Medical Underwriting

When you complete an application for life assurance, specified illness insurance or income protection, you will be asked a series of questions about your current state of health and your recent medical history. Typically, the underwriting process for specified illness cover and income protection is more stringent than for life cover. This reflects the improving mortality rates in Ireland.

The information gathered will determine how much you should pay for the insurance you require.

Medical underwriting assesses the risk associated with providing any form of protection insurance. It involves an analysis of your medical history and depending on that information and the level of cover required, could require a medical examination and additional tests.

In all cases where the insurance company have requested reports or medical examinations, the insurer will pay the costs associated.

When the underwriting process is completed, the insurer may confirm that your application has been accepted at “ordinary” or “normal” rates. This means that the premium quoted will reflect the rate charged for someone of your age and smoker status, seeking that level and term of cover.

Should the outcome indicate that you are a higher risk, the insurer may offer cover with “special terms”, postpone the policy or decline your application outright. Where you have been “postponed” or declined, the reasons for these decisions will be communicated to your GP.

“Special terms” implies that either cover will be restricted in some way and/or that an additional premium will be added to the normal rate applying to your application. In this instance, before cover can commence, you and any beneficial owner of the new policy must sign a document confirming your acceptance of any increase in cost or restriction in cover.

Here are 5 common conditions that may impact your application for life, specified illness or income protection covers:

Low/High BMI (Body Mass Index)

This is a measure of relative size based on your weight in relation to your height. If you are significantly over or underweight, you may be offered special terms or even declined for certain covers.


According to Diabetes Ireland’s website, there are over 200,000 people in Ireland living with diabetes, many completely unaware that they have this condition. Whether you have been diagnosed with Type 1 or 2 diabetes, cover is still obtainable. Typically, you can expect to pay an additional premium or have elements of cover restricted. It is important that your diabetes is shown to be under control and ideally that you are a non-smoker and not overweight or suffering from high blood pressure.

High Blood Pressure

Over half of all adults over 45 suffer from high blood pressure ( Whilst it does make you a higher risk applicant, once it is under control and well managed you may well be able to obtain cover at normal rates. Other aspects, such as smoking and your lifestyle may have an impact.


With any mental health issues, applications for cover will be very much dependant on the severity. Mild issues will normally be accepted at standard rates for life cover. High levels of medication or hospitalisation may result in special terms or your application being declined.


Asthma is the most common chronic disease in Ireland with more than 10% of the population having some form. Some 60% of people with asthma do not have it under control ( If your asthma is well controlled, and particularly if it is seasonal, you will most likely be accepted at ordinary rates. Underwriters will look at frequency of attack, levels of medication and hospital attendance.

With all types of health conditions, the overall state of your health will be important. At MoneyCoach, we will guide you through the Underwriting process and make it as efficient and as straight-forward as possible.