as:
- Chest pain
- Chronic bronchitis
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Tuberculosis (TB)
- COVID-19 – this is a new disease but if you have tested positive for the virus, include this information on your application
- Any other lung-related condition you may have had or currently have
Top tip: Don’t smoke! This increases the risk of many of these diseases.
Sleep problemsLong-term sleep problems can negatively affect your health. Tell your insurer if you have conditions and illnesses such as:
- Sleep apnoea
- Narcolepsy – when you fall asleep without warning at anytime
- Chronic insomnia
Internal problemsProblems with the digestive and endocrine system can be serious. You need to tell your insurer if you have:
- Stomach ulcers
- Crohn’s disease
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Kidney disease including kidney stones
- Liver disease such as cirrhosis
- Any other digestive or endocrinological conditions you may have had or currently have
Suffer from gout, arthritis or back pain? Your insurer needs to know!
Problems with your bones and jointsGout, arthritis, and back problems are quite common. While they can be treated and managed, your insurer needs to know if you have or have had any problems with your joints and bones and how you manage these.
Medication and treatmentMedication includes anything you take on a daily or weekly basis and any medication you receive from a health professional such as iron shots for anaemia. You don’t need to tell your insurer about the headache tablet or heartburn sachet – we don’t remember all those. But the ones you need a prescription for, or over the counter medication you take for any health concern on a regular basis, are important. If you have been treated for an addiction to prescribed medication you must also tell your insurer about this.
AccidentsYou must disclose any major events requiring medical attention, such as a car accident.
Family healthSome illnesses and conditions are passed down in families, and our genes may make us more susceptible to diseases such as sickle cell anaemia and Huntington’s disease. You must tell your insurer if you are aware of serious conditions in your family such as heart disease and cancer, especially if they were diagnosed when your family member was younger than 55 years. Your family is your immediate family – parents, sisters and brothers.
Unless they are prescribed for long-term use or as treatment for a diagnosed condition you don’t need to tell your insurer, but keep a note for your GP and pharmacist as it could be important if you need any other treatment or medication.
These are preventative and are usually given when you are too young to remember. But if a new vaccine arrives for a serious illness such as COVID-19 and you have this you should tell your insurer.
1Life and most other insurers test for HIV, so this information will form part of your application. You will be asked if you have had a test or received counselling for HIV other than for insurance or work purposes.
If an allergy is life-threatening – you risk going into anaphylaxis if you are exposed – you must tell your insurer.
Stress can lead to depression so if you are undergoing treatment and/or having counselling for stress you should disclose this when you apply for long-term insurance.
Recreational drugs and alcohol
Yes, you need to honestly disclose what you smoke, drink, swallow and inject, and if you have been diagnosed with or treated for an addiction to alcohol or substances such as cocaine, tik and heroin.
Things you don’t know or can’t remember
Answer these questions honestly and say you don’t know. Ask your family for details if you can.
Be honestMany people feel nervous when answering life insurance questions about their health. It can be a bit unnerving telling strangers all the personal details. Don’t worry – they’ve probably heard it all before, and more! Just be honest.
Keep in mind that having a health condition or serious illness doesn’t mean you won’t be able to take out insurance. But not telling your insurer you have a health condition can lead to a claim being rejected. Tell your insurer the whole truth about your health, and the claims process should go smoothly when the time comes.