Atrial fibrillation, AFib, and AF all mean the same thing. AFib is a heart condition that affects close to 3 million Americans each year.
What is atrial fibrillation? It’s a condition where your heart doesn’t beat correctly. This irregular heartbeat is called an arrhythmia.
Some people notice the arrhythmia in their heartbeat, and some don’t. Those that don’t typically find out during a routine medical exam that they have a potential heart condition.
When it comes to getting approved for life insurance with a condition like atrial fibrillation, it’s possible. Of course, there are factors involved that will determine the rate you get and the premium you’ll pay.
If you or someone you know if living with atrial fibrillation and is looking to get life insurance, keep reading. This article will discuss what AFib is, the signs and symptoms to look for, and who is at risk. Then, we’ll go over how to get approved for life insurance at the best rate possible for your overall health.
What is Atrial Fibrillation?
In a normal heart, the blood flows from the top of the heart (atria) into the bottom of the heart (ventricles). From there, the blood flows to the rest of the body and the process continues. This happens in a predictable rhythm that we know as the heartbeat.
In a person with atrial fibrillation, the upper heart chambers beat irregular and faster. This irregular heartbeat causes the top and bottom of the heart to fall out of sync with each other. The bottom chambers don’t get enough blood, which means the rest of the body is not receiving what it needs.
This can also lead to blood pooling in the heart, which has its own set of symptoms. Let’s take a look at some of the signs and symptoms people notice with atrial fibrillation.
Signs and Symptoms
Most, but not all, people have signs or symptoms of AFib. In those that do, here are the ones that are most common:
- Heart palpitations
- Chest pain
- A feeling of thumping in the chest
- Shortness of breath
If you have AFib, then you are almost five times as likely to have a stroke as someone without. This is mostly due to blood pooling in the heart, which can cause a clot to be sent to the brain.
In some people with AFib, the symptoms resolve on their own. But for most, they will need to have some type of treatment plan in place to resolve their AFib.
Before we take a look at treatment options for someone with atrial fibrillation, let’s see how it’s diagnosed.
If it is suspected that you have AFib, your doctor will do some or all of the following:
- Review your personal and family history for signs of heart issues
- Do a physical exam
- Blood tests
- Sleep study
- Chest x-ray
- Portable EKG event monitor to detect symptoms or irregularities
- Electrophysiology study to record heart signals
- Walking test to review heart activity over several minutes
The results of the tests will determine any type of treatment plan as well as the type of arrhythmia.
Depending on the results of your AFib testing, your doctor will come up with a treatment plan. That plan could include any of the following:
- Lifestyle changes
- Getting stress levels under control
- Quitting smoking
- Eating healthier
- Becoming more physically active
- Reducing or eliminating alcohol consumption
- Blood Thinners
- Other types of medications
- Surgical or catheter ablation
Regardless of the treatment you receive, you’ll want to follow the doctor’s orders. When it comes to getting approved for life insurance, the company will want to see you are following medical advice.
The type of arrhythmia that you have will also be considered by underwriting when approving your life insurance. Let’s take a look at the types you could have.
Types of Arrhythmia
There are several types of atrial fibrillation you could have. The type is one major factor to determine the life insurance rate and the premium you will receive. That is if you’ll be approved for life insurance.
- Paroxysmal fibrillation – this type of AFib resolves either on its own or with treatment within seven days of starting. It could lead to permanent AFib and is mostly unpredictable. You could have symptoms daily or only a few times per year.
- Persistent AFib – this type lasts for longer than seven days and will not resolve on its own. Medical treatment will be needed.
- Long-standing AFib – this type lasts longer than a year without the heart returning to a normal rhythm
- Nonvalvular AFib – this type is not caused by a heart valve issue
- Permanent AFib – in this type, treatment plans have failed and you and your doctor have decided not to pursue further intervention. As the name implies, this is a permanent irregular heartbeat rhythm
Paroxysmal fibrillation can become permanent over time and lead to permanent AFib.
Getting a Quote for Life Insurance
You’ll have to get a quote for life insurance prior to completing the application. This quote will give you a general idea of what rate you should be able to qualify for.
In order to get an accurate quote, it is best to work with a licensed life insurance agent. They will ask you some questions about your past and current health. You will also need to let them know of any medications you are taking.
With this information, they will be able to determine the best life insurance company to get a quote from. There are over 1,000 life insurance companies in the United States. With a condition like AFib, you will not qualify for all companies.
The good news is that life insurance agents work closely with companies and know the best ones for your personal health. Why is this important? A life insurance company with competitive rates for people with AFib will give you the best rate.
That means you will get the lowest premium you are eligible for. And the best part about working with one of our agents is that it is totally free to you. It will not increase the price of life insurance to work with an agent. And you will have the best chances of being approved than if you just go online to get a quote somewhere.
What Can I Expect When Applying for Life Insurance?
When you apply for traditional life insurance, you will have to go through an application process. This process requires gathering information for the application and completing a medical exam.
Then, the underwriter assigned to your case will review your application, doctors information, and test results. Once all the information is reviewed, they will determine if you are eligible for life insurance and at what rating.
Completing the Application
When applying for life insurance, there will be standard questions to answer. With atrial fibrillation, you will have to provide even more information.
Having all the information ready and available to you prior to the application will make it easier and quicker. In addition to the standard questions, be prepared to answer:
- When were you diagnosed with AFib?
- What type of arrhythmia do you have?
- Are you experiencing any symptoms currently?
- What type of treatment plan have you been prescribed for your AFib?
- Are you following the doctor’s orders as prescribed? If not, why?
- Have you ever been hospitalized due to AFib? When and why?
- Have you ever been diagnosed with any of the following: cancer, stroke, heart disease, diabetes?
- Has your AFib caused you to not be able to work?
- Did you or do you qualify for disability due to your AFib?
You will also have to supply information for your doctors. That includes your primary care doctor, cardiologist, and any other doctor you are currently seeing.
The Medical Exam
Once the application has been completed, the agent will schedule a medical exam for you to complete. You have the option to go to a lab facility or have a technician come to your home.
They will record your height, weight, and blood pressure. You will have to provide a urine test and may have to supply a blood sample.
Once the tests are complete, the examiner will send the results to your life insurance company. You will also receive a copy. Additional information or forms may be sent to your doctor for further consideration.
The Underwriting Process
When your application is submitted, the life insurance company will assign an underwriter. They will review all the information, including the medical exam and your history, to determine your rate.
They may check your driving record, do a soft credit pull and/or do a background check as well. It depends on:
- The company’s underwriting requirements
- The level of coverage you are requesting
- The product you applied for
This process can take as little as a week, or as long as a month or more. It all depends on how much medical history you have, and what information they need from your doctor. Once all information is provided, they will decide if you are eligible for the life insurance plan you selected.
What Rate Can I Expect to be Approved for?
The healthier you are, the better the rate and the price for your life insurance. Here are the rate breakdowns, and what you can expect to be approved for.
This rate is reserved for the healthiest of applicants. A person with atrial fibrillation will not qualify for this rate, even if they are otherwise healthy.
You should not expect to qualify for this rate either. However, in some cases, a person with paroxysmal fibrillation who is otherwise in great health can qualify.
This is dependent on the life insurance company and their underwriting requirements. If you are a smoker with AFib, you can not qualify for this rate.
This is likely the best rating you can expect with an AFib diagnosis. This rating will be reserved for those in good health and paroxysmal fibrillation.
Some life insurance companies may consider this rating with nonvalvular AFib. They will look at your entire health picture in making the determination.
If you have any other health issues though, you will not get approved for a standard rating.
Substandard (Table Rating)
A person with most forms of AFib will fall under this rating. The cost for this rating varies widely. The worse your health, the more premium you will pay for your life insurance company.
The underwriter will take your entire health picture including AFib diagnosis and overall health to determine the rate. They will also consider if you are following doctor’s orders and steps you are taking to improve your overall health.
The more work you are putting in to improve your health, the better. This includes:
- Reducing or eliminating any other health issues
- Losing weight
- Quitting smoking
- Making healthier food choices
There is a chance you can be denied for life insurance with AFib. This is especially true if you have a family history of heart disease or stroke. The less healthy you are, the more chance you have of being denied for life insurance.
The Bottom Line
Once you are diagnosed with AFib, you need to take a very honest look at your health and lifestyle. Making positive changes to your health will increase your chances of getting the best rate for life insurance.
It will also help reduce your risk of permanent AFib. If you are within 12 months of being diagnosed, it is best to wait to apply for life insurance. The underwriters will want to see time past to make sure you are following your prescribed treatment plan.
Are you ready to get a quote for life insurance? Get a free quote today!