If you’ve decided that you need life insurance and you’ve completed the application process and have subsequently been rejected, there are options. First and foremost, from the insurance carrier's perspective, their goal is to make profits off premiums. The reality is, in some scenarios, not all applicants are the ideal candidate. This may be for health or financial or lifestyle reasons. When applicants are rejected for coverage, it may seem harsh and unfair. Fortunately, with a bit of research and understanding of how life insurance works, we can explore alternatives and get you on your way to finding a life insurance policy that fits your needs.


Why Was the Application Rejected? What Can I Do About it?

The following are some of the most common reasons your life insurance application may have been rejected.

You’ll want to get the reason(s) for the denial in writing. You’ll want this to be very specific. This information is essential, as simply applying to another life insurance company may result in another denial.


Another thing to consider: speak with an independent agent. There are hundreds of life insurance companies and savvy agents who are knowledgeable of the industry. Life insurance companies have differing views of various health conditions and lifestyles, so it’s important to shop around and research carriers that will best fit your specific situation. Some carriers won’t insure a smoker or recently ex-smoker. Some life insurance companies are more lenient. As a consumer, it may be difficult for you to identify these companies. You can start the process by comparing quotes and companies here. Based upon the information you provide us, we can help put you in touch with carriers and agents who are in the best position to offer you a policy at the lowest rates.


An applicant’s health is a major factor in determining a) if coverage will be extended; and b) how the rates will be set. When you apply for a life insurance policy, you can expect to provide a medical history, including urine and blood samples, and possibly an EKG.

Get copies of your medical records and review them carefully to ensure that the information is accurate, and if you come across any questionable information, take steps to have it corrected. It may be wise to do this prior to applying for a life insurance policy to ensure they’re receiving accurate information. Misinformation could result in a denial.


Applicants who are overweight and obese may not necessarily be rejected coverage, but they can expect to pay higher premiums. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that those who are obese and overweight, compared to those who fall within a healthy weight, are at an increased risk for many serious diseases and health conditions. This is a major red flag as insurers calculate risk prior to determining coverage rates, if they’ll offer any coverage at all.

What can you do?

Keep in mind, if you’re considered overweight, that doesn’t mean a carrier won’t extend an offer to you. According to the CDC the average male is 69.2 inches tall and weighs 195.7 pounds. The average female is 63.7 inches tall and weighs 168.5 pounds. According to the CDC, 70.7 percent of adults age 20 and over are considered overweight. That’s an overwhelming amount of the population for insurance carriers to deny coverage. Life insurance carriers wouldn’t stay in business if they’re not offering two thirds of the population insurance.

If this is a concern for you, don’t crash diet or risk your health. Not only is this harmful, but it would most likely be futile. The carrier will have access to your medical records and be able to see your weight over time. That’s what they’re going to base their decision upon. If you have the time, prior to applying for a life insurance policy, you can consult with your physician and develop a health plan. Though you can expect the life insurance carrier to consider one’s health over the long term, certain carriers may look favorably upon an improved health record. Some carriers may allow you to take a new medical exam two years after its inception, and a continued improvement could result in lowered rates.

If you were denied, or are concerned you might get denied, here’s where it really helps to work with an independent broker who’s familiar with different carriers’ philosophies.



Alcoholism is another major determining factor. A positive alcohol marker when liver functions are high indicates a risk not only to one’s health, but also that the applicant may engage in risky behavior. As with alcoholism, if your medical exam indicates a history of drug use, your application may be denied.

What can you do?

If you’re currently abusing alcohol or drugs, it’s likely you’ll be denied life insurance. If you have a history of drug and alcohol abuse, you can still get life insurance, but it may be more difficult and you may pay higher rates as you’d represent a higher rate of risk. Again, this is where it helps to have an independent agent who’s familiar with life insurance carriers.  



Elevated liver function may indicate inflammation or damage to the liver cells. Most often, this elevation is mild and the condition is temporary, though insurance carriers may see this as a red flag for more serious conditions.

What can you do?

In this scenario, the applicant may want to seek an additional liver function examination if the carrier has denied coverage or indicated this is a concern. If this was a temporary condition, additional testing may show this to be the case and could result in the carrier to reconsider their position.



High LDL cholesterol and low HDL cholesterol puts you at a higher risk for heart disease and stroke.

What can you do?

With any testing, it might be an aberration. Do your medical records show that this has been an ongoing issue? You might want to consider another test.



The existence of blood or protein in urine could be an indication of kidney disease.

What can you do?

This could also be caused by extreme physical exercise. It may be worth seeking a follow up medical exam to determine if this was the case.



Life insurance carriers see cancer as a high-risk factor, though much of this will depend on the type of cancer, how far it progressed, and how long it’s been in remission.

What can you do?

Less serious forms of cancer are typically approved by life insurance companies. More severe forms may receive more scrutiny. We recommend working with an independent agent.



Although medical advances have dramatically improved life expectancy, many insurance companies still see this as a red flag and may deny coverage.

What can you do?

There are carriers who will provide life insurance, such as Aequalis/Prudential Insurance and John Hancock.



High levels of glucose or blood sugar can be an indicator of diabetes, which opens the applicant up to other medical outcomes and are of concern to life insurance carriers.

What can you do?

High levels of glucose are often not discovered until an applicant undergoes a medical exam. This is because high levels of glucose or blood sugar usually have no symptoms. Again, you may want to consider having a lot of these tests run prior to your medical exam with an insurance carrier.

If you’re a diabetic, certain life insurance companies are more apt to offer policies to those who show a history of maintaining and stabilizing glucose levels. Consult with your physician about any documentation that might help demonstrate this.



While Hepatitis B or C that has already been diagnosed and treated may not result in a denial, if it’s been recently discovered through the process of a life insurance medical exam, it may be cause to deny an applicant.

What can you do?

If the newly discovered diagnosis is treated, you may be eligible for life insurance at a later date.



How you go about your daily life will also influence your life insurance application. You can expect life insurance policies to not only delve into your occupation, but also your hobbies and activities.

What can you do?

For some of these, the easy and simple answer is: Stop doing that! But that’s reductive and not how life works. Especially if how you earn a living is considered a risky profession. While changing certain aspects of your lifestyle might better your chances of getting a life insurance policy or better rates, a more practical and realistic approach would be to work with an independent agent who’s well informed on certain carriers philosophies on what’s acceptable to them, and what’s grounds for application denial. This will help you make an informed decision on what’s feasible for you and what is not.



What you do for a living has an impact in determining risk. If your occupation is particularly hazardous, life insurance carriers may be reluctant to offer you a policy. According to Forbes, these are the ten deadliest jobs:

  • logging workers

  • fishers and related fishing workers

  • aircraft pilot and flight engineers

  • roofers

  • structural iron and steel workers

  • refuse and recyclable material collectors

  • electrical power line installers and repairers

  • drivers/sales workers and truck drivers

  • farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers

  • construction laborers



Life insurance companies must be able to justify a policy before approval. For example, if you have little to no assets and a relatively low salary but you’re looking for a million-dollar policy, it’s unlikely the insurance company will offer coverage. Additionally, some companies won’t write a policy for applicants under a certain income level (though the income level will vary by carrier). Their reasoning is that by issuing a large number of small policies, they’ll produce reduced premium flow, which generally isn’t great for their business.



If you’re a skydiving enthusiast, scuba diver, or regularly participate in any activity that runs a substantially higher risk of premature death, it may be enough for a life insurance carrier to back away.

How will they know if you participate in hazardous sports and hobbies? They may not. However, life insurance companies conduct background research prior to approving an application. As part of the medical examination, if you’ve ever been injured and treated for a sports/hobby related injury, it may raise a red flag. There’s also a “period of contestability.” This period typically runs two years after a life insurance policy has been issued, and the carrier can deny benefits if it’s proven that a material omission was made at the time of application. For example, if you’re into drag racing and you have a well-documented history of race results at the local track and fail to list this on your policy, death benefits could be denied if you die in a drag racing related incident.



Even if you’re not into drag racing, if your driving record has a history of moving violations, accidents, and DUI, this will be a concern for a life insurance carrier. Auto accidents are one of the leading causes of death amongst Americans.




It goes without saying, but regardless of your health and lifestyle, the older you are, the higher the probability of death. After you reach a certain age, life insurance companies may not offer you a policy, or they may restrict what type of policy you can buy. For example, most companies will likely not offer a 30-year term policy if you’re older than 45 or a 20-year policy at the age of 65.


Previous Denials

Life insurance companies often rely on the Medical Insurance Bureau, which is a report shared amongst insurance companies about previous denials or approvals on other applications. It’s designed to protect life insurance companies from applicants who may be lying about their current medical conditions.


While the above list is not exhaustive, they are the most common reason applicants are denied life insurance. Some solutions to prevent or rectify application denials may be resolved by taking steps to improve your health or changing lifestyle habits. Others are situations in which you’re going to have less or no control (such as aging).

As previously mentioned, there are hundreds of life insurance companies and savvy agents who are knowledgeable of the industry. Life insurance companies have differing views of various health conditions and lifestyles, so it’s important to shop around and research carriers that will best fit your specific situation. You can start by comparing quotes here.