Getting Life Insurance with Heart Issues

Each year, 600,000 people die in the US because of heart disease, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

It’s the number one cause of death in America, with 1 out of every 4 deaths being linked to a certain heart or cardiovascular disease.

Based on these figures alone, it’s quite easy to conclude that there’s a lot of people with heart issues.

But does this mean that you will be denied life insurance because you are considered high-risk individuals?

Here’s the quick answer: No.

In fact, due to a large number of individuals diagnosed with heart diseases, it became a major reason for some insurance companies to provide policies specifically-built for them.

As you will learn later, heart conditions and other issues do make it harder to get life insurance. However, it by no means automatically disqualifies you from getting life insurance coverage.

In this article, you’ll learn about the various types of heart issues and how they will affect getting life insurance in general. Also, we’ll take a look at actionable tips to help increase your chances of getting approved for life insurance.

Types of Heart Diseases and Issues

Heart disease covers a myriad of cardiovascular problems. Here are some of the most common ones:

  • Heart Attack
  • Coronary Artery Disease (Narrowing Of The Arteries)
  • Heart Muscle Disease (Cardiomyopathy)
  • Congenital Heart Disease
  • Vascular Disease (Blood Vessel Disease)
  • Pericardial Disease
  • Aorta Disease And Marfan Syndrome
  • Abnormal Heart Rhythms, Or Arrhythmias
  • Heart Valve Disease Or Heart Murmur

Can I get a life insurance after a heart attack?

Yes. It will vary on a case to case basis so it would be difficult to provide an actual policy for each person. In most cases, guaranteed issue policies will be easily available for persons with heart issues. Some might even qualify for term life insurance though it will most likely require the person to go through a postpone period first before being eligible for coverage.

What are Guaranteed Issue policies?

In a nutshell, these are insurance policies that pay a lot less than your typical term or whole life insurance policy.

It’s the most accessible option for individuals diagnosed with heart problems. Policies may range from anywhere between $10,000 to $25,000 (or higher) depending on the insurance companies assessment.

What is a Postpone Period?

In some cases, underwriters will delay or postpone the issuance of life insurance if the individual recently experienced a health issue and/or other related medical events (heart treatments, surgery, etc.,). Note, though, that one insurer might recommend a postpone period while another may be completely okay with issuing a policy right away.

As with life insurance in general, it varies from one company to another and other factors are to be considered. In most cases, it may be best to look elsewhere and expand your options.

Life Insurance Underwriting with Heart Issues

Life insurance underwriting refers to the process of gathering and analyzing a potential policyholder’s medical and other related data in order to predict his or her level of mortality (how likely an individual is to die during the course of policy).

After finalizing a risk profile, they will then advise you of your options in terms of how much you will have to pay in premiums relative to the level of risk identified.

If a person has a heart condition (or went through a heart-related procedure or treatment), it puts them in a high-risk category. This means it will be harder to get approved for a regular insurance policy (term or whole).

However, not all heart issues are considered and handled the same when it comes to underwriting. A 48-year old heart-attack survivor (male) who wishes to purchases a 20-year policy will be rated differently from someone of the same age but has been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation.

It will also be different, premium-wise, between a 30 and a 50-year-old male who wishes to purchase a similar policy (say, 20 years) if both had a stroke already.

The bottom line? Heart issues significantly increase the difficulty of getting a life insurance policy. However, each situation is unique especially when other important factors are considered during the underwriting process (medical and personal history, other health issues, and  if significant treatment and maintenance has been implemented in the past months or years, etc.,)

How are life insurance rates affected by heart issues?

It has a negative impact simply because the person who has heart problems has higher mortality (risk of dying) than a healthy person.

If you are the insurance company, it only makes sense to increase the premium requirements because your policyholder has a less-than-preferred health condition. Since they’re taking more risk than usual (versus policyholders without heart conditions), they need to follow stricter underwriting guidelines (hence the increased difficulty of getting approved).

Completion of the policyholder’s cardiac health rehabilitation and continuous monitoring and testing will help in improving your chances of getting approved for life insurance. In general, life insurance rates are negatively affected the most during the first few years after the heart problem (heart attack, diagnosed with heart issues, received treatment for heart problems, etc) and may improve later if favorable conditions and improvements in health are seen during underwriting.

Potential Life Insurance Rates After A Heart Attack

Preferred Plus Impossible. A heart attack will almost automatically disqualify you from getting the best possible life insurance rating.
Preferred Highly Unlikely. A history of heart attack or other heart issues means you have a higher risk than most in terms of health rating.
Standard Unlikely but possible. There are some few cases wherein a heart attack survivor may be given this level of rating if the attack happened years ago and the effects were mild and not debilitating.,
Substandard (Table Rating) Your most likely rating. It will depend on a number of factors like: When was the last time you had a heart attack, your health condition during application for insurance, medical records after the attack, and your family medical history as well.
Declines Sadly, it’s also possible to not get approved at all. Poor lifestyle, if the heart attack was recent, your family has a history of heart issues, and other similar negative reasons will likely disqualify you from getting approved simply because there’s too much risk of future heart attacks.

What Determines Life Insurance Rates if you have a Heart Condition (or after a heart attack)

Two main factors that insurers consider when it comes to assessing you for life insurance after suffering a heart attack (or have other existing heart diseases):

  • How much damage your heart sustained
    • Experts can determine the amount of damage your heart sustained by checking your left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF). It shows how good your heart is able to pump blood to the rest of your body.
    • If your LVEF is 45% or greater, you have a better chance of getting insured with “normal” life insurance versus having an LVEF score of 40% or lower (will likely have to settle with a guaranteed issue)
    • Note though that LVEF scores is just one factor in determining your heart’s strength and should not be the sole basis for demanding a traditional life insurance policy
  • Steps you take to avoid heart problems or improve your condition
    • Consistent and regular medical check-ups
    • Following doctor’s advice of preventive and maintenance medication, including any dietary supplements
    • Monitoring of cholesterol levels and blood pressure
    • Quitting smoking (if you are a smoker)
    • Positive lifestyle habits (eating healthily and exercising regularly)
Life Insurance with Heart Issues

Questions to expect during life insurance with heart issues underwriting

  • Have you had an echocardiogram (ECG) in the last 12 months?
  • How long have you had cardiovascular disease problems?
  • Have you had any main symptoms, (e.g chest pains, fainting, or other related events in the past few months?
  • Are you taking any medications for your condition? If yes, what are they?
  • Do you smoke?
  • Are you overweight?
  • Is there a history of heart disease in your family?
  • What’s your cholesterol level?
  • Do you have high blood pressure?
  • What type of lifestyle do you have (active or sedentary)?

Tips for getting life insurance with heart issues

You don’t necessarily have to resort to a guaranteed policy plan if you have heart issues. There’s a ton of things to consider when assessing premiums, even for someone who has heart problems. Here are some of the best tips for getting the best policy for your situation.

Follow your doctor’s advice and document your progress

Underwriters like getting deep into the details of the applicant’s medical history for it reveals a lot about the person’s condition. If you have been diagnosed with a heart condition (or had a heart attack, treatment, etc.,) it’s best to visit your doctor regularly and follow their recommendations to the letter. Don’t skip your medication, follow the recommended diet, and get plenty of exercise.

But aside from being religious with getting healthy, you should also make it a point to document your progress and make sure your doctor updates your medical log. Why is this important? Because insurers will take a look at the steps you took after the heart attack/issue and assess if you’ve been making progress towards better health.

If they see that you are, then they’ll more likely to consider you for a cheaper policy.

Shop around for the best deals

Like other important purchases (house, car, etc.,), you’ll have better chances of landing a great policy if you took the time and effort to look around. When it comes to high-risk life insurance (e.g people with heart issues), you’ll have higher chances of success with smaller insurance companies. These are carriers who specialize in handling and managing insurance for people that are deemed “uninsurable” by bigger companies.

Diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, high levels of cholesterol, and other types of health issues that increase the risk of heart attacks are things that are looked at by underwriters as markers for assessing risk. Keep these things in check and you’ll be in a much better position for getting a decent life insurance premium.

Time is of the essence

If you have a heart condition or known heart disease and it’s been a while since the last significant attack (or have yet to experience a major event or treatment), it’s best to apply for life insurance now. Each year that passes almost guarantees a more expensive premium. Also, you’re in a better condition now (healthwise) to demand better premium rates.

Exercise and a heart-healthy diet

Just do it—and not only for the life insurance but for a better life. If you are smoking, quit. Tobacco and all its forms are bad for the body. And if you use it while having a heart condition, you’re almost sure to get declined for life insurance.

Ask for a stress-test from your doctor

Insurance underwriters will see it as a positive sign if you can present them with an excellent stress test result from the last year and a half.

Work with a financial expert

The preliminary work of figuring out your risk and analyzing similar cases will be the first job of a financial expert working on your case. Aside from knowing which insurers specialize in high-risk cases, he or she can also help you draft a strong cover letter for your insurance request. Lastly, a good financial agent will help you get the right size and type of insurance policy for your situation.

Your Last Resort – Guaranteed Acceptance or Simplified Life Insurance

If all else fails—then the next best thing you can get is a simplified life insurance policy, also known as guaranteed acceptance. Its main difference with other types of life insurance is the price of the premium and amount of coverage.

  • These plans have much lower maximum coverage amounts.
  • Because the insurance company can’t get an absolute “clear” picture of your health (since you’re always exposed to the risk of heart attacks), they are taking more risk in getting you insured. And the only way for them to offset that risk is by quoting you with a higher premium.
  • Most simplified life insurance policies have some form of graded death benefit clause. If you die within the first two years after getting the policy, they would only refund your premiums, sometimes with interest. Not the actual death benefit. So make sure to check with your insurer for details regarding these types of clauses.

Life insurance with heart issues need not be too difficult. With the knowledge here you gained plus the valuable tips above, you’ll have a better chance of getting a good policy that’s perfect for your needs.

If you are looking for more information about possible life insurance options, reach out to us directly to receive a free quote.