Qualifying for life insurance with Ascites – Is it Really Possible?

Ascites is of those pre-medical conditions that rarely gets mentioned during the underwriting process.  Now this isn’t because ascites isn’t serious condition, because it is!

It’s just that…

Ascites is often viewed more as a “symptom” of some other type of medical condition, rather than an actual an “stand alone” disease.

And while…

There may be many conditions that can cause one to become ascetic such:

  • Liver disease,
  • Metastatic cancer,
  • Budd-Chiari syndrome,
  • And cirrhosis of the liver.

Ascites Defined:

Ascites is defined as the accumulation of fluid in the peritoneal cavity that exceeds 25 ml.  Common symptoms which may indicate that you are suffering from ascites may include:

  • A sudden weight gain.
  • A swollen abdomen accompanied with pain.
  • Reduced appetite.
  • Difficult breathing when lying down.
  • Feeling “bloated”.
  • Nausea and/or vomiting.

Treatment and/or Cure for Ascites.

Common treatments for those suffering from ascites will typically include being placed on a low-sodium diet and rest.  Patients may also be prescribed diuretics which help the body excrete the retained fluids into the urine and thereby decrease the effects of the ascites.

Lastly, some patients may find comfort from having their abdomen “tapped” where by an ascitic tap (needle) is used to pierce the abdominal wall and manually drain liquid from the affected areas.


None of these treatments can actually cure someone from having ascites and unless the actual underlying cause is cured, all that these treatments can do is simply help manage the discomfort that these patients experience.

Which brings us back to applying for life insurance…

If you have a pre-existing medical condition that is causing you to currently experience ascitic symptoms, you’re going to find that in general, qualifying for exam required term or whole life insurance policy is going to be impossible.

This is mainly due to the fact that the pre-existing medical conditions that can cause a person to suffer from ascites are pretty serious.  Additionally, those suffering from ascites will also face an increased risked of infection which can become very serious, very quickly.

Alternative Life Insurance Policies.

The good news is that there are some alternative life insurance products which aren’t going require that an applicant be able to qualify for them “medically”.  These types of life insurance policies are called guaranteed issue life insurance policies* and will simply that the insured be between the ages of 40-85 years old and be able to demonstrate that they are a US citizen (product may not be available in your state).  And that’s it!

Some of the advantages of these types of life insurance policies will include:

  • A guaranteed “approval” for coverage provided you are a US citizen and are at least 40 years of age and not older than 85 (product may not be available in your state).
  • A super easy application which can typically be completed over the phone or via email.
  • Pricing is the same for smokers and non-smoker with many of these types of policies. So… if you do use tobacco or nicotine, purchasing a guaranteed issue life insurance policy may be pretty good deal for you price wise.
  • You will not need to take a medical exam or answer any health-related questions in order to qualify.
  • And coverage will typically begin in less than 24 hours after receiving payment.

Which is great!

But before we get too excited, it’s important to know that guaranteed issue whole life insurance policies are also going to have some serious disadvantages too!

Disadvantages associated with purchasing a guaranteed issue life insurance policy.

There are three main disadvantages that we always like to bring to our clients attention when considering buying a guaranteed issue life insurance policy, two of which are pretty obvious, and the last one can be a bit tricky so let’s just review all three below.

Disadvantage #1.

Guaranteed issue life insurance policies will only provide up to around $25,000 dollars in coverage.  Which means that if $25,000 dollars in coverage isn’t going to be enough for you, you’re probably not going to be all that interested in purchasing a guaranteed issue life insurance policy.

Now it is possible to buy several guaranteed issue life insurance policies from sever different insurance companies, but then you’re going to run into problem number 2.

Disadvantage #2.

Price.  When compared to other traditional term or whole life insurance products, guaranteed issue life insurance policies tend to be pretty expensive “dollar for dollar”.

Now we’re not saying that what you pay month to month is going to be super expensive, but when you compare what you need to pay vs the amount of coverage that you actually receive, guaranteed issue life insurance products will generally be more expensive than other life insurance policies which require you to “medically” qualify.

Disadvantage #3.

Guaranteed issue life insurance policies will contain a graded death benefit.

Graded Death Benefit Defined.

Graded death benefits are clauses written into guaranteed issue life insurance policies which state that in order for your life insurance policy to pay a death benefit for “Natural” causes of death, you will need to live for a set period of time (typically 2-3 years) after your policy goes into effect.

Additionally, should you die during this “waiting period” of natural causes (any cause of death due to illness) your guaranteed issue life insurance policy WILL NOT pay the death benefit of the policy.

Now while this may sound like a terrible deal at first…

It’s important to understand that form the insurance companies point of view, because they are not requiring you to take a medical exam or answer any health-related questions, they literally have no idea what your current health status is.  Which means that they could literally be insuring someone that is just hours away from dying!


We’ll be the first to admit that we’ve gone over quite a bit of information here is a very short amount of time and while we don’t expect you to remember everything that we’ve talked about, we do hope that we’ve managed to leave you with the knowledge that even if you’ve been diagnosed with ascites, you may still have options out there.

Lastly, for those who would like to get an idea about how much their life insurance might cost before speaking with an agent, we would recommend that they check out our Final Expense Life Insurance Quotes page when you have a few moments to spare.

Leave a Comment