Graded Death Benefit Life Insurance

So your health has placed you in a very high risk category?  Maybe you are assuming that the best life insurance options companies won’t give you the coverage you want and need? 

Don’t lose heart. 

The news isn’t all bad as you still have options for life insurance.  Graded death benefit life insurance is designed for those who are indeed, high risk life insurance candidates.

If you are unable to qualify for traditional life insurance or simplified issue whole life insurance, most people can still qualify for a policy that has a Graded Death Benefit.

What is a Graded Death Benefit in Life Insurance?

The key word is obviously “graded” right?

So what is does “graded” really mean here?

A Graded Death Benefit Life Insurance policy, sometimes called graded life insurance, is coverage that has a 2-3 year waiting period for full coverage for natural death. 

While it does cover the insured for full accidental death upon policy issue, for natural death, it is restricted.  The “graded” limitation is a typical return of all paid premiums plus a interest rate of 6-10%.  That would be the payout to the beneficiary if natural death occurred during the waiting period.  The waiting period is written into the policy and it always identified in the product literature.  Your independent agent should be disclosing this as well.  Policies from different carriers vary.  As stated earlier, 2-3 years.

Highlights of a Graded Death Benefit Life Insurance Policy

  • No medical exam
  • Very few medical questions compared to numerous on a traditional life application
  • Fast Approval – These policies are approved based on simple criteria and result in fast issue.  Less than a week is common.
  • Reduced Death Benefit for Natural Death – first 2-3 years depending upon the carrier, limited payout on natural death.  This is a way the insurer negates some of the additional risk posed by your rate classification.
  • Whole Life Insurance – We do not recommend term life insurance for the typical people who need to purchase these types of policies for burial or funeral expenses.

How to Obtain Your Quote

You can pull a Graded Benefit life insurance quote by using the instant final expense quoting tool on this page. Under the “Health Class” menu select “Decent Health.” This will generate several companies you may qualify for and the cost.


The recommendation is to give us a quick call before applying for higher risk life insurance like this.  Most often we are able to get you first day, full benefits with NO waiting period.

This also means a lower cost for you.

We can still get you a quick quote so you can move on with your day.  800-598-6445

Can I Qualify for a Graded Benefit Life Insurance Policy Though?  I’m just not sure.

Ask yourself the following questions.  You must be able to honestly answer the question with a “NO” to qualify for a Graded Benefit Life Insurance policy (no sugarcoating).

1) Have you been diagnosed as having or been treated by a

physician for:

a. Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Acquired Immune

Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) or AIDS Related Complex


b. Alzheimer’s disease (dementia), Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

(ALS), mental retardation or Down’s Syndrome or do you

require the assistance of another person for dressing,

bathing, toileting, or mobility or do you use an oxygen tank?

2) Have you,

within the past 2 (two) years:

a. Had a heart attack (myocardial infarction) or stroke

(cerebral vascular accident)?

b. Had or are now awaiting an organ or bone marrow transplant

(except as a donor)?

c. been diagnosed with cancer, received or been prescribed

radiation or chemotherapy or have you received or been

prescribed dialysis?

d. Been confined to or been advised by a licensed medical

professional to be admitted to, a nursing home, hospice,

extended care or special treatment facility or are you now


e. Used controlled substances such as cocaine, heroin, amphetamines,

barbiturates or hallucinogens except as prescribed

by a physician or been treated for or been advised

by a physician to seek treatment for drug or alcohol use?

f. Been advised by a licensed medical professional that your

life expectancy is less than 24 months?

g. Had more than one DUI (DWI) violation, been convicted of

a felony or are you now on probation?

If you were able to answer “NO” to all the above questions, you qualify to apply for coverage.  Call us to get a graded benefit quote at 800-598-6445.

We Would Like To Be Sure You Can’t Qualify for Something with Full Coverage Immediately and Save You Money

A good percentage of people with tough life insurance cases can still qualify for a traditional life insurance policy, which costs a lot less than a graded benefits policy.  

So many people have been misled into thinking they can’t qualify elsewhere because they were told no one would accept them.

At Special Risk Life Insurance, we’ve insured the tough cases with simplified issue and even traditional, fully underwritten life insurance policies.

Yes, even those people who believed they were “high risk.”

Whether you have Diabetes type I or II,  have heart disease, heart attack history, stroke history, cancer history, Obese up to 400 lbs, have multiple DUI’s, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis… you probably get the picture… just about anything can be insured traditionally with the right life insurance carrier.

If You Answered “YES” to Any of the Above Questions

We now may have look specifically at a guaranteed issue policy.

We do have 1 well established company that is very liberal that may be able to help you avoid a guaranteed acceptance policy. Please get in contact with us for that information.

With that said, if you’ve been diagnosed with terminal cancer, AIDS (Not HIV) or Alzheimer’s Disease, the only type of life insurance you can qualify for is a guaranteed issue policy with has no medical questions. 

Gerber Life is one our very competitive carriers that offers coverage you likely need.

What if I’ve been Declined for Life Insurance multiple times?

If you’ve been declined by multiple insurance companies “easy to qualify for, no exam products,” you’ve probably found the right type of life insurance policy for you.

Graded Whole Life Insurance and Conclusion

Graded life insurance can be a solution when harder to qualify for products are just unobtainable.  Sometimes applicants are stuck with a tough health condition or two that restricts what is available to them. 

Maybe you have get getting along for a few years this way, but now you feel the need to get life insurance.  Graded whole life insurance exists to match the needs of the insured, yet offsets some of the risk to the life insurance company.

With the top graded policies, the first year offer 25-30% of the death benefit. The second year 50-70% is available to your beneficiary. These reduced benefits are for natural death only. Accidental death is full benefits upon acceptance.

Once the 2 year period passes, you loved ones have full benefits for both natural and accidental death.

There is a fine line with high risk life insurance policies.  Don’t try to navigate this on your own. You have everything to gain and nothing to lose here.


Again, we urge you to speak with a high risk life insurance professional.  Life insurance companies all look at health risks differently.  Being declined previously does not be you must resort to a graded policy either.  Let us help you sort out the best option for you.

Questions, quoting and application can all be done by phone. It is that easy working with the right people.  Just give us a call a 800-598-6445 to discuss your situation.  We are here to help you solve your problem.