If you’ve recently suffered a heart attack, also known as a myocardial infarction, and you now want to purchase a life insurance policy, you might find that approval for life insurance after a heart attack isn’t as easy as you thought. However, the good news is that heart attack life insurance is difficult, but not impossible, to obtain. If you’ve had a heart attack or other cardiovascular event, you can greatly increase your chances of receiving approval for good coverage if you know what to expect ahead of time.
Had a Heart Attack? Here’s What Life Insurance Providers Need to Know
The key is to be honest and open when speaking with insurance providers. While you might consider withholding information, this is not recommended as the underwriters will usually require a medical exam anyway and investigate your health history, including your recent heart attack. Be prepared to answer questions such as:
- Are you aware of any underlying conditions that may have caused the heart attack?
- When were you first diagnosed?
- What treatments did your physician recommend?
- How often do you visit your healthcare provider?
- What, if any, treatments have you had, including medications and surgeries?
- Has your health condition improved since you were first diagnosed?
- Do you regularly exercise?
- Are you a current smoker?
In order to approve a policy for life insurance for heart disease patients, the underwriter will also need to evaluate the results of several heart tests, including stress tests and EKGs. Ultimately, your approval depends on the medications you’re taking to treat your condition, how well you take care of yourself, the time since your last episode, your heart’s current condition, and the severity of the heart attack.
What About Multiple Heart Attacks?
Believe it or not, it’s still possible to get approval for life insurance following a heart attack even if you’ve had multiple attacks or you’re living with a more serious form of heart disease. Be aware of your options, and understand that you may not get the coverage that you had originally wanted. However, some insurance providers do offer regular term life insurance after heart attack strikes more than once. If traditional or standard coverage is not available, a graded benefit term or high-risk life insurance policy might be necessary.
If you’ve already shopped around and you feel like you’re hitting a brick wall, there are several ways you can increase your chance of approval for a life insurance policy after a heart attack:
Wait. Although you can typically purchase a life insurance policy six months after angioplasty or bypass, but you may receive better rates if you wait at least one to two years following a cardiovascular event.
Improve your weight. If you weigh 20 percent more than your body mass index (BMI) indicates, your healthcare provider may suggest shedding some weight to decrease your risk of future heart attacks. In addition to putting undue strain on the heart muscle, obesity also contributes to chronic diseases such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure, which ultimately increase your risk of a heart attack as well.
Start exercising. It goes without saying that a sedentary lifestyle hurts your heart more than getting off the couch and engaging in routine exercise. In order to achieve optimal heart health, the American Heart Association recommends 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week or 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, and you can prevent second heart attacks by bike riding, walking, or running at least once per day.
Stop using tobacco products. Even if you haven’t suffered a heart attack, smoking automatically puts you in a higher rate for life insurance. However, in the first year after you quit smoking, you reduce your risk of coronary artery disease by 50 percent, says the World Health Organization. Tobacco products include electronic cigarettes, traditional cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, and chewing tobacco.
Reduce your stress levels. We know that stress is a part of our everyday lives, but too much stress can be deadly. Stress causes the arteries to narrow, which increases blood pressure and, ultimately, your risk of heart attack. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, people with high stress levels are also more likely to turn to unhealthy habits such as overeating, abusing alcohol, and smoking in an attempt to cope with stress.
Will My Life Insurance Rates Be Higher Because I’ve Had a Heart Attack?
The premiums for life insurance policies vary greatly depending on the individual and his or her current health condition and history. The following is a list of cardiovascular factors that could result in a higher rating:
- Poor lipid control
- Persistent arrhythmias
- Degree of coronary artery disease
- Deceased left ventricular function
- Renal or cardiovascular diseases such as uncontrolled hypertension
- Recent electrocardiogram changes
- Ongoing episodes of chest pain or angina
- History of multiple heart attacks
- Heart attacks at younger ages
Keep in mind that every case is different, so it’s next to impossible to predict your premium amounts. However, let’s look at an example policy of life insurance for heart attack victims:
David, a 43-year-old male, has suffered two minor heart attacks but has not had a cardiovascular event in the last three years. Since he is a non-smoker, the insurance company will likely consider him a lower risk, and his recent medical tests indicate that his overall health condition continues to improve.
As a result, David will be able to purchase life insurance coverage, but due to a history of multiple heart attacks, he might only receive approval for substandard or basic rates and not the preferred or preferred plus rates for which he was hoping.
David will likely receive premium quotes between $35 and $70 per month for a 20-year, $150,000 life insurance policy. However, should David choose a 15-year, $100,000 policy, he will expect to pay $10 to $30 less per month.
Since there are many, many factors that contribute to each heart attack case, including diet, medications, lifestyle habits, cholesterol, blood pressure, post-heart attack follow-up reports, and physician documentation, there is no simple outline or guide that determines what rates a heart attack victim can expect. At best, you can anticipate paying low table ratings. If the underwriter finds that your condition is worsening, those ratings may increase, and he or she may deny your application.
How Can I Get Life Insurance After a Heart Attack?
As we’ve seen, getting life insurance after a heart attack may prove to be difficult, but it is certainly possible if you prepare yourself and know what to expect. It’s important to consult with an experienced life insurance broker or agent so that you can properly prepare your test results, paperwork, and cover letter, if necessary, in a way that will allow you to purchase the best life insurance policy for your specific situation.
Remember that it’s never in your best interest to send off a full application just to see possible rates without carefully preparing yourself. Doing so could result in permanently high rates for your future life insurance policy. Also, it’s better to give as much information as you can regarding your condition since life insurance providers rarely award uncertainty and ambiguity with good ratings.