The average person who purports to be a life insurance agent will a rather adverse reaction if you tell them you want life insurance and openly admit that you have heart disease. It doesn’t matter if you have just had minor blockage that was treated medically, an angioplasty or heart bypass, or have suffered a heart attack, 98% of life insurance agents will either tell you your situation is not insurable or will tell you they will get back to you, and never do.
And, they will take one of these courses of action without gathering any further information. If you tell an agent that you have had some heart issue and they don’t ask a lot more questions, find another agent. There are four primary things underwriters look at when analyzing a cardiac case. Your agent should ask about these things, and you should know the answers.
1. Date of onset or diagnosis! Heart disease is a more natural occurrence the older you are. If you started having heart issues in your 30’s or 40’s, it doesn’t put you out of the running for decent rates, but you probably should be considering getting a very good independent agent working for you. Know your family history!
2. How often do you see your cardiologist and when did you last have an imaged stress test? Regular visits to the heart doc are a good idea. If something went wrong before, monitoring yourself for any repeat of that is a good idea. An imaged stress test is the only non invasive way of determining if the work that was done is still holding up and if any other complications are showing up. Most cardiologists will just do it as a matter of good practice. If you have a cardiologist that doesn’t, I would get a second opinion. Most underwriters will want to know that you have had a stress test within 1-2 years prior to applying for insurance and absolutely one that post dates any cardiac event.
3. Know what your left ventricular ejection fraction is. When you have a stress test they will measure your LVEF. This is a measure of how efficiently your heart is pumping blood. The cutoff for most companies for a decline would be an ejection fraction of less than 50%. An ejection fraction over 60% is great news post cardiac event.
4. Other risk factors are changed or kept in check. Generally a cardiac event will trigger life style changes. Underwriters like to know that you are committed to the heart they are insuring. So, if you smoke you should have quit. If you are obese, you should be dieting and exercising. If your blood pressure or cholesterol are not where they should be, you should be following doctor’s orders to get them down.
Bottom line, know your disease, know that your agent knows your disease and be compliant with your doctor’s recommendations and if you don’t feel they are aggressive enough, get a second opinion.
This post is somewhat dated. Life insurance underwriting is changing and evolving continually. For more updated information check out some of the key word links. If you have a specific question or topic you need information for do a search. If you don’t find the answers you need contact me and we’ll make sure you get the information that is important to you.