8 Things That Will Get You Denied Life Insurance Coverage (And How To Make Sure That You Are Approved)

If you’ve decided that you need life insurance, the next step is to secure coverage. Before you apply, it is important to understand what could prevent you from finding coverage. With a better understanding, you’ll be able to seek out options that will make sure you are approved. 

I will dive into the details of a life insurance denial and how you can find a coverage option that will work with your unique circumstances. 

What can get you denied a life insurance policy?

When you are denied a life insurance policy, it can be a confusing experience. The logic behind your denial could stem from a range of factors, but don’t get discouraged! There are many life insurance companies out there and they aren’t all made the same. 

Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common reasons a company may deny you a life insurance policy. 

Physical health

Many life insurance providers take your physical health into account. You may suffer from high cholesterol, obesity, diabetes, or other chronic illnesses. With any major health condition, the life insurance company will view you with more risk. 

Depending on the severity of the health issue and the life insurance company, you may be denied coverage. 

Read more: How Does Being Overweight Affect Your Life Insurance Rates?

Mental health history

Unfortunately, many life insurance companies will deny coverage if you have a history of mental health issues. Not all life insurance providers look at mental health issues in such a negative light, but many will deny coverage if you have a history of anxiety, PTSD, or self-harm. 

Lifestyle choices

When you apply for life insurance, the application will ask questions about your habits. If you have dangerous hobbies or an unhealthy lifestyle, then you might be denied coverage. 

A few examples of dangerous hobbies include skydiving, rock climbing, and race car driving. Other lifestyle choices, such as maintaining an unhealthy weight or smoking, could negatively affect your future health. With a higher chance of a problem in the future, you might receive higher rates or be denied altogether. 

Read more: How Does Your Health Affect Your Life Insurance Rates?


In general, it can be more difficult to secure life insurance coverage as you age (which is why it’s so important to buy young). When you get older, life insurance companies will view you as more of a risk. 

Read more: Reality Check: Buying Life Insurance Young Saves Money


Many of us spend a large part of our lives at work. Since some jobs are more dangerous than others, it makes sense that your occupation will affect your life insurance rates. After all, working safely behind a desk is less risky than working on an oil rig. 

A few of the more dangerous professions include:

  • Pilots.
  • Loggers.
  • Truck drivers.
  • Farmers
  • Police.
  • Construction laborers.
  • Roofers.
  • Garbage collectors
  • Fishers.

It can be more challenging to get approval if you work in a dangerous field. Even if you can find coverage, you will likely face higher rates. 

Financial reasons

Your personal finances can play a big role in whether or not you qualify for life insurance coverage. Many insurers will look at your credit report to determine if you have any previous bankruptcies or outstanding debt. Additionally, an insurer will look at your income to determine if you can afford coverage. 

If you have a recent bankruptcy or high debt burden, your ability to secure coverage will be in jeopardy. But some insurers may be willing to work with you. 

Criminal record

If you have a criminal record, then you may be denied life insurance coverage. The reasoning is that you may engage in a high-risk lifestyle if you have a record. But each life insurance company will treat your criminal record on a case by case basis. The circumstances and severity of the crime will be considered before they offer coverage. 

If you are currently being charged with a felony, you will not be able to secure coverage until the charges are tried in court or dismissed. Additionally, you cannot apply for life insurance if you are currently in jail or on probation. 

Driving record

With a bad driving record, you pose a higher risk for the insurance company. Unfortunately, reckless driving habits point to a higher risk of death. Depending on your driving record, you might be denied coverage or faced with higher rates. 

What do life insurers look for in a policyholder?

When you apply for life insurance, the company will look at various factors to assign an insurance score. The insurance score will affect your premiums and coverage options. 

Each insurer has its own way of calculating an insurance score. With that, you cannot check this score like you can check a credit score. But you can work to improve certain areas of your life that affect this score. 

Overall, life insurance providers are looking for policyholders that pose a low risk. A low-risk applicant will receive the best terms and an approved application. 

How to increase your chances of being approved

The potential for denial can be a scary thought if you are trying to protect your family’s future. With that, you can work to improve your chances of being approved. If you take active steps to lower your lifestyle risks, then you might have better approval odds. 

Here’s how you could lower your risk.  

Stay in good physical health

If you are faced with a chronic health issue, then it can be more difficult to secure a policy. But you may be able to increase your approval odds if you can prove that a physician is treating your health condition. Depending on the company, you can ask the physician to write a statement that explains your health battle and confirm that you are actively pursuing treatment. 

With increased physical health, you may be able to qualify for life insurance without a medical exam. 

Treat your mental health

A history of mental health conditions can be an ongoing battle. You’ll need to be upfront about your mental health concerns. Any diagnosis will likely affect your rates and approval odds. 

However, if you have taken steps to treat your diagnosis, that can positively impact your approval odds. With regular treatment and a steady medication plan, many insurance companies will offer coverage opportunities, but at higher rates. 

Make better lifestyle choices

You can take steps to improve your overall health. That could include eating healthier, quitting smoking, or working out more. 

Additionally, you could give up some of your adrenaline-seeking hobbies. If you create a safer lifestyle, then you should have less of a problem securing life insurance. 

Plan ahead

Unfortunately, you cannot turn back the clock. But if you can plan ahead, consider applying for life insurance coverage earlier in life. With a younger body, you may have a better chance of securing a policy. 

Look into occupational life insurance

You may not have the opportunity to change your profession. With that, it can be difficult to secure coverage if you’ve been denied due to your line of work. 

But your company may offer their own group life insurance policy as a part of your benefits package. Talk to your human resources department to find out if this is an option for you. 

Improve your finances

If you have had recent financial troubles, consider cleaning up your credit report before applying for life insurance. You can work to improve your credit report by lowering your debt burden.

All insurers have specific rules surrounding bankruptcies. But you can find out about these ahead of time. For example, some insurance companies will require that you wait 12 months after your bankruptcy before considering you for coverage. 

Read more: How To Get Out Of Debt On A Low Income

Talk to an agent if you have a criminal record

If you have a criminal record, you should speak to an insurance agent or broker before applying for life insurance. The agent will be able to assess your unique situation and make a recommendation. In some cases, you may find a company that is willing to work with you. In other cases, you may not be able to secure coverage. 

Keep a safe driving record

A bad driving record can be difficult to clean up. But you can prevent future marks on your record by driving safely in the future. Additionally, you may be able to take classes to improve your driving record. 

In some states, you can elect to take a safe driving class if you get a ticket. Sometimes the safe driving class will keep your record clear or any points on your license. Check out the rules in your state to keep your record clean. 

How do you get life insurance if you are denied a policy due to these reasons?

Even if you make an effort to lower the risk you pose to an insurance company, you may still receive a denial. At that point, there are other avenues to consider. 

Look into your workplace life insurance options

Depending on where you work, you may be able to secure life insurance through a group policy. Many employers offer this opportunity as a part of your benefits package. Although the coverage amount may be minimal, you could be able to gain coverage even with previous denials. 

Look for an insurance company that works on individual cases

Although some insurance companies have no room for decision making on a case-by-case basis, some do. If your case is decided on an individual level, then you might have the opportunity to explain any red flags. 

Consider other life insurance policies

Although you may not qualify for the policy you were hoping for, there may be another option. If you have serious factors that will not allow you to secure a term life policy for your desired amount, then consider other coverage opportunities. 

Policygenius is an insurance marketplace that lets you compare life insurance policies from multiple providers at once. You can easily test out different coverage limits to find the best premiums, filter for policies to meet your needs (i.e. those that don’t require medical exams), and get expert help at any time during the process.

Mortgage life insurance

If you have a hefty mortgage balance that you don’t want to leave behind, you could look for mortgage life insurance. The policy will cover any remaining mortgage balance when you die. 

Typically, you can purchase this insurance when you close on the mortgage or shortly after. You may not need to submit to a medical exam, allowing most people to qualify for this option. 

Read more: What Should You Expect When Closing On A House

Guaranteed issue life insurance

You may be able to secure a relatively small life insurance payout through a guaranteed issue life insurance policy. Typically, you will only be able to secure a policy of up to $50,000. But you will not have to answer any medical questions or take a medical exam. With that, most are able to qualify. 

If you want to leave something behind for your dependents, then this could help. But you may not find the coverage amount you originally wanted. 


Securing life insurance can be difficult if a life insurance company deems you to be a risky policyholder. Although you may not be able to remove all risks from your life, you can take steps to create a healthier lifestyle. With a better balance, you might find better approval odds. 

If you cannot find a traditional life insurance policy that will work with you, then consider smaller payout opportunities such as mortgage life insurance or guaranteed issue life insurance. You will find smaller payouts. But these policies present an opportunity to provide a financial cushion for your family if the worst should happen.

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