A history of heart disease won’t necessarily flatline your chances of obtaining life insurance at a reasonable rate provided you have the condition under control and you’re following doctor’s orders.
Take “Jeff” for instance. Obese and a smoker, Jeff needed bypass surgery and a pair of stents to keep his arteries open. His doctor told him to lose 100 pounds and kick his smoking habit if he wanted to live, says Ryan Pinney, a brokerage director with Pinney Insurance Center Inc. in Roseville, Calif.
As a result, Jeff lost 140 pounds, stopped smoking and took his cholesterol medicine faithfully.
“I was able to get him life insurance at a preferred rate,” said Pinney. “He’s healthier now than he was back then.”
A preferred rate would cost around $80 for the same policy that would cost $120 at a standard rate, he says.
Dr. Robert Pokorski, the chief medical strategist for The Hartford’s Individual Life Division, says in general that life insurance can be offered to a patient six months after bypass, angioplasty, or use of stents – and usually at a small to moderate additional increase in premium.
To learn more about the national impact of heart disease, the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention tracks incidences of heart disease by state.
Whether one is insurable depends on the type and severity of the heart disease, their age, their lifestyle habits and if they’re healthy now, Pokorski says.
“For someone with congestive heart failure, it is nearly impossible to get insurance,” Pinney concedes. “The doctor is saying this person is going to die soon.”
Pokorski says children born with an atrial septal defect (hole between the upper chambers of the heart) could get insurance at the same premium as a healthy child because it is corrected via surgery. In the event the defect cannot be corrected, the child can still get life insurance, but the insurer would charge a higher premium.
He says higher premiums are usually required for adults with coronary heart disease as well. The premium would go up even more if the person is overweight, smokes, or is a diabetic. Pinney says a standard $100 policy could now cost as much as 400 to 600 dollars a month.
If you were turned down for life insurance in the past because of heart problems, Pokorski encourages you to try again as insurance companies are responding to medical advances.
“The premium charged at the time you were accepted would be based on your risk going forward, not on your risk in the past,” Pokorski said.
Types of Life Insurance
Fully-Underwritten Life Insurance:
A life insurance medical exam will likely be required. Your application will also include in-depth questions about your current health, your family’s medical history, details regarding your lifestyle and any plans you might have to travel outside the United States. By using this “full underwriting” process, insurers can accurately price a policy based on your life expectancy. If you’re healthy, or in general good health, policies underwritten using this method will provide you the cheapest life insurance premiums.
Simplified Issue Life Insurance:
No life insurance para med exam will be required, but you will have to answer a list of health-related questions. It’s possible that you could be turned down for coverage based upon those answers.
Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance:
No medical exam is needed and no health history questions are asked. You can’t be turned down, but this is easily the most expensive way to buy life insurance. It’s also possible that you will only find low coverage amounts in the $50,000 or $100,000 range available. Should you die within the first few years of purchasing such policies, beneficiaries might only be in line to receive a partial death benefit – or a check equal to the amount of the premiums you paid.