Life Insurance with Cardiac Arrhythmia…What You Need to Know

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Obtaining life insurance with cardiac arrhythmia can be challenging. Fortunately, you have landed in the right place to learn what you need to know to receive the best offers possible for life insurance with cardiac arrhythmia.

Your rates will be dictated by your particular circumstance, the type, frequency and severity of your arrhythmia, and the carrier chosen. The carrier is an important part of this equation, as different insurance companies have very different appetites for coronary and cardiovascular risks.

With a history that includes arrhythmia, life insurance carriers will want to know as much as they can about the risk they are being asked to insure. This is no different than how the carriers deal with any other condition like history of heart attack and stroke, or even lifestyle choices like smoking and scuba diving.

​Fast fact About Cardiac Arrhythmia

​Cardiac arrhythmia is a catch-all term for several types of irregular heartbeats.

When abnormal electrical activity causes the heart to beat too quickly, too slowly, or erratically, the condition is called an arrhythmia. Although most arrhythmia's are harmless, some can interfere with the heart's ability to pump blood.

The most common arrhythmia is atrial fibrillation or AFib. More than two million Americans suffer from an atrial fibrillation condition that causes the upper and lower heart chambers to beat "out of synch".

Less common arrhythmia's are tachycardia,where the heart beats too fast, bradycardia-when the heart beats too slow and ventricular fibrillation, which causes the ventricles to quiver rather than beat. Source: National Institute of Health

A few of the well known people who suffer from cardiac arrhythmia are  are: President George H.W. Bush, Vice President Joe Biden and singers Elton John and Miley Cirus.

life insurance with arrhythmia
life insurance with arrhythmia
life insurance with arrhythmia
life insurance with arrhythmia

Life Insurance with Cardiac Arrhythmia: 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 cardiac arrhythmia 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 genetics, the risk factors for AFIB tend to revolve around serious health conditions such as smoking, high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease, obesity, diabetes, and alcohol abuse.

What are/were your symptoms

When underwriting life insurance with cardiac arrhythmia, carriers will want to know the symptoms you had (if any) and how long you had them before the diagnosis.

Cardiac arrhythmia  can range from insignificant  to life-threatening. The Mayo Clinic lists the following symptoms as the most common:

  • A fluttering in your chest
  • A racing heartbeat (tachycardia)
  • A slow heartbeat (bradycardia)
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Fainting (syncope) or near fainting

Your Diagnosis and Treatments

​Life insurance underwriters will want to know the diagnosis of your arrhythmia and the  date of  the initial diagnosis. They will also need to know about any  any subsequent episodes. Underwriting will aditionally want to know what medications you have been prescribed for your arrhythmia.

With the help of your application, interview, and attending physician's report, underwriters will review 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 arrhythmia is  highly dependent on the type of arrhythmia and the severity of the case. For AFib maintenance the Mayo Clinic cites the most common medications as follows:

  • Dofetilide (Tikosyn)
  • Flecainide
  • 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 arrhthmia 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 cardiac arrhythmia cases will specifically look for both risk factors and certain complicating conditions. The serious complications associated with cardiac arrhythmia  are heart failure and stroke.

Obtaining Life Insurance with Cardiac Arrhythmia

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 arrhythmia 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:

  1. Date of Diagnosis

  2. Age at Diagnosis

  3. Affected Systems

  4. Treatments Undergone (medicines,surgeries, treatments)

  5. Dates of Treatments (and follow up history)

  6. Severity of Symptoms

  7. Other Health Issues

Possible Underwriting Ratings for Life Insurance with Cardiac Arrhythmia 

Because applications for life insurance with cardiac arrhythmia  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 cardiac arrhythmia is a catch all phrase it is nearly impossible to provide underwriting scenarios for all the possibilities. That being said, be aware that if you paroxysmal premature atrial contractions (PAC) or premature ventricular contractions, you may qualify for preferred plus rates. Whereas, well controlled paroxysmal AFib will likely get no better than standard rates. For a more precise estimate please consult your type of arrhythmia on the navigating existing conditions tab. 

Several types of arrhythmia cases may result in substandard or "table rated" offers.To learn about how table ratings work click here.

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.

Why you Should Use an Independent Agent when Shopping for Life Insurance with Cardiac Arrhythmia

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 cardiac arrhythmia  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 Cardiac Arrhythmia (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

Tobacco: No

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

sbli express109.79sbli express161.55sbli express213.31
mutual omaha118.30mutual omaha174.74mutual omaha231.18
prudential logo121.73prudential logo185.61prudential logo250.63

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 cardiac arrhythmia.

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).

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.

Should you have any questions please do not hesitate to give us a call or Simply give us a call or shoot an email over. 

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 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..