Life Insurance After a Heart Attack
1 out of every 3 deaths in the U.S. can be attributed to cardiovascular disease. For those who survive a heart attack, the experience is usually eye opening to say the least.
With a vivid and alarming awareness of their own mortality, clients often call us after leaving the hospital—or sometimes even while they’re in the hospital—hoping to purchase life insurance.
They understand their odds of being approved for a policy have been greatly reduced, but have also found online that they’re not necessarily facing a definitive, “No.”
In this article we'll provide you with the information you need to purchase life insurance after a heart attack. We work directly with more than 50 top-rated insurance companies to make sure our client's with the best options available.
Here’s what we'll cover in this post:
Quick Article Guide
Here’s what we'll cover in this post:
After a heart attack, can you purchase affordable life insurance from a reputable company? The answer to this question is usually: “Yes.” A heart attack, along with many other serious health problems, doesn't automatically eliminate you from being able to qualify for life insurance.
At the same time, it’s also important to realize that when you apply for coverage, you'll face a higher level of scrutiny. Your available options will also be limited compared to what your peer's in excellent health might be able to qualify for. You can also count on paying higher monthly rates.
If you've had a heart attack, you want to avoid big-box insurers that focus on auto insurance. There are insurers that cater specifically to heart attack survivors on a personalized, case-by-case basis. Working with an independent agent will save you money, and it could prevent your application from being declined.
While the temptation will be to apply immediately after a heart attack, one of the most pivotal bits of advice we can give you is to wait until you are fully or at least reasonably recovered from your heart attack. Three to six months is the general rule of thumb.
When reviewing your application, insurers will look at the following:
The older you were when you had the heart attack, the better. That’s within reason, of course—getting life insurance over age 70 is challenging even without a serious health issue, although some insurers do offer more aggressive rates to heart attack victims in their 70s.
If you’re in your 50s, or 60s, age is in your favor. Life insurance companies will usually steer clear of those who have suffered a heart attack in their 30s or 40s. The sad reality is that having cardiovascular issues at such an early age is usually a sign of more serious ailments in the future.
Insurers don’t differentiate much based on the type of surgery you had after your heart attack. Instead, they are more concerned with how severe your heart attack was. Blockage of one or two vessels makes you more insurable than someone who has suffered a severe heart attack that damaged three or four vessels.
Since heart disease is considered to be a “lifestyle disease,” life insurance providers prefer applicants who have a relatively healthy physique. Eating healthy and exercising after a heart attack is the best way to maintain or improve your health, and manage your weight.
Here's a breakdown of how most life insurance companies will evaluate an application from a heart attack survivor:
Age 40 + more than 2 vessels affected + 100 pounds overweight = Extremely difficult to get approved for life insurance.
Age 60 + 1 vessel affected + 25 pounds overweight = Very possible to get approved for life insurance.
Compounding Health IssuesIf you have had a heart attack and have other health issues like diabetes, it’s more difficult and expensive to secure coverage. Life insurance companies are evaluating your overall health, so the less health issues you have, the better.
Insurers review your medical records, which means they know your doctor’s orders. If your follow-up instructions are straightforward and uninvolved, insurers consider this to mean that you are less of a risk. They will also review any echocardiograms and stress tests you’ve had with your doctor to ensure you are free of blockages.
In fact, if you take a stress test once per year, some insurers will even give you a credit and improve your rate class, which can save you 25 to 50 percent on your monthly premiums.
Ideally, you want to be off of blood thinners within 6 months of having suffered your heart attack. If you can recover with minimal to no use of blood thinners, even better, as discontinuing use of a blood thinner after an extended period of time can lead insurers to worry about blood clots.
If your condition requires you to take a blood thinner for the rest of your life, you might still be approved, but your rates will likely be 20 percent higher due to the increased risks associated with long-term blood thinner usage.
The fact that you had a heart attack is out of your control, but you can mitigate the life insurance-related circumstances by making a proactive effort to:
- Improve your lifestyle
- Minimize the need for medications (not “cold turkey,” but through diet and exercise)
- Follow doctor’s orders
- Lock in coverage for as long as possible once you are approved
If you are declined for life insurance because of your heart issues, use the guidelines we’ve provided so far to gauge whether you have a realistic chance of eventually being approved.
Don’t try to re-apply or call your auto insurance company for a life insurance “add-on.” Your best chances of being approved are with an independent life insurance agency like JRC. Unlike “captive agents” at big-box companies, an independent agent can shop multiple carriers and speak to them on your behalf.
If it is determined that you are uninsurable, you can still get a guaranteed issue or “final expense” policy. These types of policies do not require a medical exam or health questionnaire, and can provide up to $25k worth of coverage.
If you would like a more accurate quote based on your current age, or if you’ve had more than 2 vessels treated with an angioplasty or bypass procedure, please call us directly to speak to one of our expert agents. With just few additional questions we’ll be able show you your best options. Toll-free: 855-247-9555.
JRC Insurance Group takes immense pride in helping those who might not otherwise be able to find affordable, life insurance.
A Second Try Pays Off
We recently received a call from a middle-aged couple. The husband, age 56, had suffered a heart attack and was given three stents. He had applied for life insurance with one of the larger insurers and was declined.
The client was skeptical that he could be approved for a policy after being declined by another life insurance company. However, he was willing to give it another shot based on our advice that shopping for life insurance after a heart attack was a more involved process than simply picking up the phone and calling a big insurance company. After a 6-week underwriting process, the client was approved for a $250k, 20-year policy!
This Would Never Happen at a Big-Box Company
Another client, age 50, called us three weeks after having had a heart attack that required a stent. We informed him we could help, but only after at least 90 days had passed.
After 90 days, we applied through one of our go-to heart attack-lenient insurers. They initially declined him because his cardiologist medicated his cholesterol down to 76. But, after the doctor wrote a letter explaining why this was actually a good thing, the underwriter reconsidered and a policy was approved. Only an independent agent has the time and relationships to follow up with an underwriter in such a capacity.
Don’t let a heart attack stop you from seeking financial protection for your family. JRC is here to provide the white-glove care your life insurance application deserves.
Call us toll-free today at 855-247-9555. Our services are free, and we work with 63 top-rated life insurance companies. We are experts at underwriting and with a few health questions we’ll be able to find your best options, saving you time and money.
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.