Every life insurer reserves their lowest rates for those who have no history of elevated blood pressure, commonly called “super-preferred.” But how many people can fall into this elite class? One in every three adults has high blood pressure and this condition does not mean you can’t get life insurance.
In most cases, even if you have high blood pressure, you will be able to get life insurance but it may come at a higher premium cost. In extreme situations, coverage may be denied or postponed until such time as the applicant can prove stability and more normal readings. Because underwriting guidelines vary greatly among life insurers, it can pay to shop around.
Each year, high blood pressure costs the nation an average of $47.5 billion, which includes the cost of health care services, medication and missed days of work.
In addition to high medical costs, high blood pressure can also have a lasting effect on the pocketbooks of life insurance applicants. Among many other factors of one’s health, life insurance underwriters look very closely at blood pressure readings before issuing a policy and consider elevated blood pressure to be an additional risk factor, which often results in a higher premium.
Life underwriters will raise premiums on applicants when they see high blood pressure because it is considered an early indicator of cardiovascular disease (such as stroke and heart disease), kidney disease and chronic heart failure. Heart-related illnesses are the number one cause of death in America.
Life insurers will also look at your overall health to determine how your blood pressure affects your daily life and if you have it under control.
Life insurance companies obtain blood pressure readings from paramedical examinations at time of underwriting and/or from past medical records. Below is are typical summaries of acceptable blood pressure rating categories, which vary by insurer:
- Readings that do not exceed 150/90 controlled by medications
- However, readings may be higher for older age groups (i.e., 50 and 60)
- Readings are under 140/90 controlled by medication, or 150/90 without medication
- Due to this you are entitled to somewhat lower premiums
- Readings are under 140/90 without medication
- Eligible for lowest possible premium
So, what can you do to improve your life insurance premiums while also combating your high blood pressure readings?
High blood pressure can be linked to a series of risk factors, which can hike up your blood pressure reading as well as your life insurance premium.
For starters, determine if high blood pressure runs in your family so you can set up regular checkups to monitor your symptoms. If you are diagnosed with it, make sure you are taking the appropriate medication to control your blood pressure.
Giving up bad habits such as smoking, drinking alcohol excessively and over-eating will help reduce your blood pressure as these habits can aggravate your condition.
While you are cutting back on bad habits, it is also vital to re-evaluate your current exercise routine and diet. It has been proven that physical activity has been shown to have beneficial effects on high blood pressure, even if only a moderate one.
According to the Harvard Medical School, the typical western diet often fails to deliver three key minerals for blood pressure control: calcium, magnesium and potassium.
Calcium helps blood vessels tighten and relax when needed. Magnesium does that, too, and is also needed for energy production and moving calcium and potassium around the body. Potassium lowers blood pressure and protects against muscle cramping and an irregular heartbeat.
The Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) for these three minerals and their importance can be found here.
Finally, stress is one of the major contributors to high blood pressure. While it is not possible to completely eliminate stress from your life, you can engage in activities to help reduce your stress level.
Want to learn more about life insurance? Read our article The Most Frequently Asked Life Insurance Questions.