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Life Insurance With RA
Impact on Underwriting Class:
Standard Rates Rare But Possible
Table Ratings Very Likely
Rate impact based on severity of
Attack, Time Elapsed, Complications
prescription drugs & Compliance
Every applicant for life insurance who has had a heart attack can be approved for a policy.
However, the type of policy that can be approved, and the rates charged, will depend on the nature of your heart attack, how long ago it happened, and your overall health.
Because the underwriting standards are different for each type of policy, this review of life insurance options after a heart attack is broken into three sections: (click link to go directly to section)
While it is extremely rare to see an offer for life insurance after a heart attack that is not substandard or table rated, the severity of the rating can vary significantly. Therefore it's important that you use an agent that is experienced with cardiac cases and has access to the carriers most likely to be receptive.
Primarily, term life insurance is available for lengths ranging from 5 years to 30 years with 20-year terms being the most popular. Term policies usually have a minimum face amount of $50000, and the policies terminate at the end of the term period or can be renewed annually at a vastly increased rate.
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.
At the top of this article we stated that any body can be approved for affordable life insurance after a heart attack. Note, however, we mention “affordable” rather than inexpensive or “low cost’. The reason for the distinction is that life insurance after a heart attack is not cheap life insurance.
Often times, because the coverage can be expensive on a per benefit dollar basis, the benefit is reduced to make the life insurance affordable. While this is often not an ideal situation, the truth is we all have to live within our budgets, and sometimes the way to make life insurance after a heart attack affordable is to reduce either the term of coverage or the benefit amount.
The basic mechanics of term life insurance are pretty straightforward. As long as the policy premium is paid by (or for) the insured, and the policy is in force, the beneficiary will receive the death benefit upon the insured's death.
Some sample non-smoker monthly term rates for applicants who have had a heart attack :
$500000 20 Year Term
$100000 10 Year Term
$250000 10 Year Term
$200000 20 Year Term
The difficult part of term life insurance with a health condition like atrial fibrillation is finding the best deal. This is because different carriers have differing appetites for certain kinds of risks. As
a result navigating this process is not as easy as using a quote tool and picking the lowest price. This is discussed in detail in the case study below.
Although the term life insurance market is quickly adopting accelerated underwriting programs that do not require a medical exam as part of the application process, this option will not be available if you have had a heart attack.
You will be required to take a para-medical exam. The exam is usually a 15-20 minute meeting with a nurse. Your exam will consist of a blood draw, a urine sample, and height and weight recorded. In heart attack cases, there may be an EKG taken.
Most term carriers will have the underwriting department do a telephone interview with you. The In the case of previous heart attack the conversation will be wide-ranging, and last about 20 minutes.
The purpose of the interview will be to flesh out the information that it has from your exam, medical information, and driving history. Questions will often revolve around diet and lifestyle. Answer as honestly as possible, but never "offer" unrequested information.
In addition to the period of insurance, it is essential to understand the available policy riders. Riders are additional benefits that, often for an additional cost, are included in your policy.
The five most prominent riders are listed below with links to in-depth descriptions.
While there is no waiting period for the insurance to go into effect, the insurance company has a two-year window from the policy start in which they can contest a benefit for material misrepresentation on the initial application. So, honesty is the best policy.
You can dive deep into the ins and outs of term life insurance, learning about available term lengths, riders, financial ratings, and rates. The Life Insurance Help Desk works with the top term life insurance carriers.
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:
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.
With a couple of caveats, the process of obtaining life insurance is essentially the same for everyone regardless of health.
The primary caveats with cardiac arrest cases are that in addition to no exam policies not being available, an attending physician's statement (APS) is guaranteed to be requested.
The APS may slow the process as doctors are in no hurry to respond to requests from life insurance companies.
Much the same as the information that underwriting will require, the information that you will need to provide in order to get the most accurate quote is as follows:
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
Previous heart attack 7 1/2 years earlier.
Use of statin medication to control cholesterol and regular follow up with cardiologist. Heart friendly diet, excellent build and blood pressure.
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
Life Insurance Company
Life Insurance Company
Life Insurance Company
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)
* Note that while overfunded ‘investment grade" permanent policies are excluded from this review, such policies generally follow the term life insurance guidelines.
It's worth noting that a few of the prominent carriers that offer these products have "healthy lifestyle" credits that "table shave" ratings by as much as 2 tables.
For example, a heart attack case that was rated table 2/B could be "table shaved" back to a standard rating. Table shaves are not offered on term products.
Now that you know the information you will need to receive the most accurate post hear attack term life insurance quote possible, it's time to begin the application process. The term process is outlined "step by step for you in the Life Insurance Buying Guide.
The Help Desk is committed to transparent pricing (we'll even share our computer screen with you if you'd like) and making the application process as painless as possible.
Approved! That was easy.
Final expense or "burial insurance carriers ist concerned with heart attacks. However, if the heart attack was more than 2 years ago they don't even ask! These "no-exam needed" burial policies are the next best choice for anyone who will not get through traditional underwriting.
The "final expense" market serves differing consumer needs. There is the need that is made obvious by the name "final expense". This term refers to a funeral, burial and miscellaneous cost tied to the rituals surrounding life's end.
Many of the buyers of these end of life policies simply want to remove any financial burden their funeral and burial would cause to their loved ones, while others want to leave a legacy.
Alternatively, the simplified issue marketplace serves as a safe harbor for people who need some life insurance, but cannot qualify for traditional term underwriting. The lenient underwriting standards of this market allow for people with a history of cardiac events to get coverage.
How the policy works will be dictated by the type of final expense or burial policy it is:
With death benefit face amounts that top range from $5000-$100000, the simplified issue or "final expense " life insurance market is mostly made up of whole life insurance products. However, there several policies that have components of term policies starting to emerge. Make sure you know what you are buying!
Whether term or whole life, the calculation of the death benefit depends on if the policy is first-day coverage or graded
First day policies are straightforward, and provide a full death benefit from day 1 of the policy.
Graded policies use a two or three year period in which the benefit increases to the face amount over the contractual time period.
These policies commonly pay premiums plus interest if you die in the first year of the policy; 30-50% if you die after one year but before two; and full face amount after two years.
The carriers offer graded policies based on the applicant's health. These provisions are a way for the carriers to provide coverage while limiting their risk.
Graded or not, a whole life policy has a fixed premium that cannot increase and the policy stays in force until the premiums stop being paid or the insured dies.
.In addition to different underwriting standards, final expense pricing is complicated by the fact that a lot of providers only operate in certain states.
As a result the samples below are of limited value. You should use the final expense quote tool found here.
$25000 "Final Expense" Whole Life 1st Day Coverage
$15000 Final Expense" Whole Life Graded Coverage
$15000 "Final Expense" Whole Life 1st Day Coverage
$10000 "Final Expense" Whole Life Graded Coverage
Many burial policy insurers will have 10-15 minute home office interviews using the telephone. They are looking for the use of prescriptions that do not come up on their prescription check and assessing cognitive function.Be alert!
There are fewer riders associated with simplified issue policies than traditional term, but living benefits such as the accelerated benefit for terminal illness, and chronic illness are fairly common. Additionally, some final expense policies have a small cash component and have loan provisions.
The contestability laws are the same for all types of life insurance policies. That is, the carrier has two years from the origination of the policy to contest the benefit payout on policy where the application contained material misstatements.
As stated before, simplified underwriting is concerned with heart attacks. Unlike traditional underwriting that grades on a scale, "final expense" is a yes or no proposition.
Note that "yes" is divided into first-day coverage and "graded" categories. Heart attack offers are generally "graded" if your heart attack is less than 2 years old.
Incases where your heart attack is more than 2 years old cases are not "graded" and full coverage would begin on day 1.
Final expense policies contain "knockout" questions and prescriptions.Heart attack under 1 year old (and 2 years in most cases) will knock you out of 1st day coverage.
Because most final expense underwriting rules differ wildly, it's unusual that you can just go to the final expense quote tool and start. However, unless you have other serious conditions, that is exactly how to start.
Because heart attack history is usually simply a matter of how long ago it happened,with cases where the event happened over 2 years ago the best price may win. Remember to use the quote tool on the "final expense" page. The quote tool on this page is limited to term quotes.
Upon receiving your quote request, we will be in touch as soon as possible (often in minutes), and we will help you through the process. The whole process shouldn't take more than 30-40 minutes.
We are committed to a transparent pricing process and are happy to share a computer screen with you or send a video of the method used to get your rate. If you have any questions, please contact us.
As a stand-alone condition, Previous Heart attack does not require the use of guaranteed life insurance. However, if the only offers are "graded", it may make sense to use a guaranteed policy until the 1 or 2 year period passes and you become eligible for day one coverage.
If this describes your situation, keep reading.
Guaranteed policies should only be used as a last resort. In addition to the benefit grading provisions that make the policies toothless during the two or three year grading period, they are the most expensive policies sold.
Male Monthly Rates
Female Monthly Rates
With only the requirement of age (40) and citizenship, guaranteed issue life insurance policies have a death benefit that ranges from $5000-$50000. Such plans are exclusively whole life insurance.
However, all guaranteed issue policies are "graded". Generally, the grading represents a 2 or 3 year period that the policy must be in force before a full death benefit will be paid.
Like "final expense" policies, guaranteed policies use a two or three year period in which the benefit increases to the face amount over the contractual time period. These policies commonly pay only premiums plus interest if you die if you die before the end of the "grading" period. (2-3 years depending on carrier). After the grading period ends, the carrier would pay the full face amount.
Also, like the "final expense" write up says, these provisions are a way for the carriers to provide coverage while limiting their risk.
There is no exam for guaranteed life insurance. After all, it's guaranteed to be issued regardless of your health.
Although the contestability laws are the same as other policies, beyond age and citizenship, it's difficult to see where contestability may arise in a guaranteed issue case.
The guaranteed issue process is lightning fast and can be handled over the telephone in a matter of minutes. Give us a call or email us.
In addition to reassuring you that life insurance is attainable with a cardiac history, this article pointed out that insurance companies have different pricing and underwriting standards from one another.
Furthermore, these underwriting differences are a reflection of the company's appetite for a specific health risk. For example, Prudential Financial may have more of an appetite for the risk that a cardiac arrest history 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 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 crucial that your Agent represent multiple carriers. In fact, most good independent agents will have access to over 40 or 50 carriers. This ensures the best chance at the best rate.
Key Take Aways
Thank you for choosing the Life Insurance Help Desk to research life insurance after a heart attack. We are committed to a totally transparent process (we'll even share our computer screen with you if you'd like), and making the application process as painless as possible.
Should you have any question, please do not hesitate to give us a call or contact us via email.
Jim Tobin is the owner of Life Insurance Help Desk, a Fairfield County, CT. life insurance agency. You can find him on LinkedIn 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..
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