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Qualifying for Life Insurance After Heart Attack

Heart attacks and other heart diseases are considered severe medical conditions, yet it is possible to get approved for a life insurance policy after a heart attack. Several types of insurance policies are available for those with a heart condition. We explain how to get life insurance after having a heart attack and what’s involved in applying for life insurance. We’ll also review how your family history and lifestyle may affect your life insurance application, explain your options, and describe how to find the right life insurance policy.

Life insurance: approval after a heart attack

Life insurance companies are concerned about applicants who have had a heart attack (also known as myocardial infarction) because heart health impacts lifespan. The leading cause of a heart attack is coronary heart disease, a condition where plaque builds up in the arterial walls and blocks blood flow to the heart. Without a constant blood supply, the heart muscle becomes damaged.

Life insurance companies are usually concerned about any type of heart condition including:

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Mitral heart valve disorders
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Bradycardia (slow heartbeat)
  • Tachycardia (fast heartbeat)
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Applying for life insurance: what to expect

Life insurance companies also want to know if you have a pacemaker to regulate your heartbeat. Getting life insurance with a heart condition requires you to be completely honest about it on your application. Life insurers consider the circumstances around the type of heart condition, the time since a condition happened, and your lifestyle when deciding whether you qualify for a policy.

Here are some questions you can expect on a life insurance application about heart health:

  • Do you or have you ever smoked?
  • What date was your heart condition diagnosed?
  • Is there a history of heart disease in your immediate family?
  • Have any immediate family members died of a heart attack?
  • What medications do you take and what are the dosages?

Family history and lifestyle matter

Having a family history of heart disease may put you at risk of a heart attack. Many life insurers will also ask questions about your lifestyle. For example, they may ask if you exercise regularly, eat healthy meals, and maintain a healthy weight. Age, gender, occupation, and policy type also determine your rates and approval.

Taking small steps in working toward a healthier lifestyle can extend your life by years. Life insurers are more likely to accept an application for a person who has had a heart attack if they eat healthily, exercise, and watch their weight. Rates will generally be lower for women and people working in careers where there is a low risk of bodily injury.

Heart attacks: life insurance options

The two main types of life insurance policies are whole and term life, yet other types of insurance are available for those who had a heart attack. Here are some ways to protect your loved ones with life insurance.

Whole life

Whole life insurance policies are also called permanent insurance. This is because they last your entire life as long as you continue paying your premiums. Such policies accumulate cash value over time. The insurer pays the death benefit and any cash value when the insured dies.

Term life

Term life insurance lasts a specific period, usually between 10 and 30 years. Coverage ends when the policy term ends. The premiums for term life insurance are generally more affordable than whole life.

Guaranteed issue

A guaranteed issue policy, also known as a guaranteed acceptance policy, guarantees the company will approve your policy. The application won’t ask you any health questions, and the company won’t require a medical exam. The downside to this type of policy is that the death benefit may be limited, and the premiums may be fairly high.

Critical illness

Critical illness insurance provides a lump-sum benefit for those who have been diagnosed with a heart condition, cancer, organ transplant, or end-stage renal failure. Insurers may deny coverage for those who have had a recent heart attack. The insurer will issue payment after the diagnosis, even if the insured lives. Employers often offer this type of insurance as a voluntary benefit.

Income protection

Disability, accidental death and dismemberment, and mortgage protection are all forms of income protection life insurance. Short- or long-term disability policies will pay a portion of your wages if you cannot work for some time. Accidental death and dismemberment policies pay a benefit if you become injured or die because of an accident.

They may also pay a benefit for a severe injury, such as losing a limb or a serious injury to your hearing or eyesight. Mortgage protection is another form of life insurance that covers the cost of your mortgage balance. The death benefit decreases along with the decrease in the mortgage amount. Be aware the premium will remain the same for the policy term.

Final expense

Final expense insurance is synonymous with burial insurance. This type of insurance pays a benefit to loved ones to cover funeral or burial costs. Beneficiaries may also use the proceeds to pay for medical costs, legal bills, or other expenses after someone dies. How does a heart attack affect approval for travel insurance? You should be able to get travel insurance after a heart attack but read the exclusions carefully. A travel insurance policy may not cover if you have a subsequent heart attack while traveling.

Finding the right insurance policy

Every insurance company establishes its own rules for acceptance. Some insurers will more readily approve life insurance with heart disease than others. The process will be easier when you learn which companies are favorable to people with heart conditions.

Some insurers will consider life insurance applications as soon as 3–6 months after a heart attack, so it never hurts to get a quote. Insurance companies usually require a medical examination. As part of the process, they will consider whether the applicant is taking preventative medications and if lipid levels are acceptable.

Many insurers allow you to add an accelerated death benefit rider that adds a living benefit. Beneficiaries may receive a benefit if the insured has a heart attack or other serious medical condition. It also pays if the insured has a terminal illness.

Non-standard premium increases

While each insurance company has its own rules for how to classify applicants, most put people into one of the following three life insurance classifications:

  1. Preferred. This class includes those who generally report having good health. Someone who has a heart attack will not qualify for this rate.
  2. Standard. Most people fall into this class. A person who had a heart attack may qualify for a standard rate if it occurred after six months or longer at the time of the application.
  3. Sub-standard. This class is reserved for people who have had some type of serious health condition including a heart attack.

Individuals who qualify for the preferred tier will get the lowest rates, followed by those in the standard class. Individuals who fall into the substandard class will pay the highest rates. If your health improves, you may request the insurer to re-rate your policy according to your current health status. Contrary to what some believe, having a heart condition or other serious medical condition may not prevent you from purchasing life insurance.

Life insurance policies in some form are available for nearly everyone. Have you had an experience with a severe medical condition and life insurance? Please share it in a comment below.


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