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Reasons private insurers can deny you

Jan. 31, 2013 - 01:17PM   |   Last Updated: Jan. 31, 2013 - 01:17PM  |  
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It's not just cancer or heart disease that could make it impossible to buy life insurance from private insurers. Ulcers, hypertension, diabetes and a lot of other medical conditions could cause you problems, too.

A number of medical conditions can cause companies to turn you down. Veterans Affairs Department officials are highlighting them to warn service members to take steps so that they aren't left without life insurance once they leave the military and their Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance.

Service members can apply for the Veterans Group Life Insurance program within 240 days of leaving the military; during that time, officials do not consider any of your health conditions as part of the application process. You're also eligible for a free two-year extension of your SGLI policy if your disabilities prevent you from working, or you have certain service-connected disabilities, according to VA officials.

VA provides a list of some of the medical conditions that could make you uninsurable. Officials note it's not all-inclusive; other issues could still prevent your coverage. The private insurance company makes the final determination of whether to issue you insurance.

Autoimmune conditions, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, sarcoidosis, chronic fatigue syndrome

Blood disorders, such as aplastic and sickle cell anemia

Cancers active, and often even in remission


Heart conditions, such as hypertension, uncontrolled sleep apnea, transplants, bypass surgery or heart failure


Liver and kidney disease

Mental health conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, depression

Neurological conditions, including traumatic brain injury, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, ALS, Parkinson's

Respiratory conditions, such as severe asthma/bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema

Other conditions such as severe Lyme disease, thyroid conditions and ulcers

If you're going to apply to private insurers, do it well before you leave active duty. That way, if you're turned down, you'll still have time to apply to VGLI. If you wait beyond the 240-day window, your medical conditions have to be considered with your VGLI application, and you could be turned down.

If you've already left the military and don't have private insurance, sign up for VGLI before the 240-day window is up. If you find adequate insurance cheaper later, you can always cancel VGLI.

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