Can I Really Get life Insurance After Having a Heart Attack?

Can I Really Get life Insurance After Having a Heart Attack?

If you are a heart attack survivor and are wondering if it's possible to get life insurance after a heart attack, you have come to the right place.

The simple answer is that yes it is possible to obtain life insurance after a heart attack. The more complicated answer is that any underwriting decision  will take into account your specific circumstance.

Because different carriers have different appetites for risks like a previous heart attack, it is important that your application be well packaged and sent to the carrier(s) most likely to look favorably on your situation.An experienced independent agent is particularly well suited for this task.

This post will provide you with the information life insurers underwriters will need to know, and the likely outcomes based on that information. 

Fast Facts About Heart Attacks

The medical term for a heart attack is myocardial infarction​. This is a condition where the blood vessel to the heart becomes blocked.

About 800000 people have heart attacks in the United States every year. Nearly three quarters of heart attacks are the first for the victim. About one in five heart attacks is "silent", meaning that the damage is done but the victim is unaware and does not receive medical treatment.

There were 8443 deaths from heart attacks in 2015, this represents a 27% drop over the previous 10 year period.  ​

Sources: Heart Foundation , Centers for Disease Control

​Life Insurance After a  Heart Attack: What Underwriting Will Take Into Consideration

The job of a life insurance underwriter is to asses the risk offering you a policy poses to ​the carrier. this basic question is the same wether the risk stems from high blood pressure , asthma, or any other pre-existing condition

​Life insurance underwriters use the information you provide in the application (and follow up phone interview) along with prescription history checks, Attending Physicians Statements,and any Medical Information Bureau reports, to assess the risk you present to the carrier. 

You can expect to be required to provide the following information:

  • The date and your age at the time of the heart attack
  • What was your health like prior to the event?
  • Were any preventative measure taken such as angioplasty  or bypass surgery undertaker either prior or post the cardiac event?
  • What medications are you currently taking?
  • Have you had regular follow up visits to the cardiologist since your heart attack? Has there been improvement?
  • Do you have a family history of heart disease?
  • Do you smoke?
  • Do you have any other health concerns?

During the application process make sure your agent is aware of any medications and the respective dosages. Common pharmaceuticals include nitrates,beta blockers and statins for cholesterol control. 

If your recall of any of the required information is foggy, rest assured the underwriter will get it before making the best offer. So, in order to get as accurate a quote from the agent as possible and so as not to inconvenience the underwriter, make sure you have the information together. Making the process harder for the underwriter won't help.

Likely Underwriting Classification After a Heart Attack

Applications for life insurance after having a heart attack are evaluated on a case by case basis. As such, your story matters. That is to say two people with the same age and underlying condition may get  different offers from the same carrier based on the time elapsed since the event and patient compliance.

Because each case is different, the following pricing scenarios are the best estimates based on experience. Note that the preferred plus and preferred categories are not available after a heart attack is suffered.

Standard class-​ This is the best you will do after having a heart attack. Standard class will only be offered in cases where the attack was mild and several years ago (7-10+) and you are in nearly perfect health otherwise. As a result, this is a very rare circumstance.

​Table rated offer: Applications that don't qualify for standard rates are often offered a table rated or substandard policy. Each table represents a 25% increase in the cost of the policy over the standard price. So table 2/B would cost 1.5 times the standard rate. In extreme cases, tables can go as high as 16 or 4 times the standard rates.

Applications for life insurance after a heart attack more than 3 year from the event will likely receive a table rated offer. The severity of the table rating will be dependent on the severity of the attack, family history, overall health and follow up compliance.

* while expensive this may still be a very good outcome for the circumstances

Decline– For a severe case you may be declined for traditional coverage. If this happens you may be eligible for a smaller face amount policy. These policies are referred to as Guaranteed issue or simplified issue. If you have been declined please contact us.

Why you Should Use an Independent Agent when Shopping for Life Insurance After a Heart Attack

Now you already understand that your story matters, and that two people in similar situations can get very different offers from the same carrier.

What you might not know is that different insurance companies will also treat each case differently.

For example Prudential Financial may have more of an appetite for the risk that a heart attack presents than say Banner. In this case the underwriting grade will reflect this increased appetite.

So, if your Agent only represented one carrier and you found out later that that you could have gotten a rate 35% or 45% better, how would you feel?

You’d probably be sad like the puppy or mad at the agent or yourself or both. So it’s important that your Agent represent multiple carriers.

life insurance after heart attack

In fact a good independent agent will have access to over 50 carriers. This ensures the best chance at a good rate.

Key Take Aways

  • Access to more carriers will result in better pricing.
  • It may be worth paying slightly more if there is a strong permanent conversion product.
  • Only independent brokers have the freedom to offer the best deal at all times.

Note that if he doesn’t, he likely won't be in a hurry to tell you in on this info.

Case Study Pricing Life Insurance After a Heart Attack

So, I have been spilling digital ink about the importance of using an independent Agent and you're probably thinking that I sound a bit self serving.

You are right, I am. However, what I am saying is also the (provable) truth.

Please see the case study below . it will show why it is in your interest to have as many options as possible available when shopping for life insurance after a heart attack, or any other impairment.

Gender: Male Age: 50

$250000 20 Year Term

Tobacco: No

Previous heart attack 5 1/2 years earlier.

​Use of statin medication to control cholesterol and regular follow up with cardiologist

This looks like a rated case that could possibly get a standard class at a carrier depending on the insurers appetite for a heart attack. Let’s take a look at the rates.

Standard Rates - Table 2 Rates - Table 4 Rates

lincoln financial$77.31banner97.78banner128.62
mutual omaha88.99mutual omaha130.77mutual omaha172.55
prudential logo94.73prudential logo143.49prudential logo193.12

This table which shows only a few of the major life insurance companies available illustrates the difference in rates. For standard rates Prudential is 20% more expensive than Lincoln.

On it’s face this seems like a pretty straight forward choice and if underwriting grades between carriers is the same, it really can be that simple.

This kind of easy price shopping is particularly useful for younger folks in good health and demonstrates why you want to use an independent Agent.

For people who suffer from a heart attack history or any other serious diagnosis, it gets much more complicated.

Because life insurers manage their appetite for specific risks by being more lenient or more stringent with underwriting grades, you need to know which company will grade you a standard  risk and which ones will grade you as table 2 - table 4.

In the case above Prudential (the most expensive standard rate) is likely to be the best deal because the more competitively priced carriers will likely rate the risk Table 2 while Pru might well go Standard

This is something you can’t know by simply looking at the lowest price. In this hypothetical using an independent agent could save you 50% (the difference between Prudential @ Standard and Lincoln @ Table 2 ($170.29)

Your Next Steps

Your nest move in obtaining life insurance after a heart attack is to gather the information you now know will be required. Next, contact an experienced independent agent and go over your options. You can do a step by step review of the process here.

​We are committed to totally transparent pricing (we’ll even share our computer screen with you if you’d like), and making the application process as painless as possible.

Thank you for using The Life Insurance Help Desk as a resource and please don't hesitate to call or contact us.

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Can I Really Get life Insurance After Having a Heart Attack?
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James Tobin, CFP

Jim Tobin is the owner of Life Insurance Help Desk, a Fairfield County, CT. life insurance agency. You can find him on Google + and Facebook. Over the past 10 years, Jim has used his CFP-financial planning designation to help individuals with their life insurance needs. In addition to working with life insurance clients, Jim teaches ESL classes in his spare time. He resides with his beautiful wife Nicole and the 3 cats that rule their lives..