Life Insurance after a heart attack?
You may or may not be aware but a third of all deaths in the U.S. are directly related to cardiovascular disease – heart attack. If you know someone who has gone through this frightening experience or have experienced it yourself, you certainly understand how life-changing a cardiovascular event can be
And, believe it or not, one of the first calls that are made after leaving the ICU and heading home is to a life insurance agent. Most people with heart issues want to confirm that their insurance policy is in force and whether they have enough coverage in the first place.
The good news is that there is no reason to panic about your life insurance coverage because even if you are uninsured and freaking out over the situation, having a heart event is not necessarily going to be an automatic decline for affordable life insurance.
- Can You Get Life Insurance After a Heart Attack
- What is the Ejection Fraction?
- Types of Insurance Policies available after a Heart Attack
- Life Insurance Ratings After a Heart Attack
- What Factors Do Insurers Consider
- How to Better My Chances of Being Approved?
- Best Companies for Life Insurance after a Heart Attack
- I was Declined – Now What?
- Get a Free Life Insurance Quote
Can You Get Life Insurance After a Heart Attack
The answer to this very common question is an emphatic yes! Well, as long as you’re are still among the living.
In today’s life insurance marketplace, having any type of heart event is concerning to insurance underwriters but as long as they have the information needed to properly evaluate your risk, a life insurance policy can be issued to you.
Just don’t plan on paying the same rates as other applicants in much better health.
What is the Ejection Fraction?
Ejection fraction is one of many tests that a cardiologist will use to determine how well your heart is working.
The formula for the test is a method to measure the percentage of blood leaving the heart each time it contracts.
Simply put, after your heart beats, it relaxes. The beat happens when the heart contracts and then forces your blood from the ventricles. After the beat, when your heart relaxes, your ventricles fill back up with blood again.
It doesn’t matter how hard or forceful a contraction is since your heart can never pump every drop of blood out the ventricle.
So, the ejection fraction is a measurement of what percent of blood that’s pumped out of a ventricle filled with blood each time your heartbeats.
According to the folks at the American Heart Association, a normal ejection fraction is when 50% to 75% of the blood in the ventricle is pumped out after each heartbeat.
When that percentage of blood becomes borderline or worse, serious things can go wrong and lead to a serious heart event.
Types of Life Insurance Policies Available after a Heart Attack
Depending on the severity of your heart event and the prognosis provided by your cardiologist, you will likely still be eligible to purchase most types of life insurance but the rate you pay will depend upon several factors including as well as the physician’s statement.
Additionally, there may be other medical issues and lifestyle choices that will impact your health class and the eventual rate you’ll be charged for your life insurance policy.
If you apply for life insurance coverage after a heart attack be prepared to deal with the following:
- Your age at the time of the heart event. Having a heart attack at a young age is considered to be more challenging than if the event took place in your 50s or 60s.
- Be prepared to talk about the severity of your heart attack. Having only one or two blocked vessels paints a healthier picture than having a triple or quadruple bypass.
- Lifestyle issues will be discussed thoroughly since heart disease is considered to be a lifestyle disease. This means your weight vs. height will be important as well as your BMI. On day one you must commit to eating healthier, exercising (within reason), no tobacco products ever, and losing your key to the liquor cabinet.
- Also, be prepared to discuss any other health issues going on in your life. Issues like diabetes, high cholesterol, COPD, and Hepatitis C will likely be deal breakers for your underwriter.
- Follow-Up – Your underwriter will also be concerned about follow-up care with your physician. They will be concerned about your demeanor when it comes to managing your recovery and making the necessary lifestyle changes that likely contributed to your heart event in the first place.
The life insurance policies that you will likely qualify for are:
Term Life Insurance
Although Term Life Insurance will be the cheapest type of life insurance for you to purchase, don’t assume you’ll qualify for those cheap TV rates you hear about (if you can qualify at all).
Depending on the severity of your heart event, you should expect to pay more for a term policy than a healthy person would and you may even be table rated or declined.
Universal Life Insurance
Purchasing Universal Life Insurance may be a better option because when properly funded, the coverage lasts a lifetime and most companies offer valuable riders that will allow you to access a portion of the death benefit that should have more severe health events in the future.
Plus, with Universal Life Insurance you will build cash value in the policy over time that can easily be accessed for any reason, especially to pay medical expenses.
Whole Life Insurance
Whole Life Insurance may another good option if you are willing to pay higher rates than you’d pay for Universal Life. Many individuals find Whole Life an attractive option because of the benefits and guarantees that come with every policy.
- Once issued, the company cannot cancel your policy for any reason other than non-payment.
- Once issued, your insurance company cannot increase your payments for any reason. This includes chronic, critical, or terminal health issues, or having to live out your life in a long-term care facility or hospice.
- Over time, your whole life policy will build cash value and earn a guaranteed interest rate. This cash account is your money and can be used to collateralize loans from the insurance company (while it continues to earn interest), or you can take withdrawals for any reason.
Guaranteed Issue Whole Life Insurance
A Guaranteed Issue Whole Life policy will save the day when you cannot medically qualify for any other type of life insurance,
Companies that offer Guaranteed Issue Whole Life will not consider your medical history, which means there are no medical exam requirements and no medical questions on the application.
Virtually any person who is between 50 and 85-years old and is alive can buy a guaranteed issue life insurance policy.
Since there is no medical underwriting, the rates will be significantly higher than other policies and the insurer will not pay the full death benefit if you die from natural causes during the first two years.
Most insurance companies will however pay your beneficiary 110% of the premiums that you’ve paid if you die in the first 24 months after your policy is issued
Life Insurance Ratings After a Heart Attack
Life insurance rates are predicated on the health (rate) class you qualify for when you apply for a life insurance policy.
Certainly, any applicant that has had and recovered from a heart event will be at a disadvantage coming out of the gate.
The severity of your heart attack, your prognosis, and the lifestyle changes you are committed to can help you qualify for a rate that is more affordable than you may have anticipated.
Here are the typical rate classes that most insurance companies will offer and the qualifications needed to achieve each rating:
Rate Class Who Qualifies?
Preferred Plus This class is generally awarded to applicants in exceptional health and presents minimal risk to the company.
Preferred This class is reserved for applicants in above-average health but may have one minor health issue such as slightly elevated blood pressure or cholesterol.
Standard Plus Applicants who qualify for standard plus are typically in good health and present a lower than average risk even if they have several non-severe health issues like high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Standard A standard rate is given to those applicants who are in average health.
Preferred Smoker Smokers who are in good health can qualify for the preferred-smoker rate class, especially if their habit is one or two cigars a week.
Smoker This is class is designated for applicants who regularly smoke and have one or more minor health issues.
Substandard This category is reserved for high-risk applicants and generally comes with much higher rates.
What Factors do Insurers Consider?
In many cases, when an insurance underwriter is notified about health issues like a heart attack, stroke, or cancer, they will require a supplemental application that is used to drill-down into the episode or episodes you are presenting,
For example, once a heart event is mentioned, your underwriter will typically request the following information in detail:
- Your age when the heart attack occurred. As was mentioned earlier in this article, applicants who have a heart event at an earlier age (25 – 45) are less likely to have life-threatening after effects and will have more time to make the necessary lifestyle changes that are generally the culprit causing the heart issue.
- Time since the heart attack. Most insurers will want about six months after your heart event occurred to determine the success of your recovery and to be able to gauge how healthy you’ll become in the coming months.
- The severity of your heart attack. Just like stroke, some heart attacks are more severe than others. For example, an applicant that was triggered by one blocked artery may still qualify for a preferred or standard rate while another applicant who suffers from two or more blocked arteries will be given a much higher rate.
- Lifestyle changes since the heart attack. Since lifestyle is typically the culprit for a heart event, it’s logical that positive changes be put in place and a sincere commitment is made to benefit from them. Your cardiologist will map out changes that you should implement regarding diet, exercise, smoking cessation, and reducing your alcohol intake. Additionally, getting 7 or 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep can benefit our health also. Your commitment to these changes is paramount and your insurance company will want you to maintain this ongoing maintenance.
What Can I do to Better My Chances of Being Approved?
Increasing your chances of qualifying for a better rate class is up to you. Taking your physician seriously is the first step in healing and becoming more healthy and thus qualifying for a rate class that will deliver affordable rates.
Quite frankly, it’s not that difficult to better your chances of being approved for an affordably priced life insurance policy.
- Change your lifestyle for the better.
- Reduce the number of medications you require to manage your health.
- Listen to your doctor and follow his management plan. Doctors will know why your heart attack occurred and will advise you of a plan to make certain it’s never repeated.
- Once you can purchase insurance at affordable rates, never let that change because of a policy lapse. Life insurance coverage is for decades not years. Look at your coverage as lifetime protection and never jeopardize that coverage by missing a payment or extremely depleting your cash value.
Best Companies for Life Insurance after a Heart Attack
There are hundreds of insurance companies vying for your business. Some may shy away from applicants reporting heart events, but others are considered “heart attack friendly.”
As an experienced and reputable independent insurance brokerage, our team is keenly aware of which companies are more likely to offer very competitive rates over and above the rest of the pack.
For applicants who present with a history of heart attack we generally rely on a shortlist of life insurance companies that do not shy away from applicants with a history of heart attack:
My Application was Declined – Now What?
It’s certainly possible that you may be unable to medically qualify for traditional life insurance after having a heart attack. Take a breath, this is not the end of the story. There are several life insurance companies available that offer guaranteed issue (guaranteed acceptance) life insurance.
When you choose this option, heart attack, stroke, cancer, or Hepatitis C simply doesn’t come into play. In fact, there are no medical questions on the application and as long as you are in the eligible age group (50 – 85) your policy will be issued.
Since the insurance company has agreed to accept an unknown health risk, they offset the risk by charging higher rates and applying a two-year waiting period for death from natural causes.
During the waiting period, if you die from natural causes, your beneficiary will typically receive 110% of all premiums paid into the policy rather than the full death benefit.
If your death is the result of a covered accident, your beneficiary will receive the full death benefit from day one of the policy.
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