Obtaining life insurance coverage after experiencing a heart attack can be challenging. However, it is not impossible to get coverage. Whether you can qualify for coverage or not will depend on the severity of your heart attack, your current overall health, and other risk factors that may impact your application.
Therefore, we would like to take a moment to address some of the most common questions and obstacles faced by individuals who have suffered a heart attack when applying for traditional term or whole life insurance policies.
In this article, we will provide answers to the following questions:
- Can I qualify for life insurance after experiencing a heart attack or myocardial infarction?
- Why do insurance companies consider a previous heart attack or myocardial infarction?
- What information will insurance companies request or want to know?
- What type of rate or price can I qualify for?
- What options are available if I cannot qualify for a traditional life insurance policy?
- What steps can I take to ensure that I obtain the best life insurance for my needs?
Without further delay, let us delve into these topics.
Can I qualify for life insurance if I have suffered from a Heart Attack or Myocardial Infarction?
Yes, individuals who have suffered from a heart attack can and often will be able to qualify for a traditional term or whole life insurance policy. In fact, in some cases, they may even be able to qualify for a Preferred rate.
That said, however…
Suffering from a heart attack is a big deal. And while, it’s true that even super “healthy” and “fit” individuals can suffer from one, the vast majority of individuals who will ultimately suffer from a heart attack will have usually had some “kind” of risk factor leading up to their myocardial infarction.
This is why once most of the top-rated life insurance companies learn that you have suffered from a heart attack, they’re going to want to ask you a lot of questions about your past and current condition. This way, they can get a better idea about what kind of “risk” you might pose to them should they decide to offer you a policy.
It’s also why…
You should probably avoid applying for a no medical exam term life insurance policy, seeing how these types of life insurance policies tend to be more difficult to qualify for after someone has been diagnosed with a pre-existing medical condition like suffering from a previous heart attack.
Why do life insurance companies care if I have suffered from a previous Heart Attack or Myocardial Infarction?
Life insurance companies care about an individual’s history of heart attack because it is a major health risk factor and a possible indicator of their overall health and life expectancy. Statistically speaking, people who have suffered from a heart attack in the past tend to be at a higher risk of having additional heart problems in the future and may be more likely to die prematurely than those who have not had a heart attack.
However, what many people may not realize is that for some individuals, experiencing a heart attack can be a powerful catalyst for positive change. In fact, at IBUSA, we have found that individuals who have suffered from a heart attack 6 to 12 months before applying for a traditional term or whole life insurance policy often tend to be significantly healthier than they were 2 to 3 months before their heart attack.
While this trend may not always be the case, it occurs frequently enough for most life insurance companies to acknowledge that it should be possible for someone who has suffered from a heart attack to qualify for a traditional life insurance policy at a decent rate.
The challenge for the insurance company is to distinguish between those individuals who have significantly improved their health after a heart attack and those who remain at risk for another cardiovascular incident. Insurance companies need to determine the appropriate premium rate to charge for coverage based on an individual’s potential risk. Therefore, insurers will examine medical information, including the individual’s medical history, treatments, medications, and lifestyle habits, to assess the risk of insuring the individual.
In general, life insurance underwriters will look for indications that the individual is taking steps to improve their health and reduce their risk of further cardiovascular incidents, such as regular exercise, a healthy diet, and taking prescribed medications as directed. The underwriter may also look for evidence of regular check-ups with a physician and any ongoing medical treatment or management of the heart condition.
The trick for the insurance company…
Will then be to try and “weed” out those individuals whose health has dramatically improved since their heart attack, from those who still remain at risk from suffering from another cardiovascular incident, which would likely make them a poor candidate for coverage.
Then we can gain a better understanding of what a life insurance underwriter will be looking for when reviewing your life insurance application.
Heart attack defined:
A heart attack, also known as a myocardial infarction, is a serious medical condition that occurs when the blood flow to the heart is blocked, causing damage to the heart muscle. The blood flow to the heart is usually blocked by a blood clot that forms in one of the coronary arteries, which are the blood vessels that supply oxygen and nutrients to the heart. When the blood flow is blocked, the heart muscle doesn’t receive the oxygen and nutrients it needs to function properly, and this can lead to damage or death of the heart muscle cells.
Symptoms may include:
The most common symptoms of a heart attack are:
- Chest pain or discomfort: This may feel like a tightness, pressure, or squeezing sensation in the chest, and it can range from mild to severe. The pain may spread to the arms, neck, jaw, or stomach.
- Shortness of breath: You may feel like you can’t catch your breath, or you may feel like you’re suffocating.
- Nausea or vomiting: You may feel sick to your stomach or vomit.
- Pain or discomfort in other areas of the upper body: You may feel pain or discomfort in the arms, neck, jaw, or stomach.
- Cold sweat or clammy skin: You may break out in a cold sweat or have clammy skin.
Causes or risk factors of a heart attack:
There are several causes and risk factors for heart attack, including:
- Coronary artery disease: This is the most common cause of heart attack. It occurs when the coronary arteries, which supply blood and oxygen to the heart, become narrowed or blocked by plaque. Plaque is a sticky substance made up of cholesterol, fat, and other substances that can build up on the walls of the arteries.
- High blood pressure: High blood pressure, or hypertension, puts extra strain on the heart and can damage the blood vessels. This can increase the risk of heart attack.
- High cholesterol: High levels of cholesterol in the blood can increase the risk of heart attack by contributing to the build-up of plaque in the arteries.
- Smoking: Smoking damages the blood vessels and increases the risk of heart attack.
- Diabetes: People with diabetes have an increased risk of heart attack because high blood sugar levels can damage the blood vessels and nerves that control the heart.
- Obesity: Being obese or overweight can increase the risk of heart attack because it can lead to other risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
- Sedentary lifestyle: A lack of physical activity can increase the risk of heart attack.
- Stress: Chronic stress can increase the risk of heart attack by raising blood pressure and causing the release of stress hormones that can damage the heart.
- Age: The risk of heart attack increases as people get older.
- Family history: Having a family history of heart disease can increase the risk of a heart attack.
Treatment of a heart attack:
Treatment for a heart attack typically includes medications and procedures to restore blood flow to the heart and to prevent further damage to the heart muscle. The specific treatment recommended will depend on the severity of the heart attack, the location and size of the blockage, and the overall health of the patient.
Medications that may be used to treat a heart attack include:
- Aspirin: Aspirin helps to thin the blood and prevent the formation of blood clots, which can help to restore blood flow to the heart.
- Thrombolytics: These medications, also known as “clot busters,” are given through an IV to dissolve the blood clot that is blocking the coronary artery.
- Antiplatelets: These medications, such as clopidogrel and prasugrel, help to prevent blood clots from forming.
- ACE inhibitors: These medications, such as lisinopril and ramipril, help to lower blood pressure and reduce the workload on the heart.
- Beta blockers: These medications, such as metoprolol and propranolol, help to lower blood pressure and slow the heart rate.
Procedures that may be used to treat a heart attack include:
- Angioplasty: This procedure involves using a catheter with a balloon on the end to open the blocked coronary artery and restore blood flow to the heart.
- Coronary artery bypass surgery: This procedure involves creating a bypass around the blocked coronary artery using a healthy blood vessel from another part of the body.
Life expectancy after a heart attack:
Life expectancy after a heart attack can vary depending on the severity of the heart attack, the overall health of the patient, and the treatment received. Some people may fully recover and have a normal life expectancy, while others may have ongoing heart problems and a reduced life expectancy.
In general, the prognosis for people who have had a heart attack is better if they receive prompt medical treatment and make lifestyle changes to reduce their risk of future heart problems.
These lifestyle changes may include eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, quitting smoking, and managing stress.
This is why individuals who have suffered from a previous heart attack may still be eligible for traditional life insurance provided they are working to maintain a healthier lifestyle.
What kind of information will the insurance companies ask me or be interested in?
Insurance companies will typically ask for detailed information about your heart attack when evaluating your application for life insurance coverage.
They may ask you questions such as:
- When did you have the heart attack?
- What were your symptoms at the time of the heart attack?
- How was the heart attack diagnosed?
- What treatment did you receive for the heart attack?
- What was the outcome of the treatment?
- Do you have any ongoing treatment or medications for the heart attack?
- Have you had any additional heart-related problems or procedures since the heart attack?
In addition to a series of other questions pertaining to your personal and medical history aside form your previous heart attack.
Questions will likely focus on topics such as:
- Personal information: Your name, address, date of birth, social security number, and employment information.
- Health history: Your current and past health conditions, including any pre-existing conditions or chronic illnesses. The insurance company may also ask about your medical history, including any surgeries, hospitalizations, or serious illnesses.
- Medications: The insurance company will want to know what medications you are currently taking and why you are taking them.
- Lifestyle: The insurance company may ask about your lifestyle, including your diet, exercise habits, and any risky activities you participate in.
- Family medical history: The insurance company may ask about the medical history of your immediate family members, as certain conditions or diseases can be inherited.
- Tobacco and alcohol use: The insurance company will ask about your tobacco and alcohol use, as these can affect your health and life expectancy.
It is important to answer these questions as accurately and honestly as possible. Providing accurate and complete information will help the insurance company to make an informed decision about your application and will help you to get the best policy for your needs.
What rate (or price) can I qualify for?
As you can see, there are many factors that insurance companies consider when determining the rate at which you may qualify for life insurance after having suffered from a heart attack. That’s why it’s virtually impossible to know what rate you might be eligible for without first speaking with you directly.
That said, there are several assumptions that we can make about someone who has suffered a heart attack that generally hold true when applying for a traditional term or whole life insurance policy. These include:
- Age at the time of the heart attack: The younger you were when you had a heart attack, the better your chances of qualifying for life insurance at a lower rate.
- Time elapsed since the heart attack: The longer the time that has passed since the heart attack, the better your chances of qualifying for a lower rate. Insurance companies will want to see that you have taken steps to improve your health and reduce your risk of future heart problems.
- Severity of the heart attack: The less severe the heart attack, the better your chances of qualifying for a lower rate. Insurance companies will want to see that you have made a full recovery and are not at high risk for another heart attack.
- Lifestyle changes: Insurance companies will want to see that you have made positive lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, improving your diet, and exercising regularly. These changes can reduce your risk of future heart problems and improve your overall health.
- Ongoing medical treatment: Insurance companies will want to know if you are receiving ongoing medical treatment or taking medications for your heart condition. This information will help them assess your risk and determine what rate you may qualify for.
By understanding these assumptions, you can get a better idea of what to expect when applying for life insurance after a heart attack. It’s important to work with a knowledgeable and experienced insurance agent who can help you navigate the process and find the best policy for your needs.
The good news is…
That regardless of your situation, we here at IBUSA can help because we have tons of experience helping folks with all sorts of pre-existing medical conditions like yours and are committed to helping all of our clients find the “best” life insurance policy that they can qualify for.
This brings us to the last topic that we wanted to take a moment and discuss which is…
What options do I have if I can’t qualify for a traditional life insurance policy?
If you are unable to qualify for a traditional term or whole life insurance policy, there are two other options you may want to consider:
Guaranteed issue life insurance:
Guaranteed issue life insurance does not require a medical exam and is available to almost anyone, regardless of their health status. However, these policies typically have lower coverage limits and higher premiums compared to traditional policies. But will typically require an applicant to wait 2-3 years before the policy will provide coverage for natural causes of death.
Here are some pros and cons to consider when deciding if a guaranteed issue life insurance policy is right for you:
- No medical exam: The main advantage of a guaranteed issue policy is that it does not require a medical exam. This means that you can get coverage even if you have a serious health condition or have been declined for coverage elsewhere.
- Available to almost anyone: These policies are available to almost anyone, regardless of their health status provided the meet the minimum age requirements.
- Can provide some financial protection: A guaranteed issue policy can provide some financial protection for your loved ones in the event of your death.
- Lower coverage limits: Guaranteed issue policies typically have lower coverage limits compared to traditional policies.
- Higher premiums: These policies often have higher premiums compared to traditional policies due to the higher risk to the insurance company.
- Exclusions or limitations: Guaranteed issue policies may come with exclusions or limitations, such as a waiting period before the policy becomes effective or exclusions for certain causes of death.
- May not provide enough coverage: If you have significant financial responsibilities or a large estate, a guaranteed issue policy may not provide enough coverage to meet your needs.
Accidental death insurance:
Accidental death insurance is a policy that pays a benefit if the policyholder dies as a result of an accident. These policies are often available to those who are unable to qualify for traditional coverage due to health issues.
Here are some pros and cons to consider when deciding if an accidental death insurance policy is right for you:
- Can provide financial protection for your loved ones: An accidental death policy can provide financial protection for your loved ones in the event of your accidental death.
- May be less expensive: Accidental death insurance policies may be less expensive compared to traditional life insurance policies due to the limited coverage.
- May be available to those who are unable to qualify for traditional coverage: Some people may be unable to qualify for traditional life insurance coverage due to health issues or other risk factors. Accidental death insurance may be an option for these individuals.
- Limited coverage: Accidental death insurance only pays a benefit if the policyholder dies as a result of an accident. It does not cover deaths from other causes, such as illness.
- May not provide enough coverage: If you have significant financial responsibilities an accidental death policy may not provide enough coverage to meet your needs.
- Exclusions or limitations: Accidental death policies may come with exclusions or limitations, such as a waiting period before the policy becomes effective or exclusions for certain types of accidents.
What can I do to help ensure that I get the “best life insurance” for me?
There are several things you can do to help ensure that you get the best life insurance policy for your needs after suffering from a heart attack:
- Work with an experienced and knowledgeable life insurance agent: An experienced agent can help guide you through the process, answer any questions you may have, and help you find the best policy for your needs.
- Shop around: Don’t settle for the first policy you’re offered. Shop around and compare rates and policies from multiple insurance companies to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
- Be honest and upfront about your medical history: Be sure to disclose your heart attack and any other relevant medical history when applying for life insurance. Failure to disclose this information can result in your policy being voided if it is discovered later on.
- Follow your doctor’s orders: Follow your doctor’s recommendations for treatment and medication. This can help improve your overall health and demonstrate to the insurance company that you are taking steps to manage your condition.
- Improve your lifestyle: Adopting a healthy lifestyle can improve your overall health and reduce your risk of future heart-related problems. This can include quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and managing stress.
- Consider a graded benefit policy: If you are unable to qualify for a traditional life insurance policy due to your heart attack, a graded benefit policy may be an option. These policies typically have higher premiums and lower death benefits, but can be a good option for those who are considered high-risk.
Overall, it’s important to remember that even if you have suffered from a heart attack, you can still qualify for life insurance. By working with an experienced agent, being honest about your medical history, following your doctor’s orders, and adopting a healthy lifestyle, you can increase your chances of getting the best policy for your needs.