Buying Life Insurance When You Have a Heart Murmur
For those who have been diagnosed with a heart murmur, purchasing life insurance may seem like a daunting task. However, depending on the type of heart murmur you have, obtaining affordable life insurance may be a lot easier than you think.
Applying with the right life insurance company makes a huge difference, especially if you have a health issue such as a heart murmur. All insurance companies view heart murmurs differently, and a handful of top-rated companies may be able to save you up to 73% on the cost of your coverage
At JRC Insurance Group, we specialize in “high risk cases,” working with 63 top-rated life insurance carriers to find coverage for those who need it most. We’ll help you find the lowest-priced policy on the market, and walk you through the approval process step by step.
Here’s what we'll cover in this post:
Quick Article Guide
Here’s what we'll cover in this post:
Heart murmurs are caused by abnormal blood flow either to or from the heart muscle. They are usually discovered during a routine physical exam; your doctor will be able to hear the murmur when they’re listening to your heart with a stethoscope. In most cases, your doctor will want to perform further testing to figure out if the murmur is functional or if it’s something more serious. Heart murmurs tend to fall into two basic categories: functional, or organic.
Innocent or Functional Heart Murmur – The majority of heart murmurs are considered to be functional or “innocent.” An innocent heart murmur does not have any symptoms and does not require medication. In fact, the vast majority of people with an innocent heat murmur are able to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle. Innocent heart murmurs are often found in children, and will sometimes subside in adulthood.
Organic Heart Murmur - Organic heart murmurs often have symptoms and can be a sign of something more serious, such as a damaged heart valve. An organic murmur often occurs when a heart valve is unable to close or open completely. When this occurs, the blood “regurgitates” or leaks back into the valve that should be closed.
Once a murmur is discovered, your doctor will most likely perform an electrocardiogram (ECG) to check the electrical activity of your heart. However, there are some cases in which they may want to do a chest X-ray to see if your heart is enlarged due to heart disease. There are many causes for heart murmurs, including pregnancy, anemia, overactive thyroid, and fever. Some of the common symptoms associated with organic heart murmurs are angina (chest pain), shortness of breath, fatigue, and palpitations.
The type of heart murmur you have been diagnosed with will have the largest impact on your life insurance rates. Most heart murmurs are considered “innocent” and will have little to no effect on your life insurance premiums. In fact, many applicants that have been diagnosed with a functional heart murmur and have no signs of heart valve disorders or regurgitation may even qualify for “preferred best rates” with a handful of life insurance companies.
In order to qualify for this top rate class, some life insurance companies will prefer an ECG to confirm that the murmur is indeed innocent. In addition, the insurance company will want to see that no other serious health issues are present. If you had a heart murmur as a child but the murmur is no longer detectable, the insurance company you apply with will not hold your childhood murmur against you.
Below we’ve included some actual monthly rates for life insurance from an “A+ rated” company that often offers the top rate category or “preferred best rates” to applicants with an innocent or functional heart murmur.
Purchasing Life Insurance with an Organic Heart Murmur
While functional heart murmurs are often overlooked by life insurance companies, an organic murmur tends to be more of a concern. Organic heart murmurs can be caused by a variety of heart issues. The underlying heart issue causing the murmur will have the biggest impact on your rates, not the murmur itself. Most applicants with an organic murmur will receive a “standard” to “substandard” rate depending on their overall health.
All insurance companies view heart issues differently, and some insurance companies are more lenient with heart issues than others. Murmurs are graded on a scale of I to IV, or one to six. Murmurs graded as a “two” or higher are typically associated with abnormal cardiac function.
In addition to the murmur, the insurance company you apply with will consider your overall health and lifestyle before approving your policy. If you have a low grade murmur but are in good health overall, you are much more likely to receive a “standard” rate.
Applicants who have a higher grade murmur with side effects like shortness of breath or palpitations tend to be approved at a “substandard” rate. If you have a high grade murmur and compounding health issues like uncontrolled diabetes, a history of stents, an angioplasty, or if you are a smoker, you may be declined for traditional term insurance.
In this situation, we usually recommend guaranteed issue life insurance, but it’s best to speak with an experienced agent to determine your options.
Below we’ve included some monthly life insurance rates from an “A+ rated” company that is lenient with applicants who have an organic heart murmur caused by a minor heart disorder such as slight aortic stenosis or insufficiency.
If you’d like to get a more accurate quote for your specific situation please feel free to call us directly, toll-free at 855-247-9555.
Common Types of Organic Heart Murmurs
Organic heart murmurs can be caused by a variety of heart issues and some issues are more serious than others. If your heart murmur is not considered “innocent” or “functional”, it is likely the result of one of the issues below.
Mitral Valve Prolapse is when your heart makes a “clicking” sound while beating, which is caused by your mitral valve not closing properly. Mitral Valve Prolapse is fairly common and in most cases an associated murmur is not serious. To learn more, please read our article on mitral valve prolapse.
Aortic Sclerosis is thickening or stiffening of the aortic valve. While Aortic Sclerosis is normally seen in people with heart disease, typically it is not considered dangerous unless the valve is narrowed. The aortic valve will usually function normally for a few years after the murmur starts, but eventually it will narrow and need to be replaced. If you have had a bypass surgery in the past and want to learn more about applying for life insurance check out this article.
Aortic Stenosis occurs when your aortic valves (on the left side) narrow, causing your heart to have to work harder to pump blood through your body. If this condition is left untreated, it can lead to heart failure.
Regurgitation (Mitral or Aortic) happens when the blood flows backwards through either the mitral or aortic valve. The heart then encounters additional stress when pumping blood through the damaged valve. Over time, this can lead to enlargement, and ultimately, heart failure.
Diastolic Murmur relates to the timing of the heart beat and occurs when the heart relaxes between beats. Diastolic murmurs are graded on a scale of one to four, based on how audible they are. A grade four murmur is the easiest to detect and the loudest.
Systolic Murmur occurs when the heart contracts. These types of murmurs are graded by their loudness on a scale from one to six. A grade one murmur is almost unnoticeable, while a grade six murmur may be physically noticeable and audible, even without a stethoscope.
When shopping for life insurance, your agent will need to ask you some questions about your heart murmur to make sure you are applying with the best company. Every life insurance company views heart murmurs differently, and choosing the correct one can save you a considerable amount of money.
Here are some common life insurance questions about heart murmurs that your agent will probably ask:
When were you diagnosed with a heart murmur?
Innocent murmurs tend to be relatively common in young children and will normally disappear once they reach adulthood, however, some adults will not fully outgrow them. If your murmur is no longer detectable, the insurance companies will not consider it.
What is the cause of the heart murmurs?
The underwriter will want to know if the murmur is innocent or if there is a more serious underlying cause, such as coronary artery disease. If you’ve had any surgery, your agent will need to know what procedures were performed and when.
Do you have any symptoms?
Angina, palpitations, nausea, and shortness of breath are signs of an organic murmur and may result in a denial of coverage. If you don’t have any symptoms from your murmur, most likely the murmur is innocent and it should not prevent you from qualifying for preferred or preferred best rates.
When was your last diagnostic test? What were the results?
Many life insurance carriers will want to see that the murmur was confirmed by an echocardiogram to be innocent. If not, the insurance company will want to see that you are having regular follow-up visits with your primary care doctor or cardiologist to monitor your condition.
Are you taking any medications for your condition?
Innocent murmurs typically do not require medications. If you are taking a medication for your heart murmur or any other conditions, it’s best to have a list of your medications on hand when you speak with your life insurance agent.
Applying for life insurance can be easy if you are working with an experienced agent who cares. At JRC, our agents help “high risk” applicants secure the coverage they need and may have been denied access to from other carriers.
By working with 63 top-rated life insurance companies, we are able to shop the market to find you the most affordable and reliable life insurance available. We only work with “A” or better rated companies, so why waste your time and energy by calling several agents? Give us a call today at 855-247-9555, or request a free quote online. We are here to help!
Managing Partner and Co-founder
Cliff is a licensed life insurance agent and one of the owners of JRC Insurance Group. He has helped thousands of families of businesses with their life insurance needs since 2012 and specializes with applicants who are less than perfect health. In his spare time he enjoys spending time with family, traveling, and the great outdoors.