I think on some level we all carry a bit of denial along with us. It’s probably a chromosomal kind of thing, like there are x, y, z and denial chromosomes.

Unfortunately for those most affected by denial there is bad news from life insurance underwriters. Probably the best example of this is the underwriting treatment of those who really don’t believe the link between smoking and heart disease. There is probably nothing that is more likely to lead to a highly rated policy or with most companies, a decline, than someone who continues to smoke after they have had coronary issues.

Literally the best case would be if someone had a one vessel angioplasty with no heart attack and a great followup history of stress tests, complicated only by the fact that they still smoke. In the absence of smoking a case like this could get as good as a standard rate, with the norm being a lightly rated approval. Add in smoking and most companies will decline it. Those that do approve it will approve it at highly rated prices.

Why the big underwriting slap in the face? Well, the beginning and the end of the argument go like this. Smoking is the leading cause and accelerator of heart disease! Why should life insurance underwriters cut you a break when you are knowingly doing yourself damage? You don’t really have to answer that because the answer is that they won’t.

So, what should you do if you have had cardiac issues and smoke and want life insurance. I recommend you apply and if you get approved, put as much in force as you can comfortably budget, then quit with the denial stuff and quit smoking. When you are 12 months out from the last nicotine entering your body, reapply and watch your rates be cut dramatically to something around 1/3 of what you were paying before. “Well, why not”, the denialist asks, “just quit smoking and wait a year and then I won’t have to pay higher prices for that period?”

Bottom line. Once you learn denial it’s a hard thing to shake. The reason you don’t wait a year is because you will feel so stupid leaving your family behind with no life insurance. Do what you can now and do more after you’ve corrected your bad habits.