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Life insurance with coronary heart disease

The right policy can provide peace of mind for you and your family.

Coronary heart disease, also known as coronary artery disease (CAD), won’t disqualify you for life insurance, but your options will depend on your situation. For the best chance at low rates, you may want the help of an agent who’s an expert in working with a variety of companies.

Can I get life insurance if I have coronary heart disease?

It depends on the extent of the disease and your current health. An active person with early-stage CAD and no other risk factors may qualify for life insurance at competitive rates, while someone who has a more advanced case or is also overweight or diabetic may be denied coverage.

An insurer may take one of these actions:

  • Offer coverage as normal. Coverage available to those in similar health without heart disease may be available if your condition is deemed lower risk. A health screening may be required to confirm that the long-term effects are minimal.
  • Exclude the condition. The insurer may determine that you’re eligible but refuse to cover any complications from the condition. Closely look at the policy to determine if it covers what you need.
  • Assign a higher premium. You may qualify for partial or full coverage at a higher cost. Weighing the amount of coverage and what it covers will likely be key to figuring out if the cost is worth it.
  • Reject the application. Your application may be rejected. An insurance agent who specializes in those considered high-risk conditions may help you apply with the right company.

Life insurance with cardiomyopathy

You can get life insurance, but whether you get accepted for a standard policy depends on the severity of your cardiomyopathy, its underlying cause and the type of life insurance policy. Like other forms of heart disease, cardiomyopathy could get approved under a policy with a medical exam if your symptoms are under control and you’re considered low risk.

Many people with cardiomyopathy fall somewhere in between the lowest and highest risk classes, which means that you may be offered coverage — but at a higher cost.

What if I need angioplasty?

You can qualify for a policy after having coronary artery angioplasty. In simple terms, this is the surgery that uses stents to improve blood flow in blocked or narrowed arteries.

However, if you apply soon after the surgery, you might qualify for only substandard rates that come with high-risk policies. By waiting at least six months after your surgery, you may find more competitive rates and coverage.

Types of insurance to consider

If you’ve been denied by multiple companies, you may need to consider taking out a guaranteed-issue policy or other policies instead:

  • Simplified issue. A medical exam won’t be necessary, but you may need to fill out a questionnaire about your medical history. Simplified life insurance policies can be applied for over the phone and online.
  • Guaranteed issue. Also known as guaranteed acceptance policies, these don’t require medical underwriting — so you can qualify for a policy even if you have health problems. But these policies generally have lower coverage — around $10,000 to $25,000 — and higher premiums than a policy that requires a medical exam.
  • Critical illness. Critical illness insurance pays out a lump sum after a serious medical event, such as a stroke or heart attack. Your ability to qualify depends on your current health, and some providers may exclude heart conditions from coverage, so carefully read the fine print.
  • Income protection. Also known as disability insurance, pays a percentage of your income if an illness or injury leaves you unable to work.
  • AD&D. Also known as accident insurance, this pays out a lump sum if you’re killed or lose a limb in an accident. Because it doesn’t pay out if something happens due to a medical condition, it often requires little or no underwriting.

What options do I have if I’m denied coverage?

Start by talking with the insurer to learn more about why your application was denied. If you were recently diagnosed or hospitalized, the insurer may have a waiting period before you’re able to qualify.

If you were denied because the insurer thinks that you’re too high of a risk, you may have better luck with a different insurer. Each company underwrites customers with heart disease differently.

How to get life insurance with heart disease

You have several options for finding the right life insurance policy for your needs.

  1. Work with an independent agent. Independent insurance agents aren’t tied to any one insurance company, and you may even be able to find one that specializes in working with those who have a higher risk condition, such as heart problems.
  2. Go through your employer. Group policies tend to have coverage for pre-existing conditions. By getting a life insurance policy with your employer, you may be able to take advantage of this and pay a lower premium.
  3. Contact insurers. You can also work with life insurance providers directly, find out the different potential prices and compare options on your own.

What information will I need?

If you’re applying for anything other than a guaranteed-issue policy, you’ll provide the insurer with the name and phone number of your doctor and potentially your full medical records. You also may need a medical exam.

For some, invasive questions about your diagnosis and current health can stir up fear and anxiety. Consider leaning on a friend or family member for support when answering these questions during the application process.

  • Your diagnosis. The official diagnosis of your form of heart disease lets the provider assess the risks that go with it. How far along you are in your diagnosis will affect how much is known about your particular condition and what is predictable.
  • Recent diagnostic tests. Your most recent tests, hospitalization and/or surgery records, medications, blood pressure, weight and history of complying with your doctor’s orders can all be factored in when an insurer is deciding whether to offer coverage.
  • Family medical history. Hereditary signs of heart disease and death due to heart failure may also impact the way the policy is underwritten.
  • Current medications. Treatment to manage your condition is usually considered favorably. You may also be asked the dose and frequency that you take said medications.
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How coronary heart disease affects life insurance rates

If all signs point towards improved health, you may qualify for standard rates despite having pre-existing heart disease. But if you’re likely to need future angioplasties, cardiac rehabilitation or experience other health issues, you could pay more in premiums or, in some cases, get denied a standard policy.

Those rates and coverage depend on a series of factors an insurer considers in underwriting, like:

  • Lifestyle and habits. A healthy diet, commitment to exercise and avoidance of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs make for the best long-term outcome — and the lowest rates.
  • Other medical conditions. Issues beyond your heart disease can compound risk for insurers, even if those issues happened in the past. The more complicated your overall health, the more difficult it can be to find an insurer willing to approve you.
  • Treatment and diagnostics. If you follow your doctor’s orders and medical plan — including taking drugs you’re prescribed to lower cholesterol and blood pressure — you’ll see a higher chance of approval.
  • Your stability. The prospect of future complications or surgeries can spell higher rates. If you’ve had angioplasty, your underwriter will look at the age that you underwent surgery, its results and number of stents to determine your risk.

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How can I increase my chances of qualifying?

The healthier you are, the more likely you are to qualify for a policy with competitive rates. The most important step you can take is to follow all of your doctor’s orders, including taking medications and scheduling regular follow-up appointments. Life insurers will also consider your weight when reviewing your application, so talking with a doctor about how your weight affects your CAD and what steps you can take to manage it can help.

Taking proactive steps to get healthier like quitting smoking, cutting back on drinking, staying active and eating heart-healthy foods can also help you when applying for life insurance.

Taking precautions with your heart

Some diseases can be prevented while others cannot. However, there are always precautions you can take to try and stay ahead of the curve. When it comes to your heart, maintaining a low blood pressure can prevent disease — cutting down on cholesterol can majorly help as well.

You should also exercise regularly and cut back on sodium and refined sugars. Foods that are very fatty can put you at risk, so don’t be shy when it comes to taking an extra plate of fruit and veggies. If you don’t smoke, don’t start — it’s not going to positively impact your health or your wallet. And for you mental and physical health, keep the stress levels low.

Bottom line

A coronary heart disease diagnosis doesn’t automatically disqualify you from getting life insurance, but what options are available will depend on your history, current health, your risk for needing angioplasty or your past surgery’s success. To get the best deal, compare life insurance providers to find one that fits your needs.

Questions about life insurance with coronary heart disease

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