Finding a policy with heart disease can be challenging. Here’s what you need to know about getting life insurance approval with heart disease.
According to a 2018 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one person in the United States dies from heart disease every 36 seconds, making it the leading cause of death among Americans. If you have heart disease and are looking for life insurance right now, that’s not an encouraging statistic. However, don’t give up yet.
It’s possible to be approved for life insurance when you have heart disease. It may not be easy or convenient, but you should be able to find a policy that offers the coverage you need to protect your family. There are just a few things you should know.
How Underwriters View Heart Disease
Insurance underwriters are the ones who look at your circumstances and decide how risky of an investment you are for the insurance company. The riskier they deem you, the higher your premiums are likely to be if your application for life insurance is accepted.
They may also decide that insuring you would be a bad financial decision for the company. In that case, your application will be rejected. A rejected application isn’t the end of the road, which we’ll go over in more detail later.
Underwriters are very thorough when investigating your medical history, particularly if you have heart disease. Here are some of the things they will want to know:
- When you were diagnosed.
- Whether you have a family history of heart disease.
- What symptoms you had led to you seeking a diagnosis.
- If anyone in your immediate family has died of heart disease.
- Treatments you’re currently undergoing, including medications.
Never lie on a life insurance application. It’s fraud, and you will likely be caught and penalized before your application goes through. You may end up blacklisted and struggle even more to find life insurance.
Even if your lie isn’t caught and your application is accepted, the insurance company will still probably discover the truth. If you die within two years of receiving a policy—known as the contestability period—your application will be reevaluated. If the insurance company discovers your lie, they can refuse to pay your beneficiary the death benefit.
Types of Heart Disease and What They Mean for Your Insurance Options
Heart disease is actually an umbrella term for various heart conditions, which is part of what makes knowing your odds of getting life insurance so complicated. Everyone’s circumstances are unique. We’re going to go over some of the most common types of heart disease and what they might mean for your insurance options.
Coronary Artery Disease
Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most prevalent type of heart disease. If you have CAD, it means something, usually plaque, has built up in the arteries around your heart to the point that they’re narrower than they should be. Narrower arteries mean less oxygen and other nutrients can get where they need to go, leading to chest pain or heart attack.
When you apply for life insurance with CAD, the insurance underwriter assigned to your case will consider your condition’s severity and what you’re doing to manage it. Your application’s chances of being approved increase if you can show that you’re following a treatment plan.
In mild CAD cases, that might look like taking an aspirin every day, treating high blood pressure, and reducing bad cholesterol. If you quit smoking or start exercising, your odds of being approved for life insurance are even higher.
Severe cases of CAD are more complicated because they usually require surgery. If you’ve had an angioplasty, bypass surgery, or a stent put in, you’ll probably have to wait six months after the surgery before a life insurance company will consider accepting you. If you have an EKG or stress test after your surgery and the results seem to have improved, your chances of being approved increase.
Peripheral Artery Disease
Peripheral artery disease (PAD) operates on the same principle as CAD, but the arteries in which plaque has built up are located in your legs, arms, or other areas away from your heart. It’s also sometimes called peripheral vascular disease (PVD).
The most common symptom of PAD is pain or weakness in your legs when walking or climbing stairs. Because pain or weakness can signify many different conditions, PAD often goes undiagnosed. However, if you have received a diagnosis, insurance companies are going to pay attention.
PAD isn’t fatal by itself, which is good news for your chances of getting life insurance. Unfortunately, it often co-occurs with problems like heart attack and stroke, which may make insurance companies wary.
The most significant factor an underwriter is likely to consider with PAD is your age. If you were diagnosed when you were 40 or younger, the underwriter will be more cautious than if you were diagnosed over the age of 60.
Some plaque build-up is expected as you age, which is why a diagnosis when you’re older is less concerning. Noticeable plaque build-up when you’re younger, however, often indicates that you could experience serious cardiovascular problems as you age.
If you have an arrhythmia, it means your heart beats irregularly. That might mean your heart beats slower or faster than average, contracts before it should, or that the upper chambers of your heart don’t contract in line with the lower chambers, as is the case with atrial fibrillation. The main reason life insurance companies concern themselves with arrhythmias is that they can signify more serious cardiovascular issues.
Depending on your medical history, having an arrhythmia may not even disqualify you from the best premium rates, let alone life insurance itself. One instance of atrial fibrillation in someone over the age of 60, for example, is hardly ever something an insurance underwriter will find concerning. As with PAD, the younger you are when you experience issues, the riskier an underwriter is likely to deem you.
If you have experienced an arrhythmia, don’t settle. That’s especially true if you’re an older adult. Shop around and find the best rate that you can.
Congestive Heart Failure
Congestive heart failure happens when your heart is unable to pump blood as efficiently as it needs to. It’s a serious condition, and insurance underwriters will treat it as such. That doesn’t mean a diagnosis with heart failure disqualifies you from receiving life insurance.
You won’t qualify for the best premium rates. Still, you can receive offers for standard or substandard rates depending on the rest of your overall health.
One of the most significant factors in whether your application gets rejected is how recently had a diagnosis. Most underwriters like to see that it has been at least six months since you were diagnosed and that you are taking steps to manage your condition.
The severity of the heart failure you’re experiencing influences your chances of approval for life insurance. Categorization, as detailed by the American Heart Association, is a bit complicated. The less severe your symptoms and the more capable you are of performing routine activities, the more likely it is that you will be approved.
Cardiac Arrest or Heart Attack
Cardiac arrest is not the same thing as a heart attack, although the two can be frequently confusing. A heart attack happens when blood flow to the heart gets blocked, which occurs with CAD. Cardiac arrest, on the other hand, is when your heart stops beating.
Whether or not you have approval for life insurance when you have a history of either cardiac arrest or heart attacks will depend on what caused the issues, how severe any underlying conditions you may have are, and what preventative measures you’re taking.
Congenital Heart Disease
The final form of heart disease that we will cover is congenital heart disease. Congenital heart disease is any heart condition you’ve had since birth. Generally, it takes the form of some sort of defect in your heart’s form.
You’ll usually be able to get life insurance if you have congenital heart disease. But it will almost certainly cost more. Because congenital heart disease can mean so many different things, your circumstances, age, and overall health will be considered. Costs will depend on the insurance company you’re applying with and what the paramedical exam turns up.
What To Do If Your Application Is Denied
It’s easy to become discouraged if you’ve had one or more of your life insurance applications denied. However, all is not lost. There are insurance options available, even if you’re starting to feel as if you’re uninsurable.
Guaranteed issue life insurance is one such option. It may not offer you the terms that you would like—the death benefit is usually $25,000 or less. There’s a two or three year period where your beneficiary won’t receive the benefit at all—but it’s better than nothing. At the very least, a guaranteed issue life insurance policy can cover funeral costs.
While your beneficiary won’t receive the death benefit if you pass away during the two or three year period after you sign up for the policy, most companies will pay back the premiums plus interest. Any protection you can provide for your family is worthwhile.
Navigating the insurance industry is never easy. It’s expensive, confusing, and there are a million things you would rather be doing. That’s where NextGen Life Insurance comes in.
No matter what health problems you’re struggling with our experts will work to find you the best coverage at the most affordable rate so that you don’t have to worry about it. Get your free quote today, or call us at 646-216-4199 to get started.