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When you’ve experienced a stroke, it becomes very challenging to get affordable life insurance. However, fortunately there are steps you can take to get life insurance after a stroke.
A stroke is considered to be a serious medical event, and your chance of having more health issues after having a stroke is very high and, therefore, insurance underwriters are very careful during the underwriting process. However, it is possible to get life insurance after a stroke.
Although experiencing a stroke is very serious, it is still possible for most individuals to qualify for traditional life insurance. The key is putting together a strong insurance application that offers a complete picture of your recovery.
When the high-risk underwriters have this clear picture before them, they can make an informed decision regarding the risk you present and work toward offering life insurance after a stroke.
What is a Stroke?
Although there are two types of strokes, each result when blood flow to the brain is cut off and the brain cells are deprived of oxygen and begin to die. When this event takes place, a person’s abilities that are controlled by the affected area of the brain such as memory and muscle control are lost.
- About 8,000 people experience a new stroke or recurrent stroke each year/li>
- A stroke happens about every 40 seconds
- Strokes represent the 5th leading cause of death in the U.S.
- Someone dies from a stroke about every 4 minutes
- About 80% of all strokes could have been prevented
- Stroke is the main cause of adult disability in the U.S.
Since life insurers base their rates on the age and health of the applicant, individuals who have suffered a stroke event are likely to pay more than healthy applicants. But independent insurance agents who understand high-risk conditions like stroke, offer applicants a better chance of getting affordable rates.
Underwriting after a Stroke
When an individual applies for life insurance, the agent should ask you many questions about your stroke and your recovery. Some of the questions you should expect are:
- When did you experience your stroke or strokes?
- What is an actual stroke or was it a TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack)?
- What tests did you undergo after your stroke or strokes?
- What symptoms did you experience at the time of the stroke?
- Did you experience any lasting neurological issues or other residual effects?
- Are you experiencing any other health issues that are likely to contribute to another stroke such as hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, or coronary artery disease?
- What medications are you currently taking?
The more common medications that are prescribed after a stroke typically include aspirin, Plavix, Anticoagulants, Hypertension Meds, and Statins. Medications that are typically taken after a stroke shouldn’t affect your rating depending on your symptoms.
Your insurance agent will need to get all of the answers to the above-mentioned questions listed on your application so that your underwriter will be confident that you are providing all of the necessary information about your condition and your recovery. Any omitted information could lead to a significant table rating or a decline.
How a Stroke can Affect Your Rates
One of the most important factors for your application for life insurance is whether you experienced a full stroke or a mini-stroke.
A mini-stroke is also known as a TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack) and presents the same symptoms as a full stroke, but the patient doesn’t experience any permanent neurological damage. Since a full stroke will result in brain damage, the underwriting is much easier when the event was a TIA.
Since a full stroke and a TIA make it likely for additional stroke problems, they both create challenges for obtaining life insurance. The rating you qualify for will depend on your answers to the questions regarding your stroke, and each company has different underwriting guidelines.
There are, however, some general guidelines that can provide an idea about your insurability:
- Preferred Plus: It is highly unlikely that any applicant will qualify for this rate class after having a full stroke or a mini-stroke (TIA).
- Preferred: In some rare cases, an applicant that has experienced a mini stroke could qualify for a preferred rating as long as the applicant is in otherwise perfect health or if the TIA was found to be misdiagnosed.
- Standard: A standard rating should be considered as the best rating possible for applicants that have experienced a stroke. There are a couple of caveats, however; six years must have passed since the stroke event, and there cannot be any other health issues.
- Sub-Standard (Table Rated): Most applicants who apply at least a year following their stroke and do not present any lasting damage as a result, will likely be offered a substandard rating. Applicants with a TIA are likely to get offered a substandard rating after only six months following the event.
- Decline: Applicants that apply for life insurance within six months of a TIA or one year of a full stroke can expect to be declined for traditional life insurance but can get “guaranteed issue” whole life insurance.
What if I'm Declined?
If your application was submitted by an independent agent and declined by the insurer, you can still purchase life insurance by choosing a guaranteed issue insurance policy. The guaranteed issue policy is life insurance that is issued without regard to the applicant’s health and it is the only way to get life insurance after a stroke if you have been declined. As such, there are no health questions on the application, and there is no medical exam requirement by the underwriter. There are, however, a few drawbacks that you will need to consider.
Most of the insurers that offer guaranteed issue life insurance will cap the death benefit at $25,000 to $30,000 depending on your age.
These policies will also have a waiting period of two or three years when the company will not pay the full death benefit if you die from natural causes. Most companies will, however, pay a benefit equal to the total premiums paid in, and in many cases, they will add 5 to 10 percent to that amount.
Since the insurer is willing to accept your health as an unknown risk, your premium will be substantially higher than a traditional life insurance policy.
Although there are some drawbacks to guaranteed issue life insurance, it is certainly a better option than passing your final expenses on to surviving loved ones.
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