The specifics of your disability will determine what type of life insurance coverage is right for you. Adults with disabilities have the same choices for life insurance as any other adults, although some physical disabilities related to high-risk medical conditions can limit your policy options.
Can you get life insurance if you have a disability?
Yes, you can qualify for life insurance if you have a disability. Having a developmental, physical, or any other type of disability does not automatically disqualify you from getting life insurance coverage.
Getting life insurance for disabled adults is the same process as it is for anyone else. Your application will be evaluated and your premium will be set using the same factors that are used for other applicants, including age, gender, medical history, and hobbies.
But if your disability affects your ability to work or has serious health ramifications that may affect your life expectancy, you may only qualify for non-traditional life insurance. And the more risk you present to the insurer — medical or otherwise — the higher your premiums will be.
How to buy life insurance if you have a disability
There are a few options for life insurance for disabled persons, but every life insurance company evaluates disabilities differently, and some of them have stricter rules than others about who they cover. Regardless of the type and level of disability you have, you can take proactive steps to improve your chances of getting approved for life insurance coverage:
Improve your overall health, to the extent possible, to minimize the potential impact of other health conditions on your application. Insurers generally rate people in good health more favorably regardless of other factors, including having a disability.
Have clear expectations about the coverage you may qualify for. Insurers cap the death benefit available to you based on your income. If your disability affects the amount of regular income you can earn, it may also limit the amount of coverage you can qualify for.
Work with an independent broker to identify the most competitive rates from multiple insurers based on your personal situation. At Policygenius, our brokers are licensed in all 50 states and can walk you through the entire life insurance buying process while offering transparent, unbiased advice.
During the application process you’ll be asked to disclose information about your health and your income:
Medical exam: In most cases, you will need to take a medical exam if you have a disability so the insurance company can get a more accurate picture of your health.
Medical records: When you apply for some types of life insurance policies, including term life insurance, it’s very common for insurers to request an attending physician statement (APS) from your doctor or any specialists you have seen to help determine your rates.
Health and financial status: The insurance company will verify your medical history through your MIB report. It will also inquire about the source of your income to determine your ability to pay your premiums consistently. Being upfront about these factors will help you move more quickly through the application process and increase your chances of getting coverage at an affordable rate. Misrepresenting yourself on your application could cause the insurer to deny you coverage.
Health history: How long your disability has been managed can reflect on your rates. If you’ve managed your disability for many years, and it doesn’t affect your work or daily activities, you’ll likely receive lower rates. This is because the insurance company will have confidence that your disability will have minimal impact on your health. On the other hand, a recent disability can be more difficult to insure as the insurance company will have a harder time assessing risk — this will depend on what guidance you have received from your doctor, and how your disability is affecting your work and daily functioning.
A Policygenius expert can help you determine which type of coverage will be best for you depending on your specific situation and timeline.
Best life insurance policy types for people with disabilities
Life insurance provides your loved ones with funds for funeral expenses and other long-term financial needs that will remain if you pass away, including everyday expenses, debt repayment, and recurrent care expenses.
If you have a disability that may affect your ability to support your family financially down the road, life insurance can also provide an alternative source of income.
If you are shopping for coverage and have a disability, you may have additional financial responsibilities that you want to insure. Consider who and what kind of expenses you’d like to have covered, including:
You’ll have two main types of policies to choose from: term life and whole life. Term lasts for a set period and is usually much more affordable than whole. Whole life insurance provides lifelong coverage and has a cash value that can be used as an investment vehicle. The type of coverage that is right for you will depend on your personal situation, and whether your beneficiaries will require long-term financial protection.
Term life insurance
Term life insurance is a popular option for people who need a higher amount of coverage to cover large financial responsibilities, like a mortgage, for instance, or to provide for any dependents.
You only pay for it as long as you need it, and can easily cancel the policy if your financial obligations change. For example, if you paid off a debt or your children grew up and no longer depend financially on you.
However, term life can also be more difficult to qualify for if you have a disability, especially if your disability is related to a health condition that may affect your life expectancy. Because term in particular is often purchased for income replacement, insurers will also want to confirm that you have enough income to pay for the policy and to justify the desired coverage.
Whole life insurance
A whole life insurance policy is a good option if your disability is likely to worsen as you age or if you know you’ll have dependents into retirement and beyond.
Whole life insurance for disabled adults can be a desirable choice because you’ll get lifelong coverage and your premiums won’t change. It’s also common to buy whole life insurance if you have a dependent with disabilities. The lifetime coverage means that no matter when you pass away, your dependent will receive a payout.
Like with term, standard whole life coverage may be more difficult to qualify for if you have a disability. However, guaranteed issue whole life insurance can be an option if you are seeking a permanent death benefit but have a complicated health history.
Guaranteed issue is a type of whole life insurance that offers near-certain approval to people who can’t qualify for standard coverage. Speaking with an independent insurance agent is the best way to determine which option for coverage will be best for you.
Disability income rider
A disability income rider is a policy add-on that provides a monthly stipend to replace your income if you become disabled and unable to work. If you’re offered a substandard health classification during the application process, your options to add a disability income rider to your policy might be limited.
If you are not yet disabled and are seeking this kind of income protection, it is usually more cost-efficient to purchase a long-term disability insurance policy. A standalone disability policy will also offer you more robust protection than a disability income rider.
Coverage for dependents with a disability
If you care for an adult with disabilities who needs lifelong financial support, you have the same options listed above, including term life insurance and permanent life insurance. However, in this case you would be the insured and the death benefit would provide financial security for your disabled dependent if you pass away.
As long as your loved one is able to manage their own finances, you can name them as a beneficiary. If they’re unable to do so, you can name a trust instead — the trustee can ensure the death benefit is used for your dependent’s care.
Supplemental needs trusts
If you support an adult with a disability and they are unable to handle their finances or care, you can name a supplemental needs trust (also referred to as a special needs trust) as your beneficiary.
A special needs trust can help provide money for a person with a disability without disqualifying them from receiving governmental benefits including Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
You can name a trustee, who will manage the funds as directed by you, and a co-trustee, usually a lawyer or a firm, who will ensure that the funds are being used correctly. These trusts can be tricky to lay out. Work with an attorney to make sure they’re set up correctly.
Coverage for children with disabilities
If you have a child with a disability, purchasing a life insurance policy for you and naming your partner or a trust as the beneficiaries can help secure your child’s financial protection should something happen to you.
But if your child’s health is likely to worsen as they age, making it more difficult to find an affordable policy of their own, you might want to consider buying life insurance for them.
Buying life insurance for a child with disabilities guarantees them lifetime coverage even if their condition worsens. Shopping for coverage for them while they are young and in better health can also help them be approved for a competitive rate, saving them money on premiums in the future.
Best life insurance companies if you have a disability
The type of disability you have, along with your source of income, will be the most important factors for you to consider when shopping for life insurance. If you receive disability income, look for insurers that view disability income in the same way as they do income from a job as they will be more likely than others to offer you coverage.
We used industry data, pricing from Policygenius carrier partners, and third-party ratings like A.M. Best and J.D. Power to pick the best insurers on the market. Our independent recommendations will help you get life insurance coverage with confidence.
Depending on your disability, there can be a lot of variance with how each insurer will evaluate your application for life insurance. Some insurers tend to rate certain health conditions and disabilities more favorably than others. Working with a Policygenius expert on your life insurance application can help you find the right insurer for you.
Best overall: Transamerica
Best for term life insurance: Prudential
Best for whole life insurance: Mutual of Omaha
Transamerica is more likely to offer coverage to people with disabilities than other Policygenius partners. Transamerica also has more options for lower coverage amounts compared with other carriers, who often have a $100,000 coverage minimum. This means that if the offer you receive is pricier than you anticipated, you’ll have more leeway to reduce your coverage, which can help you lower the cost of your policy.
Transamerica also has a minimum coverage amount of $25,000, which can help you get needed coverage in place for a more affordable monthly payment.
Best for term life insurance
Prudential is more accommodating when it comes to certain health conditions than other companies. It’s often more likely than other insurers to extend a term life insurance offer to people with a disability.
Prudential is also able to use disability income as financial justification for your insurance coverage, helping to increase the amount you’re able to apply for.
Best for whole life insurance
Mutual of Omaha offers several options for final expense coverage — a type of permanent life insurance designed to cover your funeral and burial costs — which are best suited for people whose health conditions might limit their life insurance options.
This includes a guaranteed issue option, which means that, as long as you’re of sound mind, you can apply for guaranteed coverage up to $25,000. Some people may qualify for final expense coverage up to $40,000.
How much does life insurance cost if you have a disability?
20-year term life insurance rates for people with disabilities
Guaranteed issue whole life insurance rates for people with disabilities
$15,000 coverage amount
$25,000 coverage amount
What do life insurance companies consider when you’re applying with a disability?
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a person with a disability is someone who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities: 
Life insurance companies consider disabilities in the context of how they affect your health and life expectancy. Someone who was born blind would likely be considered lower risk than someone who became blind due to a medical condition such as diabetic retinopathy, for example.
The type and scope of your disability will inform the health classification and premiums an insurer gives you. If you present fewer insurance risks — like complex health conditions — you’ll get a better classification and more affordable rates than someone else who raises more concerns.
Every life insurance application is evaluated holistically and each insurer calculates risk differently, so it’s important to compare quotes and coverage options from multiple companies. A Policygenius expert can help you find the most affordable policy for your personal situation.
What parts of your health history do insurers look at?
Insurance companies will evaluate several elements of your health history, including time since diagnosis, treatment plan, medication history, and any surgical history. They will also ask about the family health history of immediate biological family members, including parents and siblings. Insurers will also take a look at your employment, and ask if your health has ever impacted your ability to work.
What happens if your disability gets worse?
If your disability gets worse while you have an existing policy, as long as you continue to pay the premiums your coverage will remain active until the term ends.
If, on the other hand, your disability worsens before you apply for an insurance policy, it will become more difficult for you to get approved. Your options may be limited to guaranteed issue life insurance — a type of whole life insurance coverage that offers near-certain approval and is aimed at covering final expenses.
Can your life insurance policy be canceled?
No. If you have an existing life insurance policy and then develop a disability, your policy cannot be canceled so long as you pay the premiums.
Life insurance options if you’re denied coverage
If your disability has a significant impact on your overall health or ability to care for yourself, you may not qualify for a term or whole life insurance policy. However, other types of life insurance can provide some financial support to your loved ones:
Final expense insurance: These policies — also known as guaranteed issue and simplified issue insurance — primarily cover end-of-life expenses and allow you to skip a medical exam. There are age restrictions for both and health restrictions for simplified issue plans.
Group life insurance: Employers and other organizations often supply subsidized life insurance to employees with no health evaluation required. You may be offered less coverage than you need, but it can be an option to receive some form of coverage.
Joint life insurance: If your spouse qualifies for traditional life insurance, you may be able to buy a joint policy that covers both of you. You’ll be eligible for more coverage this way, but depending on your plan, you could lose coverage if your partner dies before you, or your plan won’t pay out until after you both pass away.
Life insurance for veterans: If you’re a veteran with a disability, you may be able to continue the coverage provided to you during your service. If you became disabled while in service, you may qualify for additional coverage.
Life insurance vs. disability insurance
Having a life insurance policy isn’t the same as having a disability insurance policy. Life insurance provides a lump sum to support your family after you die, while disability insurance provides an income replacement if you incur a disability and cannot work.
You can usually add a waiver of premium or disability income rider to a life insurance policy to waive your premiums or get a monthly stipend if you become disabled, but both are difficult to qualify for and provide limited coverage amounts.
If you want financial protection for your loved ones in the event of your death and a potential disability, it’s usually better to have separate life insurance and disability insurance policies. Talk to a licensed insurance agent before you apply to compare rates and find the best company for your needs.
Since each person’s health is unique, the best way to determine what life insurance coverage is available to you is to speak with a licensed agent about your specific situation. At Policygenius, we have a team of experts who specialize in life insurance for people with various health considerations, so they’ll be able to walk you through your options and next steps.
Other health concerns that can affect your life insurance
Certain pre-existing conditions and other health-related concerns can affect your life insurance options or costs. A Policygenius expert can help you find the right policy for your needs.
Mental health issues such as depression or anxiety