What Can Make You Uninsurable

Updated: Jan 23, 2019

Clients are often surprised that their medical history, family medical history, or lifestyle habits can make them uninsurable for things like Life, Disability, or Critical Illness Insurance. While some of the things that can cause insurance ratings, postponements, or declines can be predicted and potentially planned for, others are out of our control.



1) Outstanding Tests, Results, or medical procedures: If your doctor sends you for medical testing or follow up testing such as a mammogram, colonoscopy, blood tests, or an ultrasound, insurance companies want to see the results of those tests prior to offering insurance coverage. Seemingly minor illnesses, including mole removals, could turn into a cancer diagnosis.


2) Unstable Medical Conditions: Some medical conditions are harder to control than others. High blood pressure, depression, and diabetes are common medical conditions that can take months or even years to regulate with medication. Underwriters might be looking for medical conditions to be stable for a certain length of time (from 6 months to 5 years) prior to offering coverage.


3) Family History: Incidence of hereditary illnesses among family members can also lead to exclusions or extra premiums (ratings). For example, breast cancer in two or more family members can result in an exclusion for critical illness insurance – even if current tests are clear.


4) Drugs: With the legalization of recreational marijuana, more Canadians are finding it more socially acceptable to use cannabis. For the last few years, most insurance companies don’t consider marijuana users as smokers as they did in the past (including higher premiums).


However, not all drugs are treated equally in the eyes of a medical underwriter. Psychedelic drugs such as mushrooms or LSD, especially if you include current drug usage, could result in insurance declines or postponements. Cocaine us, for instance, is viewed very negatively and can make you uninsurable for at least 5 years.


5) Travel: Certain destinations are considered risky by underwriters. Political strife or high rates of crime introduce a higher level of risk. Frequency and duration of travel are also considered when insurance companies are offering coverage.


6) Lifestyle or Recreation Habits: Activities such as flying as a pilot or crew member, SCUBA diving, or back-country skiing can result in exclusions or ratings (where death or disability caused by participation in that activity would not be covered or where the insurance company requests additional premiums to account for the added risk).


All of this is to say that the time to purchase insurance is when you are healthy. As your insurance advisors, it’s our job to help navigate insurability challenges by accessing certain carriers or letting you know when it might be best to hold off on an application.


We also have access to a number of options that do not require health evidence. Please contact us if you would like to review your current coverage and needs.