When you apply for life insurance, the insurer may require you to undergo a medical exam. This is to evaluate your health and determine your level of risk. 

For those with medical conditions, it can leave them feeling anxious - especially if they’re unsure about their options. But don’t worry, we'll talk you through the process and options should you fail an exam.

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Why do I need a medical exam for life insurance?

In some ways, it's like applying for a bank loan. Instead of proving your ability to repay the loan, the insurer is assessing your overall health and likelihood of passing away during the policy term. While it may seem daunting, it’s a key step in the underwriting process.

It mainly gives the insurer a baseline when determining the monthly premium you will pay for your cover. But it also determines if you are "high risk". This is someone who has health issues or conditions that would otherwise increase the likelihood of a claim being made.

What happens during the medical exam?

As part of the application process, your insurer may ask you to undergo a medical exam or nurse’s screening. 

The exam itself is quite simple. It often involves basic tests such as blood pressure measurements, blood work, and a review of medical history. Sometimes, applicants may even be able to have the exam done in the comfort of their own home.

What happens if I fail a medical exam?

If you’ve failed a medical exam, it often means that the insurer has determined that you pose a risk. This could be due to underlying health issues, pre-existing conditions, or lifestyle habits that increase your risk.

In this case, the insurer may still offer you cover, but at a higher cost. They may also impose certain restrictions or exclusions. Such as limiting cover for specific conditions.

Depending on your risk, the insurer may deny you cover altogether. If this is the case, there are still options available, such as guaranteed life insurance, which does not require a medical exam.

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Should I tell my insurer if I have a health condition?

It may be tempting to withhold information about your health in order to avoid higher premiums. But the penalty can be severe.

Failing to disclose relevant health information can have serious consequences. Such as voiding your policy if the insurer discovers that you provided false information. Be upfront about any health conditions or concerns, as this will allow the insurer to accurately determine your risk.

One of the first steps of getting life insurance is to complete a medical questionnaire, where you will be asked about your family history, your past health and your current health. 

During this stage, you should be as open and as honest as possible.

Can I still get life insurance if I have a health condition?

Even if you have a pre-existing medical condition, or fail a medical exam/nurse screening, you still have a few options for getting life cover. 

For those with health conditions or illnesses, one of the main types of cover is guaranteed life insurance. This type of policy does not require a medical exam, so you can still get cover even if you have health issues.

However, guaranteed life insurance typically has higher premiums and lower cover amounts compared to traditional policies. Though a payout is guaranteed, some insurers may not pay out the full amount if you die within the first 12 months. In other cases, they may only repay the premiums paid so far.

It is available for those aged 50 & over, who are permanent residents of the UK (excluding the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man). Ideal if you have a health condition or are looking to secure cover quickly, without disclosing any medical information.

How can I avoid a medical exam?

If you're looking to avoid a medical exam for your life insurance policy, there are several options available to you. One option is to look for insurers that offer no-exam policies. Many insurers now offer these types of cover, which can be a great option if you're concerned about how your health will impact your cover or rate.

Who can help me find a life insurance policy?

If you're looking to buy life insurance, but are worried about your medical history affecting your ability to get cover, Cavendish Online can help. Our advisers can offer expert advice to help you find the most suitable and affordable policy for your needs. Simply leave your details, and our advisers will contact you as soon as possible.

You can get a get a free personalised quote with one of our expert advisers by calling us on

01392 436 193

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Please note: The insurance products offered by Cavendish Online have no cash-in value at any time. If you stop paying your premiums your cover will stop, your policy will end, and you will receive no benefit. If you have not claimed before the end of your chosen policy term, the policy will end, and no benefit will be paid.

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