Life Insurance with AFIB (Atrial Fibrillation) …everything you need to know
If you are looking for life insurance with AFIB or Atrial Fibrillation, you are in the right place.
If you or a loved one has had the misfortune of an atrial fibrillation diagnosis, you are aware of the everyday risks associated with this disease. What you may not know, is the effect the condition has on the ability to obtain life insurance.
While it is possible to get standard or better rates on applications with an AFIB diagnosis, it requires a carefully packaged application to a receptive insurer. Therefore it's important that you use an agent that is experienced with AFIB cases and has access to the carriers most likely to be receptive.
The goal of this article is to provide a background on obtaining life insurance with AFIB / Atrial Fibrillation . This information will put you in a position to obtain the best deal possible.
If you already know more about AFIB than you care to think about or know exactly what you are looking for, you can use the quick navigation tool to skip around.
Fast Facts about Atrial Fibrillation (AFib)
Atrial fibrillation or AFIB is the most common heart arrhythmia condition. An arrhythmia is when the heart beats too slowly, too fast, or in an irregular way. When a person has AFIB, the normal beating in the upper chambers of the heart (the two atria) is irregular, and blood doesn’t flow as well as it should from the atria to the lower chambers of the heart (the two ventricles).
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), AFib affects as many as 6 million US residents. Because Atrial fibrillation is more common among older people-and women live longer on average-, more women are affected than men. Additionally, people of European decent are more likely to suffer the condition than African Americans.
More than 750,000 hospitalizations occur each year because of AFIB. The condition contributes to an estimated 130,000 deaths each year.
AFIB costs the United States about $6 billion each year. Medical costs for people who have AFib are about $8,705 higher per year than for people who do not have AFib. (Source: CDC).
A few of the well known people who suffer from AFIB are: President George H.W. Bush, Vice President Joe Biden and singer Elton John.
Life Insurance with Afib: What Carriers will Take into Consideration
Life insurance underwriters will generally be concerned with 5 general questions
- Do you fit into the usual risk factors for the condition
- What are/were your syptoms
- What was the Diagnosis & Treatment
- What is the aftercare (follow up & compliance)
- What is your health like apart from the condition/history in question
While the outline above is general in form , the questions will require specific answers. These answers will be gathered from your application, a telephone interview, the Medical Information Bureau, a Script Check, and an Attending Physicians Statement (APS).
Lets look at the general areas of inquiry one at a time.
Do you "fit" into the usual risk factors for the Condition
Because AFIB is closely correlated with serious heart issues, underwriters will scrutinize symptoms more closely than most files.
Underwriters tend to be more comfortable with making offers when the applicant's condition fits into a common risk factor pattern. If the condition doesn't fit, there is a concern that something else is at play. When this is the case, underwriters will try to allay their fears by taking a harder look at the file.
Other than advancing age and European ancestery, the risk factors for AFIB tend to revolve around serious health conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease,kidney disease, obesity, diabetes, and alcohol abuse.
What are/were your symptoms
When underwriting life insurance with AFIB, carriers will want to know the symptoms you had (if any) and how long you had them before the diagnosis.
AFIB can range from well controlled to life-threatening. The Mayo Clinic lists the following symptoms as the most common:
- Palpitations, which are sensations of a racing, uncomfortable, irregular heartbeat or a flip-flopping in your chest
- Reduced ability to exercise
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
Your Diagnosis and Treatments
Life insurance underwriters will want to know the date of first diagnosis and of any subsequent episodes. Underwriting will also want to know what medications you have been prescribed for AFIB.
With the help of your application, interview, and attending physician's report, underwriters will reveiw any ECG results - including from event recorders or Holter monitors. Underwriters will need to know if your diagnosis is paroxysmal (less than 12 times/yr) or persistent (needs treatment to return to normal function) or permanent.
Underwriting will need to know if you have undergone a reset of the heart rhythm with either an electrical cardioversion or a pharmacuetical cardioversion.
Additionally they will require information on any surgical ablations and any maintenance drugs you are being prescribed.
The list of most common pharmaceutical drugs prescribed for AFibis highly dependent on the severity of the case. For maintenance the Mayo Clinic cites the most common medications are as follows:
- Dofetilide (Tikosyn)
- Propafenone (Rythmol)
- Amiodarone (Cordarone, Pacerone)
- Sotalol (Betapace, Sorine)
While information that is "foggy" will be taken from your medical records, knowing the dates of diagnosis and treatments is necessary to get an accurate quote.
Your Follow Up Care
When evaluating life insurance with AFib applications, underwriting will want to see compliance with prescription medication and any follow up requirements including doctors appointments.
Are you going to the doctor regularly? Are you have ECG's done? Follow up compliance is a huge selling point to underwriter sitting on the fence about a rating.
Your Over all Health (and related conditions)
While any application for life insurance will take into consideration your overall health including conditions like high cholesterol and gout, underwriters in AFIB cases will specifically look for both risk factors and certain complicating conditions. The serious complications associated with AFIB are heart failure and stroke.
Obtaining Life Insurance with AFIB
With a couple of caveats, the process of obtaining life insurance is essentially the same for everyone regardless of health.
The primary caveats with AFIB are that no exam or so called “non-med” policieswill only be available in very small face amounts and an attending physician's statement (APS) is guaranteed to be requested.
The APS can slow the process as doctors are in no hurry to respond to requests from life insurance companies.
The information that you will be required to provide in order to get the most accurate quote is as follows:
Date of Diagnosis
Age at Diagnosis
Treatments Undergone (medicines,surgeries, treatments)
Dates of Treatments (and follow up history)
Severity of Symptoms
Other Health Issues
Key Take Aways
- The process for obtaining life insurance is the same with AFib as any other condition.
- Your doctor will most likely have to submit an attending Physicians Statement (APS).
- Providing detailed and accurate information is the only way to get an accurate quote for AFib.
Possible Underwriting Ratings for Life Insurance with Atrial Fibrillation
Because applications for life insurance with AFIB are evaluated on a case by case basis, your story matters. That is to say two people with the same age and condition may get vastly different offers from the same carrier based on age of diagnosis and patient compliance.
Because each case is different, the following pricing scenarios are the best estimates based on experience.
Best Case – If paroxysmal AFIB is detected early, symptoms are under excellent control and complications or further damage to the heart has been prevented, many cases have a chance for a standard rating. Simply use the quoter on the left for a standard quote.
Mid Case–The most common rating for paroxysmal AFIB applications and the best possible for a chronic case. You calculate this rate by multiplying the standard rate by 1.5 (Table 2/B) or 2 (table 4/D(.
To learn about how table ratings work click here.
Severe Case – If your AFIB is Chronic or has complications the best you will likely do is a severe substandard rate. You calculate this rate by multiplying the standard rate by 3 (Table 6/F) or 4 (table 8/H).
* while expensive this is still a very good outcome for the circumstances
Decline– For a severe case you may be declined for traditional coverage. If this is the case 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.Compare Rates Now
Why you Should Use an Independent Agent when Shopping for Life Insurance with AFIB
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 may have more of an appetite for the risk that AFIB presents than say Banner Life. In this case the underwriting grade will reflect this increased appetite.
So, if your Agent only represented one insurer and you found out later that that you could have gotten a rate 30% or 40% better, how would you feel?
You’d probably be peeved either at the agent or yourself or both. So it’s important that your Agent represent multiple carriers.
A good independent agent will have access to over 60 carriers. This ensures the best chance at a the best rate.
Note that if he doesn’t, he may not be in a hurry to let you in on this information.
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.
Case Study: Pricing Life Insurance with Atrial Fibrillation
So, I have been carrying on about the importance of using an independent Agent and you may think that sounds pretty self serving coming from an independent agent.
You are right, it is. However, it 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 with AFib or any other impairment.
Gender: Male Age: 53
$250000 20 Year Term
Well controlled mild paroximal AFib Diagnosed Age 46
Atenolol for maintenance , No Other Health Concerns
This looks like a best case scenario would be either standard or Table 2/B depending on the insurers appetite for a AFIB risk. Let’s take a look at the rates.
Standard Rates Table 2/B Rates Table 4/D Rates
|CARRIER||MO. PYMT||CARRIER||MO. PYMT||CARRIER||MO. PYMT|
This table which shows only a few of the major life insurance companies available, illustrates the difference in rates. For standard rates Prudential is about 15% more expensive than Banner.
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 type of easy price comparison is particularly helpful for younger people in good health and shows why you want to use an independent Agent.
For people who suffer from Afib 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 ons will grade you as table 2-4.
In the case above Banner is best in either case. But, if your Agent can’t use Banner, 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 case using an independent agent could save you obout 25% (the difference between Prudential @ standard and Principal @ Table 2).
Over the life of the policy that’s more than $7800 that would be better left in your wallet!
Your Next Step
Thank you for choosing the Life Insurance Help Desk to research life insurance with AFIB
Now that you know the information you will need to receive the most accurate quote possible, it’s time to gather the information and speak to an independent Agent (raising my hand).
Simply give us a call or shoot an email over and we can get you started.
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.
If you have any questions, We’d like to hear them.