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- How can I get life insurance when I have heart disease?
- January 16, 2014 4:04 PM
A history of heart disease won’t necessarily flatline your chances of obtaining life insurance at reasonable rates, insurance experts say, provided you have the condition under control and you’re following doctor’s orders.
Take “Jeff” for instance. Obese and a smoker, he needed a bypass and a couple stents to keep his arteries open. His doctor told him to lose 100 pounds and kick the habit if he wanted to live, relates his insurer, Ryan Pinney, a brokerage director with Pinney Insurance Center Inc. in Roseville, Calif. Jeff lost 140 pounds, stopped smoking and takes his cholesterol medicine faithfully.
“I was able to get him life insurance at a preferred rate,” Pinney says. “He’s healthier now than he was back then.” A preferred rate would cost around $60 for the same policy that would cost $100 at a standard rate, he says.
Dr. Robert Pokorski, chief medical strategist for The Hartford’s Individual Life Division, says in general, life insurance can be offered six months after bypass, angioplasty, or use of stents, usually at a small to moderate additional premium.
To learn more about the national impact of heart disease, the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention has tracked incidences of heart disease by state.
Whether one is insurable depends on the type and severity of the heart disease, their age, their lifestyle habits and if they’re healthy now, Pokorski says.
“For someone with congestive heart failure, it is nearly impossible to get insurance,” Pinney concedes. “The doctor is saying this person is going to die soon.”
Pokorski says children born with an atrial septal defect (hole between the upper chambers of the heart) could get insurance at the same premium as a healthy child because it is corrected via surgery. In the event the defect cannot be corrected, the child can still get life insurance, but the insurer would charge a higher premium.
He says higher premiums are usually required for adults with coronary heart disease as well. The premium would go up even more if the person is overweight, smokes or is a diabetic. Pinney says a standard $100 policy could now cost as much as $400 to $600 a month.
If you were turned down for life insurance in the past because of heart problems, Pokorski encourages you to try again as insurance companies are responding to medical advances. “The premium charged at the time you were accepted would be based on your risk going forward, not on your risk in the past,” he says.
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